On the eve of every 8th day of the dark fortnight of Bhadrapada month, the whole nation of India celebrates the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna. According to Hindu mythology on this very day, Lord Vishnu had reincarnated himself as Krishna to free everyone from the misery and peril bestowed by his uncle and the evil king of Mathura; Kansa. It is widely celebrated amongst the Hindus spread all over the globe.
Before the birth of the lord, one day Kansa was threatened by heaven that his reason of downfall would be the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva. After listening to the prophecy, The king of Mathura put his sister and brother-in-law behind the bars and waited for the appearance of the 8th Child. During the time he had killed 7 infant sons of Devaki. However, on the day of 8th Bhadrapada while Krishna came out from the womb the whole state has gone into a never-ending slumber.
While everyone slept peacefully the door of their prison opened up and Vasudeva was advised to take Krishna to his friend Nanda who lived in Vrindavan. He took Little Krishna over his head and began his voyage towards the fabulous Vrindavan, The sky thundered fiercely, the earth bathed in the grace of endless rain, and the water on the Yamuna river collided with the bank feverishly, as it expressed the joy of the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Despite all those inconveniences Vasudeva stuck to his word as he delivered Krishna to Nanda and Yashoda of Vrindavan. During his journey, Shesh naag (king of all snakes) quietly accompanied him, as he protected his lord from the heavy downpour. After handing over Krishna to Nanda, Vasudeva returned with the girl that was born in Yashoda’s womb. Returning to the castle he gave the child to Kansa, but when Kansa tried to kill that girl the infant took the form of goddess Durga and told the evil king that his days of doom has already commenced.
During the time of his living in Vrindavan Krishna grew up to be the darling of everyone, everyone revered his flute playing. He would play his flute with all of his heart content, while herding flocks of cows in the field of Mathura. His soothing music would draw every human towards him, they would encircle the lord and starts to dance to the notes filled with joy and happiness.
There are lots of adventurous tales of lord Krishna inscribed in numerous Hindu scriptures. On the auspicious eve of Janmashtami, the lord’s devotees would keep fast during the day while singing Bhajans and talking about these tales in temples and houses. On the eve of Janmashtami, the devotee doesn’t consume anything made out of grain. They would only take fruits and water, this tradition is known as “phalahar”.
The priest and devotee present sweets and dishes to the lord. Later the devotees would take in this prasad as a leftover from the lord’s feast. In the prasad, they usually present 56 different dishes known as “Chappan bhog” to the lord. This “Chappan bhog” includes all of Krishna’s favorite food. There is another interesting legend behind this “Chappan bhog” tradition. one-day lord Indra was angry at Krishna for eating his prasad. he brought the flood and heavy rainfall to Vrindavan, terrified at the sudden outburst of the god, the people of Vrindavan went to Krishna asking for help. The Lord assured them and took them to Govardhan parvat. Where He held the entire hill on his finger as people took shelter under it. He held up the parvat for seven days straight. Once the anger of Indra ceased he stopped the calamity. Once they came out into the opening they presented him with these “Chappan bhog”.
There are several other fun facts about lord Krishna that have been circulating throughout the generation verbally, either in the form of fables or in songs, for centuries. One of the most fascinating and loved ones is, that Lord Krishna use to love butter so much that he would steal it from his house as well as from the other households in Mathura. For which he was regarded adoringly in many scriptures and songs by the name Makhan-chor (Butter-thieve). There’s another ritual of Dahi Handi, an imitation of the lord’s butter stealing. An earthen pot filled with curd, honey, butter, dry fruits, and fruits, and hanged on a rope 20 to 30 feet above the ground, the boys would gather below the pot and build a human pyramid climbing on each other. to get hold of the earthen pot. The boy who stands at the top of the pyramid is called Govinda which is another name of the lord. And the people standing below him forming the pyramid are known as mandals or handi. Dahi handi is celebrated after the day of eve. It is a public spectacle celebrated enthusiastically and cheered as a community event.
In some communities, we can see a dance drama event known as raas Lila, where children take part in various Characters, Such as Krishna, Radha, Yasuda, Balram, etc and plays a dance drama displaying significant moments of the lord’s life, from stealing butter to slaying the evil king Kansa, Raas Lila has been a revered by people from centuries. It is very popular in Mathura along with the northeastern states of India.
In Dwarka of Gujarat, where Krishna is believed to have established his kingdom. They celebrate the festival with a tradition same as Dahi Handi, called Makhan Handi. In the state of Assam and West Bengal, the Vaishnava community celebrates the holy festival with forms of performance arts. such as Borgeet, Ankita naat, and Sattriya Nattya. The celebration of Krishna Janmashtami varied across different states. However, they all share one thing in common, which is to spread love and harmony among communities in the name of Lord Krishna.