Title : Krishna Janmashtami Previous | Next
Janmashtami (also known as Krishnastami or Gokulastami) is the birthday of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu, believed to have been born about five thousand years ago in Mathura in 'Dwapar Yuga'. It is celebrated in the August/September months, on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh or the 8th day of the dark fortnight in the month of Bhadon and is celebrated over two days. The first day is Krishnashtami or Gokulashtami. The second day is called Kalastami or more popularly Janmashtami.
In the Gita (4/78) the Lord has ordained:
"Yadaa yadaa hi dharmasya glanir bhavati Bharat;
Dharma sansthaapanaarthaaya sambhaavami yuge yuge."
I.e. I incarnate whenever Dharma declines and evil predominates, to establish Dharma and vanquish evil.
In the Bhavishyottara Puran Shri Krishna himself extols the celebration of Janmashtami to Yudhishtir, the eldest of the five Pandavas.
He incarnated in Mathura (Uttar Pradesh) to vanquish the evil King Kansa and other evil elements who were harassing pious people. His second reason was to fulfil the pledge he had given to Vasudev and Devki. When they married Kansa heard a divine proclamation that the couple's eighth son would be his nemesis. To obviate this, Kansa imprisoned the couple and killed the first seven sons born to Devki. When Shri Krishna was born Vasudev placed him in a cradle and took the baby child through the river Yamuna. Thus the Lord survived and eventually vanquished Kansa and other evil elements.
The Janmashtami of Mathura and Vrindavan, the places where Lord Krishna had spent his childhood, are famous all over the world. Devotees from across the world come to these pious places to celebrate Janmashtami.
They spend the day immersed in Shri Krishna's glory by reading, reciting and singing his divine leela especially in the evening in mandirs. Temples of Lord Krishna are decorated most beautifully and children are adorned as Lord Krishna and Radhika, his spiritual beloved. Krishna Leela or the plays depicting scenes from Krishna's life, especially childhood, are performed. At midnight, the Lord's birth hour, arti is performed. He is also installed in the form of 'Lalji' (child form) in a swing and devotionally offered many sumptuous food dishes. 'Makhan' (butter) is especially included since Shri Krishna loved this in childhood. The traditional prasad is 'Panchajiri' - made of five ingredients: powdered ginger, 'suva', coriander, sugar and ghee. Other ingredients include poppy seeds (khaskhas) and dessicated coconut shavings. The most popular ceremony of Dahi-handi (breaking a pot full of milk and its derivatives} takes place on the second day.
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