Krishna Janmashtami or Gokulashtami is celebrated in large parts of India as the birthday of Krishna, one of the central figures in the great epic – The Mahabharatha.
People celebrate this festival with a lot of special dishes depending on the region in India. Different types of Avlakki (flattened rice) is prepared such as Gojjavlakki, Mosaru (Yogurt) avlakki and Sihi (sweet) Avlakki. Many fried delicacies are prepared that are mostly based on rice flour. We make Chakli and/or Tenkolalu as examples of fried dishes. Payasam (also known as Kheer) is usually prepared as a sweet dish.
In popular culture
- Krishna means ‘black’ in Sanskrit
- Krishna has a sister – Subhadra – who weds Arjuna, the great archer in Mahabharatha
- Krishna grows up among the cow-herding clan ‘Yadava’
- Krishna is married to Rukmini and Satyabhama among 6 other wives. He saves the lives of 16,000 Gopi (cow-herding ladies) from a demon named Narakasura and (marries?) hence referred to in popular culture as someone who had 16,000 wives.
Krishna was born as the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva. Kamsa, Devaki’s brother overthrew their father and occupied the throne of Mathura in a coup. He had a curse that he would be killed by Devaki’s son, so afarid of that he started killing children borne by Devaki. However the 7th and 8th children of Devaki were secretly moved to Gokul to the house of Nanda and Yashoda where Balarama and Krishna grew up respectively. Later on, Krishna, with the help of Balarama killed Kamsa.
Krishna grew up as a mischeivous kid stealing Maakhan (fresh butter) from homes in Gokul along with his friends. In order to keep the butter away from him, people started to keep the earthen pot containers of butter tied up closer to the ceiling. Krishna, along with his friends made a human pyramid to reach the pot of butter near the ceiling and stole them anyway. He would then be reprimanded by Yashoda after the neighbors complain of his antics.
In some parts of India, people in a community get together to form a human pyramid to break an earthen pot filled with butter enacting pranks of Krishna, followed by singing and dancing.
Sudhaama comes from a poor family and was childhood friend of Krishna. Sudhaama’s family would be in a lot of trouble due to poverty and his wife pushes him to ask for help from Krishna who would then be a powerful military leader in the kingdom of Dwaraka. After reluctantly agreeing to go seek Krishna’s help he visits Krishna. It is generally a common practice (at least in India) to get something as a gift when visiting someone close, specially after a long time to show how much they are cared. When Sudhaama met Krishna, he didn’t have much to take as a gift and he offers pretty much all he could get, a fistful of flattened rice, as a token of friendship. Pleased with the gesture, Krishna honors and helps Sudhaama.
Costumes of Krishna are worn by kids specially little ones. Bright colored dresses with flute in hand and a crown adorned by peacock feather is one of the typical costumes.