Shree Krishna Janmasthami

Krishna Astami.Still003aAn ancient temple in Patan Durbar Square in Patan City becomes the center of activities during a particular day, the Shree Krishna Janmasthami, in August-September every year(this year 17th August 2014), to celebrate the birth anniversary of one of the most popular and romantic gods in the Hindu pantheon, Lord Krishn. Shree Krishna Janmasthami is an important event in the calendar of festivals of Nepal.

The Krishna Temple is one of the most important temples in the square which is said to have the most diverse collection of traditional architectural styles found within a square anywhere in the world. This square once served as the seat of the former royal family of Patan and has been designated a world heritage monument zone by UNESCO. Made in the shikhara style of India with red stone, the Krishna Temple was built in 1637 by King Siddhi Narsingh Malla following a dream he had in which he saw Lord Krishna and his lover Radha standing in front of his palace. The very next day, he ordered a temple to built at the very same site. It is three-storied and has 21 golden pinnacles on top. Icons of the gods Krishna, Shiva, and Lokeswor grace each of the three floors.

Lord Krishna was the eighth son of Vasudeva and Devaki of a place called Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, India. Devaki was a princess whose brother, Kansa, had become king after throwing his own father, Ugrasena, into prison. He was bad, all right, but fate had its own plans for him; astrologers prophesized that the eighth-born child of his sister would be the end of him. So, Kansa promptly threw his sister and her husband into a dungeon as well. The first six births had fatal endings at Kansa’s hands, while the seventh survived due to Devaki feigning a miscarriage, when, in fact, she had managed to transfer the child, Balarama, to another woman named Rohini.

Krishna Astami.Still036The eighth child, Krishna, was born soon after. Vasudeva, following Lord Vishnu’s instructions, somehow or the other succeeded in escaping from the dungeon, crossing the Yamuna River, and taking the infant to a place called Gokul where he left the child in the home of a couple, Nanda and Yashoda. He carried back with him the couple’s daughter and returned to his prison. There, Kansa, believing that this was the eighth child, threw her against a stone, but she rose into the air and joined Vishnu to become his helper, Yogmaya. Meanwhile, Krishna grew up into a strapping child along with his brother Balarama, who was also in Gokul.

There are numerous tales related to his younger years concerning his miraculous powers and his frolicking ways. He is believed to have killed a serpent of gigantic proportions while still a child, and even as an infant, he had killed an ogress, sent to kill the child by means of poisoned nipples, by suckling her to death. Of course, it is not only such deadly stories that Krishna’s life is replete with; he is equally known for his dashing ways with the ladies, he being a perennial flirt who left no stones unturned to romance quite a few damsels, all of whom were enamored by his charms. The years pass in this way, but soon enough comes the day when he has to face his evil uncle, Kansa, who has been wreaking havoc in the lives of his subjects. The long and the short of it is that he kills Kansa and thus fulfills the prophesy of the astrologers..

Krishna Astami.Still021Lord Krishna also had a pivotal role to play in the epic of Mahabharata, the great war between the Pandavas and the Kauravas. He saves the Pandavas’ wife, Draupadi, from being shorn of her clothes after the eldest of the five Pandava brothers loses in a game of dice to the Kauravas, wherein the latter orders Draupadi to be disrobed. In another notable incident, as the charioteer of Arjuna, another of the Pandava brothers, and the most skilled in war, he inspires him to victory in the battlefield through lessons concerning his duties and responsibilities, which he tells Arjuna, must be given priority instead of feeling conscientious about killing his erstwhile relatives, no matter how much respect he has for some of them.

It is in honor of such a remarkable god that Shree Krishna Janmasthami, also known as Krishna Jayanti, is observed every year. Devotees fast throughout the day and, at the stroke of midnight, when he is supposed to have been born, they worship his childhood-image placed on a swing. Everybody makes sure to give the swing a push or two singing a lullaby of sorts. This happens not only in all Krishna temples throughout the country but also in the puja kothis (prayer rooms) of Hindu homes as well.

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