Millions of people in India celebrated the Hindu deity Krishna’s birthday on Friday, with major events held in the twin cities of Mathura and Vrindavan.
The festival, known as Janmashtami, is one of the biggest on the Hindu calendar and is celebrated with fanfare across the country.
In the holy cities of Mathura, where Krishna is believed to have been born, and Vrindavan, where the deity is believed by Hindus to have spent his life, in northern Uttar Pradesh state, temples were decked with flowers.
At Shri Krishna Janmasthan, the temple complex at the exact site where the deity is believed to have been born, the main festivities were set to begin at night and would continue until midnight, temple authorities said.
“The offering of prayers will begin at 11pm with the offering of 1,000 lotus [flowers] to Lord Krishna's idol and will continue until 1.30 am on Saturday,” Kapil Sharma, the secretary of Shri Krishna Janmasthan Seva Sansthan, said.
More than five million devotees from across the country had arrived at the temples to celebrate.
Authorities bolstered security arrangements in and around the temples to control the large crowds. More than 5,000 policemen and paramilitary forces have been deployed to secure Mathura.
Across western Maharashtra state, thousands of young people wearing brightly-coloured clothes competed against each other as they formed human pyramids to break an earthen pot filled with buttermilk suspended up to six metres above the ground.
The sport called Dahi Handi, which means pot of curds, is an enactment of Krishna’s childhood antics. The deity is believed to have broken buttermilk pots with the help of his friends.
The traditional sport is popular in Maharashtra and is played in every corner of the state on the occasion.
Dozens of lavish events were organised in Mumbai after a gap of two years, to celebrate the festival as hundreds of devotees stood on each other's shoulders to break the buttermilk pots.
At least 24 people received minor injuries at one of the events after they fell while trying to reach the suspended pot, civic officials said.
Elsewhere in the country, temples were decorated with flowers and ornaments. In some temples and homes, a statue of a child is placed in a cot to represent the birth of Krishna. A rope is attached to swing the cot.
Devotees swing the cot and offer sweets and flowers to the deity as devotional songs blare on megaphones.
"May this festival of devotion and gaiety bring happiness, prosperity and good fortune to everyone," Narendra Modi, the Indian Prime Minister, wrote on Twitter.