Little footprints leading to the butter dish

Aside: I have reached my century in blogging. This is my 100th post and am so glad I have chosen this topic.

The first thing that comes to my mind after reading the above title is Little Krishnan. Gokulashtami is celebrated once a year. The story/myth goes like this.

Maha Vishnu took various avatars to protect the mortal world from the evildoers and sinners. One such incarnation was his birth as the child of King Vasudeva and Queen Devaki Devi. Gokul Ashtami is the birthday of Lord Krishna. It falls on the 8th day of the dark half of the month of ‘Bhadrapada’ (August-September) and is one of the greatest of all Hindu festivals. Lord Krishna was born at midnight.
A twenty-four hour fast is observed on this day, which is broken at midnight. The festival is called in different names as “Krishna Jayanti”, “Janma Ashtami”, “Krishnaashtami” , “Gokul Ashtami”, and as “Sri Jayanti”.
Birth of Lord Krishna
The myth connected to the birth of Lord Vishnu is as follows. Vasudeva was the chief of ‘Shooras’ and married Devaki one of the seven daughters of Devaka. They were very happy, for none had ever seen so fine a man and a wife matched in such perfect harmony.
‘Kansa’ (also known as ‘Kamsa’) was the son of Ugrasena. Though his father Ugrasena was the King, Kansa himself ruled the kingdom. He was more wicked and had no respect for law, human or divine. The divine Sage Narada once, came to Kansa and advised him not to disregard the law of ‘Dharma’ and foretold, that the eighth child of Devaki would slay him, if he continued to be wicked and revengeful.
Frightened at the prophecy of Narada, Kansa confined the newly married Vasudeva and Devaki in Gajaraja palace with a condition that every child of Devaki, as it was born, should be handed over to him. In obedience of the promise Vasudeva handed over six of his children one after one whom the cruel Kansa killed mercilessly. Devaki again became pregnant, and she gave birth to a boy.
With the help of ‘Ganga Charya’ and ‘Akura’ he was saved by showing a dead body of a new-born girl beside Devaki. Kansa did not take it seriously, as this was seventh child of Devaki. The seventh child of Devaki was stealthily sent to Gokul and was growing under the great care and affection of Rohini, the elder wife of Vasudeva. Rohini was living as a guest of Nanda at Gokhul. They named the boy as “Balarama”. During the course of their nine years confinement, Vasudeva and Devaki never failed in their devotion and always talked of the Lord and his Grace. Devaki was expecting her eighth child. Surely, the prophecy of sage Narada and the promise of Veda Vyasa began to show the signs of coming true. It was the eighth day of the dark half of the month of ‘Sravana’ (also spelt as Shravan) and there was a thunder and lightning pouring torrential rains and the roads were blocked with water.
Devaki tingling with ecstasy gave birth to a child when the moon entered the house of ‘Vrishabha’ at the constellation of the star Rohini on Wednesday the 8th day of the second fortnight of the month of Sravana, which corresponds to the month of “Bhadrapada Krishnapaksha” according to the “Barhaspatyamana”, in the year of ‘Visvavasu’, 5,I72 years ago (from I945), which means 3227 BC.
In the pitched darkness, Vasudeva wrapped the child in a woollen garment, kept it in a basket and lifting the basket on his shoulder crossed the river Yamuna and handed over the child, with the basket to Ganga Charya, the family priest and Nanda, the chief of Gokul Yadavas waiting on the opposite bank. In return, Ganga Charya gave another basket of a new born daughter of Nanda to Vasudeva who carried back the baby to the place of his confinement, as was pre-planned.
Kansa was unable to sleep the whole night due to the anxiety to have a look at the eighth child of Devaki and drove to the palace where Vasudeva and Devaki were in prison. After assuming that the eighth child of them being a daughter, the prophecy of Narada proved incorrect and Kansa was very happy.
Nanda’s wife Yashoda who had fainted at the time of her delivery never knew, what all has happened in the night and when she came to her senses, Rohini handed over the child to her. Since Nanda and Yashoda were not having any children, quite for some time, the birth of the boy made the people of Gokul with wild delight and joy and the boy was named as Krishna with appropriate rituals.
Kansa was constantly haunted by the fear that some child might have overlooked by ‘Putana’, a close confidant of Kansa. He came to know the belated birth of a boy to Nanda and Yashoda and summoned Putana to kill him. But Putana could not succeed in her deed and was later killed by Krishna. Kansa therefore summoned ‘Trinavrit’, a bird catcher to kidnap Krishna.
When, Trinavrit reached Gokul, there was a storm of sand and it was very difficult to anybody to withstand. Taking advantage of the storm, Trinavrit caught hold of Krishna. Krishna too held him tightly leaving him dead. Various brave acts during the childhood days of Krishna are depicted in the holy books.
The eighth Avatara, Krishna, who has become the Beloved of India and the world at large, had a threefold objective: to destroy the wicked demons to play the leading role in the great war fought on the battlefield of Kurukshetra (where he delivered His wonderful message of the Gita) and to become the centre of a marvellous development of the Bhakti schools of India.

