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Krishna Janmashtami Today: Mumbai, Pune Gear up to Thousands of ‘Dahi Handi’ Events

Jay Bharat Seva Sangh forming a human tower to break the Dahi handi in Dadar. (Wikipedia)

Jay Bharat Seva Sangh forming a human tower to break the Dahi handi in Dadar. (Wikipedia)

Hindus all over India and abroad woke up on Sunday to celebrate for Krishna Janmashtami or Krishnashtami or Gokulashtami, the annaul birth celebration of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.

The festival, which falls on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (second fortnight) of the month of Shraavana (August–September) in the Hindu calendar, is filled with dances and cultural events like Rasa lila, dance portraying the life of Krishna, especially in regions of Mathura and Vrindavan, and some regions in Manipur.

One stark feature of the festival is the Dahi Handi in each and every village or mohalla, where youngsters, called Govinda Pathaks, form human towers to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it, while women, elders, and kids cheer and jibe at them from an outer circle. Mumbai and Pune excel in this tradition.

Some households paint the front of the house with images of footprints of child Krishna hoping the deity would step on them to enter the house and bless them while in temples the images of Krishna’s infancy are placed in swings and cradles. At midnight, devotees gather around for devotional songs and dance events. The readings of the Bhagavad gita is also another event usually held in the evenings at some temples.

Apart from Nepal, even Bangladeshi Hindus observe the festival and the day is a national holiday in Bangladesh. On Janmashthami, a procession is taken from the Dhakeshwari Temple in Dhaka, the National Temple of Bangladesh, and then proceeds through the streets of Old Dhaka. Though it was interrupted from 1948 to 1989, the century-old procession is a regular annual feature now.

Similarly in Pakistan, Janmashthami is celebrated by Pakistani Hindus in the Swaminarayan Mandir in Karachi with the singing of bhajans.

In the US, first ever declaration of the celebration of Janmashtami was made by Janet Napolitano, while she was the Governor of Arizona. The festival is also celebrated in the West Indies or the Caribbeans — Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and in the Pacific island nations Fiji and also Suriname, where Indian migrants are in great numbers.

 

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