11 Aug Krishna Janmashtmi – Birth of Lord Krishna
Krishna Janmashtami also known as Gokulashtami is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avtar of Vishnu. Krishna Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm in India in the month of August or September.
According to the Hindu calendar this religious festival is celebrated on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh or the 8th day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada. The number eight has another significance in the Krishna legend is that he is the eighth child of his mother, Devaki.
Sri Krishna is considered as the one of the most powerful human incarnations of the Lord Vishnu. He was born around 5,200 years ago in Mathura. The sole objective of Sri Krishna’s birth was to free the Earth from the evilness of demons. He played an important role in Mahabharata and propagated the theory of bhakti and good karma which are narrated deeply in the Bhagwat Geeta.
Sri Krishna was born in a prison in the custody of Kansa. Vasudev, His father immediately thought of his friend Nand and decided to hand over his child to him to save Krishna from the clutch of Kansa. Krishna grew up in Gokul and finally killed his uncle, King Kansa.
The actual celebration of Janmashtami takes place during the midnight. As Shri Krishna is believed to be born on a dark, stormy and windy night to end the rule and violence of his uncle, Kansa. All over India this day is celebrated with devotional songs and dances. Pujas, arti, blowing of the Conch and rocking the cradle of baby Shri Krishna.
The occasion is observed especially in Mathura and Vrindavan , the scenes of Krishna’s childhood and early youth. On the preceding day devotees keep a vigil and fast until midnight, the traditional hour of his birth. Then the image of Krishna is bathed in water and milk, dressed in new clothes, and worshipped. Temples and household shrines are decorated with leaves and flowers. Sweets are first offered to the god and then distributed as Prasada to all the members of the household.
The day after Krishna Janmashtami, people break the Dahi Handi which is a part of this festival. The term Dahi Handi literally means “earthen pot of yogurt”. The festival gets this popular regional name from the legend of baby Krishna. He would seek and steal milk products such as yogurt and butter and people would hide their supplies high up out of the baby’s reach. Krishna would try all sorts of creative ideas such as making human pyramids with his friends to break these high hanging pots.
This story is the theme of numerous reliefs on Hindu temples across India, as well as literature and dance-drama collection. It symbolizes the joyful innocence of children, that love and life’s play is the reflection of god.
This legend is played out as a community tradition on Janmashtami, where pots of yoghurt are hung high up. As per tradition, teams of youth called the “Govindas” go around to these hanging pots, climb one over another and form a human pyramid, then break the pot.