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Janmashtami is on 2nd September 2010
Janmashtami celebrates the birth of one of the most famous Gods of Hindu religion, Bhagwan Krishna, on the eighth day (Ashtami) in the month of Sravana or Savana. Lord Sri Krishna was born on the 'Rohini' nakshatram (star). It is generally celebrated in the month of August-September according to the Christian Calendar. Legend has it that Sri Krishna was born on a dark, stormy and windy night to end the rule and atrocities of his maternal uncle, Kansa.
Position of Stars at the time of Birth
It was only on the eighth day of the second fortnight, in the month of Sravana when, the moon entered the house of Vrishabha in Rohini Nakshatra (star) that Lord appeared. According to Barhapatyamana, the month of Sravana corresponds to the month of Bhadrapada Krishnapaksha. Lord was born in the year of Visvavasu, appx. 5,227 years ago.
Celebrated for over Two Days
Janmashtami is celebrated for over two days as “Rohini” nakshatra and Ashtami may not fall on the same day. The first day known as Krishnashtami, as the birth of Bhagwan Krishna falls on the eighth day after Raksha Bandhan, which generally falls in the month of August. The second day is known as Kalashtami.
Welcome the Lord at Midnight
It is only at midnight between the first and the second day that birth of Sri Krishna took place. The actual festivities begin during midnight in this 48 hour period. The celebration reaches its peak at midnight, with the birth of Lord Krishna, with lot of hymns, arti taking place and blowing of the Conch (shankh), rocking the cradle of Lord. The idol of lord is bathed with Panchamrit (A mixture of milk, ghee, oil, honey and Gangajal). The Panchamrit is later distributed as Prasad to the devotees along with other sweets. While some Fast on the first day and break it at midnight for others the fasting continues for both days. The period coincides with rainy season
Birth of Lord Krishna
Janmashtami is celebrated to welcome and enjoy Lord Krishna's birth. The birth of Lord Krishna took place when the various planets were in auspicious places. It is said that God chooses a particular time, as to when he will take birth as a human and the planetary systems are adjusted accordingly.
Auspicious Nakshatra (Constellation)
Around the time of Bhagwan Krishna's birth, Rohini Nakshatra was predominant as it is considered to be quite auspicious. This is so because it is under the supervision of Brahma, the creator of Universe. Sri Krishna was born in the month Of Sravana more than 5000 years ago.
Born in Dwapur Yug (Iron Age)
According to some scholars, Krishna was born on Wednesday,the eighth day of second fortnight in Sravana month in the year of Visvavasu around 3227 BC, also known as Dwapur Yug. July 19th 3228 BC to be more accurate. He lived for 125 years and disappeared on February 18th 3102 BC on the new moon night of Phalguna. His death was the onset of the current corrupt age known as Kaliyug.
Universal Happiness of all Forms of Life
From the time, Devki conceived Sri Krishna, she began to glow and exude divine light. The prison walls glowed with the aura of the new born infant. Atmosphere of peace and happiness prevailed all over, Forests were all green and full of trees with all kinds of beautiful flowers, rivers were all swollen due to joy, peacocks began to dance in sheer joy, people in all villages started being happy.
Objective of Krishna's Birth
The main objective of Lord Krishna's birth was to free Mother Earth from the wickedness of demons. Playing an important part in Mahabharata (legendary battle in Kurukshetra) and propagating the theory of bhakti and good karma were other important objectives.
Events Before The Birth of Sri Krishna
The people of Mathura were extremely unhappy with the wicked king Kansa who put his father, king Ugrasen in prison and declared himself the king of Mathura. It was to put an end to his evil ways and other demons that Lord Vishnu decided to take birth on Earth in human form. According to Akashvani (heavenly voice) at the wedding of his beloved sister Devki, Kansa got to know that the eighth child of his sister will take birth to kill him. So, in turn he rushed to kill his sister. Kansa gave up the idea of killing after being assured by Vasudev that he will handover all his children to him. He put them 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).
Events During the Birth of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna was born in a prison cell in the captivity of King Kansa. He took birth in divine form with lotus like eyes,his palms bearing the signs of a lotus and discus. He had a swastika sign on his sole. Wearing a yellow colored silk cloth, adorned with precious diamond earrings and a crown made of emeralds. Soon after the birth, 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 handover his child to him in order to save him from the clutch of Kansa.
River Yamuna Bows To The Feet of Sri Krishna
The night of birth was witnessed by heavy rains which led to River Yamuna being in floods. As soon as the feet of Lord immersed in the river, the flow became normal and Yamuna made way for the Lord. Sheshnag, the serpent formed an umbrella to save the new born baby from rain.
Exchange of the Babies
Vasudev kept his child next to fast asleep Yashoda and took the baby girl lying with him back to Mathura. The baby girl is believed to be the sister of Lord Vishnu.
Disappearance of The Divine Child
On hearing the news of birth of the eighth child of Devki and Vasudev, Kansa rushed to the prison-cell and lifted the baby girl to kill her despite pleadings from Devki. However, instead of hitting the stone, the child flew up in the air and announced that the annihilator of Kansa was born and in safe hands. Krishna later grew in Gokul and finally killed his maternal uncle, King Kansa
Legend of Janmashtami
Janmashtami, one of the most popular festivals of Hindus celebrates the birth of their beloved God, Sri Krishna. Detailed story of Janmashtami or Lord Krishna's birth has been narrated in Puranas. Please read on to know more about the various fascinating aspects of the legend of Janmashtami as stated in Puranas. Mathura, a prominent town of Northern India and the birth city of Sri Krishna was ruled by King Ugrasen, a Yaduvanshi ( Belonging to the Community of Yadavs). He was a great king loved by his subjects. He had two children, a son Kansa and a daughter Devki. Kansa was quite cruel by nature, his wickedness knew no bounds when he jailed his father and forcefully became the king of Mathura.
