Festival Special – Janmashtami !

                  Gokulashtami, Janmashtami and Ashtami Rohini are all names for the auspicious day of the divine birth of Lord Krishna ! He is believed to be the eighth Avatar of Lord Vishnu Since he was born at the midnight of on the 8th day of waning moon in the month of Shravana as per the Saka calender , this day is celebrated as Krishna Janmashtami .and usually comes a week after our Sutta Punnav .Gokulastami is very important for the G.S.B. samoohak  as they are Vaishnavites. It is so, because  we have accepted Madhvacharya as our Guru. Hence most of our temple deities are connected to Lord Vishnu. Since the  day The Lord was born – the star was Rohini – its also called Ashtami Rohini ! The true significance of celebrating  Sri Krishna;’s birthday  is that he is relevant in the present and even more relevant for the future.
We GSBs celebrate this day with utmost piety  and accordingly the  day is observed by  fasting/ keeping Vrat !  That is no rice items or any food with rice will be consumed !-  ” Kharkatya Khavchakna ” .There is a little regional variations in the way of celebrating this day …Will mention them  in detail .

In & around Kochi , Kerala  – those who perform Gokulastami have  to give “Arghya” at mid-night the time at which lord Krishna is born. We can offer Arghya  by going to the nearest GSB temple or at home itself  ( if it’s not possible to go ) where  special poojas are performed in the night and there after Arghya also can be offered.  All chant the  divine  Vishnusahasranamam, Ashtothara  mantras . After  neivedya samarpanam   ( offering prasad )and  aarti    the offering of teerth or Arghya is done .
Usually three types of items are used for offering Arghya  on a lotus petal (Padmasha Pakkuleyenthu ghalnu divche) or on a tulsi leaf while the purohit  chants the Arghya mantra   that is  – Milk, Tender coconut water, Normal water ( Arghya is offered six times – two times each with the three items ) . Arghya can be offered by men ( who have had moonji /thread ceremony ),  they  can  offer on behalf of wife and family too. Thulasi leaves for the Sahasra Nama pooja are brought in by the devotees themselves . In many GSB houses there is  the sacred “saligrama ” for which daily pooja is performed They also  perform this special pooja and offer Arghya to Lord Krishna in their houses itself. Recital of the Bhagavatam – especially Krishnajanam Parayan is held .Devotees also sing bhajans in praise of the lord !
After the pooja , prasad is distributed !. Sometimes the ashtami thithi  may extend for several hours beyond midnight ! So until “Harivasu”is over  the vrat is not over !
As its the birthday of Sri Krishna – a lot of food is prepared . In almost all Cochin G S B houses Panchagadayi is the main dish prepared . Apart from this – Shiv karan , Gajbhaj , Dheve Humman is also made . Kelya Halwo , Chonya Upkari , fruits , butter  (loni ) is also offered as prasad . Gova Kona sheeth ( broken wheat ) is prepared instead of rice .as also upma or chappatis are had. Lots of other items also prepared like chakkuli , tila undo , Kelya Balukk / chips too are made . Another special dessert is Phodya kheeri!
Its also the tradition to give – ” Phallara Khotto ” to the married daughters , sisters  of the family by the father or brothers ! Old times a basket containing fruits , vegetables , groceries used to be sent to the girls house  just after Sutta Punnav . it would also include the jannuves  / sacred thread for the son-in -law / brother-in-law . Dry fruits , flowers would also be included ..in fact all those items needed for celebrating Janmashtami would be included .Nowadays , since its not convenient as families live afar , money is given in lieu of the khotto ! This tradition helped maintain family relationships !

Now coming to the GSB’s residing in North & South Canara  – here too GSB’s keep vrat  avoiding rice items .The pooja starts at around ten at night by offering tulsi leaves (dalo ghalche) reciting Vishnu Saharsranama and Krishna Ashthothara shlokas  either at their homes or at the temple ,When conducting Pooja at home – the main family member wears  ‘Anwallein”  dress – that is which has been washed & kept separately in a secluded  corner – usually of silk material ! Many houses have the tradition of adorning the house with   foot prints of baby Krishna  drawn either with chalk or rangoli powder right from the main doorway to the” Deva Kood” / puja room .Five varieties of dry fruits, fresh fruits and Narlu kallein ( coconut Mixes ) too are offered. A tiny tulsi mala is made and Benne krishna sits with it around his neck.  A Jannuve too is put on the neck after giving  a bath !!

The Idols are arranged in Somasutra along with Saligrama …and .abhisek is offered with milk and water then dala ghalche ( Offering of tulsi leaves ). If you have the custom,or else just abhisheka and pooja will do) .If the family has a tradition of dalo ghalche(offering tulsi leaves) it is usually done at elder’s house(eldest member of the family..(mhalgado) and all the youngsters and their families gather there .

Various leaves ‘patri’ and flowers ‘pushpa’ are offered – the most important among them being kedaki , Lotus, sugandhi, jaaji and karveer. Vishnu sahasranama and ashtotara , the Bhagavad  shlokas are  recited to the offering of tulasi dala.  An interesting aspect is that Surli bhakri  as  it is said it was Devaki’s dhuvalo (craving ). This is made on the eve of Jamashtami ! .At the end of the pooja …devotees offer Arghya  .

                   Arghya being offered…traditionally Kedagi/kedki is required to offer but as it is not available easily and  in absence of that coconut is commonly used !

Thereafter  they have their dinner –  with the  Naivedya items offered along with rice, Saaru and Gajbaje (traditional dish prepared specially for ashtami) ..Naivedya items  will include undos ,chakkuli , Panchakadayi ,Navaneetam ( a mixture of butter and sugar as it is lord’s favourite ).. Some families have the tradition of preparing alle chutney and offer it along with the naivedya !

Sri Krisharpanmastu! Naivedya offered along with phalvastu and narlu… here it is phova panchkadayi, poha kheeri and mugadali pachadi
There is a tradition of sending undo ,chakkuli to the married  daughter’s family.Some also prepare Poha kheeri/payasu as poha is also Lord Krishna’s favourite food ..   other dishes include  Udid rulanva/ rava khotto, mooga dali usli, chanya upkari, alwathi.  alle Chutney , – various  sweet prasadams like til laddus, lhaye pitte – til ghalnu laddus, Sakre pooris  which is a favourite of  the lord !
Here is a pic of a typical Keli panna jevan ! Rice is had by some after the conclusion of pooja with the naivedya items ! ( after Harivas ) The dishes are duddhali  , til ani layi undo,pachkadayi,alle chutney,gajbaje,beans and potato upkari papad,rice and saaru

Here is another Keli panna jevan by my friend Sandhya Puranik 

Ashtami feast after the pooja with Naivedya offerings…. phova panchkadayi, phova kheeri and mugadali pachadi offered as naivedya,chane usli prepared for phalahara at noon …sheeth saaru and gajbaje
Hope the above details will help you in celebrating this time in the traditional way and also help the future generations to follow this !  You can find the recipes in this blog itself !
The next day of janmastami  curry with sprouted moong is made  and women  tuck tulsi dal from the pooja on  their hair as a significance !
.             This  is a compilation of information  by different members of our FB group  without whose help this post will not have been complete . Thanking you Vijayananda Shenoyanna , Pratibha Rao , Veena Nayak  , Vijayalakshmi Prabhu , Sandhya Puranik    Padmini Kamath   , Asha Radhakrishna Shenoy for helping me with the details !
 May the Lord protect & lead us in the right way !  “Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya”

6 replies to “Festival Special – Janmashtami !

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