Krishna Janmashtami is the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birthday! The festival is celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) of Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in the month of Bhadrapada (August–September). Lord Krishna is believed to be an incarnation of the Supreme Lord Vishnu born around five thousand years ago in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. Krishna Janmashtami is also known as Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham or Gokulashtami.
Janmashtami is actually celebrated during the midnight as Lord Krishna is believed to be born on a dark, stormy night to put an end to the violence of his Maternal Uncle Kansa. On this day, temples and houses are decorated and illuminated. Prayers are offered and mantras are sung in the temples until the wee hours of the morning. People observe fasts the whole day and break them at midnight by feasting on sweets and dishes prepared especially for the occasion. The
Janmashtami celebration in Mathura and Vrindavan are considered very special as Krishna had spent his
Krishna Leela or the Raas Leela, the plays depicting scenes from Lord Krishna’s life, especially his childhood is performed in various places across India. In many places, a baby dressed as Lord Krishna is seated on a cradle and offered ‘Makkhan’ (white butter) and ‘Mishri’ (sugar cubes).
Another interesting aspect of the Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations is the game of Dahi-Handi. This game depicts the naughtiness of Lord Krishna, where young boys form human pyramids to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it. At some places, the devotees gather in a temple (such as the International Society for Krishna Consciousness – ISKCON) on this day. In some houses, the floors are decorated with flour footprints which are a symbol of the Lord entering the home to steal butter. Though the rituals practiced on this day vary from one region to the other, the spirit and devotion to the Lord remains the same everywhere.