Janamashtami Celebrations in India
Janamashtami is an Indian festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Krishna is an Indian God who is the 8th avatar of the Lord Vishnu, the Preserver. This festival usually falls anytime between July and September, as it is observed according to the Lunar Calendar. Janamashtami is one of the biggest festivals around the world, and not just in India. Over 9.4 million people across the globe celebrate this festival, out of which 2 million people are in the United States of America. If you want to observe an Indian festival in all its glory, visiting India during Janamashtami is a great idea.
One of the most popular ways of celebrating Janamashtami in Maharashtra is through the celebration of Dahi Handi. The term translates to an earthen pot of yoghurt, and this pot is hung from a great height. Indian men then form a human pyramid that reaches the top. One special person at the festival then climbs the pyramid and breaks the pot. The contents of the pot are considered to be holy food, or Prashad. While the men make the human pyramid, women surround them and cheer them on, singing and dancing. This is considered to be a fun community event and many people set up the event in the areas where they live.
In Gujarat, freshly churned butter replaces the yoghurt in the pot. In this case the celebrations are known as Makhan Handi.
Janamashtami celebrations in North India
Janamashtami celebrations in India are quite fun. The festivities begin before dawn and can go on until midnight. Two of the most crucial aspects of the festivities include the Kirtan, which is an event during which mass devotional singing occurs, and the Nama japa, which is a private prayer undertaken in one’s home. The specifics of the celebrations vary with each devotee. Some people organize a huge feast that includes over a hundred delicious dishes. As a traveller, this is a great time to sample the local cuisine as its most likely to be home-cooked.
Other people put on plays and dance performances. These plays generally showcase the life of Lord Krishna and the dance performances include Indian traditional dances. If you want to catch glimpses of Indian culture and the meaning behind their devotion to Lord Krishna, attending a performance set up by local devotees is a great way to do so. Devotees with milder dispositions tend to veer more towards decorating the temple and garlanding the images of Lord Krishna. Some of them dress the idols as well. Though this ceremony may not sound as extensive as the performances, it can last for over 2 hours! Priests bathe the idols in special holy liquids and water and then clothe them with care while devotees sing hymns and praise the Lord. At midnight, the priests pull apart the curtains and reveal the Lord in all His Splendour.
Janamashtami celebrations Famous in India vary from region to region and are quite a big deal no matter where you go.
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