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Festivals of Rajasthan: Krishna Janmashtami

Today is one of the most important and loved festivals of the Hindu calendar – the birth of Lord Krishna.  On this 8th. day (ashtami) after the full moon in the month of Shravan, at the stroke of midnight, the birth (janma) of Krishna is heralded in homes and temples across
the country with the blowing of conch shells, devotional music and ecstatic dancing and, by many, with fasting, prayer and the reading and recitation of the Bhagavatam (the philosophy expounded by Krishna).

Krishna is loved and worshipped across India, and there are as many forms of worship and expressions of devotion as there are qualities that are attributed to Krishna.  At the simplest level, Krishna is protector and saviour.   At the most complex, Krishna is the epitomy of love, oneness, and absence of boundaries as the only way to true happiness, self discovery and liberation.

Krishna’s significance has been summed up by Osho thus:

“ Man’s mind has always wanted to choose between the seeming opposites.  He wants to preserve heaven and do away with hell.  He wants to have peace and escape tension.  He wants to protect good and destroy evil.  He longs to accept light and deny darkness.  He craves to cling to pleasure and shun pain.  His mind has always divided existence into two parts, and chosen one part against the other.  And from choice arises duality, which brings conflict and pain.

Krishna symbolizes acceptance of the opposites together.  And he alone can be whole who accepts the contradictions together.  One who chooses will always be incomplete, less than the whole,  because the part that he chooses will continue to delude him, and the part that he denies will continue to pursue and haunt him.  He can never be rid of what he rejects and represses…”

The revolutionary and potentially destabilizing challenge of accepting the entire symbolism of Krishna has led most people through the ages to focus on one or the other of his multiple and complex attributes.  The most popular and beloved are of Krishna as the divine child, and Krishna as the divine lover.  Both these identities, with love and longing as the central theme, have been celebrated with an outpouring of poetry, music and dance in both classical and common languages across India.

Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated with tremendous fervour in Jaipur.  And the epicenter for these celebrations is the Govind Devji Temple.  The temple was  built 450 years ago by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh – the founder of the city of Jaipur – within the City Palace complex, as the home for the resident deity of the royal family.  Designed in marble and pink sandstone and adorned with the most exquisitely carved latticed marble window screens, the Govind Devji temple  is well worth a visit just for its architecture and ambience of peace and beauty.  On occasions like Janmashtami it explodes with colour and energy.  Thousands of worshippers throng it, and ecstatic music and dancing accompany the ringing of the temple bells.

Check out this video on youtube! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nBiI05gl78&feature=related

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