The birthday of Lord Krishna is celebrated as Krishna Janmashtami. It is an annual celebration which marks the birth of Lord Krishna who is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the eighth “Avatar” of Lord Vishnu.
Lord Krishna is one of the favorite deities of Hindus. All Hindus consider him as their hero, protector, teacher, and friend. The Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations are held throughout the country and also in various parts of the world.
The Krishna Janmashtami Festival is known by several names such as Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti, or simply as Janmashtami. It is an occasion to celebrate the rich persona of Lord Krishna who took birth to dispel evil and spread the message of love and universal brotherhood.
Moreover, Krishna Janmashtami is an extremely rewarding devotional experience. The Janmashtami festival is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm by people from all across the globe.
The auspicious day of Krishna Janmashtami (the day on which Lord Krishna took birth) is celebrated on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadrapad according to the Hindu calendar. That’s why it is known as Janmashtami. It usually falls in the month of August or September.
The Janmashtami festivities are marked by elaborate celebrations which continue for the whole day. The performance of “Rasa Lila”, decorating “Jhakis”, fasting, Janmashtami songs, “Jagran”, playing “Dahi Handi”, distribution of gifts, are just some of the unique aspects of this extremely lively and vibrant Hindu Festival of Krishna Janmashtami.
Why is Krishna Janmashtami celebrated?
Krishna Janmashtami marks the birthday of Lord Krishna.
He was the eighth son of the princess Devaki and King Vasudeva.
It is believed that Lord Krishna was born on 18th July 3228 BCE and lived until 18th February 3102 BCE. His birthplace was Mathura which is located in present-day Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh. He belonged to the Vrishni clan of Yadavas from Mathura. (Source: Wikipedia)
King Kansa, the brother of Devaki, then ruled Mathura. He captured the throne by imprisoning his father, King Ugrasena. Kansa was a cruel ruler. He tortured the people of Mathura. Everybody wanted to get freed from the evil rule of Kansa.
There was a prophecy which had predicted that Kansa would die at the hands of Devaki’s eighth son. Hearing this prophecy, Kansa got afraid, and he locked Devaki and Vasudeva in a prison cell.
Kansa began to kill Devaki’s sons one after the other. When she was about to give birth to her eighth son, Lord Vishnu appeared to them and told them to take the son (Krishna) to Gokul to Nanda and Yashoda.
When Krishna took birth, Vasudeva took him to Gokul, crossing the Yamuna River and quietly placed the child beside Yashoda. He returned with Yashoda’s daughter.
Kansa thinking the child to be the eighth son of Devaki threw her on a stone, but she transformed herself into Yogmaya and warned Kansa that he would be killed at the hands of Krishna.
Later on, when Krishna grew up, he returned to Mathura and killed Kansa. Everybody in Mathura rejoiced at the killing of Kansa at the hands of Krishna and praised the Lord for freeing them from the evil rule of Kansa.
How Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated?
Lord Krishna is believed to be born at midnight on Janmashtami day. The celebrations reach their height during the midnight of the Janmashtami day.
The Janmashtami celebrations are special in places like Mathura, Vrindavan, Gokul, and Dwarika where Krishna spent most of his life.
The celebrations are marked by devotional songs, dances, Pujas, and Aarti. Temples are decorated, and people keep awake all night on Janmashtami. Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated in most parts of the country as well as abroad with great devotion, joy, and enthusiasm.
The Janmashtami festivities start before dawn and continue all day long until late midnight. Celebrations are marked with Kirtans in which devotees sing hymns in praise of Lord Krishna. Dance and drama (usually Rasa Lila) are a special part of the Janmashtami celebrations.
The deity of Krishna is decorated with flowers and garlands. The idol of Krishna is also bathed with a variety of auspicious liquids. Infancy Images and small idols of Krishna are placed in cradles in temples and homes. They are elaborately decorated with ornaments, flowers, and beautiful clothes.
Devotees usually fast on the day of Janmashtami. Prasad is distributed after the conclusion of the birth ceremony of Lord Krishna.
Let’s take a glimpse of the Janmashtami festivities in various parts of India:
Janmashtami celebrations are at their peak in cities like Mathura, Gokul, and Vrindavan. People from all parts of India thronged to these places to take part in Janmashtami celebrations. Elaborate arrangements are made, and Krishna Temples are decorated with flowers and colorful lighting.
People gather in large numbers in temples and participate in festivities which continue the whole day of Janmashtami. Dancing, songs, drama performances, puja rituals, and Aarti are the hallmark of Janmashtami festivities. In Jammu, people take part in kite flying on this auspicious day.
In the eastern state of Odisha and West Bengal, people celebrate Krishna Janmashtami by fasting and all-day worship of Lord Krishna.
Purana Pravachana is organized from the Bhagavata Maha Purana. On the next day, people participate in the “Nanda Utsav” and offer sweets to each other.
In Maharashtra and particularly in Mumbai and Pune, Janmashtami or Gokulashtami is celebrated as “Dahi Handi”.
It is an event in which a human pyramid is formed which tries to break an earthen pot filled with buttermilk, which is tied at a convenient height. The topmost person in the human pyramid tries to break the pot. The participants in “Dahi Handi” are called as Govinda Troops. Gifts and cash prizes are offered to these participants.
People in South India celebrate Janmashtami with great joy and fervor. They decorate their houses. They sing devotional songs in praise of Lord Krishna. Verses of Bhagavad-Gita are also recited.
Lord Krishna’s idols are decorated. People offer sweets and fruits to Lord Krishna. Some of the important sweets are Seedai, and Verkadalai Urundai. Most people observe fast on this day. Young children are dressed like Lord Krishna.
Janmashtami Songs are an important part of the festival. People sing hymns and devotional songs in praise of Lord Krishna.
People gather in large number in temples around the country. They participate in religious festivities. Dancing, drama, and songs form an important part of their Janmashtami celebrations.
When is Janmashtami Celebrated
Janmashtami is celebrated on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadrapad which usually falls in the month of August or September.
Devotees usually observe a fast on this day. Krishna Puja is performed during the Nishita Kala which is during the midnight on the day of Janmashtami as per Vedic time-keeping.
Janmashtami is an auspicious occasion to celebrate the birthday of Lord Krishna. It is a day to rejoice, dance and remembers the Supreme Lord Krishna who came to this Earth to give happiness to one and all.