Janmashtami, birthday of Lord Krishna, is based on calendars followed in India. It is also called Gokulashtami, Krishnashtami, and Sri Krishna Jayanti – all refer to the birthday of Lord Krishna. Sri Krishna Jayanti 2020 date in West, East and Southern parts of India is on August 11. In North India, it is on August 12, 2020. It is observed as Dahi Handi in Maharashtra, the formation of the huge human pyramids to break the pot hung high up.
In North India, Janmashtami is observed eight days after the full moon day in Hindi month Bhadrapada (August – September). In South India, the festival is observed on the eighth day after full moon in the month of Shravana (August – September).
The Janmashtami festival is not celebrated on the same day in all parts of India and this is due to the various regional calendars and the various calculations in the time of the birth of Krishna.
Krishna’s uncle, Kamsa, heard that the 8th child born to Devaki and Vasudeva would kill him. So he jailed the parents when Devaki was pregnant with her 8th child. This festival is observed at midnight because Lord Krishna was born at midnight to Devaki and Vasudeva in Mathura (in Kamsa’s prison).
After Krishna’s birth in Mathura, his father Vasudeva took him across Yamuna to Nanda and Yashoda – his foster parents in Gokul. The young Krishna grew up here.
The divine incidents at midnight involves the thunder and rain never seen before, all guards and entire Mathura sleeping, Yamuna parting ways for Vasudeva to reach Gokul and Ananta Sesha forming canopy over little Krishna like an umbrella. Not a single soul was awake that night other than Little Krishna, Vasudeva, Devaki and the Goddess Mahamaya who was born to Yashoda in Gokul.
In order to celebrate the birth of God called Krishna, who is the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, temples all over the country are decorated and streets are adorned with lights. Devout Vishnu devotees observe a day-long fast and processions are held depicting scenes from the life of little Krishna. As part of sacred offerings and rituals, idols and statues of Krishna are cleaned and decorated with new ornaments and clothes. Special ceremonies are held at midnight in all Krishna Temples.
Hindu women draw tiny footprints outside the doors and kitchen, walking towards their house, a symbolism for Krishna’s journey into their homes.
The sacred texts with stories of Krishna – the Bhagavad Gita and Bhagavad Purana are read in homes, temples, sacred places and institutions associated with Sri Krishna.
Mantra for Janmashtami
ऊं नमो भगवते वासुदेवाय नम:
Om namo bhagavate vasudevaya
One of the endearing images of the child Krishna is that he is known as the thief, the one who would steal butter from the pots hanging from the ceiling in homes. His mother would find him by following his footsteps, smeared with butter.
As per the Hindu scriptures, Lord Krishna was very fond of butter, curd and milk during his childhood in Vrindavan and he used to steal these even from his neighbours. Krishna’s mother Yashodaa was very angry with her. She used to bind Lord Krishna and advised other women in the village to tie their earthen pot containing butter to their house’s ceiling so that the little Krishna could not reach there. However, Krishna found a way to solve this problem. He along with his friends formed human pyramids to reach the handi, break it and share it with his friends.
On Krishna’s birthday, groups of young men form human pyramids and try to reach the pot of yoghurt suspended above the streets.
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