Where it's at
Every year thousands of followers of the Hindu god Krishna
make a pilgrimage to the town of Mathura in Uttar
Pradesh to celebrate his birth nearly 3,500 years ago.
Krishna was the earthly incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu
and was born in humble surroundings, which makes him very
popular with the poorer classes. Mathura is one of the seven
sacred cities in India, and is also an important centre for
What happens at the Mathura Krishna Festival?
There is no single temple to worship Krishna in. The crowds
visit several of the thousands of small temples spread throughout
the city of Mathura.
At night the streets come alive with music, free food and
face painting which is seen as a symbolic blessing. However,
the party really gets going at midnight, the alleged hour
of Lord Krishna's birth, with processions of floats depicting
Krishna in his many forms - the warrior charioteer, the charismatic
ladies man, and the baby Krishna who, much like Moses, was
saved from slaughter by his parents who sent him adrift on
the Yamuna river in a tiny raft.
Physically, this festival involves a lot of chanting and
yelling, plus plenty of fire. This is because fire
is seen as the carrier to take the peoples messages up to
God. Fire is how God communicated back to the people, so when
pilgrims touch the fire, it is like there are actually touching