Janmashtami is one of the most auspicious Hindu festivals and celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, who is the eighth Avatar of Lord Vishnu. As per the Hindu calendar, the festival is observed at Ashtami or the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Bhadrapad (August-September). It is said that Krishna inhabited the world between the years 3200 and 3100 BC.
Significance of Janmashtami
The birth of Krishna is associated with the destruction of evil and the restoration of purity and good will in the world. As per legend, Krishna was the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva and belonged to the Vrishni clan of the Yadavas of Mathura, which is located in the modern state of Uttar Pradesh. Krishna’s uncle Kansa was an evil king and had usurped power after imprisoning his father, Ugrasena. There was a prediction that Kansa would be killed by Devaki’s eight son. Thus, fearing for his life, Kansa had Devaki and her husband imprisoned and to escape his deadly end had her first six children killed. The seventh was a miscarriage and finally, Krishna was born. In the dead of night, Vasudeva slipped out of jail with infant Krishna, whom he took to Gokul to be raised by Nanda and Yashoda. He returned with the couple’s daughter whom Kansa tried to kill, but was unsuccessful as she changed into a goddess and warned Kansa about his impending doom. Krishna spent his childhood in Gokul and finally returned to Mathura and killed Kansa with the help of his brother, Balram.
How people celebrate Janmashtami?
Krishna Janmashtami is widely celebrated in India and around the world. One of the most spectacular celebrations can be witnessed in Mathura and Vrindavan, located in Uttar Pradesh, where the ‘Rasa Lila’ is organized. The ‘Rasa Lila’ depicts the flirtatious days of Krishna’s youth.
Dahi handi is another event widely celebrated and is immensely popular in the state of Maharashtra. It is based on Krishna’s days when he, along with his friends, would steal dahi or butter from handis. Participants, who are known as Govinda, which was one of Krishna’s names, form a human tower, just as Krishna and his friends used to do, and attempt to break the handi which is located at a not-so-convenient height. The person at the top would break the handi and the entire butter milk in it would spill over the entire group.
In Goa, the festival is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm in the households as well as in the temple of Devaki Krishna.
In the city of Dwarka, people visit Dwarkadhish temple on this day. Dwarka is supposed to be the ancient kingdom of Krishna. In Jammu, people indulge in kite flying.
In Manipur, Janmashtami is popularly known as Krishna Janma. It is celebrated with great pomp and show at two temples – the Govindaji temple and the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISCON) temple in Imphal.
It is a major festival in South India as well. In Tamil Nadu, the festivities include decorating the floor with kolams, singing devotional songs in praise of Lord Krishna and drawing the footprints of Lord Krishna from the threshold of the house to the temple. Another popular practice here is the recitation of the sacred text, Bhagwad Gita.
In Andhra Pradesh, apart from the singing of devotional songs and recitation of the Bhagwad Gita, young boys can also be seen dressed up as Lord Krishna. People offer different varieties of fruits and sweets to the Lords, which are later given to visitors.
In many homes and temples, beautiful jhaankis or tableau are created depicting the various events in the life of Lord Krishna, such as his birth and childhood. Some jhaankis also depict the scene when Krishna is in a basket loaded on the head of Vasudeva, heading towards Gokul, while others show him stealing maakhan along with his friends from handis. These jhaankis are crowd pullers. People flock from far and wide to have a glimpse of these marvelous jhaankis.
The festival is also celebrated by the Hindu communities in the US, Canada, Europe, Fiji, Nepal and other countries.
Send cards and messages to your loved ones this Janmashtami
People also greet one another by sending e-cards and electronic messages. These cards come in various shapes and hues and are elegantly designed. They sport a depiction of Lord Krishna either as a kid gorging on butter or as an adult playing the flute. These cards come with verses in praise of the Lord. They make for a perfect gift that one can give to another on the auspicious festival, Janamashtami.