Krishna Janmashtami is a special Hindu festival celebrated every year to mark the birthday of Lord Krishna. This joyful occasion takes place on the eighth day of the Shravana month in the Hindu calendar, typically in August or September of the regular calendar.
In 2024, Gokulashtami falls on Monday, August 26th. Many people get a day off from work on this day because it's a holiday in various private and public places. It's a time for festivities and remembering the beloved Lord Krishna.
India, with its rich mix of cultures, is a perfect place for celebrating different festivals with happiness. One such celebration is Sri Krishna Janmashtami in 2024, which marks the birth of Lord Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu.
This festival, also known as Gokulashtami, happens on the eighth day of the Bhadrapada month in the Hindu calendar. According to Hindu stories, Lord Vishnu transformed into Krishna to defeat a demon named Kansa, who was Devaki's brother. It's a special time to remember the divine stories and celebrate with joy.
Celebrating Krishna Janmashtami involves a special puja vidhi, or ritual, focusing on the birth of Laddoo Gopal. Here's a step-by-step guide for a meaningful puja:
Begin your day by taking a bath and putting on fresh clothes.
Start preparing for the puja at night by decorating Sri Krishna's cradle or a wooden chowki.
Clean the shrine using holy Gangajal.
Begin the puja with meditation (dhyana) and respectfully place the Lord Krishna idol on the cradle or chowki.
Perform padya by offering water to the deity's feet.
Offer arghya to Lord Krishna.
Perform achaman, offering water to the Lord and then sipping it.
Conduct the Lord's snana ceremony by pouring Panchamrit (a mixture of milk, curd, honey, ghee, and Gangajal) over the idol.
Prepare Panchamrit using these ingredients as prasad.
Adorn the idol with new clothing and accessories, known as shringaar.
Present the sacred janeu to God and apply Chandan paste on the deity.
Decorate the idol with a crown, jewellery, mor pankh (peacock feather), and bansuri (flute).
Offer flowers and Tulsi leaves to the deity.
Light incense sticks and an oil lamp.
Offer Makhan and Mishree as bhog to the Lord.
Present the God with a tambulam made of coconut, betel nuts, haldi, paan, and kumkum.
Sing Kunj Bihari's aarti to honor the Lord.
Perform a parikrama (circumambulation) around the deity.
Join your hands and pray, asking the Lord to keep you and your family safe from harm.
Following these steps will help you conduct a heartfelt Krishna Janmashtami puja and connect with the divine energy of Lord Krishna.
Krishna Janmashtami holds great importance in Hindu beliefs. According to the stories, Lord Krishna was born to Devaki and Vasudeva in the city of Mathura on the eighth day of the dark fortnight of Bhadrapada, known as Ashtami Tithi.
Devaki's brother, the demon king Kansa, was told by a prophecy that her eighth son would bring about his downfall due to his wicked deeds. Fearing this, Kansa imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva.
To escape the prophecy, Kansa tried to harm Devaki's babies right after they were born. When Devaki had her eighth child, magically, the entire palace fell asleep, allowing Vasudeva to secretly take the baby to the home of Yashodha and Nanda in Vrindavan during the night.
This baby was a form of Lord Vishnu, who later became known as Sri Krishna. Krishna eventually defeated Kansa, putting an end to his tyrannical rule and fulfilling the prophecy. The significance lies in the triumph of good over evil and the divine manifestation of Lord Krishna.
The astrological side of Krishna Janmashtami is pretty interesting. Lord Krishna's birth happened during the Krishna Paksha, or waning moon phase, in the Rohini Nakshatra on the Asthami tithi.
According to the Hindu calendar, it was in the month of Bhadrapada. These calculations help us figure out the dates and times for celebrating Sri Krishna Janmashtami.
Krishna is like a guardian, keeping the world safe from being harmed by adharma (unrighteousness) and its followers. He took down the wicked Kansa because of all the bad stuff he did. Lord Vishnu, in various forms like Krishna, comes to Earth whenever things get really chaotic and scary, making sure that goodness and fairness (dharma) are back in charge.
The celebrations during Krishna Janmashtami involve some special customs that make the festival enjoyable for everyone. Here are some of the important traditions associated with this day:
Devotees fast throughout the day on Krishna Janmashtami. The entire day is dedicated to remembering the Lord, and the fast ends at midnight believed to be the time of Lord Krishna's birth.
Devotees spend the day chanting the Lord's name, creating an atmosphere filled with love and dedication. Many devotional songs are sung, especially at Krishna temples.
