- Janmashtami 2019 will be celebrated on August 24th this year
- Devotees prepare 56 food items to offer to Lord Krishna
- Janmashtami is celebrated to honour the birth of Lord Krishna
India is set to celebrate Krishna Janmashtami 2020 on 11th August. The festival marks the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu on earth. According to Hindu mythology, whenever earth is wrought by cruelty and misery, Lord Vishnu descends upon earth in one of his humanly avatars. Lord Krishna took birth in Mathura to Devaki and Vasudeva to kill his cruel uncle Kansa. The moment he was born, Vasudeva carried him on his head to Vrindavan and left little Krishna in the care of his friend Yashoda and Nanda in Vrindavan. Kansa was a cruel king who had kept his sister Devaki and brother-in law Vasudev in his cell. or karaghar. It was prophesied on their wedding day that their eighth son would be the reason of his death. He started killing all their sons, but Krishna escaped his murderous ire. Krishna then grew up and killed Kansa, thus fulfilling prophecy and saving the town from the merciless rule of Kansa.
On the occasion of Janmashtami 2020, let's recount the story of Lord Krishna. In the time he spent in Vrindavan, Krishna and his group of friend were renowned for their playful activities and pranks that they would play on everyone in their neighbourhood. Did you know that little Krishna was also called 'Makhan Chor' (butter thief). He loved white butter so much that he would often steal all of it that Yashoda would make at home. Despite his pranks, Krishna was a favourite of everybody in the neighbourhood. One time, he saved his entire town from the torrential rains by lifting mount Govardhan on his little finger. The episode is one of the most loved legends of Hindu mythology and is also tied with the famous practice of offering lord Krishna 56 types of prasads, also called 'chappan bhog'. 'Chappan' in Hindi means 56. Devotees prepare 56 types of different prasads and offer it to their beloved deity on occasions like Janmashtami and Govardhan puja. But, why 56? Why not any other number? Let's find out.
Significance Of Chappan Bhog And Why Does It Have 56 Items
According to Hindu scriptures, people in the forest of Vrindavan followed a practice of offering lavish meals to Lord Indra - the God of rain and storm - to make sure he is pleased enough to bless them with timely rainfall and good harvest. Little Krishna found the practice to be a little harsh for the poor farmers. He convinced the entire village to stop making these offerings to Lord Indra and look after themselves. Angered by the lack of food offered, Lord Indra triggered massive rainfall and thunderstorm in Vrindavan. The storm continued for days, the houses were flooded, people were stuck. Fearing for their lives, the villagers approached little Krishna for help, who then asked everyone to proceed to the Govardhan hill.
Once everyone was there, he lifted the whole hill with his little finger, and everyone came under the hill to take shelter from the rains and storm. The rain continued for seven days, and little Krishna held the hillock on his little finger all through these days. He did not move anywhere and didn't consume a single grain of food. Ultimately, Lord Indra had to stop the rains in Vrindavan. It is said Lord Krishna used to have eight meals in a day. Once the rain subsided, everyone made Lord Krishna a total of 56 dishes (eight multiplied by seven), out of gratitude.
Janmashtami is one of the major festivals in the Indian calendar and Hindus consider this day auspicious. Some of the devotees wake up early and start preparing for the bhog right in the morning. Chappan bhog is a mix of cereal, fruits, dry fruits, sweets, drinks, namkeen and pickles. Some of the common items found in the chappan bhog are makhan mishri, kheer, rasgulla, jeera ladoo, jalebi, rabri, mathri, malpua, mohanbhog, chutney, murabba, saag, dahi, rice, dal, kadi, ghewar, chila, papad, moong dal ka halwa, pakoda, khichadi, brinjal ka sabji, lauki ka sabji, poori, badam milk, tikkis, cashews, almonds, pistachios and elaichi among others. They are all arranged in a particular sequence, milk items are placed first, followed by salty items, and sweets in the end.