Sundeep Bhutoria

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Krishna's holiday leela!

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Last week I was in Jaipur scheduled to host a dinner at the Polo Club on August 28 evening. Then I came to know that Wednesday was Janmashtami and hence a dry day. So I pre-poned my dinner to August 26 evening. But then, again I heard that the state government had declared that August 29th, and not 28th, would be a holiday for Janmashtami. The citizens were left guessing.
The issue over dates cropped up when different religious organizations wanted the city collector to declare their preferred day as the holiday for Janmashtami celebrations.
It all started when the Jaipur-based Govindadevji Mandir administrative body, representated by Manas Goswamiji, had in a letter to the state government explained that, as per their astrological calculations, the Janmashtami celebrations would fall on August 29 and requested the administration to declare it a holiday. The district collector responded positively and announced it to be so without taking into consideration the fact that most schools had already declared 28th a holiday.
This decision raised many eyebrows and religious gurus, saints and various organizations, who were in favor of observing Janamashtami on August 28th, as per the Hindu calendar, protested the decision and took out a ‘Shanti March’ on Monday (August 26) from Lakshaminarayan mandir situated at Badi Chaupar to Tarkeshwar temple in Chaura Rasta.
A delegation representing different religious bodies, sects and astrologers met the chief minister on the issue. They very categorically expressed their displeasure to the Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot about the state's decision to declare August 29 the official holiday for Janamashtami celebrations this year. The state government yielded once again under pressure and without wasting any time officially declared August 28th also as Janmashtami holiday.
So not only both the dates (August 28 and 29) were officially declared holidays for Janmashtami celebrations in Rajasthan but also half day on Friday August 30 was added to it due to a proposed religious rally by the temple authorities from Govindji Mandir to Gopinath ji Mandir. As a result, anyone who could manage to take half-a-day off on that day could actually avail five days of holidays since the next two days were Saturday and Sunday.
The scenario in Mathura (UP) or vraja bhoomi (Krishna land), the birth place of Lord Krishna, and the surrounding Vrindavan region, was very different from Rajasthan and Janmashtami was celebrated only on August 28.
Janmashtami is one of the major festivals of India, especially in central and northern India, marking the mid-night birth of Lord Krishna at Mathura in the 28th year of dwapar yug (era), is also known as Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti and so on. Most of the time Janmashtami is listed on two consecutive days. The first one is largely followed by the Smarta Sampradya and the other one by the Vaishnava Sampradaya or sect.
I may mention here that ISKON, which has popularized the cult of Krishna globally, follows the Vaishnava dates for celebrating Lord Krishna's birth anniversary and accordingly observed it on August 28 this year. Hindu religious texts like Dharmasindhu and Nirnayasindhu have elaborate and well-defined, even complex, rules of deciding the Janmashtami day.
Whatever be the reason, the people of Rajasthan were euphoric at the turn of events. After all, how come Lord Krishna has two birth dates? But Krishna has his way of making people happy and he showed his leela again.
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