The temples of Krishna are decorated in India and Bangladesh. The puja begins with the bathing of the idol of Bal Gopal with ghee and scented water. The idol is then decorated with colorful garments and precious jewels. Devotees sing kirtans and mantras. They ring bells and blow snail horn and recite Sanskrit anthems in honor of Krishna. In Mathura, the birthplace of Krishna, special spiritual festivals take place. Pilgrims come from all over India.
In Krishna Janmashtami, the houses get adorned, especially in South India. Women prepare sweets and offer it to idols of Krishna. Women spread rice flour at the door.
The Dahi Handi ceremony during Janmashtami is very popular. In Maharashtra, devotees hang a large clay pot called the Dahi Handi. Tradition is that young men build human towers to get to a pot of yogurt, butter or fruit, and then pour it over people. Under the constant chant of Govinda! Govinda, the boys form a human pyramid to reach the pot and then smash it to the pleasure of the audience.
The events from Krishna's childhood also play an important role. Govinden Thiruvizha is a festival commemorating the worship of Govardhan hill. It is widespread in South India and Mauritius. During the prayers, a large lamp is lit that burns all night. Singing and dancing take place for the whole night. Fasting takes place during the Tamil month of Purattaasi.
Radha was born in Barsana as the daughter of Vrishbhanu and Kirti or Kamlavati. Radha's origins are obscure. She is not mentioned in the Srimad Bhagavatam or in the Mahabharata. We find her mention only in Brahma Vaivarta Purana, composed later than these texts. It cites the already married Radha as the consort of Krishna. Her birthday gets celebrated as Radhashtami.
In between Janmashtami and Radhashtami, Jhulan Yatra is the festival of the swing, which celebrates the pastimes between Radharani and Krishna.
Megasthenes in the 3rd century BC in 'Indica' identifies Krishna with Herakles. His cult spread around the Mediterranean. The Romans worshiped Heracles under the Latin name of Hercules. It differs in a series of myths to its annexed counterpart. In the Hellenistic context, Heracles was sometimes equated with the Babylonian Nergal. The oldest representations of the Buddhist deity Vajrapani from Gandhara are like Herakles. Images that represent Herakles are from Gandhara. Also in the oldest excavations in Mohenjo Daro one has found references to the cult.
Heracles or Hercules is a Greek hero, famous for his strength, who got honored with divine honor. There are various legends around Herakles. He was the son of Zeus and Alcmene and the twin brother of Iphicles. He was the god of healing and oracles, the sports, and the palaces. He was a protege of Athena. His attributes are the skin of the Nemean lion, club, bow, and quiver.
His wives include Megara, Omphale, Deianeira, Hebe, Iole, and Abderus. Heracles was a cousin and friend of Oeonus. He was the great-grandfather of Hippot and Deiphontes, and ancestor of the Polyphontes.
Zeus once fell in love with the beautiful Alcmene. Her husband, Amphitryon, had fled from Mycenae. Since he had killed his uncle and his father-in-law Elektron. Zeus then came to Alkmene in the form of her husband and begot Hercules with her. When Amphitryon returned from his journey, the deception came to light. He forgave his ignorant wife and bore with her Iphicles, Hercules twin brother. Heracles was born in Thebes.
Hera, the wife of Zeus, became a lifelong persecutor of Heracles from jealousy. Zeus announced that the firstborn child would become the king of Mycenae. So Hera delayed the pangs of Alkmene, so that Eurystheus, the son of Sthenelus was born first.
Alkmene put the baby out of fear of Hera's revenge. Her half-sister Athena, who later played a major role as a patron, took the child to Hera. She did not recognize Heracles and breastfed him out of compassion. Herakles inflicted pain and Hera pushed him away from her. Athene returned the child to his mother and Heracles grew up with his parents. He was eight months old when Hera sent two huge snakes into the children's room. Iphicles wept with fear, but his brother seized the two snakes and strangled them.
Heracles got taught in the art of archery. He was also taught singing and playing the Kithara. Although he was very docile, he got angry to the point of madness. Thus he slew his music teacher with the Kithara when he scolded him. His foster father, Amphitryon sent him to Kithairon with his cattle. Here he grew up among the shepherds.
In the Kithairon, after a long struggle, Herakles killed a lion. On his return to Thebes, king Erginus wanted to get a tribute of 100 oxen, won by the Theban. Heracles cut off the messenger's noses and ears. In the ensuing war, he compelled the Theban to repay the received tribute twice. There came a battle between the Minyans and the Thebans. Heracles had won with extraordinary deeds for Thebes. The fame of his deeds spread. Creon, the king of Thebes, gave him his daughter Megara as his wife, with whom he begot three sons.
