Krishna Janmashtami, also known as simply Janmashtami or Gokulashtami, is celebrated in honor of the birth of Vishnu’s 8th avatar, Lord Krishna. It is an annual Hindu festival, celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksh (dark fortnight) in Shraavan or Bhadrapad (depending on whether the Hindu lunisolar calendar chooses the new moon or full moon day as the last day of the month). This overlaps with August or September of the Gregorian calendar. The name Krishna, when translated, literally means ‘a dark cloudy color’.
Who is Krishna?
Krishna is God Vishnu’s 8th avatar on Earth, and a supreme God playing numerous roles and duties. He is the God of Compassion, Tenderness, and Love. He loves to play tricks on his devotees to lead them to the righteous path. His anecdotes and the narratives of his life are famously known as Krishna Leela.
Krishna is a central character in the ancient texts of Mahabharata, the Bhagwat Puran, the Brahma Vaivarta Puran, and the Bhagwad Gita. He is the only god famous in all aspects of his life, being mentioned in various perspectives in many Hindu philosophical, theological, and mythological scriptures. From being a child god and a prankster to a model lover, divine superhero, and practically a Supreme being.
Story of Krishna
The story of his birth starts when Mathura’s prince Kans was going to drop his sister Devki at her in-laws’ palace on the occasion of her wedding to Vasudev. On the way, a prophecy was foretold that Devki and Vasudev’s 8th son would be the cause of the death of Kans. Kans, who loved his sister very much, was shocked to hear this and it turned immediately into anger.
He canceled everything, dragged her and her husband back to Mathura, and put them in a dark prison. Upon the birth of every child, Kans would march into the prison and kill each of Devki’s children by dashing them onto the wall as he was afraid that the son who might kill him would be born earlier. Upon the death of the 7th child, God Vishnu asked Goddess Maha Maya to take her place in Yashoda’s womb and she did.
Midnight came; magic befell the castle and put everyone to sleep. A prophecy foretold again of the actions that Vasudev should take immediately. The prison doors were magically open and that allowed Vasudev to take the child to his friend Chief Nanda’s house, where his wife Yashoda had given birth to a daughter today. He put the baby in a basket, put it on his head, and started crossing the Yamuna river in the heavy downpour.
Since it was raining very heavily, Vishnu’s loyal Sheshnaag, a snake with a hundred heads, couldn’t bear to see its Lord getting drenched in rain and having trouble. Sheshnaag used its heads to cover the baby as protection, so no drop of rain would touch him. Following them across the Yamuna river, Sheshnaag wanted to follow the baby on land as well.
However, Vasudev was afraid that if someone saw such a snake accompanying them, they might get scared and create a ruckus. He thanked the snake and tried asking it to leave but it wouldn’t. So, since they were still in the river with Vasudev in deep waters, baby Krishna kicked his foot in the water, splashing it playfully on the snake, and smiled.
Sheshnaag understood the Lord’s order and left. Vasudev breathed a sigh of relief and continued on his journey alone with the baby basket on his head. When he reached Nanda’s house, he quietly switched the baby in the basket with the one beside his friend, woke him up, informed him of everything, and left with the daughter in his basket, following everything that the 2nd prophecy told them. He returned to prison and placed the daughter near Devki.
The magic lifted, prison doors were locked up again and guards woke up. Upon seeing the baby, they rushed to inform their King Kans. Kans came in and was baffled by the girl child. Kans wanted to kill her too as she was supposed to be the 8th child, no matter son or daughter. Devki begged him to let her daughter live as she was a girl and the prophecy said a boy child would be responsible for Kans’ death.
He didn’t listen and tried to dash the child onto the wall. The baby, who was none other than Maha Maya, took her form and laughed at Kans’ cowardice- trying to achieve gains by such methods. She then informed him that the one who was to kill him had already been born and is in Chief Nanda’s home. Saying so, she disappeared. Upon hearing this, Kans grew mad with rage, struck Devki hard on the cheek, and left.
Over the years, Kans tried killing Krishna by sending numerous demons to kill him while he was a baby till his youth. However, Krishna killed them all, making all of Kans’ plans fail. When he reached his youth, he went to Mathura, killed Kans and freed his parents, and rightfully took over the throne.
Why Do We Celebrate Janmashtami?
