Vishnu, the preservative aspect of the universe and one of the Hindu Trinity, is said to take birth in this mortal world of our’s, whenever it is overburdened with evil-doers and sinners, who by their wicked actions upset the equilibrium of the earth. One such incarnation is the birth of “Krishna “as the son of king Vasudeva and his wife Devaki and his story is recorded in the famous work of the Hindus known as Bhagavatam. Born to rid the world of the wicked, he was secretly brought up by the chief of the Yadavas (cowherds) to whom he was taken as soon as he was born, since his uncle Kansa considered him an enemy and wanted to get rid of him as soon as he was born, by putting him to death.
Sri Krishna Jayanthi is the auspicious day Lord Krishna, (an avatar of Lord Vishnu), was born in this world. It is also called Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanthi, Janmashtami, Dahi Handi. While the festival is celebrated in north India as Janmashtami, in the south, the festival is celebrated as Sri Krishnajayanthi, Janmashtami or Gokulashtami.
The idol of Lord Krishna is placed in a decorated Mantapa on which the Bhakshanam (snacks and sweets in Tamil) that are specially prepared for the festival are offered along with fruits considered the favourites of Lord Krishna. The pooja is performed late in the evening, because as Krishna was born at midnight. Generally, most of the sweets and savouries are prepared on that day. Normally, a kolam (rice flour drawings on ground) drawn specially for the occasion, called ezhaKolam decorates the front yard. Kolam in Tamil, also called Rangoli in the rest of India, is drawn using soaked rice ground to a fine paste and mixed with water. A white cloth is used to soak the paste and draw. Footprints representing those of Krishna are drawn from the front yard to the pooja room, representing the GOD entering the devotee’s home.
After the decorations are over, the pooja will be performed with Ganesha poojai as the start, followed by Krishna pooja, Ashtothram, Neivedhyam, Arthi and songs can be sung.
I typically fast the whole day and would start making the bakshanams. Uppu seedai( deep fried rice flour marbles), Vella Seedai ( sweet version of the previous one), Appam( wheat and banana dumpling), Puli Avil( Poha), Dhal Paayasam, Thenguzhal or Mullu muruku, butter, Ghee and Curd can be offered.
The little ones are thrilled about Janmaashtami, as it is a baby God’s Birthday. My husband and I had a hearty laughter, when our daughter at age 4 asked, “Where is the birthday cake for lord Krishna? ” On Janmaashtami day, I also dress up my little girl as Krishna or Radha and adore her. Krishna is also called “Makhan Chor” or “Butter stealer”, as Butter and Avil (Poha or beaten Rice) are his favourites. king of avil, let me narrate you, quickly the story of Sudama( Kuchela) and Krishna.
Sudama (Kuchela) and Krishna were good childhood friends. Sudama was from a poor brahmin family and Krishna was from a Royal Family, but their social status never affected their friendship. As they grew up, both went their ways and Krishna became the Ruler of Dwaraka and Sudama lived a humble life of a poor brahmin in the village. Sudama was going through difficulty, that he did not even have money to feed his children. His wife reminded him of Krishna’s friendship and urged him to get some help. Initially reluctant, sudama finally agreed to meet Krishna for help.
Sudama wanted to give his friend some gift, when he sees him. There was nothing at home except a small amount of beaten rice (Poha in Hindi or Avil in Tamil). He remembered that it was Krishna’s favorite and took that in a small cloth, tied with a knot. Overwhelmed with joy, the two friends, hug each other and talk all old stories and all the small mischievous deeds. Krishna treats Sudama royally with lot of Love and affection. Sudama hesitates to give the small gift he had brought, but Krishna actually grans it from his hands and starts eating the Poha with great relish. Sudama feels happy and returns home, forgetting the purpose of his visit to ask help. But to his surprise, he returns home to see his hut had been transformed into a Mansion and his wife greets him with silk clothes and fine jewelry. Krishna had transformed the poor brahmin’s life to a royal life.
This story is told to illustrate that the Lord does not differentiate, people based on their social status and he will reward devotion always. Another moral is not to trade bhakti for anything in return. Sudama did not ask Krishna for anything. Despite being poor Sudama had given Krishna everything he had (poha) hence in return the Lord gave Sudama everything he needed.
Let me tell you, how to make a simple dish with Poha( Krishna’s most favorite Avil). Even if you cant do the elaborate neivedhyams, a simple Avil(Poha) offered, with a lot of Bhakthi and devotion, will be gracefully accepted by GOD.
Puli Avil: ( Poha Upma with tamarind and spices)
- Avil(Poha)- 2cups.
- Tamarind paste(Imli)- 3/4 tsp.
- Curry powder-2tsp.
- Salt- to taste.
- Shredded coconuts- 3tsp.
- Oil- 1tsp.
- Mustard seeds- 1tsp.
- Urad Dhal-1tsp.
- Channa Dhal-1tsp.
- Red chillies-2.
- Curry leaves- 1arc.
- Asafoetida- a pinch.
- Turmeric powder- a pinch.
Dry roast Coriander seeds 1/2 cup, channa dhal -1 cup and 4 red chillies and powder them coarsely.
- Wash the poha and soak it in tamarind paste for 10 minutes.
- Take oil in kadai and add one by one, all the ingredients mentioned in the seasoning.
- Add salt, turmeric, curry powder and soaked Avil(Poha).
- Stir everything and let it cook in low heat for 5-10 minutes.
- Add shredded coconuts for garnish.
My Krishna collections has been growing like my Ganesha collections. I have close to 16 Krishna’s in the form of Iskcon paintings, Silk fabric painting, kalamkari, Tanjore paintings, glass painting, idols, sculptures etc.
Sending this to Purva Daawat’s festive food event