Janmashtami - Birth of Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna, who is said to be the eighth incarnation or avatar of Lord Vishnu took birth on Janmashtami that occurs on the eighth day of Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhadrapad (August or September).

The eighth son from Devki and Vasudev was born in Jail when his parents were imprisoned by his maternal uncle Kansa who was a powerful king. He married her sister to his friend Vasudeva. On the day of her marriage, Kansa got a threat through a prophecy, stating that his sister’s eighth child would kill him. He was so afraid that he imprisoned his sister, princess Devki and her husband Vasudeva and started killing their children as soon as they take birth. He killed six newly born infants.

The seventh child was said to be miscarried, which was a secret plan, and the child was transferred to Rukmani.

When the eighth child took birth, Lord Vishnu told Vasudeva to take him to his brother in Gokul as his wife has also given birth to a child and he should exchange both the kids and bring that child to Mathura. That night was miraculous, as Lord Vishnu disappeared, Vasudeva took the newly born child in his hands and saw gates of the prison opened on their own, the guards fell asleep like fainted and his way for escaping was clear. He took the child to Gokul and exchanged his child with his brother’s wife Yashoda’s daughter and returned to Mathura in the jail. All the guards, the locks, and everything else became back to normal as if nothing had happened at all. Kansa came to know about Devki that she has given birth to a girl child this time. Yet, he rushed to the prison to kill the girl child. As soon as he threw the child on the rock like he did previously to all the children, she slipped from his hands and rose in the sky and became Yogmaya, who was Lord Vishnu’s helper. She told Kansa that Devki’s eighth child is still alive and he could not harm him as he took birth to kill Kansa as destined.

Nanda Baba (Vasudeva’s brother) and his wife Yashoda raised Krishna and Balrama, who was Vasudeva’s second son from Rohini. Later Krishna, with the help of Balrama, killed Kansa - the evil king.

Janmashtami is also famous as the name of Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, Srikrishna Jayanti, Ashtami Rohini, Saatam Aatham and Shree Ashtami.

Hindus observe fast for the whole day and night. Krishna is said to be born at night, so the main puja of Janmashtami is done at 12 o’clock in the night. Devotees in the temples gather at midnight to sing and dance and celebrate the birth of their deity. The readings of Hindu holy book Bhagavat Geeta are also conducted in some temples. Idols of Bal Gopal, the infant Krishna is placed in small swings and devotees make their deity swing one by one.

Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated in different manners in different parts of India but the festival spirit, devotion, and enthusiasm remain the same.

In Maharashtra, it is famous as Dahi Handi. Local gangs of youngsters make human pyramids to break the earthen pot filled with buttermilk or yogurt which is tied at a convenient height. The person who climbs the pyramid fastest becomes the winner and is called Govinda. He also gets a reward for winning the competition. Girls throw colored water on them to distract them from their task. People shout ‘Govinda Ala Re...’ to cheer them up and raise the spirit of the person who climbs the human pyramid. The event becomes too enthusiastic and fun-filled and that’s why the Dahi Handi Janmashtami of Maharashtra is very famous all over the country.

In other parts of India, Janmashtami is celebrated in the temples dedicated to Lord Krishna and the Indian Society of Krishna Consciousness (I.S.K.O.N.) which has been established in mostly each state of India and in many cities of those states. People from all over the country and outside India also visit Sri Banke Bihari Mandir (Temple) in Mathura, which is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. People worship here with great devotion, and they believe that Lord Krishna never send them back without blessing them from his Janam Bhumi (his birthplace).


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