Hindu: Got Milk? It’s Krishna Janmashtami!

Young men access the contents of a pot that they retrieved through a Dahi Handi competitionTHURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 2: Culminating at midnight—the regarded time of Lord Krishna’s birth—many Hindus will begin festivities for Krishna Janmashtami today, completing rituals that honor the Hindu god’s birth more than 5,000 years ago. (Get details from the Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India.) In some parts of India, this festival and fast last for two days, and although regional calendars vary, today is the most common time for this Janmashtami celebration. So fast if you can, indulge in milk products if necessary and chant the name and life events of Lord Krishna!

Legends abound concerning Lord Krishna, and on his Janmashtami, Hindus do their best to carry out traditions related to his life, works and even likes and dislikes. Dances, children’s plays, artistic tablets and more all depict instances from Lord Krishna’s life, and while some strict devotees fast without even water, others partake in dairy products—the favorite foods of Lord Krishna. Many also make sweets to please the god whose sweet tooth is known across India. (The Hindu posted a coloful array of photos of devotees celebrating in India.) Legend also has it that Lord Krishna was mischievous, often trying to satisfy his sweet tooth or love of dairy by taking curd from people’s houses—and when housewives hung their foods high, he would create a human pyramid to reach the hanging pots. This human pyramid tradition continues today, known as Dahi Handi. Young men compete for Dahi Handi prizes, and some prizes reach tens of thousands of dollars! (About.com offers a photo slideshow of young men practicing Dahi Handi. And, according to this article, some young men practice multiple hours per day for months to prepare for Dahi Handi competitions.)

(By ReadTheSpirit columnist Stephanie Fenton)

(NOTE: To see more short articles about upcoming holidays, festivals and anniversaries, click the “RTS Magazines” tab at the top of this page and select “Religious Holidays.”)

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