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Janmashtami, also known as Krishna Janmashtami is a religious festival commemorating the birth of Lord Krishna. One of the most important festivals of the Hindu religion, Janmashtami falls on August 18th this year and ends on August 19th.
Krishna is worshipped as a God in Hindu mythology, and his birth is celebrated with excitement, devotion and passion.
Devotees keep a fast on this auspicious day, the temples are cleaned and decorated with flowers and lights. White butter and sugar is distributed among the people as ‘prasad’.
As a part of the tradition, earthen pots containing butter are broken at a lot of places.
Devotees sing ‘bhajans’ starting from the evening welcoming the arrival of Lord Krishna at the stroke of midnight. Conch shells are blown, and devotees break their fast and consume the Prasad after a puja.
Popularly celebrated in Mathura, which is said to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to the Hindu lunar calendar, Lord Krishna was born on the eighth day at midnight in the holy month of Shravana. This festival precedes the Nandotsav festival that commemorates the occasion when Krishna’s foster father Nanda distributed gifts among the community to celebrate his birth.
Hence, Janmashtami is observed on Ashtami or the eighth day of the ‘Krishna Paksha’ in the Bhadra month, according to the Hindu calendar. While in the Gregorian calendar, it overlaps in the months of August and September.
On this festive ocassion, people begin the day with fasting and praying, and also enjoy the rituals of dahi-handi, go to local fairs and distribute sweets. The ‘Bhagavata Purana’ states that apart from fasting and praying, devotional singing, night vigil and dramatization of Krishna legends are significant rituals of Krishna Janmashtami.
The Krishna Janmashtami celebrations are held across the country and also in various parts of the world. The festival is known by several names like Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti, or simply as Janmashtami.
The tradition of celebrating Lord Krishna’s birthday hails as one of the most important religious festivals for Hindus. Raas Lila or Krishna Lila which comprises dance and drama enactments of Lord Krishna’s life is one of the popular ways to celebrate the festival. According to the verses in the Bhagavad-Gita, a famous shloka narrates that whenever there will be pre-dominance of evil and decline of goodness, Lord Vishnu shall re-incarnate to save the earth. Lord Krishna’s birth as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu also marks the prevalance of goodwill and good energies.
According to Hindu mythology, in a quest to eradicate evil and restore ‘Dharma’, Lord Vishnu took the form of Krishna as the eighth child of Vasudeva and Devaki, to save people from the evil tyrant king Kansa.
Kansa, who happened to be the brother of Devaki, was cursed to die at the hands of the ‘eighth son of his sister’. In order to prevent the curse from turning into a reality, he imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva and killed all of their children as soon as they were born.
When Krishna was born at midnight, spiritual forces rescued Krishna from the evil ruler. Vasudeva carried him across the Yamuna river to Gokul, to be raised by Nanda and Yashoda. Krishna spent the rest of his childhood in Gokul Vrindavan.
Krishna is known by many other names such as Govinda, Gopala, Mukunda, Madhusudhana.
Hindus celebrate Janmashtami by fasting, singing, praying together, preparing and sharing special food, night vigils, and visiting Krishna or Vishnu temples. Major Krishna temples organize recitation of ‘’Bhagavata Purana and Bhagavad Gita. Many communities organize dance-drama events called Rasa Lila or Krishna Lila.The tradition of Rasa Lila is particularly popular in the Mathura region, in northeastern states of India such as Manipur and Assam, and in parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. It is acted out by numerous teams of amateur artists, cheered on by their local communities, and these drama-dance plays begin a few days before each Janmashtami.People decorate their houses with flowers and light. On this day, People chant “Hare Krishna hare Krishna, Krishna- Krishna Hare Hare”. These mantras are not mentioned in the holy Gita. Only the “OM” mantra is mentioned in the holy Srimad Bhagavad Gita Chapter 8 Verse 1. The Janmashtami celebration is followed by Dahi Handi, which is celebrated the next day of it.