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Krishna Jayanthi is the birthday of Lord Krishna. It falls on August 21st- 22nd (IST) in the Vedic month of Avani (August-September), the eighth avatar of Vishnu, the beloved God of Hinduism. This day is known by several names depending on where in India you live: Krishna Jayanthi (many parts of south India), Janamasthami (mostly north India), Asthami Rohini (Kerala, as Lord Krishna was born during the Malayalam month of Chingam, during the Rohini nakshatram (star), falling on the eighth day.), while others refer to this day as Gokul Asthami, as Sri Krishna was to arrive (be born) into the town of Gokul on this eighth day.
Legend goes that Krishna’s parents were told by GOD that their 8th son would kill Kamsa, the evil ruler of Mathura. Hence, Kamsa imprisoned his sister and her husband, Krishna’s parents, and killed the first seven babies. Before the eighth baby was born, GOD came to the prison cell and told Krishna’s parents that parents in a place called Gokul were giving birth to a baby girl on the same night. Krishna’s dad was able to exchange the babies. In the morning, Kamsa tried to kill the baby girl, but the baby girl was spared by and transformed into goddess Yogamaya.
In Chennai, this is celebrated one or two days. In North India, it is celebrated two or three days. Many people will draw footprints with rice flour leading from the main door or door of home shrine room to the alter of Krishna; symbolizing Krishna has come to visit the home. This is shown to the right. Also, people will dress up their sons like Krishna and girls like his consort Radha or other gopikas. Also, people like to play games on this day. In North India, people will make scenes in front their homes akin to the Christian nativity scene, depicting Krishna’s birth in prison. Additionally, water is a defining part of this festival as when Krishna’s dad took him to Gokul to exchange him, they had to cross a river. As this is during the monsoon season, the rains had flooded the banks of the river. One story denotes that soon as baby Krishna put his foot into the water, it parted and his father could carry him through the river. People are very creative about depicting a flowing stream of water in their recreations of Krishna's birth scenery. When these sceneries are completed, people will walk and visit the neighbors to admire the creativity and originality of each scene.
Krishna also loved to eat butter and sweets. Hence on this day, in places in North India, a piñata like clay pot is formed with many sweets in it. or with a mixture of poha (flattened rice) and curds (yogurt). This decorated pot is hung from a tree or other high place. The children will stand like a pyramid to see who can reach it and break it. This part of the celebration called Dahi Handi is shown in the photo to the right by Ajoy in Pune, India. They replicate this scene at various Hindu temples in US by stringing this piñata between two posts and giving one large stick. The person with the stick is blind folded and tries to hit the pot. If they are not blind folded and it is warmer out, another person will take a hose and aim it at the person trying to break the pot to break their concentration
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