Krishna Janmashtami is the celebration of the birth of Lord Shri Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who is believed to have been born about five thousand years ago in Mathura in ‘Dwapar Yuga’. Krishna Janmashtami is also known as Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami and sometimes simply as Janmashtami. It is essentially a Hindu festival.
The festival is generally observed on Ashtami tithi, the eighth day of the dark half or Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhadrapada in the Hindu calendar, when the Rohini Nakshatra is ascendant. This is usually in the months of August and September in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and vigor by Hindus all over India and abroad. People observe fast the whole day, sing hymns and conduct prayers at midnight to rejoice the birth of Lord. Ras lila, dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna, are a special feature that is showcased in every part of the country, as it re-creates the flirtatious aspects of Krishna’s youthful days.
Another interesting aspect of Krishna Janmashtami is the practice of Dahi-Handi. This game portrays the playful and mischievous side of Krishna, where teams of young men form human pyramids to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it.
Story of Lord Krishna’s Birth
Lord Krishna was son of Devaki and Vasudeva and was eighth incarnation of God Vishnu. Lord Krishna belonged to Yadava community in Mathura. Kansa was a King of Mathura and brother of Devaki. Once he heard sky voice that Devaki’s eighth child will give him death. After hearing the sky voice, he imprisoned her sister Devaki and Vasudeva in a jail. King Kansa killed six children of Devaki and seventh child was miscarried. Devaki’s eighth child was Lord Krishna. Lord Vishnnu told Vasudeva to take newborn Lord Krishna to Gokul in the house of Yashoda and Nanda for safety so at the time of his birth all security persons in the jail got sleep during the night.
Later Vasudeva quietly left baby Krishna to Yashoda’s house and took her new born daughter to the jail. King Kansa killed the girl as he thought she was eighth child of Devaki but the girl was Yogmaya, a helper of Lord Vishnu. She flew high and told King Kansa about his confirmed death and vanished. Lord Krishna was very naughty as well as intelligent from childhood. Lord Krishna and his elder brother Balram grew up in Gokul village and later both killed King Kansa in Mathura.
The birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated around 12 o’clock during the night. Followers decorate the idol and temple of Lord Krishna with fresh flower on the festival day. Devotees prepare special costumes for Lord Krishna on Janmashtami and offer him fruits and sweets. Special decorative swings are also prepared for baby Lord Krishna in some temples. People keep fast or only consume fruits and spend the day by singing in praise of Lord Krishna. Temples of Gokul and Mathura has special significance on the day of Krishna Janmashtami so devotees throng the temples during the festival days. Follower of Lord Krishna also dance and exchange gifts in happiness of birthday of the Lord.
The state of Gujarat is the abode of Lord Krishna. The town of Dwarka comes alive, with major celebrations and hordes of visitors. The temples of Vrindavan witness an extravagant and colorful celebration on this occasion. Celebrations are held on a grand scale in all Krishna temples all over India, especially the ones in Vrindavan, Mathura in the state of Uttar Pradesh and in Dwaraka in the state of Gujarat. Other regionally famous Krishna temples also celebrate Janmashtami with pomp and splendor. Celebrations are also held in many Hindu Temples here in the US. Like the Krishna Janmashtmi Celebration at Barsana Dham and Shree Raseshwari Radha Rani Temple in Texas. Many more Hindu Temples around the US celebrate this festival.
On this auspicious day of Janmashtami the idol of infant Krishna is bathed at midnight and is placed in a cradle. It is then adorned with flowers, jewelry and a small “mukut” or crown. It is then placed in a cradle. Everyone swings the cradle to the tune of bhajan’s or songs of praise.
The atmosphere is filled with joy and exultation as everyone rejoices the birth of Vishnu’s incarnation who has been born to give security to the suffering humanity. Then “Naivedya” is offered to god and then distributed to all. This Naivedya or prasaad is a of a mixture of puffed rice, milk, curds and sugar. In addition, plenty of milk products especially butter, which was Sri Krishna’s favorite childhood food, are given as offerings. A wide variety of fruits are also offered to god.
Plenty of Indian sweets are made during this festival. Among these are Laddus, Payasam or Kheer, Shrikhand and so on.Exactly at midnight, Krishna’s birth is announced with ringing of bells and blowing of conch shells.
Many women observe fast for the whole day and partake food only after Krishna’s birth. In temples “Bhajans” – recitation of devotional songs and “Kirtans” – religious discourses – start early in the evening and continue till midnight – the hour of the Lord’s birth. Singing and music continue throughout the night. The following morning “Nand Mahotsav” is celebrated in praise and gratitude to Nand, the ruler of the cowherds of Nandgaon where Krishna grew up and lived in his childhood.
Celebrations at homes
In the houses, mango leaves are tied to the doorways to mark the auspicious occasion. Colorful “Rangolis ” are drawn on the front yard. Inside the house, a small wooden mandap is erected and decorated with flowers and plantain leaves. An idol of a crawling baby Krishna is placed in a silver cradle which is then placed in the mandap. Lord Krishna’s idol is decorated with flowers and a crown and jewelry at times.
Most families keep a “vrat” or fast on this day. The fast is done all day and then one meal is had during the day. This is known as phalar, and consists of fruit, mithai, curd, (kuttu) Singhare-ki-Puri. This phalar is taken in the afternoon (around 2-3 p.m.) along with tea and coffee. During this fast, consumption of tea and coffee is not forbidden and can be taken at any time of the day.
Janmashtami Celebration Pictures