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Bringing life to the gullies (narrow lanes) and nukkads (street corners), Krishna Janmashtami, popularly known as Janmashtami or Gokulashtami, soaks numerous states of India in festivity. Observed on the eighth day, Ashtami of the Krishna Paksha in Shraavana or Bhadrapad, this annual Hindu festival is worth witnessing. 

Celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, Janmashtami marks grandiose gaiety and fanfare across the country. And if you happen to be a part of this pompous event, you can hardly move without tripping over the crowd. Let’s look at how Janmashtami, the most riveting Indian festival in India, is celebrated in different states.

Uttar Pradesh

Mathura and Vrindavan are a spectacle in themselves at the time of Janmashtami. Both of these places come to life weeks before the festival. Temples across the state resound with Krishna aartis and night vigils. Countless devotees swarm the religious spots that witness beautifully decorated pandals. Jhulautsav - swings considered as the cradle of Lord Krishna are embellished with flowers and ornaments, are displayed in the temple’s pragan. Jhanki Pradarshan and Rasleela- folk dance& drama based on excerpts taken from the Bhagwata Purana gather the stage. The idol of Lord Krishna is anointed with honey, milk, and curd. Locals offer chapan bhog (56 dishes) to the Lord amidst the chanting of prayers.

Maharashtra

With the streets resounding with “Govinda aala re” Maharashtra celebrates Gokulashtami with utmost zeal and enthusiasm. “Dahi Handi ” a ritual that stages Krishna’s pursuit for his favorite buttermilk, is performed by the locals religiously. Young lads, each symbolizing Lord Krishna come together to form a human pyramid. The goal is to crack the earthen pot filled with buttermilk, which is hung around 20 to 30 feet from the ground. Amidst the cheering of the spectators, there is one person who reaches the top-most position climbing the human pyramid and breaks the pitcher spilling the buttermilk over the gathering. Numerous spots across the state during Janmashtami witness Dahi Handi, a one of a kind ritual.

Janmashtami in Uttar Pradesh Janmashtami in Maharashtra

Gujarat

Lord Krishna, also known as the Dwarkadish (King of Dwarka), is highly revered by the natives of Gujarat. Consistent chanting of mantras, bhajans, and kirtans takes place at the Dwarkadhish Temple in the state during the festival of Janmashtami. Emblazoned with precious jewelry, the idol of Dwarkadish is made accessible to the devotees for worship who throng the temple premises coming from places far and wide. The entire city brightens up at this point of the year, enveloping every bit in spiritual fervor. Kids seen dressed up as mythological characters partake in folk dances and drama. The ringing of bells and the sound of the conch shells make up the Mangal Aarti in the morning, which is a must-attend.

Manipur

Janmashtami, known as Krishna Janma in Manipur, is celebrated whole-heartedly across ISKCON & Shri Shri Govindajee temples in Imphal. Music and dance performance along with Rasleela enacted in Manipuri style is a part of the auspicious celebration. Various cultural programs take place during this part of the year with full enthusiasm. The festivity begins at midnight when devotees gather together to sing bhajans and kirtans to please the Lord. They also keep a day-long fast on this occasion.

Janmashtami in Gujarat Janmashtami in Manipur

South India

This festival of the Hindus, referred to as Sri Krishna Jayanti in South India encompasses plenty of merriment. Preparing an elaborate meal (bhog) consisting of 400 items as an offering to Lord Krishna is carried out unfailingly. Locals decorate their houses with rice batters creating striking patterns of ‘Kolams’ and footprints of Lord Krishna at the entrance signifying the Lord’s arrival. Religious hymns and verses from the Bhagwat Gita are a part of the celebration. The idol of Shri Krishna as a child is seated on a swing and rocked gently.  After lighting the diya and reciting prayers, prasadam is first offered to the Lord and later among others. 

Andhra Pradesh

Apart from preparing a wide variety of sweets, the natives of Andhra Pradesh recite shlokas during this jovial time. Children dress up and visit neighbors and friends, spreading happiness and cheer all around. Temples are deck up so are the houses rejoicing the birth of Lord Krishna. Musical dramas take the stage, and herds of locals gather together to watch the episodic enactment of few excerpts depicting the life of Lord Krishna. Every nook and corner of the state makes way for the celebratory mood at this point of the year.

Janmashtami in South India Andhra Pradesh

The festive spirit might be toned down a bit this year due to the ongoing pandemic. Yet countless pilgrims around the country will observe this auspicious day with full devotion and joy at their homes.

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