Elaborate skits portraying Krishna's life and his playful activities (leelas) are performed. Children, dressed as Krishna and his Gopis, participate in Raas Leela, recreating joyful scenes from Krishna's life.
Makhan (butter) was a favourite of Lord Krishna, so it became an important treat. Devotees prepare sweets with ingredients like milk, dry fruits, sugar, and khoya to offer to little Gopal, symbolising their love and devotion.
To reflect on Krishna's teachings and the deeper meaning of life, passages from the Bhagavad Gita are recited aloud. This helps people connect with the spiritual wisdom imparted by Lord Krishna.
These rituals add a special touch to Krishna Janmashtami, creating a festive and joyous atmosphere for people of all ages to enjoy and participate in the celebrations.
When Devaki had her eighth son, a magical slumber fell upon the kingdom of Mathura, allowing Vasudeva to secretly take the baby out. In the pouring rain, baby Krishna was carried in a basket, and the king of snakes, Shesnag, protected them with his five-headed hood. Vasudeva bravely crossed the Yamuna River with the help of divine forces and reached Gokul.
Once in Gokul, Vasudeva entrusted his son to Yashoda and Nanda, who became Krishna's foster parents. Interestingly, Yashoda also had a baby girl, believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Durga. Vasudeva cleverly took this girl back to Mathura, tricking Kansa into thinking that the prophecy about his downfall by Devaki's eighth son was false. This made Kansa feel relieved and happy.
Every year, devotees celebrate Janmashtami with great joy and excitement to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna, their cherished protector. The legends surrounding Krishna's birth and the events that followed add a special significance to the festivities.
Krishna Janmashtami is a joyful celebration observed with much enthusiasm worldwide. Different regions, both in India and around the globe, have their unique ways of celebrating this special festival.
In northern India, Janmashtami is a major festival. People enthusiastically participate in the Raas Leela tradition, a dance that honours Lord Krishna. Additionally, kite flying is a popular activity, especially in Jammu.
In Manipur, residents perform the Radha-Krishna Raslila, a dance drama inspired by love, on Janmashtami. Parents in this region read stories from the Bhagavata Gita and the Bhagavata Purana, dressing up their children as characters from Krishna's stories.
In West Bengal and Odisha, the celebration is known as Sri Krishna Odisha. Fasting and worship continue until midnight on Janmashtami. People recite the 10th Purana of the Bhagavata Purana, dedicated to Krishna's life. The next day is 'Nanda Utsav,' honouring Krishna's foster parents, Nanda and Yashoda.
In Gujarat, a Makhan Handi ritual is performed, similar to the Dahi Handi ritual. Folk dances, bhajans (devotional songs), and visits to Lord Krishna's temples are common during the celebration.
In Maharashtra, Janmashtami, also called Gokulashtami, is celebrated in August. The day after Krishna Janmashtami is dedicated to the Dahi Handi festival. Participants smash earthen pots of yoghurt, inspired by the myth that infant Krishna would steal butter and yogurt. The spilled contents are considered Prasada, a blessed offering.
South India celebrates Gokula Ashtami fervently. In Tamil Nadu, Kolam decorations adorn floors, and devotional songs honouring Krishna are sung. Footsteps depicting Krishna's entry into the house are drawn, and offerings like butter, betel, and fruits are presented to Krishna.
Krishna Janmashtami is joyfully celebrated in various countries outside India:
In Nepal, people mark Janmashtami by fasting until midnight. They recite verses from the Bhagavad Gita and sing religious songs as part of their celebration.
In Fiji, Janmashtami is known as 'Krishna Ashtami.' Over the course of eight days, Hindus come together at homes and temples with their 'mandalis' to celebrate the occasion.
In the United States, Janmashtami festivities kick off early in the morning. Hare Krishna groups and their followers organise colourful celebrations and cultural events to mark the occasion.
Janmashtami is observed as a national holiday in Bangladesh. People organise various processions to commemorate this day.
Cultural events take place at temples in Singapore to celebrate Krishna Janmashtami. A unique feature of the celebration is the 'Krishna chanting competition,' adding a special touch to the festivities.
People worldwide joyfully celebrate the Krishna Janmashtami festival for 2-3 days. During this time, they perform drama-dance shows depicting the life of Lord Krishna, known as 'Krishna Lilas.'
These celebrations continue with all-night vigils filled with singing devotional songs, fasting, and a delightful festival day. On this special day, people share and savour specially made sweets and delicious treats, spreading happiness and joy.