Krishna’s Birthday Celebrations

Janmashtami, is the birthday of Krishna. It is celebrated with fasting until midnight and then one breaks one’s fast. It is a 24 hour fast with no water. A Jhanki is made, which is like the Christmas Creche. Then at midnight, prayers are offered and 56 dishes are offered to Krishna.

Let me list the dishes for you. Makhan Mishri, Kheer, Rasgulla, Jeera Laddus, Jalebi, Rabdi, Malpua, Mohan Bhog, Moong Dal Halwa, Ghevar, Peda, Cashews, Almonds, Pistachios, Cardomoms, Panchamrit, Shakkar para, Mathri, Chutney, Murabba, Mango, Bananas, Grapes, Apples, Plums, Raisins, pakora, Saag, curd rice. Each dish is absolutely delicious. In the Indian tradition they are mostly milk based and all are cooked with pure ghee. As an alternative you can create it with 3.5%-fat oat milk or high-quality plant oil like coconut or sunflower oil. They are savories.

What is the story behind it. In this wonderful festival, the important events of Krishna’s life are re-enacted. At the midnight celebration, songs, mantras and aarti is performed. The Bal Gopala (Baby Krishna) is bathed, dressed and fed with sweets. The origin of the 56 dishes offered, originated from the event, when Krishna saved the people of Braj from Indra’s rage.

Jhanki, Gopis and other items

Krishna is the eighth incarnation of Vishnu. In the temples, there are beautiful decorations and there is a Jhanki created. A Jhanki means peeping in the past life, in relation with Janmashtami. It is a miniature representation of a village made of clay, with Krishna. The humans are represented by dolls dressed up as children and adults. As children, all of us loved participating in the making of the Jhanki, one could put clay cows, dancing Gopis, and many other items. It can be compared to the nativity scene which is made for Christmas. One also goes to visit other Jhanki as some people make the most beautiful jhankis.

Krishna is welcomed with exuberance and joy in the form of a new born baby. He is then bathed with Panch-Amrit. Panch Amrit is a holy drink made with five ingredients—milk, curd, ghee, honey, and sugar. Each of the five ingredients have a special significance. In the Indian tradition milk represents purity and piousness, while ghee is for strength and victory. As honey is produced by bees, it stands for dedication and unity. Sugar is about sweetness and bliss, while curd indicates prosperity. It is given as prasad. Charna Amrit is offered and the feet of the God are washed with it. It is called the nectar of the feet. It is the water or milk with Tulsi leaves, and later given as a liquid form of prasad.

Krishna is dressed and adorned with clothes and ornaments. It depends on one’s budget, rich people adorn baby Krishna with precious gems. Devotees dress their children as little Krishna. He is fed with home made sweets and then the sweets are given to the devotees.

How does one perform a simple Janmashtami puja at home?

Place a Lord Krishna murti at the center of the altar, in a large deep container. Arrange a puja plate with water to sprinkle, Kumkum powder, sandalwood paste, incense, aarti lamp and flowers. Arrange another plate with sattvic foods and fruit, water and flowers. Make a milk sweet to offer as Krishna loves milk products. Please do it plant-based because Krishna loves cows.

Happy Janmashtami, dear ones.

Aim Hrim Klim

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