Stories of Lord Krishna appear across a broad spectrum of Hindu philosophical and theological traditions. He is portrayed in various perspectives: a god-child, a prankster, a model lover, a divine hero and the Supreme Being. The principal scriptures that discuss Lord Krishna’s stories are the Mahabharata, the Harivamsa, the Bhagavata Purana and the Vishnu Purana.
Janmashtami, Lord Krishna’s birthday is also known as Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini and Srikrishna Jayanti. It is one of most important festivals for many Hindus celebrating the birth of Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu.
Krishna Janmashtami is observed on Ashtami tithi, the eighth day of the month of Bhadra in the Hindu calendar. The festival usually falls within mid-August to mid-September in the Gregorian calendar. In 2010, for example, the festival was celebrated on 1 September and in 2011 on 22 August in North India and on 21 August in South Indian states like Kerala.
History of Janmashtami
Mathura was led by Kansa who was a wicked king. He had a sister, Devaki, who was married to Vasudeva. It was predicted that Krishna would be born to Devaki and would kill the wicked king Kansa. This enraged Kansa and he killed all the male children of Devaki, after imprisoning Devaki and Vasudeva. But since the eight avatar of Lord Vishnu was bound to kill Kansa, Krishna was born at midnight.
Vasudeva managed to save the child from the cruel clutches of Kansa by exchanging Krishna with a female child of Yashoda. Krishna lived in Gokul till the age of eleven to hide himself from the clutches of his maternal uncle, Kansa. Eventually as was destined to happen, Krishna ended the tyranny of Kansa by killing him.
Janmashtami is celebrated differently in different parts of the country. In Maharashtra, Janmashtami, popularly known as Dahi Handi, is celebrated by forming a human pyramid and breaking the clay handi. A similar tradition, also known as uriadi, is a major event in Tamil Nadu on Gokulashtami.
In Manipur, Krishna Janma, devotees of Lord Krishna gather at the ISKCON temple and Govindaji temple.
In Karnataka, the idol of Lord Krishna is placed in a decorated mantapa. Special preparations for the festival are offered to Lord Krishna along with fruits that are considered to be his favourites. Other devotional activities are held in the evening.
In Mathura, Uttar Pradesh where the lord was born, celebrations go up to a week at his play ground Gokul and Vrindavan. In the city of Dwarka, Gujarat, celebrations take place with pomp and joy at the Dwarkadhish temple. In Jammu, kite flying is an important part of the celebration on his day.
In the eastern state of Orissa, in Puri and in West Bengal in Nabadwip, people celebrate it with fasting and puja.
Hope you have been able to discover new insights about this festival to make you enjoy the day even more. Wishing you and your family an auspicious Janmashtami.
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