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Gokulashtmi Festival

Festivals in August
Nag Panchami | Vasco Saptah | Patolleanchem Feast | Gokulashtmi Festival | Bonderam Festival | Festival Calendar

Displaying breath-taking acrobatic talent, the boys form human pyramids to break the matka (pot) just like the child Krishna did once upon a time. This fun-filled ritual is a joy to watch; especially when the vessels have been suspended at a greater height and the human pyramid must have four to five tiers.

Spectators at this event are treated to free displays of acrobatic and gymnastic talent, and death-defying, awe-inspirings acts performed without the aid of a safety net.

History and Lore

As a boy, it is said, Lord Krishna loved his dahi and chaas (curds and buttermilk). So much so in fact that he would not only finish all his mother’s stores, but would also go around eating those belonging to friends and neighbours. Not unnaturally, this infuriated the neighbouring housewives. They took to suspending their curds and buttermilk in an earthen vessel (matka) from the ceiling, high above the ground so as to be out of reach to a child.

Undeterred by these measures, Krishna immediately enlisted the help of his friends and exhorted them to do as he asked. He made them form a human pyramid and then climbing to the top, broke the matka and shared the curds within amongst all of them. Read More +

Religious Observances

This festival is also known as Janmashtmi, and is the birthday of Lord Krishna. Since Krishna is believed to have been born at midnight, during the dark half of the month of Shravan, many devout Hindus observe a fast for 24 hours. This fast is broken at midnight.

On the day of the festival, youths travel around the town breaking the dahi handis that have been suspended at varying heights and collecting the prizes within. When the matkis are broken, their contents shower down over all the participants. Read More +

Other Observances

Like with most other festivals the houses of the devotees are decorated. In addition to colourful rangoli designs, people also make rangoli of a child’s footprints entering the house to signify the welcoming of Lord Krishna. A great many snacks and other sweets are prepared. Milk products are specially offered up to the child Krishna. In Goa, people offer parched rice, along with sweets, payasum and fruits.

Lord Krishna is a beloved god, heralded as the saviour of the world. He is perhaps the most relatable god as he demonstrates a more mischievous, human side and can be seen as a friend, lover, husband, brother and son in the tales that are told of him. The festival is widely celebrated and witnessing the formation of the human pyramid, a tradition which till today takes place without safety nets, is definitely something worth doing.