Janmashtami traditions from various Indian states
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Janmashtami traditions from various Indian states

One is aware of dahi handi celebrations of north india, but do you know about these rituals?

Janmashtami traditions from various Indian states

Just like Lord Krishna himself, Janmashtami is full of real time fun and frolic. Giant human pyramids are made in various states, and one local kanhaiya breaks the matka at the top in North India. 

Janmashtami, celebrated on the eighth day of Ashtami of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the month of Shraavana or Bhadrapada is a major festival in India. Families sing bhajans, there is festive food and special prayers are held.

While you may know the north indian dahi handi celebration, Janmashtami is celebrated in unique ways throughout India-

Vrindavan Janmashtami

Vrindavan is the place where the early years of Lord Krishna were spent. In scriptures and illustrations, we see Lord Krishna playing the flute for his devotees, including Radha.  Later, he left Vrindavan and went to Mathura  to kill Kansa who was continuously trying to threaten him. As a matter of fact, in Vrindavan, people greet each other as radhe radhe, instead of Krishna as they believe that if you summon Radha, Krishna will definitely grace them with his blessings. Moreover, Krishna kept Radha ahead of him in all his decisions. 

On Janmashtami, the Vrindavan is decorated with lights, people sing and dance while praying to the god. It is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm in Prem Mandir, ISKCON Temple, and 5000 other smaller temples that are present in the city. People here chant mantras, sing Krishna songs, dance to them, and rock cradles with baby Krishna inside. Devotees also play with buttermilk, curd, and turmeric, bathing Krishna with all these items. Though the preparations start a day before Gokulashtami, the city gets into the festival mood about a week before the actual day.

Bengal- Kathamo Puja

Many Bengali households celebrate Janmashtami by hosting Kathamo Puja in the morning to worship Narayan, where a clay idol is built on a wooden frame. This is followed by worshipping Radha Krishna in the evening. Food is a big part of Janmashtami celebration in Bengal. Given Lord Krishna’s love for makhan, buttermilk, and ghee. bhog is prepared and offered to the Lord. Makhan mishri is made from sugar and makhan, Lord Krishna’s favorite. Mishti Doi, Shinni  and Khoya Malpua are also prepared. Taler Bora or sweet fritters are made as bhog. Tal kheer or sweet palm pudding is another delicacy. 

Celebration through performing arts in Manipur

The well-known culture of celebrating Janmashtami in Eastern and Northeastern India is attributed to the teachings of 15th and 16th century Sankardeva and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. The people of Manipur perform Manipuri dance, enacting Raslila – a love inspired dance drama act of Radha and Krishna. New forms of performance arts were created to celebrate the Hindu god Krishna such as lyrical songs or Borgeet, Ankia Naat or one act plays inspired from Lord Krishna’s worship, Sattriya nritya, and Bhakti yoga now popular in West Bengal and Assam. These dance drama arts are a part of Janmashtami tradition in these regions. Their contextual roots are in the ancient Hindu Sanskrit text Natya Shastra, but with time, they have undergone cultural influences from fusions.

This article is a replug on occasion of Janmashtami