If one gets thinking about the festivals celebrated in India, the list may seem really long. One such upcoming festival is Janmashtami. The day marks the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, and it is celebrated across Hindu households and believers of Krishna. Falling on August 19 this year, special food and prasad is prepared for the lord.

Also Read: How To Make Panchamrit For Janmashtami Puja

On this day, worshippers observe fasts and welcome the lord into this world. Several fasting treats like sabudana khichdi, kheer etc. are prepared and many sweets are also served. The holy prasads that are quintessential to this festival include maakhan mishri (combination of butter and sugar), Panjiri and Gopalkala. Out of these, the latter is the one of the most special preparations, without which Janmashtami is incomplete.

Gopalkala is a Maharashtrian recipe that is prepared on Janmashtami. It is a mixture of puffed and flattened rice, combined with milk, cucumber, yoghurt, fruits and spices. This delightful treat is then served as part of Bhog during Janmashtami. Interestingly, the day also sees a popular tradition called Dahi handi. In this, an earthen pot is tied to a wire high above. Groups of worshippers get together to form a pyramid and climb up to break the handi (pot).

What’s more fascinating is that the handi is filled with the same mixture as Gopalkala. The soothing yoghurt-based prasad loaded in the handi and tied on the wire. But why is it so significant to Janmashtami? It is said that Lord Krishna was a lover of hand-churned butter and popularly known as the makhan chor (butter thief). In order to save the butter from Krishna, the ladies would tie the pot to a thread way above Krishna’s reach.

That’s how the concept of Dahi handi became a ritual. Gopalkala is nothing but a culmination of all the favourite foods of Lord Krishna mixed together to prepare a delicious prasad that can be offered to him on birth anniversary. Apart from rice and fruits, hand-churned fresh cream is also added to Gopalkala to make it rich and smooth. The creamy dish is doused with grated coconut, butter and pomegranate seeds. It is a refreshing and cooling dish that soothes the soul in the sweltering heat.