Janmashtami – Celebration of Krishna’s Birth
Janmashtami is a yearly festival celebrated widely across the country to venerate the birth of lovable Lord Krishna. The day is adorned with fun-filled festivities, religious rituals and delicious recipes. Krishna, the supreme preserver and sustainer archetype, incarnated on this earth plane to abolish evil and reinstate justice. Janmashtami is usually observed on the 8th Waning Moon Period (Krishna Paksha) in the Tamil month of Aavani or Shravana (Mid-Aug to Mid-Sep).
Other names of Janmashtami include:
Lord Krishna – The Most Loveable God
Lord Krishna, the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu is one of the most venerated and celebrated Hindu Gods. From the Puruanas it is understood that Krishna avatar took place in Dwapara Yuga (third cosmic phase) and ended at the beginning of Kali Yuga (present and the last cosmic phase). Krishna took birth at midnight, when the entire world is believed to have illuminated with auspiciousness, beauty and peace.
Mythology behind Janmashtami
Lord Krishna was born as the eighth son of Vasudev and Devaki. Devaki’s tyrant brother King Kamsa heard a divine prophecy that he will be killed by the eighth son of his sister Devaki. Hence, he jailed his sister and her husband and killed their 7 children immediately they were born. When the eighth son was born, Vasudev was instructed by a divine voice to secretly carry the baby to Gokul across Yamuna River in a basket and exchange him with a baby girl, born to a cowherd couple, Nanda and Yashodha.
Vasudev returned back to the jail with the baby girl safely. When Kamsa hurled the baby to a wall, the baby girl took the form of Yogmaya who told him that the eighth child who will ring his death bell is safe elsewhere. Lord Krishna grew up as a cow herder in Gokul and making the prophecy true, he later killed his uncle Kamsa, which signifies the destruction of evil forces by the divine Lord.
Rituals and Celebrations of Janmashtami
Janmashtami is widely celebrated in different forms across the country. Grand celebrations are held in states such as Gujarat, Maharashtra, Orissa and Uttar Pradesh. In Maharashtra, people celebrate ‘Dahi Handi’, where they form a huge human pyramid to break an earthen pot filled with buttermilk and winners are rewarded with prizes. In Jammu, flying kites is organized on this day.
Generally, people keep fasting throughout the day and break their fast by offering special Pujas to Lord Krishna at the midnight, when the Lord is believed to have been born. Various sweets and savories are offered to the beloved God, who is decorated with jewels and flower garlands. Parents enjoy the occasion by dressing up their little ones like Baby Krishna.
In South India, little foot prints are drawn from the doorstep till the Pooja area by mixing rice flour with water, inviting Baby Krishna into the house. Certain Vishnu temples also grace the occasion by reading verses from the sacred Vedic text – Bhagavad Gita.