Thursday, September 2, 2010

Shree Krishna Jalma and Gokul AShtami

The story of Lord Krishna 

Around 5000 years ago, King
Ugrasen ruled the small Indian village of Mathura. He was
loved by all of his people, and raised two very fine children
, Kans and Devki. As his children grew older, they both
went their own ways. Kans jailed his father, and was the
new King of Mathura. He still loved his sister, Devki, with
a lot of heart, and got her married to an army officer, called
Vasudev. On the day of their wedding, Kans found out that
Devki’s eighth child would be born to kill him. For that
reason, he though it would be wise to kill his sister Devki.
Vasudev was very dear to Devki, and would not let this
happen. They then came to an agreement that Kans will
prison them, and let them live. But, they have to hand every
child to Kans, so it can be killed. Kans had succeeded in
killing all of Devki’s six children, and her seventh child, was
transferred into Rohini’s womb. Being the second wife of
Vasudev, Balram was then born to her, and Kans was fooled
into thinking that Devki had a miscarriage.

Krishna, being the eighth child, was born on a stormy night in
that same prison. As the guards fell asleep, the gates of the
prison opened freeing the family. Vasudev hid Krishna in a
basket covered with a blanket and made their way to Gokul,
where his friend Nand lived. While passing River Yamuna, the
waters had turned wild. As Krishna’s foot touched the waters,
the river parted making it easier for Vasudev to pass through.
At that moment, Vasudev realized that Krishna was not a normal
child but a divine human being.

Nand & Yashoda became Krishna’s foster parents and Vasudev
returned to the jail with Yashoda’s newborn daughter. She was
then passed to Kans, to be killed as the eighth child of Devki.
However, while taking this daughter by the legs, ready to end
her life. She disappeared into thin air, being just an illusion and
leaving a message that ‘the eighth child was born and is safe in
Gokul’. Krishna grew up to be the son of Nand and Yashoda,
and as destiny had predicted, he killed his uncle Kans, and all
of Mathura was saved from his rule.

Janmastami the festival 

Janmastami comes 8 days after the full moon of the Shravan month
and it celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. Many devotees begin
fasting from ‘Sataam’ till the midnight of Krishna’s birth, where it
is broken by tasting the ‘Prashad’ that was offered to him. There
are two types of fasts; Nirjal fast is where they do not even have
a drop of water on this day. They feel it will take them closer to
God. The other fast is Phalahar Vrat, where only milk and fruits
is eaten on this day. Salt and Cereals is also avoided on this day.
People feel that it is the only thing that they can offer to God. Fasting
is accompanied by singing bhajans throughout the day. Traditional
sweets, made out of milk and butter are also eaten on this day,
being one of Krishna’s favorite dishes.

The festival of Janmastami can go on for a number of days, as per
family tradition. So, on the second day, the ladies usually wake up
early to make a paste out of rice flour, and imprint footsteps
coming towards their door. This symbolises Krishna’s footsteps
into his foster home.

The ‘Dahi Handi’ ceremony also takes place later on this day. It
consists of a clay pot being filled with milk, dry fruits and ghee, hung
up on a rope above the ground. Many form a human pyramid to
break the pot, and the people around throw water on them, trying
to stop them. Many believe that a broken piece from this pot will
keep away negative powers.

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