I know, I am late by a couple of weeks, but the festive season in India is in full flow, which hardly leaves any time to breathe! It starts with the advent of Onam down south, followed by Varalakshmi Vratam, 10th Day of Onam, Raksha Bandhan, Narali Purnima, and eventually Gokulashtami.
Onam is the harvest festival on Kerala, and signifies the beginning of a new cycle of life. Varalakshmi Vratam is equivalent to worshipping Ashtalakshmi – the eight goddesses of Wealth, Earth, Wisdom, Love, Fame, Peace, Contentment, and Strength. Raksha Bandhan celebrates the bond between siblings, while narali purnima, celebrated on the same day, is a prayer to God Varuna (the god of Rain or water) by the local fisherman community in Maharashtra to mark the end of monsoons, and start of the fishing season. They offers prayers to the God to keep them safe while at sea.
That brings us to Gokulashtami, or janmashtami. It marks the birth of Lord Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the preserver and protector of the universe in Hindu Dharma. Krishna’s birth marks the beginning of Kalyuga or modern times. The celebrations are a grand affair, with a lavish spread for the beautiful god. Adopted to the Yadava clan, he is known as the protector of cattle. The spread has all sort of milk products, milk, butter, curd, beaten rice, jaggery and roasted gram mix, murruku, vella seedai, uppu seedai, thattai, ribbon pakoda, neiappam and laddoo. the spread also has an assortment of fruits, berries, coconut and flowers. At the stroke of midnight, the lord is born, fed and the craddle is rocked.
The next day is celebrated as govinda or dahi handi in part of Maharashtra. A clay pot, filled with curd, butter and milk is tied at a height and boys form human pyramids to reach and break the pot, as people cheer them on. The legend goes that Krishna with his friends mischievously stole butter and curds from neighbors in Gokul as a child.