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Originally published Friday, August 31, 2012 at 10:00 AM

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India is the land of festivals

Janmashtami is one of the big ones, celebrating the birth of the Hindu god Krishna, one of the most popular and powerful deities in the ancient, multistranded religion.

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IN INDIA, where Hinduism is the religion of hundreds of millions of people, it seems as if a Hindu festival rolls around almost every month in a swirl of color and joyful chaos.

Janmashtami is one of the big ones, celebrating the birth of the Hindu god Krishna, one of the most popular and powerful deities in the ancient, multistranded religion.

As a warrior, teacher and philosopher, Krishna is celebrated over two days (in August this year) of dancing and drumming, singing and chanting and re-enactments of his early life. And, because milk curds are said to have been among Krishna's favorite foods, earthenware pots are filled with them — and with honey, fruits, even prizes sometimes mixed in — in street festivities in India's megacities and countless villages.

The pots are suspended high above the crowds, and young men clamber up in quivering human pyramids to claim them. Celebrants reach, with hands outstretched (as in Mumbai, above) toward a pot in mass devotion to Lord Krishna.

Kristin R. Jackson is The Seattle Times' NWTraveler editor. Contact her at kjackson@seattletimes.com.

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