Come 3rd September and India would be celebrating Krishna Janmasthami, also known as the Gokulasthami, Krishnashtami, Ashtami Rohini and Srikrishna Jayanti, in several parts of the country. Krishna Janmasthami, the birth of Sri Krishna, is celebrated with a lot of pomp and vigour on the 8th day of the Shravan month (i.e. 8 days post the appearance of full moon) by devotees across India.
According to the Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna, the son of Princess Devaki and Vasudeva and an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was born in Mathura to kill the demons that were creating havoc on Earth. Legend has it, that Lord Krishna was born in the custody of King Kansa and in order to save him eighth child from the clutches of Kansa, Vasudeva handed the child over to his dear friend Nand. Sri Krishna was raised by Nand’s wife Yashodha in Gokul and after growing up he eventually killed Kansa and freed earth from the violence being caused by Kansa and other demons.
Celebrations Pan India
Janmashtami holds a lot of significance for the Hindus in India. It is essentially celebrated at midnight since it is widely believed that Sri Krishna was born on a stormy, windy and dark night in the Astami of the Krishnapaksha. During the festival, devotees from around the world and particularly in India remain awake for the entire night and offer devotional prayers to Lord Krishna. Many dance to the tune of Bhajan and read the Bhagvad Gita-the holy book of Hindus. The idol of infant Sri Krishna is given a milk bath at midnight and later adorned with beautiful clothes as well as placed in a flower decorated cradle. Devotees sing hymns in praise of the Lord and rock the fully adorned cradle with sounds of conch shell and bells in the background. Sweets and Prasada (bhog) also form a major part of the celebration and is distributed among one and all.
In India, Mathura, Vrindavan and Iscon temples that are dedicated to Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha celebrate Janmashtami with much fun & frolic. In fact, these are the must visit places during the festival of Krishna Janmasthami.
Below, find out how each of these places celebrates the festival to pay tribute to Lord Krishna in their own unique ways:
Janmashtami in Mathura: Mathura being the birthplace of Lord Krishna celebrates Janmashtami with much joy and enthusiasm. While, the priests at the temple adorn Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha with flowers and sparkling attires, they also decorate the cradle and use bright coloured lights or illuminations everywhere within the temple premises.
As part of the celebration a number of plays known as Ras Leela is organized in different parts of the city. The major themes of such plays are to highlight the eternal bond between Radha and Krishna. Apart from this, Krishna Jhakis or shows are organized at different temples and areas in Mathura, which focus on the life story of Sri Krishna.
Celebrations at Vrindavan: Situated only around 11 km away from Mathura, Vrindavan is yet another spot where you can find Lord Krishna devotees in large numbers. Naturally, the city celebrates Janmashtami with much grandeur and fervour. Since Krishna spent the entire childhood in Vrindavan, the city begins its preparation for the festival at least 10 days before Janmashtami. While, temples are decorated and perform yajna or aarti to offer prayers to the Lords, Ras Leelas are performed in every nook and corner of the city. The entire city spends the night singing bhajanas and chanting hymns and devotees throng from different parts of the world to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna.
Janmashtami at ISKCON temple: Located in different parts of India including Delhi, Vrindavan, Mayapur, Bangalore and Mumbai among other cities, ISKCON temples celebrate Krishna Janmasthami with much zeal and excitement. Priests at these temples begin their preparations in advance and clean the entire premises as well as paint it well before the festival. Lights are hooked up everywhere and the temples dazzle in the night. The halls within these temples are adorned with festoons and flowers. The temple also prepares bhog for the devotees and the poor. At ISKCON temples, Lord Krishna is offered as many as 108 exciting food preparations or items. Sweet pongal is prepared in large quantities and distributed amongst the visitors who come to offer prayers to the Lord. During Janmasthami Lord Krishna is bathed in holy water consisting of cardamom, tulasi, rose petals, cloves and saffron. The idol of Lord Krishna is bathed with milk, ghee, sweet water, fresh juices, yogurt and honey and flowers are showered upon the deity as part of the celebration.
So, if you are a true Lord Krishna devotee, then don’t forget to pay a visit to each of these places on the occasion of Janmashtami!