Kartika Damodhara Deepotsava is celebrated in commemoration of an enchanting childhood pastime of Lord Krishna in Gokula. The Srimad Bhagavatam describes that once naughty little Krishna stole butter & also broke the pots containing butter and yogurt. Mother Yashoda then decided to bind Krishna to a wooden grinding mortar to restrain his naughty activities. She took some ropes & tried to bind the unlimited Supreme Lord, being unaware of His exalted position. But the rope was short by a measurement of two fingers. Yashoda gathered all the ropes from the household & joined them to bind Krishna. In spite of exhausting all the ropes, it was still short by two fingers. Observing the exhaustion of Mother Yashoda, Krishna finally agreed to be bound although the Supreme Lord is by nature boundless & infinite. This pastime made Krishna famous by the name ‘Damodara’. ‘Dama’ means rope & ‘udara’ means belly. Hence, Damodara is the special form of Krishna, as a baby tied with rope around his belly to a wooden grinding mortar.
There are many wonderful descriptions in the scriptures glorifying this pastime. The acharyas explain that actually the Supreme Lord Krishna can never be bound by anyone or anything. Yet out of His boundless love & compassion for his pure devotees like Mother Yashoda, he agrees to become subservient to them. Hence, Mother Yashoda did not bind Krishna with an ordinary rope but with her pure love and devotion.
Devotees celebrate this sweet pastime throughout the month of kartika by offering special prayers and lamps to Lord Damodara.
At ISKCON Mysuru, Damodara Deepotsava is celebrated by observing a month long festival of lights in the month of Kartika. Every day in the evening at 7:30 pm, the entire temple is decorated with lamps and a special flower rangoli is offered in front of the altar. All the devotees sing Damodarashtaka song and offer a lamp to Krishna.