Krishna Ashtami is a Hindu festival celebrated in Fiji by the Indian population. The celebrations last for 8 days in which devotees fast and eat only vegetarian food. Each day of the Ashtami, devotees pray and make sweets and offerings to Lord Krishna and even have prayers at temples with devotional music. In some communities, children dress up as Krishna and participate in plays to teach and learn stories from Krishna’s childhood. The rituals have originated from the Indian ancestors of the Hindu people in Fiji. The occasion marks the birth of Lord Krishna and devotees learn about his qualities as a good leader, and welcome the innocence of a child into their homes while celebrating his birth.
The story of Lord Krishna celebrates the innocence of a child as stories go that he would steal makhan (butter) from people’s homes. Knowing that Krishna would come looking for it, they would store it in high up shelves in earthen pots. Krishna found clever ways to get to the treats and his most beloved tale is that of his creation of a human pyramid with his friends to reach these high up places. As an adult, he displayed great courage and leadership to defeat his powerful nemesis Kansa who was an evil ruler of his kingdom. Krishna was the avatar of Lord Vishnu, the great protector of people – and who would end the reign of the evil King, Kansa. Kansa’s fear led him to kill all his seven siblings born before him. He was the 8th son, taken away to a safe haven as a child, only to return to the Kingdom as an adult to free his family and triumph over evil.
Over the years, the celebrations have evolved and most people also choose to honour the occasion at their own homes and attend the last day of the festivities at a temple or community event. The last day is the most significant as it marks the birth of Lord Krishna and is the day on which most devotees stay up till midnight to mark the event.
Throughout the celebrations, people wear traditional Indian clothing and indulge in a variety of wonderful vegetarian food and sweets. These are not just made as offerings but as a large community gathering and sharing food and stories. Check out our vegetarian dishes and sweets recipes that are often made during Krishna Ashtami.