Krishna Janmashtami, one of the most celebrated Hindu festivals, is here. It is time for a round of quick facts around this holy festival that marks the birthday of Lord Krishna – one of the most loved gods of Hinduism.
When is it celebrated?
Janmashtami is an annual Hindu celebration celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna on the eighth day of the dim fortnight of the long stretch of Bhadrapada (August-September). The number eight has another importance as he is the eighth offspring of his mother, Devaki.
Why do we celebrate Janmashtami?
Krishna is widely accepted as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He was born to kill the demon – his maternal uncle Kansa – indicating that whenever there is an imbalance in the universe, the Lord takes birth to saves the world. Knowing that Devaki’s son will cause his death, Kansa killed the first seven children born to his sister.
Birth of Krishna:
Krishna was born while his mother and father were in Kansa’s prison. To keep him safe, his father, Vasudev, took him to Mathura and placed him beside Yashoda, who had recently given birth to a baby girl. Vasudev took the girl in exchange of Krishna believing that Kansa won’t kill her because she was a girl child. Yet his brother-in-law tried to kill the girl who then took the form of goddess Yogmaya and warned Kansa that his death is near.
How do people celebrate it?
The event is widely celebrated in Mathura and Vrindavan – the two cities of Uttar Pradesh associated with Lord Krishna. Devotes observe a fast until midnight, the conventional hour of the birth of the Lord. At that point a picture or idol of Krishna is ceremonially bathed in holy water and is adorned with garments. Specially prepared food, called Chhappanbhog (literally meaning 56 food items) is offered to the Lord.
Temples and family altars are decorated with flowers. Sweets are offered to the god before the Chhappanbhog and prasad is distributed to every member of the family. The devotees of Krishna honour the occasion of his birth by creating miniature tableaux showcasing Mathura of his time, the Yamuna River over which he was transported to safety, and Gokul where he was raised.
Janmashtami is commended by some as the day on which the Vedanta was manifested onto this world. Krishna’s teachings compiled in the Bhagawad Gita, his message of affection for each other and for God was the principal trigger of the later day Bhakti movement. Bhakti, or devotion, reignited the Hindu way of life in a time when Bharat was under Islamic rule. Numerous modern-day practices in Hinduism have their roots in Bhakti movement. Thus Janmasthami, or the birth of Krishna, is seen as the birth of Hindu consciousness.