Krishna is one of the Supreme gods in the Hinduism culture. Since he is the 8th avatar of Vishnu, who has done countless good deeds on Earth, Hindu people worship him wholeheartedly and with sincere devotion. Krishna’s contributions range from saving lives to imparting important teachings, leading the people towards the right path in life, and vanquishing evil from Earth entirely.
Lord Vishnu is also believed to take rebirth on Earth in the form of Kalki avatar in the Kali Yug period (current period). He will appear atop a white horse with his sword drawn, coming when only chaos, evil, and persecution prevail and dharma has disappeared. The Kalki avatar is believed to be the one restarting the period to Satya Yug and reset the cycle of existence. For all of the reasons, Hindus celebrate Janmashtami for usually 2 days, staying awake all night to keep Krishna company. For those devotees who cannot complete the festivities on their own, they usually avail online puja booking services to receive the divine blessings.
Importance of Janmashtami
The time when Krishna was born in Mathura was an era when chaos ensued, persecution was rampant, evil forces were at play everywhere and even basic freedom was denied. Even when Krishna was born, there was a threat to his life by his uncle, King Kans. Through the long process of eliminating the demons that came to kill him every day on Kans’ orders amongst others, he cleared up the evil reigning free on Earth.
Later on, he saved the villagers of Gokul from the extreme rain and thunder by lifting the Govardhan mountain on his pinky. He played a major role in the war of Mahabharata by guiding Arjun, the representative of mankind, through the steps he should be taking- both in the battle and his life (and by extension, lives of humans) to lead them to a better way of living.
His birthday, celebrated in the form of Janmashtami, plays a vital role in the occurrence of the events which unfolded throughout his life.
How to Celebrate Krishna Janmashtami?
Since Janmashtami is celebrated for 2 days, devotees of Krishna keep a fast for the first day, consuming only milk, water, and fruits. The Janmashtami puja is done in his remembrance and the fast is broken after midnight, i.e. the next day. The temples are decorated with colorful lights and flowers, making Rangoli- both outside and inside the premises.
Devotees prepare a Krishna Jhoola and decorate it with flower garlands. Then, after cleaning the idols of Bal Krishna (or Radha Krishna), they decorate the idols with new clothes, new Mukut (crown), and jewelry made specifically for the idol. After placing the idol (s) in the Krishna Jhoola, devotees keep a night vigil and spend their time by offering Maakhan Mishri to the idol amongst fruits, milk, and sweets made from milk and milk products.
They sing bhajans, shlokas, and songs of Krishna and Vishnu. They do the Aarti with the help of online temple services and ensure that the idols are fed meals at regular intervals, just like humans, and don’t leave the idol alone for any time by taking watch in shifts. In some communities and most temples, musical dramas are going on everywhere where after performances of the stories, devotees sing and dance in Lord Krishna’s devotion. If the whole celebration is not possible by the devotees, they book the online puja with Online Temple to receive the blessings of Lord Krishna.
Kids dress up as Lord Krishna and the Gopis, signifying the time of his youth spent in Gokul with his female fans as he played his flute, enchanting not only humans but animals as well. Apart from the singing, dances, and drama performances, the Online Temple experts inform us that Dahi Handi custom is also held on the 2nd day. As Lord Krishna was nicknamed Maakhan Chor in his childhood, this is held as a tradition.
For this, a pot of curd or Maakhan is hung from a rope at a significant height. Then, a human pyramid is formed to break the pot while others try to disturb them by throwing water. This happens in teams and when one team breaks the Handi (pot), they win. On such occasions, a large crowd gathers to watch who wins the event.
Janmashtami Celebration in Vrindavan
According to Online Temple experts, Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Prem Mandir, ISKCON Temple, and 5000 other smaller temples in the city. People chant mantras, sing bhajans, and rock cradles with Bal Krishna inside it. They also play with curd, milk, buttermilk, etc., and bathe Lord Krishna with these items, since he loved milk and milk products. They also prepare different delicacies to feed Lord Krishna. The festivities start about a week before Janmashtami to prepare for all the happenings during these 2 days.
Benefits of Janmashtami Puja
- Reduces malefic effects of the planet Ketu.
- Eradicates Nissantan Dosh in the horoscope.
- Increases love and bonding between couples.
- Removes malefic effects of inflicted 5th & 7th houses in the horoscope.
- Amplifies material and spiritual understanding.
Also Read :- History of Kali Maa | Onlinetemple