Janmashtami is the day when Lord Krishna was born and it remains an important day for all Hindus. Dwarka is the place where Lord Krishna was born and the festival is celebrated all over India in a big way. Devotees visit Krishna’s temple and they perform Pujas as part of the celebrations and they seek blessings for a prosperous life. Krishna took birth at midnight in the Hindu month of Shravan.Devotees fast for the whole day and stay up all night worshipping Lord Krishna. At the Krishna’s birth place, Mathura and Brindavan, religious plays are performed recreating the life of Krishna showing his love for Radha.
Krishna Janmashtami remains an important festival in India, which is celebrated in a different way in different states of India. So let us have a look at how Janmashtami is celebrated in Tamilnadu, UP and Maharashtra.
Janmashtami is celebrated in South India in a grand affair. In Tamilnadu, Janmashtami is also known by the name of Gokulashtami. Krishna devotees would decorate the floor in front of their house with kolams. People sing Geetha Govindam which is a devotional song sung to praise Lord Krishna. They draw the footprints of Lord Krishna from the house to the temple and recitation of Bhagawat Gita remains a popular practice. Various kinds of sweets are prepared by women and some of the most important ones are Seedai, Murukku and Verkadalai Urundai. Special sweets are prepared using milk products to offer Gokulnandan. Devotees, especially women, observe strict fast the entire day and they eat food only after midnight Puja. Streets would be decorated with different tableau which highlights different scenes from Krishna’s life. Some famous temples in Tamilnadu where devotees visit are Pandavadhoothar temple in Kanchivaram and Rajagopalaswami temple in Mannargudi.
In the state of UP, people belonging to different religions celebrate Janmashtami together with lots of fervor and enthusiasm. Janmashtami is a festival which is celebrated throughout Mathura and Vrindavan in UP with great enthusiasm. Mathura and Vrindavan bring the memories of Lord Krishna and unbelievable amount of fun and excitement can be felt in both the places while celebrating the festival.
In Mathura, being the birth place of Lord Krishna, the main celebrations are performed at Dwarkadish temple. Grand celebrations also takes place at the actual birth place of Krishna at a temple known as Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir. Inside the temple, the statue of Lord Krishna is placed in a room called the “Garbha Griha”. In Mathura, the festivals are also celebrated in all other temples and the temples remain religiously decorated to welcome their deity. Devotees listen to the preaching by the priest and the idol of Krishna is bathed by the priest while chanting mantras.
This celebration goes on for two days. On the first day, devotees fast the entire day and they take food at midnight after the birth of Lord Krishna. The second day remains the day for celebration and feasting. You can see the entire city immersed in the devotion of Lord Krishna by singing and dancing in the name of Krishna.
Some other celebrations include performance of Rasleelas, Jhanki, Jhulanotsav and Ghatas. Professionals and amateur artists will perform Rasaleelas of Krishna in the entire city. Jhankis remain depicting various stages of Lord Krishna’s life. It is only during Janmashtami, Jhulanotsav is celebrated in all the houses to welcome baby Lord Krishna. The celebration of Janmashtami in Mathura remains incomplete without Ghatas where all the temples of Mathura are decorated with the same color as per the selected theme.
In Maharashtra, the festival of Janmashtami witnesses Lord Krishna’s love for butter and how he attempts to steal butter from the pot which is kept far beyond his reach. Married women used to keep hard fast in Maharashtra on the day of Janmashtami in a belief that their child also grows up with the great future same as that of Lord Krishna. Women break their fast on the next day after sunrise when Rohini Nakshatra and Ashtami Tithi is over. Gokulashtami festival begins in few days by preparing sweets and savories. Lord Krishna used to love beaten rice, so sweets are made from Poha. Gopalkala is a favourite dish prepared on the day of Janmashtami in Maharashtra.
The main celebration in Maharashtra starts with the event of Dahi Handi. The city would wear a festive look on Janmashtami and people celebrate the festival dancing on the street and chanting “Govinda Ala Re” in a high voice. Young boys beat drums in excitement and joy. Various temples in the state would be filled with devotees and they would keep on chanting special Krishna hymns in Sanskrit. The ISKON temple at Juhu organizes special prayer on Janmashtami and they offer special Prasad to all devotees. People also visit popular Murlidhar Mandir in Nashik on the day of Janmashtami in Maharashtra.
Dahi Handi – Dahi Handi is a traditional ceremony celebrated on Janmashtami in Maharashtra and it creates a euphoric atmosphere in different cities of the state. Young men and boys used to carry Dahi Handi every year in the city of Mumbai at various places. The tradition of Dahi Handi has been followed from Lord Krishna who used to break earthen pots to steal butter. In the afternoon, young boys gather atone place and they dance to the tune of drums. Hundreds of people would watch the ceremony and the boys would form human pyramid of seven layers to break the Handi or pot. The earthen pot would be hung 20 to 30 feet from the ground with the help of a rope and it is being broken by a human pyramid. The boys won’t give up until the pot is broken and breaking the pot remains challenging for many teams. Teams practice for months to perform Dahi Handi. The team that wins would also receive a cash prize in lakhs of rupees. It remains a popular belief that if the broken pieces of pot are kept in the house, it will remove negative