Krishna Janmashtami or Gokulashtami is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in India. It is believed that on this auspicious day is when Lord Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu was born. But are you aware of the story behind it?
Why is it celebrated?
Janmashtami is celebrated every year on the 8th day of Krishna Paksha in the month of Sravana. Although celebrated throughout the world, it is widely popular in Mathura and Vrindavan. Following krishnastami, few Vaishnava communities also celebrate a festival called Nandotsav to mark the occasion when Nanda Baba distributed gifts to everyone in honour of Krishna’s birth.
The Son of Devaki and Vasudeva, Krishna, was born in a jail cell at a time when the world was filled with evil and chaos. Born for the sole purpose of ending the misery and bringing happiness into people’s lives again, Krishna had on to have an interesting childhood. Vasudeva took Krishna across Yamuna to Gokul in order to save Krishna from his maternal uncle, Kansa, who strongly believed that Krishna would be the cause of his death. He was raised by his foster parents, Nanda and Yashoda. He later went on to kill his uncle and had the most important role in Mahabharata.
How is it celebrated?
As is the custom with most festivals in India, people queue up in the temples to get a glimpse of their favourite deity. You will hear Aartis and Bhajans filled with devotion and enthusiasm in every Krishna or Vishnu temple. Devotees are also known to fast the entire day and break their fast at midnight or the next day.
Dahi handi is another ritual that is celebrated mostly in the western parts of the country. Typical a pot filled with yogurt or curd is hung high up using a pole or a thread and a group of young men try to break the pot by forming a human pyramid. This is done to commemorate the stories which speak about villagers hiding their milk products like butter and yogurt on high shelves so that baby Krishna wouldn’t steal them. But he would take the help of his friends and climb on top to reach for them.
Folk songs depicting the story of Krishna are sung in the temples, especially in northern parts of the country.
Baby boys are dressed up as Krishna and baby girls as Radha on this day and footprints are painted from the threshold of the house to the pooja room, to signify the arrival of Krishna into their homes.
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