Krishna Janmaashtami is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, an avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu.
Janmaashtami, popularly known in Mumbai and Pune as Dahi Handi, is celebrated with enormous zeal and enthusiasm. The handi is a clay pot filled with buttermilk that was positioned at a convenient height prior to the event. The topmost person on the human pyramid tries to break the handi by hitting it with a blunt object. When that happens the buttermilk is spilled over the entire group, symbolizing their achievement through unity. Various handis are set up locally in several parts of the city, and groups of youngsters, called govinda, travel around in trucks trying to break as many handis as possible during the day.
Cash and gifts are offered for Govinda troops to participate; for over 4,000 handis in Mumbai, 700 Govinda troops compete for the prizes.
In North India
In Uttar Pradesh where the lord was born in Mathura, his play ground Gokul and Vrindavan become more crowded and celebrations go up to a week. In Gujarat where the city Dwarka has Dwarkadhish temple celebrates it with pomp and joy.
In the eastern state of Orissa, around Puri and West Bengal in Nabadwip, people celebrate it with fasting and doing puja at midnight. Purana Pravachana from Bhagavata Purana are done from the 10th Skandha which deals with pasttimes of Lord Krishna. The next day is called Nanda Utsav or the joyous celebration of Nanda Maharaj and Yashoda Maharaani. On that day people break their fast and offer various cooked sweets during the early hour.
In South India
In the south, the festival is celebrated as Sri Krishnajanmashtami, Janmashtami or Gokulashtami. In Tamil Nadu, Brahmins (Iyers and Iyengars), Yadhavars, Chettiars and Pillais celebrate the festival. Uriadi or climbing a stick containing a pot of sweet curds is also a major event in Varahur and other parts of Tamil Nadu.
In Karnataka, Madhwas (Vaishnavas) (followers of saint Madhwacharya), Iyengars and Srivaishnavas, (followers of saint Ramanujacharya) and Smarthas (followers of Adi Shankara) make elaborate preparations for the festival. The idol of Lord Krishna is placed in a decorated mantapa. Bhakshanam (snacks and sweets in Sanskrit), that are specially prepared for the festival, are offered to Lord Krishna along with fruits and are considered to be his favourites. In some parts of Karnataka, chakli, avalakki and bellada panaka are prepared especially for the festival. Hand made avalakki is prepared in memory of Krishna’s friend Sudhama. Legend has it that Sudhama had once offered avalakki to Krishna, as it was considered to be one of his favourite snacks. Gamaka vachana and other devotional activities are held in the evening.