Govinda Allaa Re...

Aditi Saraswat 

Like every year ,this year also Janmashtmai has brought with itself a wave of celebration and happiness,and people all around the country have engrossed in this festival once again.

Festivities seems to  continue even after the day of Janmashtami. One most important activity or sport during Janmashtami is ‘Dahi Handi’. Dahi handi simply means ‘curd in an earthen pot’. Dahi handi is mainly celebrated in Mumbai and Pune where Janmashtami is also called as Gokulashtami.

In places like Gujrat and Dwarka, where Krishna is believed to have established his kingdom, dahi handi is celebrated as makhan handi, where the earthen pot is filled with makhan (freshly churned butter). Others celebrate it by performing folk dances and singing bhajans.

The group of boys who participate in this event start practising weeks before the day of Janmashtami. All the boys who participate are called as Govinda which is the other name of Lord Krishna. The earthen pot is usually hung at the height of 20-30 feet from the ground. The pyramid formation needs a lot of focus and balancing. Usually, the boys with strong built stand at the ground level. Then stand the boys who are good at balancing as they have to take care of both standing above them and below them. At the top usually, stands a comparatively small boy who breaks the handi. All the material from the handi is spilled over the people breaking it. People standing around throw water on the participants to clean them. Spectators sing in Marathi ‘Govinda ala re ala’ which means Krishna has come.


While some rituals and practices are the same everywhere, there are a few places that have their unique, regional touch. These are also places that are associated with the legend and life of Krishna, or to the larger Hindu faith. These are places that bring together people, irrespective of their religious faith, and collectives like International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) make Janmashtami all-inclusive.

Janmashtami is the largest festival in the Braj region of north India - Mathura - where Krishna was born, and in Vrindavan where is believed to have grown up. Temples are decorated and special programmes are organised in Mathura and Vrindavan every year to celebrate Lord Krishna's birth. Devotees come from far and wide to visit the holy temples of Vrindavan and Mathura.

Despite heavy rainfall, lakhs of devotees reached Mathura yesterday for the Janmashtami celebrations. They are likely to gather around Vrindavan or in Govardhan and Barsana for the celebration. The ritual of Dahi Handi is also a popular celebration of the festival.

The celebration of Lord Krishna's birth, was observed on Monday with thousands of devotees thronging temples in the rain-lashed  capital and offering prayers on the occasion.The famous Krishna temples in Delhi - Laxmi Narayan Mandir, ISKCON temple, Amar Colony, Kirhsna Pranami Mandir, Hare Krishna Mandir among others, were specially decorated up for the festival.Despite rains, devotees thronged temples in the morning and participated in the special ceremony marking the birth of Lord Krishna in the night. Many also observed day-long fast on the occasion.Colourful tableaux depicting the story of Lord Krishna's birth were displayed at Janmashtami Park in Punjabi Bagh and other areas. In residential areas, cultural groups displayed special 'Jhankis' of Lord Krishna.

Delhi Traffic Police made special arrangements to manage crowds and vehicle movements around temples and venues of Janmashtami celebrations.

Amid Tight Security, Lakhs celebrate Janmashtami In Mathura TemplesMany devotees paid obeisance at major temples in Marhura on Monday on the occasion of Janmashtami amid tight security.

Maharahtra saw the celebration of janmashtmi and it was followed on Monday by colourful 'dahi handi' celebrations which saw enthusiastic participation by youngsters in Mumbai and other parts of the state.The dahi handi ritual is part of the Janmashtami festival in Maharashtra, where youngsters (called Govindas), dressed in colourful attire, make human pyramid to reach an earthen pot containing buttermilk and suspended in mid-air, and break it.

In MP,  Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan carries an idol of Lord Krishna during a procession on Janmashtami in Bhopal.

Many different celebration have taken place all over the country. While some rituals and practices are the same everywhere, there are a few places that have their unique, regional touch. These are also places that are associated with the legend and life of Krishna, or to the larger Hindu faith. These are places that bring together people, irrespective of their religious faith, and collectives like International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) make Janmashtami all-inclusive.

The Dahi Handi coordination committee has taken a decision that mandals which have demonstrated their capability to form more than six tiers will only be permitted to take part in the professional competition. And while respecting the Bombay High court's order, children below the age of 14 will not be allowed to participate in the event.

In Mumbai's Dadar and Walkeshwar area, Dahi Handi will be celebrated in a very traditional way. And at Walkeshwar's Banganga, special Dahi Handi has been organised to salute the Indian soldiers, where the boy on the top tier will be in a soldier's uniform.The celebrations began amid strict vigil by personnel from the Mumbai police who were out on roads to ensure compliance of the Bombay High Court's guidelines on the age of participating Govindas (they should not be below 14) and insurance for them.
Maharashtra BJP leader Ram Kadam said his team organised dahi handi in suburban Ghatkopar.

Shiv Sena MLA Prakash Surve, NCP leaders Sachin Ahir and Pratap Sarnaik, among others, also organised the  event in different parts of the metropolis.

Places like Dadar, Worli, Wadala, Ghatkopar, Andheri, Lokhandawala, Borivali, Kandivali, Jogeshwari, Mulund and Vile Parle were hotspot of dahi handi celebrations.

The ISKCON temple in suburban Juhu celebrated the birth of Lord Krishna and organised a mega event to mark this  occasion. At the event, actor-turned-MP Hema Malini and actor Gracy Singh paid tribute to the lord with their classical dance performances.

The  three day long celebration was organised by ISKON temple in South Mumbai on Sunday which continued till Monday.

The Mumbai police has  cautioned revellers against making high human pyramids and advised Govindas to wear safety gears to avoid any injuries while falling during attempt to break pots.

The Disaster Management Cell of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) remained alert to deal with any eventuality, while hospitals were asked to keep medical staff on standby. In the past, several Govindas were injured after falling off human pyramids.

Dahi handi celebrations were also reported from districts adjoining Mumbai and other parts of the state.

In Nashik, about 200km from Mumbai, devotees thronged temples in large numbers to offer prayers to Lord Krishna.

A week-long religious programme has been organised at the famous Murlidhar temple in Nashik.

Various social groups have also  organised dahi handi programmes across the North Maharashtra city.

Janmashtami is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Krishna who is considered as Lord Vishnu’s incarnation. According to the Hindu calendar, Krishna was born on the eighth day of Shravan month. This auspicious day is celebrated in many different ways. People celebrate this day withal zeal and enthusiasm all over India. It is said that Krishna was born approximately 5200 years ago in Mathura and the sole aim of his birth was to free the earth from evil powers. He was a legend who was born in the darkness inside the cell of a jail as his parents were captured behind the bars. This cruel act was done by his uncle. Krishna was the son of Devaki and Vasudeva but he was raised by his foster parents Nanda and Yashoda. He was born at midnight and that is why the festival is celebrated at midnight 12.

It is believed that Lord Krishna loved eating curd, butter and milk. He would steal it from his home and also from other people living near to his house. That is why Krishna is also called as ’Makhan chor’, the one who steals the makkhan. So, to save the makhan from Krishna, his mother and his aunties use to keep the makhan away from his reach, somewhere at a height where he could not reach. From here originated this celebration of dahi handi, where dahi is kept in an earthen pot and is hanged from a height. Boys by making a human pyramid try to break it and steal the makhan just like Lord Krishna did. Girls surround the boys, sing songs and celebrate the day. The main boy who stands at the top is called as Govinda and the groups are either called as handis or mandals.

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