Mumbai/New Delhi/Rajkot, August 24 : Grand celebrations marking 'Janmashtami', the birthday of Hindu god Krishna, have kicked off across the country on Sunday.
The devotees in Mumbai celebrated the festival with much pomp and show by participating in 'Dahi Handi' competition, an intrinsic part of the festivities.
'Dahi Handi' is one of the most awaited ceremonies in the region, where young boys climb on one another to form a human pyramid and then one boy climbs to the top to break a clay pot filled with curd hanging high in the air.
The ceremony was popularised in Maharashtra by social reformer and freedom fighter Lokmanya Tilak in the 19th century.
The most remarkable part of the event this year was the participation of a solely female group, which had 80 female participants managing to break the pot hung high on the street.
"The female group came and showed their interest in climbing to the 'Dahi Handi' and we told them that you are invited and whosoever would win would get the prize. And they did it. Here our aim is to boost the morale of the female participants," said Rajesh, member of organizing committee.
According to Hindu mythology, Krishna is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Krishna is believed to have taken human form to destroy an evil king called Kansa, who ruled some parts of northern Indian with Mathura as his capital.
Delhi celebrated the festival in high spirits. At the Iskon temple, hundreds of devotes thronged in chanting hymns of Krishna and dancing to celebrate his birthday.
"We celebrate this festival like this every year as this is the biggest festival for us. We dance and enjoy a lot. This is the birthday of our lord and this is very important day," said Krishna Tulsi, a devotee.
In Rajkot, devotees thronged temples since morning and took out a procession depicting the various facets of the life of Lord Krishna. The most interesting part of the rally were the tableaux that portrayed various problems faced by today's world.
"There has been a variety in the holy procession this time. Keeping in mind the terrorism various themes have been put and various interesting facts have been put about the birth and death of Krishna even the amaranth shrine row has been depicted," said Neha, an onlooker.
The celebrations climax at the midnight hour, the time when it is believed Lord Krishna was born.
Krishna's imprisoned parents had to smuggle out the child born at midnight to save him from Kansa, his evil uncle.
Vasudev, Krishna's father, carried his newborn child in a reed basket and left him in the care of another couple at 'Gokul'-- far away from his birthplace Mathura in Uttar Pradesh.
Thus Janmashtami is celebrated on two consecutive days; the first is the day when Krishna was actually born, and the second, when he reached Gokul.