Festivals and celebrations are synonymous with India. Janmashtami is one such festival that is celebrated on a large scale with much enthusiasm, fun, and gaiety because on this day, Lord Krishna, the eighth reincarnation of Vishnu, appeared on the earth.
Krishna is known by many other names, such as Govinda, Vasudeva, Mukunda, Madhusudhana.
Krishna was born to Devaki and Vasudeva in Gokul, on the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha (waning moon) in the month of Shrawan. This year Janmashtami falls on 11th August.
The festival is important for Hindus because Lord Vishnu came in the form of Krishna to eradicate evil and restore ‘Dharma’ at a time when the tyrant and evil ruler of the Vrishni Kingdom Kansa, Devaki’s brother, was making people’s lives miserable. He had overthrown his father to become King. But, he was cursed to die at the hands of the “eighth son of his sister”. To try and escape this curse, Kansa killed all of Devaki’s babies when they were born. But when Krishna was born at midnight, a divine force helped Vasudev save Krishna from the evil Kansa. Vasudev carried Krishna across the River Yamuna to Gokul, to his brother-in-law Nand Raj’s house, where Krishna spent his childhood happily.
Krishna is one God in Hindu Mythology, whose life has been written about from birth to ‘demise’, and since the lord appeared in a human form and intermingled with one and all at different levels, he is worshipped as a god-child, a loveable prankster, a beautiful lover, a divine guide and the supreme power.
Thus, Krishna’s birth is celebrated with great excitement, devotion, and passion by one and all - by the dynamic youth playing pranks (Breaking the ‘Dahi' handi hanging high above), by women whose maternal instincts are roused on this day (they bathe and dress up ‘Baby Krishna’ and place him in a cot and rock him while singing devotional songs) and by all age groups as they participate in plays and dances based on Krishna’s life, particularly his youth (Raas-Leela).
Many devotees keep fast on this day. They clean the temple before placing an idol of the crawling “Divine Child Krishna”. The idol is bathed lovingly and is adorned with new clothes. The whole temple is decorated with flowers. White butter and sugar are distributed among people as ‘prasad’ since baby Krishna loved eating this.
Since Krishna was born at the stroke of midnight, devotees start singing ‘bhajans’ at beautifully decorated and illuminated temples in the evening. The celebrations go on till midnight. At midnight, conch shells are blown in the temples to announce the baby Lord's arrival amidst much fanfare.
The devotees who kept the fast, break it now and eat the ‘Prasad’.
Janmashtami is celebrated with much pomp and show in Mathura and Vrindavan. The temples come alive with ‘jagarans’ (Night Vigil) and dance and drama events, especially based on Krishna’s childhood pranks and love affairs(With Radha, his consort).
In Maharashtra, especially in Mumbai and Pune, as well as Dwarka in Gujarat, the festival is celebrated on a large social scale by the traditional breaking of the ‘Dahi/Makhan Handi’(pot with freshly churned butter). With time the butter has been replaced with money that would be won by the team which manages to reach and break the pot.
In the South, devotees make large Kolams (decorative patterns drawn on the floor with rice flour) and make small footprints of Baby Krishna outside the main door, depicting the entry of the Lord inside the house.
Not only is this festival celebrated in India, but it is also celebrated in many other countries, especially the US, where ISKON promotes and teaches devotion to Lord Krishna.
Shri Krishna Janmashtami 2020 Muhurat details:
Krishna Janmashtami on Tuesday, 11th August
Ashtami Tithi Begins – 09:06 am on 11th August
Ashtami Tithi Ends – 11:16 am on 12th August
Rohini Nakshatra Begins Time – 03:27 am on 13th August
Rohini Nakshatra Ends Time – 05:22 am on 14th August
Moonrise Time – 11:40 pm on 11th August
Nishita Puja Time – 12:04 am to 12:48 am on 12th August
Parana Time – After 11:16 am on 12th August (As per Dharma Shastra)
Alternate Parana Time – After 05:49 pm on 12th August (As per Dharma Shastra)
Alternate Parana Time – After 12:48 am on 12th August (As per modern societal tradition)