Janmashtami, the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birthday, is a festival of love, devotion and joy in India. It is fabulously celebrated in the temples of Vrindavan and the ISKCON temples all over the country. Even the households observe the festive day with pomp. Many NRIs who are devotees of Lord Krishna fly to India from the USA and Canada on this occasion. However, Indian Eagle dedicates this post to those NRI friends who could not visit India this Janmashtami. It is a little effort to make them feel the enthusiasm, the excitement, the joy and the glory that Indians celebrate the festival of Janmashtami with.
Janmashtami celebration is a festive extravaganza in the north and east of India. The vibe of this Indian festival is hardly felt in any other part of the country. The ambience overflows with enthusiasm when the rituals of Krishna Janam are performed. The ritual of breaking dahi handi which is kept hanging on high is a grand spectacle in Mathura, Dwarka, Vrindavan, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Mumbai. A group of young boys performs this ritual to enact Krishna’s habit of breaking clay pots full of butter. It creates moments of fun among the onlookers and brightens their faces with gleams of joy. India sticks to this age-old tradition in the 21st century too.
Janmashtami festival is the celebration of human love for the Divine. The visual form of this abstract feeling is Rasleela, an ethnic dance drama that is performed as the most joyous part of the festivity. According to the mythological legends of India, Lord Krishna engaged in rasleela with Gopis, his female admirers to shower the bliss of divine love on them. Gopis made graceful dance moves in a circle around Krishna, and he played on his flute while standing in the center of the circle. It is rasleela that makes the Lord’s birthday celebration an overwhelming joy. Each state of India observes this tradition in a different style.
Holy processions from temples on the festive morning or evening of Janmashtami make great spectacles. Residents of the areas surrounding temples join the processions and lead a march for a certain distance, holding saffron-colored flags in their hands. Little boys and girls are dressed as Krishna and Radha. They are the center of attraction in processions. When the processions march, the people brim with ecstasy, greet hearty wishes to each other and chant “Jai Shri Krishna” in chorus. Such a holy procession on the occasion of Janmashtami is commonly known as Jhanki in small towns of India.
Lord Krishna is worshipped as Bal Gopal (an infant) in Indian households across villages, towns and cities, on Janmashtami. The idols of Bal Gopal are bathed with a mix of milk, curd and honey, and then washed with holy Ganga Jal (water of the Ganges) in the morning. The idols are elegantly adorned and set on swings. The swings are decorated with mango leaves and garlands. Several various delicacies are cooked in households throughout the day and offered to Bal Gopal at night. Neighbors visit each other’s house and cradle the deity in the swing.
Bengal springs into festivity on the occasion of Janmashtami, too. Lord Krishna’s birthday celebration is not as fabulous an event in Bengal as in the states of north and east India. However, the flavor of sweet dishes, cooked in the kitchens of Bengali households to offer to Krishna, defines the festive aura. Taler Bora is a must-have sweet delicacy in the bhog (culinary offering) for Lord Krishna on Janmashtami. The juicy content of Tal fruit or Toddy Palm is the chief ingredient of Taler Bora. Toddy Palm grows in bounty during the monsoon season of Bengal. Ripe banana is an alternative to Toddy Palm. Even Bengali NRIs in the US celebrate the birthday of Lord Krishna with bites of delectable Taler Bora.
Indian Eagle wishes you Happy Janmashtami. Jai Shri Krishna!