Devotees defy swine flu scare to celebrate Janmashtami in Maharashtra, UP

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Mumbai / Mathura (Uttar Pradesh): Scores of devotees came out in open to participate in the 'Dahi Handi' (curds in a pot) event practised in Maharashtra to mark the festival of Janmashtami, the birth of Hindu God Krishna on Friday.

Exuberant people of all ages came out of their houses, some with masks on, in the wake of swine flu, to witness the mass event as flu scare took a back seat.

"Swine flu is not going to affect here. It's happening in Nashik. Our pots have gone out of stock. We need more of them," said Sameer, a local resident.

During the festivities, daring and enthusiastic participants formed a human pyramid to reach an earthen pot filled with yogurt and butter, which is hung at a height of 20-25 feet, to break it with one man standing over the other.

This was in a way to relive and re-enact a part symbolic of Krishna's childhood when he used to eat his favourite food- butter.

The winner got roaring rounds of applause and of course butter from the pot and a cash prize.

The spectators cheered the competing men with the chants of 'Govind Ala Re' (Krishna is coming) and at the same time threw water on them to prevent them from reaching the pot in order to prolong the excitement of the festival.

But there was no one who could stop these overexcited youngsters, determined to take the big prize of the pot filled with butter.

"Today we will get the handi (pot)," said Dilip, a participant.

The exuberance was even greater at Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna in Uttar Pradesh, where celebrations had commenced almost a week earlier.

Devotees came in droves to the Krishna Janmabhoomi Mandir (temple of Krishna's birthplace) and waited for their turn to have a glimpse of the idols of Krishna and his wife Radha.

At the Dwarkadhessh Mandir in Mathura, the priest bathed the idol of Krishna with a mixture of milk, yogurt, butter, water and honey known as Panchamrit (holy nectar made from five items).

A similar holy bath was given to the Krishna idol at Radharaman Mandir in Vrindavan, which is the place, as described in scriptures, where Krishna played rasleela (divine sport) with wife Radha and other milkmaids, sang and dance and got all the milkmaids dancing to the tune of his flute.

A tableau depicting various stages of Krishna's life was also taken through the city of Mathura amidst the chants of Hare Krishna, Hare Rama and dancing of devotees. (ANI)

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