Gokulashtami.Krishna Jayanti. Sri Jayanti.

It is Krishna’s birthday celebration time.

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Krishna, as conceived by an artist  [Source]

The moment of Krishna’s birth is most wondrous and mysterious. Recalling that moment to memory is most enchanting. The name the form represents and the form that points to the name – both are blissful. Nothing short of it.

The celebrations of Krishna’s birthday throughout India and rest of the world are extremely joyous occasions. Children and adults eagerly wait for this day and spend it in a sprightly and spirited manner. There is a certain verve in this function that I don’t find in any other function. There is something  about Krishna that attracts one and all in an ever-fresh manner. The ever increasing sweetness in this attraction is inexplicable.

The actual date of the celebration varies depending on if you use lunar or solar calendar to calculate the birthday. For example, using the lunar calendar, Krishna’s birthday falls on August 24 this year. Using the solar calendar, however, it can be on August 25 or 26. Krishna was born on the eighth phase of the moon in its waning period. This day is called Gokulashtami and is August 25 (Gokul is the place of Krishna’s birth, ashtami – eighth phase of the moon). However the birth star of Krishna (Rohini) falls on the 26th. This day is celebrated as Sri Jayanti or Krishna Jayanti (Jayanti– victory )

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Look at me! I’m Krishna! [Source]

Regardless of the date of celebration, children put up a spirited show. They dress up as child-Krishna, dance, sing, play, hold a flute in their hands and show-off their Krishna act in all its beauty and smile captivatingly. Both boys and girls do this .And spiritedly so. This is such a beautiful thing that it burns religious barriers. Children from other religious faiths also take part with equal enthusiasm.

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Krishna in children, in harmony [Source] [Source]

Youth are not left out on the fun and frolic. They play a game called “dahi handi” [curd pot].  I didn’t realize how amazingly humorous and difficult this game is till I participated in one. You stand on a human pyramid and hit a mud-pot containing curd. The pot is hanging on a rope and is at 25-30 ft height.  The catch is not the unstable and uncertain human pyramid. The catch is the pot is a moving target. It is pulled away from you (up and sideways) through the rope it is hanging on as you are about to hit it. The result is you fall down. There is boisterous laughter all around. Truly a happy  and worry-removing game. Try it some time! [see the pictures below]

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Catching the curd pot, Dahi Hundi, Mumbai [Source]

Youth also stage devotional plays of Radha and Krishna,  Krishna’s birth, etc.

Temples are decorated in splendrous light for the night. People throng to the temple to offer worship and to listen to the narration of the story of Krishna’s birth during the night.

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Mathura temple decoration [Source]

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Dwaraka temple decoration [Source]

Janmashtami celebration in Guwahati
Celebration in Guwahati temple. [Source]
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A private moment with Krishna’s birth story outside Dwaraka temple.  [Source]

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Celebrating Krishna’s birthday at home [Source]

Every home turns into a fountain of felicitation on this day. For me, Krishna Jayanti means first the once-a-year culinary delights that happen only on this day. I would eagerly look forward to vella seedai – brown fried balls of rice flour and jaggery that is made specially on this day. This is a delicious item, delicately prepared. Done the right way, it is easy to bite into and melts in the mouth. A misstep here or there in preparation, it breaks the teeth. Another item that I love is the simple paste of butter and sugar mix which is again made specially on this day.

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Krishna footprints. Home celebration of Krishna Jayanti [Source]

These tiny Krishna footprints are made on the floor with rice flour paste as we celebrate Krishna Jayanti at home. I found them fascinating when I saw them for the first time at young age. I loved the cute tiny foot marks. I learned later that this is a playful, yet powerful, reminder of the truth that there are God’s footprints all around me only if I care to look for them.

Krishna is a beautiful name with soul-stirring meaning.

Krishna means the essence that cultivates the field of my heart, removes the weeds of bad qualities in it, waters it with love, ploughs it with the discipline of practice and sows in it the seeds of devotion. It means the essence of attraction that attracts me to things inside and outside me. It also means bliss, the essence of happiness in all I do, don’t do.

Krishyati iti krishnah. Karshati iti krishnah. Kushyati iti Krishnah

Love is the essence that the name Krishna means.

Krishna’s  birthday celebration reminds me of Krishna’s birthday. The real birthday of Krishna is the day I look to the Krishna within me, the Love within me. That is truly the day for grand celebration.

I worship Krishna. He is the form of truth, knowledge, bliss. He removes all miseries. I know Him through the teachings of scriptures. He removes ignorance. He is the witnesses of intelligence.

satchidananda roopaaya krishnaaya aklishta kaarine| namo vedaanta vedyaaya gurave buddhi saakshine||

Happy Krishna Jayanti, dear reader!

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