Visual by: Abiskar Banikya
Janmashtami or Krishna Janmashtami is an annual Hindu festival which is celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu. It is observed on the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Shraavana of Bhadrapad (which overlaps with August or September of the Gregorian calendar).
Where is it celebrated?
The festival is particularly celebrated in Mathura and Vrindavan, with great devotion and warmth. Celebration also takes place in other parts of India which includes states like West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala, among others.
in Eastern and Northeastern India, the well-known culture of celebrating Janmashtami is attributed to the teachings of Sankardeva and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in 15th and 16th century. The people of Manipur perform Manipuri dance, enacting Raslila – a love inspired dance drama act of Radha and Krishna.
How is it celebrated?
The actual celebration of Krishna Janmashtami takes place during midnight because people believe that Lord Krishna was born on a dark, stormy and windy night to end the rule of his maternal uncle Kansa.
In most parts of India, Janmashtami is celebrated with devotional songs, people fast whole day, several temples are beautifully decorated to dedicate it to the life journey of Lord Krishna. Largely, the Janmashtami celebration at Mathura and Vrindavan is very special as Krishna is believed to have spent his life there. At midnight, the image of Lord Krishna is bathed in water and milk. Then he is dressed in new clothes and worshipped by the devotees. Sweets are offered to God and then distributed as Prasada. People sing and dance in groups.
Additionally, on Janmashtami, people hang pots of butter and milk in the streets on the poles, men form pyramids reach and break the pots. It is famous as Dahi Handi. This depicts Krishna’s childhood days where Krishna is believed to play with the cowherd’s boys and stole curd from pots hung out of reach by their mothers. This is why he is also known as ‘Makhanchor’, the one who steals butter.
Janmashtami Vidhi 2021
This year, Janmashtami will be celebrated on August 30. The Ashtami tithi begins at 11:25 pm on August 29 and ends at 1:59 am on August 31. Lord Krishna is believed to be born at 12 in the midnight on the night of Bhadrapada Krishna Paksha Ashtami due to which this fast starts from morning itself. A detailed puja is performed by the devotees during midnight that involves 16 steps that are part of the Shodashopachara Puja vidhi.
During Janmashtami fasting, one should not consume grains until the fast is broken the next day after sunrise. Lord Krishna is worshipped with mantras throughout the day and the Parana is also performed at the end of Rohini Nakshatra. At the midnight, Lord Krishna is worshipped. On this day, devotees wake up early in the morning at Brahma Muhurta and take bath.
While taking a bath, this mantra is meditated on –
“Om Yagyaay Yogpataye Yogeshraya Yoga Sambhavay Govinday Namo Namah”
“ऊं यज्ञाय योगपतये योगेश्रराय योग सम्भावय गोविंदाय नमो नम:”
After this, Lord Krishna is worshipped with this mantra
“Om yajnaya yajnerai yagyapatayeya yagya sambhavay govinddaya namo namah”
“ऊं यज्ञाय यज्ञेराय यज्ञपतये यज्ञ सम्भवाय गोविंददाय नमों नम:”
Then, after putting Lord Krishna in his cradle, this
mantra is chanted-
“Vishray Vishrekshay Vishrapale Vishra Sambhavay Govinday Namon Namah”
विश्राय विश्रेक्षाय विश्रपले विश्र सम्भावाय गोविंदाय नमों नम:”
Significance of Janmashtami
The festival of Janmashtami is celebrated with much grand manner by Hindus all over the world. According to mythology, Lord Krishna is one of the most dynamic human incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Lord Krishna is one such god in Hindu mythology, where a lot has been written about his birth and death.
There is a well known saying in the Holy Bhagavad Gita- “Whenever there is the rise of evil and the loss of dharma, I will incarnate to destroy the evil and save the good.” The festival of Janmashtami encourages the promotion of goodwill and the end of ill-will. This day is celebrated as a holy occasion, a festival of unity and faith.
Happy Krishna Janmashtami!