Janmashtami is celebrated to mark the birth of Shree Krishna, who resides in the heart of every devotee because of his immense power, charm and appearance. Janmashtami is celebrated on the 8th day of Bhadon month which falls in the month of August-September as per the Georgian calendar.
Along with the Pooja, Bhajans and Dance programs are arranged on Janmashtami in the honor of Lord Krishna, but the most interesting and attractive program is Raas Leela. It is a Dance Drama played by the devotees to visualize the life of Lord Krishna amidst the Gopis in Vrindavan.
Story behind Sree Krishna’s Raas Leela
While growing from childhood to younger age Krishna spent a lot of time playing and dancing with Gopis around the banks of River Yamuna in Vrindavan. Krishna was very popular among the Gopis because of his mischief and also adorable too. Their love for Krishna was so strong that while playing and dancing with him they used to forget the whole world and were always in constant remembrance of Lord Krishna. This dancing and playing with Gopis is called Rass Leela or Krishna Leela which Krishna loved very much. In Sanskrit it is known as Kreeda or activity. Thus since ages Raas Leela has been a significant part of Janmashtami.
Performing Raas Leela on Janmashtami
Since Raslila is an important part of Janmashtami, devotees often hire professional actors to play on stage. The play usually reflects how Lord Krishna used to Play and Dance with Gopis, how they used to play hide and how he used to stand in the center among the Gopis. Sometimes they join hands together while dancing. The dance drama also shows how Gods and Goddesses like Gandharva and Yakshas used to throw flowers from sky by visualizing such delightful scenes.
Usually the drama takes place in Brij-bhasa. It is in Vrindavan, where all the popular Raas Leelas take place and if you would like to witness one, do visit Vrindavan on Janmashtami. Usually Brahmin boys aged between 10-13 years participate in Sree Krishna Raas Leela. Important parts of Raas Leela are Janam Leela detailing the birth of Lord Krishna, Shankar Leela, Putana Leela detailing the killing of demon Putana and Naag Leela detailing the killing of serpent Kaliya. People performing Raas Leela play the drama with great devotion and sincerity.
Thus since ages Raas Leela has been a major part of Janmashtami which every devotee enjoys with great fun.