MONDAY, AUGUST 22: Joy abounds as devotees of Lord Krishna pay tribute to his birth in a holiday often called Krishna Janmashtami or Srikrishna Jayanti. The Hindu festival honors this popular—and very colorful—Avatar of the deity Vishnu. The holiday is marked with fasting, skits of Krishna’s life, games for young people, temple devotions and much more. Regions of India vary in the specific dates for the holiday, but millions will take part before the celebration ends. In several regions, today’s birthday party can continue for a week or more. (KrishnaJanmashtami.com has rituals, legends, recipes and more.)
Some devotees celebrate Krishna’s love for mischief with Dahi Handi, a contest for young men that encourages the building of a massive human pyramid. The goal of Dahi Handi is to break a pot hanging high on a string, with the winners receiving prizes and sometimes large amounts of money. Others celebrate Krishna’s wisdom by holding a fast and all-night vigil, in hopes of being freed from the sins of endless reincarnation. Still others celebrate his love for milk and butter by cooking special dishes with these ingredients. (Try a sweet recipe from this site.)
Sri Krishna was born more than 5,000 years ago in Mathura City and his teachings were recorded in the Bhagwad Gita. Of all lessons taught, Sri Krishna emphasized liberation from emotion and objects of this world, as he taught that this world is an illusion. (Wikipedia has details.) He also focused on the importance of meditaiton. During his lifetime Sri Krishna emerged victorious in many threatening situations, and devotees regard him as a hero of good triumphing over evil.
This year, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness will display an architectural model of a New Vedic Cultural Centre. Also this year, some temples—such as the Udupi Sri Krishna temple—will host more than a week of cultural programs. (Express India and Times of India have articles.)