Krishna Janmashtami, also known simply as Janmashtami or Gokulashtami, is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.
Janmashtami Puja is performed for Lord Krishna to receive his blessings. Every year, the festival is observed on the eighth day (ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Shravan (July-August). This puja is performed by invoking Lord Krishna to receive his blessings to attain happiness, peace, and harmony in one’s life. People draw footprints of Lord Krishna with the belief that Lord Krishna visits their home on this day.
On this auspicious day of Janmashtami, people celebrate Lord Krishna’s birth by singing songs, bhajans, and playing Krishna Leela. In Mathura and Brindavan, the celebrations of Krishna Janmashtami are very grand. Lord Krishna is said to be one of the powerful incarnations of Lord Vishnu who came to earth to end the rule of injustice and adharma. Hindus believe that Lord Vishnu incarnated as Krishna to bring hope and free the earth from despair caused by the tyranny of evil rulers. One such tyrant was Kansa, who ruled Mathura in Northern India. He imprisoned Lord Krishna’s parents, as he’d heard a prophecy that their eighth child would destroy him. However, when the divine baby was born, Krishna’s parents were magically released.
Krishna Janmashtami is followed by the festival Nandotsav, which celebrates the occasion when Nanda Baba distributed gifts to the community in honor of the birth.
When to Perform Janmashtami Puja?
Janmashtami Puja is performed on the eighth day (ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Shravan (July-August). It is performed on the day of the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.
This year, Janmashtami Puja falls on August 11-12. The festival dates are determined according to the Hindu lunar calendar.
How is Janmashtami celebrated?
Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated by fasting, singing, praying together, worshiping Krishna, preparing and sharing special food, night vigils, visiting Krishna or Vishnu temples and performing Pooja. Fasting is observed on the first day of the festival until midnight – the time when Lord Krishna was believed to have been born. Many Krishna temples organize recitation of Bhagavata Purana and Bhagavad Gita. Many communities organize dance-drama events called Rasa Lila or Krishna Lila.
Dahi Handi is another important aspect of this festival that is observed on the second day of Janmashtami. In Maharashtra and other western states in India, this Krishna legend is played out as a community tradition on Janmashtami, where pots of yoghurt are hung high up, sometimes with tall poles or from ropes hanging from the top of a building. As per the annual tradition, teams of youth and boys called the “Govindas” go around to these hanging pots, climb one over another and form a human pyramid, then break the pot.
To celebrate the birth of Krishna, many people install little idols of baby Krishna in their house. They bathe the idol with milk, honey and water and also dress the idol with new and pretty clothes.
As a kid Lord Krishna was named “Makhanchor” or the one who steals butter.
Significance of Janmashtami
According to Hindu mythology, the day of Janmashtami marks the end of the Dwapara Yuga and commencement of Kalyuga.
If legends are to be believed, on a rainy night, little Krishna was born to parents Devaki and Vasudev in a Karaghar or prison. Devaki was the sister of cruel king Kansa. On the day of Devaki’s marriage with Vasudev, the sky echoed with a prophecy. According to the prophecy, the eight son of Devaki and Vasudev was to be the reason of Kansa’s death. Upon hearing this, Kansa threw both Devaki and Vasudev in a prison and one by one killed all of their seven children. So as soon as Krishna was born, his father Vasudeva took him across the Yamuna to Gokul where he was then taken care of by his foster parents Nanda and Yashoda. On Janmashtami, devotees honor how Krishna emerged victorious over the trials and tribulations over his birth, and later over the evil King Kansa.
The idea behind the celebrations is to observe the victory of good over evil. As per Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says that whenever there is a predominance of evil and decline of religion, he will reincarnate to destroy the evil and let the good take over. The main significance of Janmashtami is to promote goodwill as it is to knock down evil intentions. Krishna Jayanti also celebrates togetherness. It brings together people and celebrates the principle of unity.
Benefits of Janmashtami Puja
- Receive Lord Krishna’s blessings.
- Janmashtami Puja showers immense happiness, aspiration, prosperity, longevity and harmony in life.
- Observing a fast till Lord Krishna’s birth on this auspicious day is supposed to attain you Moksha (salvation).
- This puja blesses couples with the gift to bear children.
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