Minh Tran

Visitors en route to India’s Taj Mahal should stop in the town of Vrindavan to join the Festival of the God Krishna

Hindus pray before statues of Krishna and Radha

Located in the Mathura District of Uttar Pradesh State, the town of Vrindavan is the legendary birthplace of the god Krishna. It was here that Krishna spent his childhood. This town lies 11km from Mathura, on the highway from Agra to Delhi, and boasts a variety of sacred temples dedicated to Krishna and his consort Radha.

Each year, from August until the end of the year, festivals take place here non-stop, giving the place its vibrant cultural charm. For Hindus, this is one of the most-awaited and important times of the year. People dance and pray at the foot of statues of the god Krishna and Radha.

Participants dance and sing

Of the nine embodiments of Vishnu, Krishna is the eighth. He embodies love and the destruction of all sins and suffering. In folk beliefs, Krishna represents good luck and health and staves off hatred. Hindus believe Krishna bridges the love between mortals and God and helps to manifest wisdom in mankind.

As a child reared in a family of cowherds, Krishna was fond of his flute. Like other innocent children, he devoted his deepest love to his adoptive mother, Yashoda. He was notoriously naughty, and would steal milk from the cows and smash milk bottles over young girl’s heads. His pranks were mischievous rather than nasty. As he grew up, he begged those around him to obliterate ignorance rather than waste time mindlessly worshipping deities.

Western converts to Hinduism join the festivities

The love between Krishna and Radha is considered a sacred cornerstone of affection, romance and spiritual beauty. Indian women are taught to view their husbands from the perspective of Krishna while men view their spouses as Radha – a role model worth their love. Empathy and sharing are key to any relationship, no matter how mundane or holy.

Thanks to the fecund imagination of Hindu artists, Krishna appears in a wide range of artworks, architectural decorations, sculptures and temples. In fine arts, Krishna is portrayed through fraternal love while Radha is sometimes portrayed being jealous. The relationship between Krishna and Radha is one between the immortal and the mortal, the mundane and the holy.

Flowers and colorful flags decorate the temples

Hindus celebrate the birthday of Krishna on the Janmashtami Holiday of the Hindu calendar. They wait until midnight to start their rituals. Elders tell stories of the birth of Krishna and sing traditional chants. Regardless of sex, participants dance and sing, making this one of the most colorful events in India.

The festival attracts an army of widows who arrive in hopes of changing their miserable fate. After losing their husbands, many Indian women are forced out of their homes and condemned to wander. They come and put their trust in Krishna, believing that, after losing their partners, they are meant to devote themselves to Krishna. A beloved child, Krishna grew up preaching about the power of love for all. He is said to protect those who follow him from evil.

Flowers and colorful flags decorate the temples

It’s surprising to learn that many Westerners also follow the ways of Krishna. Visitors can see many white-skinned, blue-eyed Caucasian followers in these temples. Their presence makes the event even more joyful, thanks to their love of having fun.

Visitors are invited to join the festivities and have fun, dance with the locals, and learn more about Hindu deities and folk beliefs. Many new experiences can be shared in the midst of this vibrant festival. Visitors who enjoy this profound and sacred festival will be left with rewarding memories.