Krishna Janmashtami also known as Krishnashtami, Srikrishna Jayanti or sometimes merely as Janmashtami, is an annual celebration of the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Krishna belonged to the Vrishni clan of Yadavas from Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) and was the eighth son born to the princess Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. Lord Krishna reciprocates in unique, personal ways with every devotee who offers Him love. He is the most adorable, mischievous son, the most romantic lover, the most compassionate friend as described in ancient scriptures.
The festival is celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) of the month of Shraavana (August-September) in the Hindu calendar. The dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna, Rasa lila, are organised in different regions of Mathura, Vrindavan, and regions following Vaishnavism in Manipur and many other places across the world. The Dahi Handi event also celebrate God's playful and mischievous side, where teams of young men form human towers to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it.
Yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya glanir bhavati Bharat |
Dharma sansthaapanaarthaaya sambhaavami yuge yuge ||
(I incarnate whenever Dharma declines and evil tend to predominates, to re-establish Dharma and vanquish and relinquish evil.)
King Kansa, Devaki's brother, ascended the throne by imprisoning his father, King Ugrasena. There was a prophecy which predicted that Kansa would be killed by Devaki's eighth son. Kansa got scared of that prophecy and locked Devaki and her husband in a prison cell. After Kansa killed the first six children, and Devaki's apparent miscarriage of the seventh child, Lord Krishna was born as eighth child to the couple.
Just after the birth, Lord Vishnu ordered Vasudeva to take Krishna to Nanda and Yashoda in Gokul so that Krishna can live and grow up safely there away from his Uncle Kansa. Vasudeva took Krishna with him and crossed river Yamuna and reached Gokul. When everyone was asleep, Vasudeva quietly exchanged him with Yashoda's daughter and returned. Kansa, thinking her to be Devki's eight child, threw her on a stone. But she rose into the air and became the lightning in the sky and announced that Shri Krishna has already incarnated, and his destiny is in His hands and He is going to kill him and then she disappeared. Krishna grew up in Gokul with his brother, Balram and returned to Mathura and killed Kansa with the help of Balram.
Janmashtami is celebrated all over India and abroad with great enthusiasm. The celebrations start from early morning and go past midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. The temples are decorated with flowers and lights. The idols of Krishna and other deities in the temple are bathed with a variety of auspicious liquids including yogurt, honey, ghee in a kind of ablution ceremony called abhisheka. After that they are decorated with new clothes and jewellery. Images and idols of Krishna's infancy are placed in swings and cradles in temples and homes. Before midnight, devotees gather around in the temples and sing devotional songs and dance in the praise of Lord Krishna. At midnight devotees welcome the birth of Lord Krishna and exchange sweets and gifts. Children also enjoy dressing up as Radha, Krishna and their associates, and re-enacting Krishna's pastimes and childhood events.