“Krishna”, the name itself has the essence of his very character hidden in its meaning. Krishna in Sanskrit signifies ‘enchanter’ and such goes the mischievous nature of the Lord himself. Janmashtami or gokulashthami is renowned for the celebration of lord Krishna’s birth all over India, especially the North and west.
History dates back the origin of this festival to the Dwapara yuga. Lord Krishna was the incarnation of Lord Vishnu’s 8th avatar into Vasudeva and Devaki’s 8th son to curb the evil spread by Kansa, the then king of Mathura. Kansa had a foresight that his demise was carved on the hands of Devaki and Vasudeva”s 8th son.
This was all the reason for him to imprison Devaki and Vasudeva and start killing every single child born to them. He was successful in his endeavour till their 6th child until Devaki got pregnant for the seventh instance and then was born Balarama, Lord Krishna’s elder brother.
Mystically, before stepping his tiny feet onto mother earth, Balaram, in a heavenly phenomenon, got transferred from Devaki’s womb to Rohini’s womb (Vasudeva’s second wife) and was born without much hurdle. Out of utter concern for their 8th child, Vasudeva, in a state of despair, took a reckless effort to save the neonate lord Krishna. He held Lord Krishna in a small basket and crossed the mighty river Yamuna at its full rage.
Meanwhile Sheshnaag embraced the father and son under his fangs and aided their journey to Gokul. Vasudeva then handed over the delicate deity to his friend Nand and his wife Yashodha at Gokul. Lord Krishna was then showered all the love and affection by Nand and Yashoda as well as the people of Gokul. He then grew up to end Kansa’a reign and liberate Mathura off his evil.
Elements Of Celebration
All over the northern and western parts of India, Janmashtami is celebrated with all the grandeur and fervour. Besides just the traditional rituals like waterless-fasting, puja and kirtans, many other frolic events form an integral part of this colourful festival.
The Dahi Handi/Matka phod competition
This much loved event owes to Lord Krishna’s love for butter and curd. People reconstruct the childhood of Lord Krishna, i.e., Bal Gopal by suspending a matka(earthen pot) full of curd, other milk products, honey and fruits from somewhere 30-40 metres high. Young energetic males compete by constructing a pyramid to reach the matka and claim its contents.
The Enticing Rasleela
Rasleela, especially the one organised at Vrindavan, is renowned for showing remarkable events and scenes from Lord Krishna’s childhood as well as adult life in form of dance dramas and street play enacted by the common people.
At the exact birth hour of the Lord, i.e, the midnight, puja and Arti are performed. The childhood deity affectionately popular by the name Lalji is set up in a swing and devotionally offered all the delicacies. Makhan(butter) is a mandatory inclusion in those dishes.
Dishes to relish
“Panchajiri” is the most popular traditional Prasad made using – dry powdered ginger, ‘suva’, coriander, sugar and ghee. Khas-khas(dried poppy seeds) and dried coconut scrapings might be the occasional inclusions as well. Different states have a unique way of celebrating by preparing several kinds of sweets like, Murruku and Vella Sadai at Tamil Nadu, Paal payasam and Neyappam at Kerala and Peda at Mathura. Other delicacies include Singhade ki poori, gulab jamun and Shrikhand.
The Unique Decorations
The idol of Lord Krishna’s bal gopal form and his cradle are decorated with flowers and lights. The idol is worshipped by bathing it with Panchamrit and adorned with new clothes and flower garlands. Wall and door hangings (torans and bandanwars respectively) of the Lord can be nice janmashtami gifts for your loved ones as well. All the temples are grandly decorated using flowers and posters depicting events from Lord Krishna’s life.
Janmashtami Gift Suggestions
Exchanging gifts besides just sweets and savouries during the festival is a unique way indeed to share love and affection with family, friends and colleagues. Here is a list of some unique Janmashtami gift ideas.
1. The Holy Gita
Although the Bhagvad Gita containing Lord Krishna’s teachings happens to be an unusual gift suggestion, this world scripture is sure to enlighten young minds.
As the bhajan goes, “Hathi ghoda palki, jay kanhaiya lal ki”, a splendid, beautiful silver palki (cradle) for the tiny bal gopal is a very wonderful way of conveying devotion for the adorable Lord and affection for your dear ones.
3. Gift Hampers
Hampers containing an idol, sweet savouries, dry fruits, puja accessories (puja diyas, puja thali, incense sticks, candles) and a Bhagvad gita is a classic idea and is sure to cheer anyone up.
Be it any auspicious occasion, silver and gold coins are traditionally regarded as symbols of prosperity and productiveness. Coins are thus accepted as blessings from elders and exchanged as gifts during Janmashtami.
The ‘Mor-pankh” or peacock feather was an integral part of Lord Krishna’s attire. Hence stationary like Chinese fans, fountain pens and other decorative pieces are gifted to innate Krishna devotees.
6. Idols and Bansuri
The deity’s idol and beautiful bansuri is sure to be a very good gift for any devotee. They are known to bring home joy and love. The sculptures in various postures are crafted in white marble, brass, bronze and even silver.
Some very Unusual Gift Ideas
If you want to gift something very unusual yet adorable to your dear ones this Janmashtami, then you better have a look at this range of gifts because it will simply amaze the person who receives it. It is sure ideal for the techno savy and the students and is expected to lighten up their faces. These personalized gifts can be bought online.
Concluding here in a hope that Janmashtami’15 be filled with frolic and devotion for one and all. May Lord Krishna shower on us his choicest blessings. Hare Krishna!!