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Krishna Janamashtami

Krishna Janamashtami

Janamashtami (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. This celebration is said to be revealed originally by the Sri Krishna himself to Yudhishthira, the eldest of Pandavas, as mentioned in the Bhavishyottara Puran.
 
He was born to Vasudev and Devki, who were imprisoned by Devki's evil brother Kansa and was brought up by Nand and Yashoda. The birth of Lod Krishna is believed to be symbolic of our imprisonment in worldly illusions, where He took birth with us and led us to salvation and peace, vanquishing all evils depicted by Kansa in the story.
 
People fast on this day, usually a waterless fast. 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.
 
Krishna Janmashtami is the celebration of the birth of Lord Shri Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who is believed to have been born about five thousand years ago in Mathura in 'Dwapar Yuga'. Krishna Janmashtami is also known as Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami and sometimes simply as Janmashtami. It is essentially a Hindu festival. The festival is generally observed on Ashtami tithi, the eighth day of the dark half or Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhadrapada in the Hindu calendar, when the Rohini Nakshatra is ascendant. This is usually in the months of August and September in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm and vigor by Hindus all over India and abroad. People observe fast the whole day, sing hymns and conduct prayers at midnight to rejoice the birth of Lord. Ras lila, dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna, are a special feature that is showcased in every part of the country, as it re-creates the flirtatious aspects of Krishna's youthful days. Another interesting aspect of Krishna Janmashtami is the practice of Dahi-Handi. This game portrays the playful and mischievous side of Krishna, where teams of young men form human pyramids to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it. 
 
History 
 
According to the Puranas Krishna took birth on the 8th lunar day (Ashtami) of the waning moon of the month of Smvana at midnight, upon the moon's entrance into Rohini asterism. This day is marked as Janmashtami. Krishna is one of the most worshipped Gods in India and belongs to the Hindu Trinity. He is believed to be one of the eight incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The story of birth of Krishna is an intriguing one. The story goes like this: One day Mother Earth was appalled by the number of sins that were being committed on her surface. She went to Brahma that God of the Gods and appealed to him for help. Brahma, after listening to her, appealed to Lord Vishnu who said that He would take birth on earth and His avatar will destroy every kind of sin that was being committed on earth then. 
 
During that time, Mathura was in miserable state as Kansa, brother of Devki, had put his father, King Ugrasen in prison and declared himself the new king. To put an end to his evil rule, Lord Vishnu decided to take birth in the human form. As such, at the wedding ceremony of Devki and Vasudev, there was a divine prophecy which proclaimed that Vasudeva's eighth son would kill Kansa. To protect himself, Kansa rushed to kill his sister but gave up the idea of killing after being assured by Vasudev that he will hand over all his children to Kansa. Kansa put his brother-in-law and sister in prison. Kansa killed all the six infants as soon as they were born. The seventh child (Balram) was saved due to divine intervention, when he was transferred from Devki's womb to that of Rohini's (other wife of Vasudev). 
 
As Devki conceived the eighth child, everything around was imbued with benevolence and majestic beauty. Lord Krishna was born in the divine form with lotus like eyes, his palms bearing the signs of a lotus, while his sole has a swastika sign. He was adorned with jewels and was wearing a crown. Just as he was born at midnight, a chain of events astonished Vasudev, when he saw the gates of the cell flow open and all the guards fast asleep. He immediately thought of Nand, his close friend in Gokul and decided to hand over his child to him in order to save him from the clutch of Kansa. Crossing the River Yamuna, Vasudev reached Nand's residence and exchanged his son with Nand's daughter. Upon reaching the prison, the door got locked behind him and he was chained again as if nothing happened in between. The guards also woke up and after hearing the cry of the baby, informed Kansa about the birth of the eighth child. Just as Kansa rushed to kill the baby, it slipped out of his hand and flew towards the sky, proclaiming that the annihilator of Kansa was born and was safe. 
 
Every aspect of Krishna's life is captivating no matter whether it is naughtiness of an infant Krishna, Krishna's life in Gokul, Krishna's romance with Radha or assassination of cruel Kans. God never asks for material things. A deity wants attention from his devotees. Devote yourself fully towards lord Krishna and make this Janmashtami special.