India is celebrating Krishna Janmashtami tomorrow. The festival marks the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu on earth. According to Hindu mythology, whenever earth is wrought by cruelty and misery, Lord Vishnu descends upon earth in one of his humanly avatars. Lord Krishna is one of his avtaars, who took birth in Mathura to Devaki and Vasudeva to kill his cruel uncle Kansa.
In the time he spent in Vrindavan, Krishna and his group of friend were renowned for their playful activities and pranks that they would play on everyone in their neighbourhood. Did you know that little Krishna was also called ‘Makhan Chor’ , owing to his love for butter.
One time, he saved his entire town from the torrential rains by lifting mount Govardhan on his little finger. The episode is one of the most loved legends of Hindu mythology and is also tied with the famous practice of offering lord Krishna 56 types of prasads, also called ‘chappan bhog’ (56 offerings). Devotees prepare these delicious 56 kinds of prasads and offer it to their beloved deity on occasions like Janmashtami and Govardhan puja.
The Legend Behind ‘Chappan Bhog’
There is also a legend behind this ‘chappan bhog’. Mother Yashoda used to feed Lord Sri Krishna eight times a day. To save Braj from Indra’s wrath, the rain did not stop for seven days when Shri Krishna raised the Govardhana mountain. During this time Lord Krishna did not take any food.
Ultimately, Lord Indra had to stop the rains in Vrindavan. It is said Lord Krishna used to have eight meals in a day. Once the rain subsided, everyone made Lord Krishna a total of 56 dishes, meal to compensate for 7 days of abstinence, out of gratitude.
The 56 Delights
This extravagant spread of 56 dishes is created to please Krishna and as an act of respect for his sacrifice. The traditional bhog consists of 16 snacks, 20 sweets and 20 kinds of dry fruits. But the first bhog offered is the register of Makhan Mishri and Coriander. The legend says Yoshodha would make Krishna’s favourite ‘Makhan Mishri’ herself! These are arranged in a particular sequence, milk items are placed first, followed by salty items, and sweets in the end, offered first to Krishna’s idol and then distributed among the devotees.
Staunch devotees wake up early and prepare the bhog right in the morning. Chappan bhog is a mix of cereal, fruits, dry fruits, sweets, drinks, namkeen and pickles. Some of the common items found in the chappan bhog are makhan mishri, kheer, rasgulla, jeera ladoo, jalebi, rabri, mathri, malpua, mohanbhog, chutney, murabba, saag, dahi, rice, dal, kadi, ghewar, chila, papad, moong dal ka halwa, pakoda, khichadi, brinjal ka sabji, lauki ka sabji, poori, badam milk, tikkis, cashews, almonds, pistachios and elaichi among others.
Is Krishna’s ‘chappan bhog’ ready yet?… Have a happy Janmashtami!