Krishna Janmashtami or Gokulashtami celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Today, we celebrated it at home with prayers and a pleasant Sunday together. I made a sweet dish with coconut and condensed milk from scratch. The main offerings for this festival are milk, curds, poha or flattened rice and butter – because these are Krishna’s favorites.
During my childhood, my Grandmother used to make at least 15 items – we were a large joint family and everyone enthusiastically enjoyed the eats. Since the puja and the festival were celebrated in the evening, everyone was home and eager! Ah, how lovely our house would smell!
Legend has it that Krishna visits our home at midnight to eat all the stuff we offer him. To guide him, little footsteps are drawn from our door to the altar. I remember we would try so hard to stay awake and manage to drop off just before midnight.
The next morning, we’d find a bit of butter around the mouth of the Krishna (thoughtfully applied by my Grandma) and feel so excited that he had indeed visited. We’d argue about not being woken up when he came, because obviously she had seen him…and she would say that she didn’t want to make a noise and scare him away. Ah, what fond memories!
These days, I restrict myself to just a couple of items and simply get a festival pack from the famous sweet shop near our place. Enough variety, eh? We used to make all this and more!
At our native place Varagur in Tanjavur district, Krishna Janmashtami is a major festival and marked by “Uriyadi” – a fun event celebrated for for ten days until the day after Janmashtami. A pot or Uri is tied at the top of a pole and those who participate in this festival must climb this pole blindfolded with a stick to help them figure out where the goodies are and strike it, so they can win it. Another event is the slippery post – where a post is covered in butter and the participant is expected to climb the pole successfully to win the goodies at the top, as water is flung on them to make it harder. Everyone in the area takes part in the festivities.
We have a few Krishna temples around our place where the festival is celebrated in a big way. Let me show you some photos of one of our favorite temples – the Venugopalaswamy temple. These pictures depict some of the pastimes of Krishna. When Vidur was around 11 years old, he wrote a series of 15 posts describing these. To read the stories, please visit Vidur’s post here. I have also linked the description for the photos below:
Here are the pictures of the temple’s wall. I had posted photos of this temple here.
For perspective, this is the wall:
And here’s a close up of each “tableau” in the wall.
His father Vasudeva transports him to safety, from the wicked King Kamsa
Kamsa is furious and sends a demon named Putana to kill Krishna. The infant Krishna has the last laugh.
Undeterred, Kamsa continues to send a stream of demons to nix Krishna, who turns the table on them and each one attains “moksha”. The following depict Krishna’s victories over various demons.
and finally, destroying Kamsa
Nobody can say Krishna led a boring life! He may have been divine, but he’s reputed to have been amazingly naughty. There’s a belief that children below 5 are incarnations of Lord Krishna.
Let me share one of my favorite stanzas from the Bhagavad Gita which relates to the Karma Theory:
(Chapter 2, stanza 47)
Karmanyevaadhikaaraste maa phaleshu kadaachana;
Maa karmaphalahetur bhoor maa te sango’stwakarmani.
Thy right is to work only, but never with its fruits;
let not the fruits of actions be thy motive, nor let thy attachment be to inaction.
Which basically implies that we let go of outcomes and focus on our duty. Solid life-lesson there, eh?
Happy Krishna Janmashtami to you!
I am linking up with Unknown Mami for Sundays In My City because I enjoy world travel. Click the pic below to see what the others are up to!