Aug 14, 2017: Festivals and celebrations are synonymous with India. And Janmashtami is one such festival that is celebrated in a large scale with much enthusiasm, fun and gaiety because on this day, Lord Krishna, the eight reincarnation of Vishnu, appeared on the earth.
Krishna is known by many other names, such as, Govinda, Vasudeva, Mukunda, Madhusudhana.
Krishna was born to Devaki and Vasudeva in Gokul, on the eight day of the Krishna Paksh(waning moon) in the month of Shrawan. This year Janmashtami falls on 14th August.
The festival is important for hindus because Lord Vishnu came in the form of Krishna to eradicate evil and restore ‘Dharma’ at a time when the tyrant and evil ruler of the Vrishni Kingdom Kansa, Devaki’s brother, was making people’s lives miserable. He had overthrown his father to become King. But he was cursed to die at the hands of the “eighth son of his sister”. To try and escape this curse, Kansa killed all of Devaki’s babies when they were born. But when Krishna was born at midnight, a divine force helped Vasudev save Krishna from the evil Kansa. Vasudev carried Krishna across the River Yamuna, to Gokul, to his brother-in-law, Nand Raj’s house, where Krishna spent his childhood happily.
Krishna is one God in Hindu Mythology, whose life has been written about from birth to ‘demise’, and since the lord appeared in a human form and intermingled with one and all at different levels, he is worshipped as a god-child, a loveable prankster, a beautiful lover, a divine guide and the supreme power.
Thus, Krishna’s birth is celebrated with great excitement, devotion and passion by one and all - by the dynamic youth playing pranks(Breaking the ‘Dahi’ handi hanging high above), by women whose maternal instincts are roused on this day(they bathe and dress up ‘Baby Krishna’ and place him in a cot and rock him while singing devotional songs) and by all age groups as they participate in plays and dances based on Krishna’s life, particularly his youth( Raas-Leela).
Many devotees keep fast on this day. They clean the temple before placing an idol of the crawling “Divine Child Krishna”. The idol is bathed lovingly and is adorned with new clothes. The whole temple is decorated with flowers. White butter and sugar is distributed among people as ‘prasad’ since baby Krishna loved eating this.
Since Krishna was born at the stroke of midnight, devotees start singing ‘bhajans’ in beautifully decorated and illuminated temples in the evening. The celebrations go on till midnight. At midnight, conchs’ are blown in the temples to announce the baby’s arrival amidst much fanfare.
Janmashtami is celebrated with much pomp and show in Mathura and Brindavan. The temples come alive with ‘jagarans’(Night Vigil) and dance and drama events, specially based on Krishna’s childhood pranks and love affairs(With Radha, his consort).
In Maharashtra, specially Mumbai and Pune, and Dwarka in Gujarat, the festival is celebrated on a large social scale, by the traditional breaking of the ‘Dahi/Makhan Handi’(pot with freshly churned butter). With time, the butter has been replaced with money that would be won by the team which manages to reach and break the pot.
In the South, devotees make large Kolams (decorative pattern drawn on the floor with rice floor) and make small foot prints of Baby Krishna outside the main door, depicting the entry of the Lord inside the house.
Not only is this festival celebrated in India, it is also celebrated in many other countries, specially, the US, where ISKON promotes and teaches devotion to Lord Krishna.
Janmashtami 2017 Muhrat details:
Date: 14th August
Nishita Puja Time– 00:03 to 00:47
Parana Time– After 17:39 (15th August)
Ashtami Tithi Begins – 19:45 (14th August)
Ashtami Tithi Ends – 17:39 (15th August)