On the holy day of Gokul Ashtami, the ladies in South India decorate theirhouses beautifully, ready to welcome the Lord. They prepare varioussweetmeats and offer them to the Lord. Butter was Krishna’s favourite,and this is also offered. Shrikhand is specially prepared on the occasionof Gokulashtami festival. From the doorway to the inner meditation roomof the house the door is marked with a child’s footprints, using some doughmixed with water. This creates the feeling in them that the Lord’s own Feethave made the mark.

 

These are the foods made at home during this festival:

  • Kai Murukku
  • Uppu seedai
  • Vellai Seedai
  • Thattai
  • Halwa
  • Aval oorundai
  • Paal Payasam

I cannot leave this blog without giving the recipe of atleast one of the dishes.

How to make Paal Payasam(milk kheer)? I chose this simple and

delicious paal payasam because it perfectly fits any festive mood.

Ingredients

  1. Milk-500 ml
  2. Rice(plain white rice) -3/4  cup (you can also use Basmati rice)
  3. Sugar- 1-11/2 cup(or according to taste)
  4. Cardamom powder- 1/2 tsp
  5. Water
  6. Nuts variety (Cashews. almonds) and raisins/dates

Method

In a heavy bottomed vessel cook rice with milk over low flame, until

rice is completely cooked.(you can also use a pressure cooker).

Add sugar and required amount of water to obtain the desired

consistency. Cook for another 10 minutes.

Switch off the stove and add cardamom powder and garnish

with cashew nuts and raisins fried in ghee if desired.

 
 
The FestivityPeople treat this day as one of very great rejoicing. There is recitationof the “Bhagavatam”, singing and praying everywhere. Temples aredecorated for the occasion, Kirtans are sung, bells are rung, theconch is blown, and Sanskrit hymns are recited in praise of LordKrishna. At Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, special spiritualgatherings are organised at this time. Pilgrims from all over Indiaattend these festive gatherings.People observe a daylong fast, which is broken only at midnight,the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. The festival isa community celebration, and people visit Krishna temples, whichare specially decorated and lit for the occasion. On the occasionof ‘Gokulashtami’, we can find kids forming a human pyramid toreach the pot full of curds and break it.
 A little before midnight, devotees pour into temples to participate inthe special’Arati’ and to relive the birth of Krishna.Till midnight,devotional songs aresung in anticipation of the holy birth.Special cradles are installed at temples and a small statue of the”Balgopal” is placed in them.
If there are small kids in the house, they are  costumed as Radhaiand krishnan.This costume competition is also encouraged in schools.Prad 🙂
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9 comments

  1. Nice post! Good luck and hope to see your 1000th post. Just a clarification on your Pal Payasam recipe, I was told by an expert that in the traditional recipe there is no cashew. It is added to other sweets and maybe other payasams but not in the traditional Pal Payasam.

  2. I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I do not know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

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