Saturday, 20 August 2011

Janam Ashtami

According to the Hindu Mythology and Religion, God is invariably present in all existing things and is distinct from all non-entities. There are three Gods, the Creator-Brahma, the Preserver-Vishnu and the Destroyer-Shiva.

Bankey Behari is the childhood face of Lord Krishna the eighth of the 10 incarnations of Vishnu (the Preserver of the Universe) is one of Hinduism's most popular gods.No other God in the Hindu pantheon, or for that matter in any other religion, is associated with so many romantic tales and so fully radiating with all the divine attributes as Sri Krishna.Janmastami celebrates the birth of the beloved Hindu god -Lord Krishna.Some people celebrate the next day as Gokul Janamashtami where Shree Krishna was taken safely.

According to archaeologists and scholars, the area called Katra Keshavadeva in the old part of Mathura city is where Krishna was born. Through the centuries, temples were constructed on this site, only to be repeatedly destroyed by invading armies. In the 1940s, freedom fighter Pundit Madan Mohan Malaviya set about restoring the shrine. Today, there is a huge temple - Shri Krishna Janamabhoomi, which is the place for Janmastami celebrations.

Except for Dwarka, which is in Gujarat, most of Krishna's story unfolds in Mathura and its environs - Vrindavan (15 kilometer from Mathura) where he played the flute, sported with the gopis and wooed his sweetheart Radha; Goverdhan (26 kilometer away) where, as a child, he is said to have held aloft the Goverdhan mountain on his finger for seven days and nights to protect the cowherds from a deluge, Gokul (16 kilometer away) where baby Krishna was kept hidden and sheltered from the evil King Kansa by his foster mother Yashoda, Barsana (21 kilometer from Goverdhan), the birthplace of Radha and many other small towns, significant because they were in some way connected with Krishna. Not surprisingly, the entire area, called Brajbhoomi, is deeply steeped in Krishna lore. And Janmastami is celebrated in this entire area with incredible fervor and gaiety. But the place which is considered the holiest is obviously Mathura, and within Mathura too, one particular temple which is built on the exact site where Krishna was born.

Raasleelas (a kind of folk theatre which narrates the various aspects of Krishna's life) are important part of Janmastami celeberation .

Every year, with the onset of the rainy season, the raasleelas begin. The raasleelas are usually in brajbhasha, the dialect of the region, but once in a way, the actors improvise and break into Hindi. Krishna is always played by a young boy, never a grown up man, and when the show ends, the people quietly queue up to go onstage and offer their prayers to Lord Krishna. Reverentially, they touch the little boy's feet, and drop their offerings in a big urn placed next to him. Because, for the devotees, the young boy playing Krishna is not human at that time - he is a manifestation of Lord himself.

Janmastami falls in the month of Bhadra (August-September), and the moment of importance is midnight when Krishna is born. People fast all day (some without even water) and eat only after the midnight birth ceremony is over. Temples and homes all over India display jhankis (tableaux) showing important incidents from the Lord's life. Often the image of the baby Krishna is placed on a swing and bathed with charanamrit (holy water). Midnight prayers are performed. The sound of hymns and religious songs extol the greatness of Krishna. While this festival is celebrated throughout the country it is in Mathura that the celebration reach their peak.

 The ceremony that follows is a very simple affair. To the chanting of mantras, the priests bathe the idol with gangajal (water from the holy Ganges river), milk, ghee (clarified butter), oil and honey. All these are poured from a conch shell by yellow robed priests.

However while keeping janamshatami fast in our families mostly in the afternoon meal consist of fruits, aaloo - kachalu, kootu-singhare ke aate kee puri or pakodi, heeng jeere ke rase ke aalo,khoye ki mithai, makhane kee kheer is eaten.All this food is prepared while using senda namak (Rock salt).For prasad to be eaten after midnight mewa is cooked (called paagana) which consist almonds, makhane, coconut, chironjee, kharbuje ke beej cooked in sugar or khand and oil Till 12 o'clock in night people sings songs of Shree Krishna and after 12 o'clock after eating prasad only anything is eaten.

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