Janmashtami 2019: Here’s why Dahi handi is celebrated across India

Krishna Janmashtami 2019: One way of celebrating the deity’s birth is Dahi Handi, widely celebrated in Gujarat and Maharashtra.
(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
(Sanket Wankhade/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Aug 24, 2019 08:09 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Delhi | By

Janmashtami celebrations have begun, with everyone observing getting all-set for this auspicious day. To be celebrated on August 24 (Saturday), Krishna Janmostav or Krishna Janmashtami is observed on the eighth day of the Krishna Paksh of the Bhadrapada month as per the Hindu calendar.

Janmashtami marks the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was born to Devaki and Vasudeva to save the people of Mathura from the wrath of King Kansa, Devaki’s brother.

One way of celebrating the deity’s birth is Dahi Handi, widely celebrated in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Boys get together to form human pyramids in order to reach and break an earthen pot fixed at a height of approximately 30 feet from the ground. This custom is now finding participation by women too.

History of Dahi Handi

Born to Devaki and Vasudev, Lord Krishna, their eighth child, had been prophesied to bring the downfall of Kansa. He grew up under the foster care of Yashoda and Nanda in Vrindavan as Kansa would not allow any of Devaki and Vasudev’s children to live beyond a few hours of their birth.

During his growing up years in Vrindavan, Krishna was a very naughty child. He loved makkhan (white butter), curd and milk. He would often steal butter from people’s homes, and his foster mother Yashoda would have to tie him up to stop him from his mischievousness. Lord Krishna has been referred to as Maakhan Chor or Navneet Chor due to these events.

The women in Vrindavan also started storing freshly-churned butter at a height so a young Krishna would not be able to reach the pot. However, the young God had his ways. His friends and he would form human pyramids and be able to take the butter, meant to be hidden from them.

The Dahi Handi ritual every Janmashtami is thus an imitation of Lord Krishna’s naughtiness. The youngest boy who climbs to the top of the pyramid is referred to as Govinda and the groups are referred to as handis or mandals.

The birth of Lord Krishna, Janmashtami is celebrated with a lot of fervour throughout the country. Devotees usually observe day-long fasts on the occasion, sing bhajans in praise of the lord, participate in Dahi Handi celebrations and emulate the birth of Lord Krishna through ceremonies in temples where He is welcomed each year.

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