India is a land of vast diversity. Because of its multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic society, there are numerous festivals (उत्सव – Utsav) which are celebrated as per a particular community and region. However, there are some festivals which are celebrated all over India. One such festival is Krishna Janmashtami (कृष्ण जन्माष्टमी) or simply, Janmashtami.
Janmashtami celebrates the birth (जन्म – Janam) of Lord Krishna who is considered as the incarnation (अवतार – Avatar) of Lord Vishnu who is one of the trinity in Hindu mythology. He is believed to be born on 19 July 3228 BCE based on scriptures and astrological calculations. The day is celebrated on the eighth day (अष्टमी – Ashtami) of the month बद्र (Bhadra) according to Hindu calendar. This is the equivalent of the time period between the month of August and September as per Gregorian calendar.
The festival is celebrated by dramatic enacting of the life of Krishna which is called रास लीला (Ras Lila). These ras lila are enacted in many part of country, however the birth place of Krishna which is located in the city of Mathura in Northern India sees the major enactments.
One interesting enactment shows the childhood age of Krishna. In the childhood, Krishna was known to steal butter from his and neighbors’ homes. The mischievous and playful side was well known in his village. This part of his life is enacted in the state of Maharashtra in West India where it is called दही हांडी (Dahi Handi). दही (Dahi) means Buttermilk and हांडी (Handi) means Pipkin. In this enactment, a team of young boys have to reach to the handi which hangs over a considerable height. To reach such a height and catch the handi, the boys form a high human pyramid and try to reach to the handi till they can catch it. The catching the handi entitles the prize. Several teams compete with each other to catch the handi.