Krishnastami – Celebrating the Birth of Lord Krishna
The beautiful country of Nepal is a popular destination for tourists from all around the world. It is especially popular among travelers who enjoy trekking, which brings them into close contact with the friendly people who call Nepal home. Festivals are a way of life among the predominantly Hindu population and visitors are likely to witness at least one of these colorful occasions while traveling through Nepal. The two-day festival known as Krishnastami, which takes place during the month of August each year, is a festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna.
Lord Krishna was born at midnight on the eighth day of the dark moon. For this reason the festival is also known as Janmastami, with the word Janma meaning birth, and Astami being the 8th day of the month. At midnight between the first and second days of the festival, the birth of Lord Krishna is re-enacted amidst much pomp and ceremony. Devotees chant prayers and small oil lamps are lit as a mark of devotion. In some cities images of Lord Krishna are carried through the streets accompanied by the sounds of musical instruments and joyous crowds.
On the second day, an earthenware pot full of milk, curds, butter and honey, Lord Krishna’s favorite foods, is smashed in a ceremony known as Dahi-handi. The pot is suspended at a height of between 20 and 40 feet and young men and boys attempt to reach this much sought after prize by standing on each other’s shoulders forming a human pyramid, until the person at the top can reach and claim the pot. Generally, money is tied to the rope suspending the pot and the prize money is distributed to the members of the human pyramid. It is common practice for households to suspend food items in pots below the beams of the roof to prevent them being eaten by local cats and dogs. It is said that, as a youth, Lord Krishna and his friends used to regularly raid these suspended treasure troves, consuming the milk and butter. Dahi-handi is a re-enactment of Lord Krishna’s youthful pranks.
Visitors to Nepal are generally welcomed to observe and even join in with the many festival celebrations. If you happen to be in Nepal during August, be sure to take note of the celebration of Krishnastami.