India is a country where the various spheres of society – like culture, religion and education – intersperse with each other. There are grey zones where culture intermingles with religion, religion with traditions and traditions with education. These amalgamations make our society beautiful! Tradition and culture have been closely related to education in India, since the days of the Vedas. In the present times, the celebration of Sri Krishna Janmashtami across schools in India is yet another example of the same.
Sri Krishna Janmasthami, or simply Janmashtami, is the birthday of the Hindu mythological figure, revered as a God in popular Indian culture – Sri Krishna. It falls on Ashtami or the 8th day of Krishna Paksha or the dark, moonless fortnight of the month of Bhadon. The festival usually takes place in the Monsoon month of August.
According to Mythology, Sri Krishna was born in Mathura around 5000 years ago and he is one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu – the protector or preserver of the universe. Thus Janmashtami is celebrated across India through immense pomp, fervour and grandeur. While Krishna temples in the country take on their most gorgeous avatar, schools also arrange celebratory activities to ensure that the pupils learn about the teachings of Krishna in a fun and festive way.
Hindu mythology describes Sri Krishna as a notorious yet adorable child who loves to devour home-made butter. These aspects are kept in mind when the celebration is planned in schools. The parents of the children of pre-primary and primary sections are asked to dress the kids up as little Krishna or his friend, Radha, or as the gopikas who thronged around the Lord for attention. Some schools also organize fancy dress competitions.
Teachers pre-plan and arrange skits depicting incidents of Lord Krishna’s life where the evil forces get defeated by the Lord’s superpowers. These stories of Hindu mythology are known as leelas. The children participate in these skits as well as in dance performances.
The ‘Matki Phod’ is a popular tradition of Sri Krishna Janmashtami where a human pyramid is formed to break open an earthen pot – containing milk cream and butter – hanging somewhere high up. This is also done in some schools in a symbolic way as the traditional way is unsafe for children. These small rituals are conducted in schools so that the children also learn to enjoy our indigenous traditions apart from imbibing education on a global scale.
Indian tradition stresses the bond between The Almighty and the tiny souls of children. Janmashtami is observed across schools in India to celebrate this bond. Amidst an atmosphere of fervour, as the school premises fill up with the aromas of flowers and camphor, as the jingle of the puja bells and the bhajans fill the air, children attain a state of joy and these memories stay in their hearts forever.