The Hindu festival of the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadrapada, which usually falls in August or September. This day is known by many different names like Krishna Janmashtami, Krishnashtami, or Gokulashtami.
It is celebrated in every corner of India, but the main celebrations take place in the city of Mathura and Vrindavan. These cities are important as it is believed that Lord Krishna was born and raised in these cities.
How is Janmashtami Celebrated?
The devotees of Lord Krishna observe a fast, sing religious folklore, make special food and pray to Lord Krishna on this day. The houses and temples are decorated with diyas, flowers, and lights.
The main temples in Mathura and Vrindavan are decorated the same way, with even more decorations and devotees also perform Raslila that recreates the important incidents from Lord Krishna’s life, and also commemorate his love for Radha.
In many states, the festival is also followed by the ritual of Dahi Handi. This ritual is believed to be an important part of the day. Dahi is important as Lord Krishna loved white Makhan (butter), curd, and milk during his childhood days and was famously known as Makhan Chor.
It is believed that the villagers, one day, went to Lord Krishna’s mother, Yashoda, to complain about him and she angrily tied him up so that he couldn’t steal. She also asked the villagers to hide their butter, and curd in handi at a height at which little Krishna could not reach.
But, Krishna formed a pyramid along with his friends to reach the handi. They all got successful in stealing the curd and shared it among themselves.
This ritual is followed every year to commemorate this sweet incident. This tradition is mostly celebrated in Maharashtra and Gujarat. In many places, this is also celebrated as a competition where people participate in the contest in groups and win exciting gifts.
History of Janmashtmi
According to Hindu mythology, the human incarnation of Vishnu – Lord Krishna was born on this day. His birth is considered to be the end of Mathura’s demon king, Kansa. His birth was on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the Bhadrapada month, which this year falls on August 19. He was born in Mathura to Devaki and Vasudeva.
During the time of Lord Krishna’s birth, Mathura was ruled by his uncle, Kansa. As prophesied, the eighth son of his sister would lead to the death of Kansa and hence, he wanted to kill the child. He imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva and killed their six children.
However, the seventh child, Balram, miraculously transferred from Devaki’s womb to Princess Rohini’s womb. And when the eighth child, Krishna was born, the entire palace was sleeping and Vasudeva managed to rescue the baby to Nand Baba and send him to Yashoda’s home in Vrindavan.
In Mathura, Vasudeva presented a baby girl in front of Kansa as their child, but as Kansa tried to kill her, the child transformed into Goddess Durga. She warned him about the prophecy coming true. Lord Krishna later killed his uncle, Kansa.
Significance of the Festival
This festival gives the message of light and positivity in dark times. According to the history of Lord Krishna, his birth was meant to be the end of the dark times by killing Kansa. He brought in the world by destroying the powerful demon.
The number eight is also significant as he was the eighth child of Vasudeva and Devaki and the one who was prophesied to end the rule of Kansa.