Then Eurystheus called him into his service, but Heracles refused to serve. Then the vengeful Hera overcame him with madness. Heracles killed his wife Megara and his three children in a fit of rage.
He went to Argos to King Eurystheus who gave him a total of twelve tasks. Another story depicts how Heracles served as a slave for three years to the Lydian queen Omphale. There is the legend of the hunting of the Calydonian Boar. As well as the punishment of Syleus, Lityerses, and the Kerkopes.
Heracles had to fight against many opponents, who were on his way to the missions of the Eurystheus. These conflicts were not connected with the tasks of Eurystheus. Yet Herakles had to master these to continue his journey. So it came that the hero had to fight against Centaurs and the state of the Amazons. He even supported Jason in the train of the Argonauts.
Laomedon, king of Troy, promised his horses to the one who would save his daughter Hesione. A year earlier, Zeus punished Poseidon and Apollo for a silliness. So it came that they had to serve a whole year to Laomedon. Poseidon erected the walls of Troy and Apollo took care of the king's considerable herds. After the year of repentance was over, the two demanded their wages from Laomedon. But he refused to pay them.
Apollo and Poseidon vowed revenge on Troy and Laomedon. Apollo spread plague over the inhabitants of the city. Poseidon sent a marine monster who terrorized them. Heracles succeeded in saving Hesione from the sea monsters. The king also broke the promise to Heracles to give him the horses of Zeus.
Herakles drew from there, but he knew that his day of revenge would soon come. With his companions, Hercules invaded Troy killed King Laomedon. He killed his whole family except for the daughter Hesione and Priam, the youngest son. Priam took his father's throne years later.
Heracles made the king's daughter Deianira his second wife. One day, both had to cross a river that was flooding. The centaur Nessos offered to carry the young woman of dry feet on his back but then galloped away with her. Heracles shot him one of his deadly arrows.
Years later, Heracles fall in love with Iole. Then the jealous Deianeira sent him a life-taking garment. After Hercules wore it over, he had a terrible pain. He tried to take off his shirt, but it was bound to his skin so that it would break his flesh. Heracles died shortly after.
Bala Krishna was dark skinned. Two of his siblings were Balarama and Subhadra. They were born from Vasudeva's first wife Rohini. There are many stories about his life in the Gokul that show his naughty and playful character. He often used to steal butter. For example, once a woman had hidden the butter, at the top so that the children cannot get there. The children made a pyramid with their bodies and were able to reach their treasure.
Krishna often played his flute and his melodious music charmed all. Finding the Gopi's bathing in a pond, he steals their clothes and took refuge at the top of a tree. Holi, the festival of colors got associated with the careless games of his youth.
After losing one of the battles against Jarasandha he moves to Dwaraka. There he married Rukmini, daughter of King Bhishmaka of Vidarbha. In this period he made friendship with Arjuna and the other Pandava princes of the kingdom of Kuru. Krishna does not appear in the four Samitha of the Vedas.
According to a story, a druid predicted Balar's death at the hands of his grandson. Balar locked his only daughter named Ethne in an impregnable tower. Kineely owned a cow. The amount of milk that could get obtained from her was so great that it was the envy of all. Balar got infatuated with this cow and did not hesitate for a moment to steal it.
Kineely seduced Ethné with the help of a druid and another woman. At nine months the girl gave birth to three beautiful babies. Balar wrapped the three newborns in a sheet to throw into a sea. One of the children got picked up by Gavida. Years passed and the baby became a blacksmith. One day the young man beat the back to embed it in the eye of mortal eyes. Balar fell dead. The young blacksmith was Lug.
Krishna gets presented as a god in Mahabharata, a text written around fifth century AD. His figure becomes central in the Bhagavad Gita, written in the third century BC.
Scholars believe that Krishna and Vishnu were two separate deities. These deified warrior heroes find their transformation in Vedic and Brahmanical orthodoxy. They got merged in the 5th century AD. Krishna got referred to as an avatar of Vishnu in the Vishnu Puraṇa, a text written in the fifth century AD. Rama was also not considered the incarnation of Vishnu.
In the Rig Veda, the oldest Indian text, dated to the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, Vishnu is a very minor character. The close links between the two deities have precedents in a column of the first century BC found in Goṣuṇḍi. Here Krishna and Narayana got associated with Vishnu. The images in the Kushan period in 1st century AD represent Krishna and Vishnu with same weapons.
Many traditions and regional deities may have got merged into the stories of Krishna. There is then a further Krishna called the Krishna Gopala. More traits got added to this character.
Abhira, a nomadic ethnic group worshiped the Gopala Krishna. When the Abhira tribes reached Mathura area of Braj, they met the Vrishni clan. Their worship of Krishna Gopala got integrated with that of Krishna Vasudeva. In summary, Krishna was a deified hero of the Yadava clan.