Janmashtami, Radhashtami and Jhulan Yatra

One of the important festivals in India is Janmashtami or Krishna Jayanti, the birthday of Krishna. Krishna lived on Earth more than 3,000 years ago as a human being. The baby was born in Kamsa's prison. It falls on the 8th day after the full moon in the month of August/September. On this occasion, devotees fast for a day and break it at midnight.

The temples of Krishna are festively 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 are adorned, especially in South India. Women prepare sweets and offer it to idols of Krishna. Women spread rice flour at the door. The path from the entrance to the prayer room of the house is marked with the help of water mixed with footprints of a child. This creates the feeling that Krishna himself left traces behind. The Bhagavatam is sung, prayed, and recited.

The Dahi Handi ceremony during Janmashtami is very popular. In Maharashtra, devotees hang a large clay pot called the Dahi Handi, with yogurt, butter, fruits etc. at high altitude. 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. The legend tells that Krishna, in his childhood, occasionally stole butter with his friends from the hanging pots of his neighbors. Everywhere in India Krishna is shown on this day theatrical performances with various episodes from the youth of Krishna. These divine stage plays are called Lilas. Exhibitions also deal with the subject and there are readings from the Bhagavad Gita and the Bhagavata Purana, the most important works dealing with Krishna.

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, which cite the already married Radha as the consort of Krishna. Her birthday is celebrated as Radhashtami.

In between Janmashtami and Radhashtami, Jhulan Yatra is the festival of the swing, which celebrates the pastimes between Radharani and Krishna.