Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, is one of the most charming, multi-dimensional figures in Indian mythology. Janmashtami, also known as Gokulashtami, Saatam Aatham, Ashtami Rohini and Srikrishna Jayanti, celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, the naughty butter-thief and lovable cowherd, who had 16,108 wives (16,100 of whom he rescued from a demon and married for protection), who grew into a shrewd statesman and ruthless strategist on the battle field.
Krishna’s teachings are a judicious mix of worldly responsibilities combined with spiritual freedom and the most authentic way of celebrating Janamashtami would be to play the dual role of a responsible human being, while realising that everything earthly is an illusion—it is all “maaya”.
On this day, the Rasa lila, a dramatic enactment of Krishna’s life, is performed in regions of Mathura, Vrindavan and parts of Manipur. In other regions such as Maharashtra, the day is celebrated with Dahi Handi, the breaking of a pot of butter tied high up and reached by pyramids of young men or women. The players are known as Govindas or Bal Gopalas and reflects the naughty, butter-stealing side of Krishna.