Krishna Janmashtami Festival, India

The Krishna Janmashtami festival celebrates Krishna's birth, one of the most popular Hindu deities. According to the ancient Indian calendar, he was born in 3230 BC. Sravana is the Hindu month in August or September when the festival takes place. There are two full days of celebrations that are colorful and passionate.

The celebrations begin at midnight when Krishna is believed to have been born. Each region of India celebrates different events differently, with different ways to commemorate special occasions like this. Thousands of plates of vegetarian prasadam are distributed to pilgrims on occasion. During celebrations, some Hindus simply don't sleep, but instead, sing devotional songs called bhajans.

In Janmashtami, milk and curd are part of the meals. Krishna himself was said to have loved them, so these ingredients are part of the meal. Some Hindus engage in a full day and night fast on Krishna Janmashtami's first day, breaking their fast around midnight. Vivacious and colorful celebrations are centered on drama, song, and dancing. In these plays, Krishna's earlier years are reenacted in some detail. Temples reflect devotion to Krishna by bathing and cradling images while blowing shankhs (conchs) and ringing bells. They also chant holy mantras to honor him. One of the most striking traditions is the human pyramid: the crowds elevate a young boy, who stands at the top, to reach the clay pot. As a rule, buttermilk (dahi) is kept in a pot known as a handi. The boy smashes the pot when he reaches the top of the pyramid, spilling the buttermilk. There is great significance to Krishna in Hinduism, which makes Janmashtami celebrations so important and extensive.

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