Krishna Janamashtami, also known as Krishnashtami, Srikrishna Jayanti, Saatam Aatham, Ashtami Rohini, Gokulashtami, and Sree Jayanthi, is a prominent Hindu festival celebrated in commemoration of the birth of Lord Krishna.
Time of Celebration
The festival of Janmashtami is celebrated on the eighth day of the Bhadon. According to Hindu calendar, it falls on the eighth day of Krishna Paksh of the month of Shraavana, when Rohini Nakshatra is in ascendant. According to Georgian calendar, it falls in either August or September.
Lord Krishna is believed to be one of the most popular and most beloved of all Hindu deities. According to beliefs in Hinduism, he is the eight incarnation (avtaar) of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of existence. His charm and magnificence has not only reflected upon the followers of Hindu religion, but also upon people from different faiths living all around the world. In the light of this fact, Janmashtami holds utmost importance amongst Krishna devotes who are in presence in inestimable numbers all around the world.
Krishna devotes are in presence all around the world, and all of those differing in some aspects have their different ways of celebrating this festival. However, the way with which it is celebrated in Mathura, Vrindavan, and Maharashtra is extremely distinctive and popular.
1. In Mathura and Vrindavan
Amongst these various celebrations, those observed in Mathura and Vrindavan are most popular. According to beliefs, these are the places where Lord Krishna spent his childhood. Also, there are innumerable number of stories associated to these places, which have keep Krishna devotees engaged over the years. The highlighting aspect of these celebrations is Rasa Lila, which is a dramatic representation of some very engaging incidents from the life of Krishna.
2. In Maharashtra
Maharashtra is another favorite place among Krishna devotees. Dahi Handi, a ritual celebration in which young men (known as Govinda Pathaks) form pyramids in the midst of streets to climb up to break a Dahi Handi (a pot filled with buttermilk) hanging in air, is one extremely popular event followed religiously in the place.
Rituals on the Day
It is almost an unofficial tradition to clean and decorate places on any auspicious occasion. With an extremely significant day such as Janmashtami, this is religiously followed. The way temples all across the country are decked up with lights and flowers make up to form an entirely extraordinary experience for everyone. Besides this, there are lots of other conventional and religious aspects of this festival, which are followed as rituals.
1. All idols of Lord Krishna are washed with Gangajal (sacred Ganges water), ghee, honey, milk, and curd. These items are required to be poured down over the idols using a conch. Then, the idols are attired in new clothes (preferably of yellow color) and ornaments. This coronation process (Abhishek) is required to be performed as the very first thing on the day of festival.
2. Lords Krishna was born exactly at midnight. Most of the rituals as associated with the festival of Janmashtami are thus essentially required to be performed during that time only. Balmukund, which is a representation of the ‘Bal Krishna’ (Krishna as an infant), is elegantly placed in a cradle and then that cradle is swing forth and back. While doing so, people sing devotional songs, recite associated Mantras, and blow conch in adoration of Lord.
3. A special Bhog for the day, as in fresh fruits, sweet dishes, and milk products, is offered to Lord. There is a popular concept of Chappan Bhog, as a part of which devotees offer 56 different dishes as Bhog to Lord.
4. Meanwhile, in the day time, people make sure to make a visit to Krishna temple along with their families. Many prefer to travel distances to be a part of the famous celebrations at Mathura, Vrindavan, and Maharashtra.
5. Almost all the temples, and in specifically Krishna temples, arrangements are put in place to carry out religious processions (Jhaanki) and to conduct Raas Lila. All throughout the procession, people sing devotional songs and dance to those tunes in adoration for Lord Krishna.
6. Many prefer to abide by fast on Saptami, i.e. a day before the day of festival. Those, who choose to abide by it, break it by having Panchamrit after performing the above stated pooja.
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