The Jubilant Indian Festival of Janmashtami



India – A land of cultures, languages, diversity, religions, also a lot of people – which basically sums down to a lot many vibrant festivals and colorful celebrations. Every year Indians celebrate a host of vibrant festivals that keep the country abuzz with some or the other happening. Be it the splendors of the Arabic Seas or the wonders of the gigantic and very pristine Himalayan Mountains – religion and mythology finds a way to weave into the geography and one is living like the legends created by the divine force of Gods and Goddesses. Talking of the Gods, the Hindu mythology is a full of demigods, demigoddesses, even mighty demons and to establish the flag of goodness over evil the Gods. Hindu mythology is comprised of a trident that is made up by Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. What intrigued me the most apart from the initial bizarre features of the Gods for an outsider like me, but on overlooking that, it is the role and the duty which each of the Gods perform for the eternal functioning of life. Yes – that is another significant truth that Hinduism upholds, that life is eternal. And in order to keep the eternal world going, Lord Brahma is charged with the duty of Creation, while Lord Shiva who signifies Passion is the Lord of Destruction and Annihilation to revive the world; and it is Lord Vishnu who is the protector and the preserver of the Universe.

Janmashtami festival

Hinduism – means nothing but ‘Way of Life’. And this life I see electrifying in the nooks, the bazaars of dingy villages to the glass buildings of the leading metro cities, and even those localities which are dwindled in its yearn to be developed and to be at par with the western world. Although, the celebrations may not be a fool-proof representation of religion in all its seriousness, but it is the cultural packaging that dilute with religiosity and festivities which have a charm in its own way. As I write this, the thumping beats of a Bollywood song is almost inevitable, the screeching sounds of the loud speaker making way into my room even after the celebrations are over. Oh, before I can’t stop thinking about how my day went about, let me tell you it was the vibrant festival of Janmashtami today. Like, you can’t get the word right, well, then try saying these words one by one: Gen (like that of Genereation) – Mash (Mash Potatoes, you know!) Tummy – (Where the hunger for Mash Potatoes would never quite die!) So, that makes it Jan-Mash-Tami! Simple, ain’t it?

Janmashtami marks the birthday of The Supreme Personality of Godhead of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna is one of the incarnate forms of the aforementioned Lord Vishnu. This festival wraps the whole country in a different fervor, and every region has their way of celebrating the festival. In the commercial capital of India in Mumbai, which marks my stay destination broke the dawn with ‘filmy’ songs from Bollywood (which continues till now at about ten in the night) As the ear-deafening music woke me up, I ran to the window to take notice of whether is it a mass alarm system (alarms are never quite pleasing to the ears) but the streets were still empty with no sight of people. But, I rather saw a clay-pot hanging to a rope. The clay pot was tied with garlands and the brim was shut by a coconut. The rope string it hung on was also decorated with flowers and balloons. I asked my Couch-Surfer Indian buddy who was kind enough to accommodate me in the house for the stay about the whole deal. And he told me that all throughout the year, groups that are locally referred to as Mitra Mandals prepare for this day as they have to reach to the pot by a Human Pyramid to a height even as high as twenty to forty feet without any safety harness or ropes.

Janmashtami celebration

It is at this time of the year when Religion mixed with a bit of Political gimmick as there are prizes ranging up to even a crore (in Indian Rupees) that is about Two Hundred and Fifteen Thousand US Dollars. The groups are comprised of about seventy to even hundred people in sets to achieve that height. A lot of accidents also happen in the event, but it is all take as a part and parcel of the festival without causing any disruptions. The members are responsible for themselves and there is no government aid to counter injuries or provide treatment.

While in Mumbai the festival is referred as Gokul Ashtami, in the norther part of India – especially places like Vrindavan, the neighboring Mathura (which is also the birthplace of Lord Krishna) and other areas in the North are abuzz with many many temples dedicated with devotion to this Supreme Personality of Godhead. They refer to the festival as Krishna Jayanti or Janamashtami and the celebrations range up to three long days. The first two days are marked by singing the glories of God, accompanied by Mridangam – this instrument commonly goes to give beats to the hymns of Lord Krishna also the Harmonium (like an Indian piano). The third day is the dahi-handi ritual like the aforementioned way of celebrating in Mumbai by breaking the pot containing either butter or milk – as these products were very dear to Lord Krishna and this also makes for one of his very famous pastimes of stealing butter. This pose of stealing butter with his friends called Gopas is which is imitated.

Janmashtami

Mouthwatering delicacies are prepared and first offered to Lord, and then distributed among neighbors, friends and relatives. In the many temples of Vrindavan, Lord Krishna is given a ‘panch-amrit bath’ – which is bathing him five liquids of Honey, Water, Milk, Curd and Ghee.

However, Indian festivals are now rather becoming an occasion for the masses to celebrate just another day without any staunch devotion. This signifies the changing face of India which is still tied to its roots.

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  1. Rosemary Jones says:

    Indeed, India fascinates me to no end..The festivals, the people, all so different and yet the same,I love India for its diverse-ness in all aspects be it culture, food, festivals, people..It draws me to no end!!

    In Janmashtami, they make what we call the ‘Human pyramid’..There is a plate which is called ‘Chappan Bhog’ where 65 varieties of sweets and delicacies are prepared and before the festival starts , the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated at 12 midnight with a lot of devotion and pomp..People fast a day before thiss celebration at midnight and after 12 , after offering the ‘Chappan Bhog’ to Lord Krishna they have their first morsel of food which are the delicious delicacies!

    Thank you for the pictures and other info!

  2. Sandy Smith says:

    OH Indeed the ‘human pyramid’ is something we all have been fascinated to know about and many of our friends here in the Western world are suprised at the popularity and differentness of this festival called ‘Janmashtami’!

    Thank you for the lovely photos of this lovely festival called ‘Janmashtami’!

  3. Sue Briganza says:

    It was fun reading your post as it brought back memories of our Indian holiday in Mumbai during this festival time!

    I sincerely wish to thank our local guide Mr. Suresh and his little companion who called himself ‘Municipality’!!(to surprise my whims)! I am thankful to both of them for showing me around most places in a short span of time and always ensuring my journey was smooth and comfortable..(I was quite worried about the roads and the traffic as I’ve heard from friends about their travels!)But, I am really grateful and pay sincere thanks to Mr. Suresh and the young chap ‘Municipality’!

    Looking forward to my next Indian Holiday!

    A highly commendable visit I had here!

  4. Guinea Baxter says:

    AH! Nice post and pictures!Well written!

  5. Evan Thompson says:

    Great piece! Keep posting! :-)

  6. Rubin Thomas says:

    Good wishes to you on Janmashtami.

    Keep posting!

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