Love for sister Devki and Brother in law Vasudev
Though Kansa was hard hearted but he loved his sister immensely and married her off to Vasudev, one the high ranking officers in his army. However on the day of wedding, as a result of a heavenly prediction that Devki’s eighth child will be born to kill him, Kansa decided to kill his sister. On Vasudev's pleading, he put both of them in dungeons and let them live but with a promise that they will handover all their children to Kansa, only to be killed by him.
Birth of Balram
Kansa succeeded in killing all the six new born babies of Devki and Vasudev, however the seventh child was saved by divine intervention as the child was transferred from Devki’s womb to that of Rohini's, Vasudev's other wife. Thus Balram, the elder brother of Krishna was born but Kansa thought that Devki had a miscarriage.
Birth of Krishna
The birth of the eighth child of Devki, Lord Krishna was followed by a chain of dramatic events. Soon after the birth of the child, as if by a sheer miracle, all the soldiers guarding the couple fell asleep and the gates of the dungeon flew open themselves. Vasudev decided to smuggle the child safely in a basket to his friend Nand in Gokul. Since it was raining heavily, River Yamuna was all swollen and Vasudev feared that both he as well as his child will drown if he tried to cross it, however, as soon as the feet of the infant touched the river, the flow of water became normal and Vasudev was able to cross it easily. Sheshnag, the five headed serpent of Lord Vishnu protected the child with its fangs. Vasudev knew that his was not an ordinary child but a divine being. After handing his child, to his dear friend, Nand, Vasudev returned back safely with a girl child and no one got to know about it.
On hearing the news of the eighth born child, Kansa rushed to kill the girl. He paid no heed to Devki’s plead of sparing the girl. He held the child by her legs and just as he was about to bang her against the wall, the girl vanished into thin air and told Kansa that his slayer had been born and was safe in Gokul. The girl child was none other than Yogmaya (divine illusion). The eighth child grew up as Yashoda and Nand’s son in Gokul and later killed his maternal uncle Kansa, freeing all the people of Mathura from his tyranny.
Legend of King Kansa
Kansa was the king of Mathura city and maternal uncle of Sri Krishna. According to legend, Janmashtami is celebrated as the birth of Bhagwan Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu to slay the cruel king . Kansa was a self-proclaimed King of the city of Mathura (A City in Northern India). He overthrew his father, King Ugrasen and forcefully became the king. He was very wicked and evil in thinking. His subjects feared him, the cowherds of not only Mathura but also other neighbouring villages like Gokul, Barsana, Nandgaon were the victims of his wickedness. They had no option but to surrender to his tyrannical ways.
Army of Demons
King Kansa had an army of demons who helped him spread fear and accomplish his evil tasks. Putana, Bakasura, Aghasura were his close aides.
Kansa loved his younger sister Devki and fulfilled all her wishes. He married her to Vasudev, one of his cousins and a high-ranking officer in the army with great pomp and show. However, during the wedding ceremony of his sister, Devki, the love for his sister turned to hatred when a heavenly prediction warned him, that the eighth child of Devki will be the annihilator Of Kansa. On being assured of getting all the new born children of Devki and Vasudev, Kansa decided to imprison them under close supervision and let them live.
Killing of Infants
Kansa managed to kill all the new born of his sister Devki and brother-In-Law, Vasudev. His elder brother Balram, seventh child of the couple, was saved by being transferred to Rohini's womb. Similarly Lord Krishna, the eighth child, born to kill evil Kansa was saved after being miraculously shifted to Gokul on the night of his birth and replaced with a female child. However, Kansa got to know that his destroyer had been born and was being brought up by an unknown family in a neighboring village.
Ongoing Efforts to Kill the Child
Soon, after getting to know that the eighth child of his sister was born and safely growing in another village, Kansa ordered his soldiers to kill all the one-day old male infants in and around Mathura. He made quite a few unsuccessful attempts to kill the child.
Episode of Putana-The Demoness
King Kansa, sent one of his reliable servants to kill on the infants in the village by feeding them poisonous milk. She killed many infants but in the end she was killed by baby Krishna who sucked her life while being fed poisonous milk.
Killing of Demon Trinivarta
On hearing the death of Putana, King Kansa, sent his another servant- demon Trinivarta to kill Sri Krishna. Trinivarta took the form of a whirlwind, and carried the young Krishna away with itself, in the hope of throwing him away. Lord Krishna increased his weight which made the demon unable to move any further. After some time, the weight of Lord Krishna became too heavy for the demon to handle, so he fell on Ground and died.
End of Bakasura
At the instigation of Kansa, his friend Bakasura, changed his form to that of a crane,and went to kill Young Krishna, He hit him with his beak but Lord caught hold of his beak and tore it apart, killing him instantly.
Slaying of King Kansa
King Kansa, tired of the killing of all his servants, invited both his nephews, Balram and Krishna for a wrestling match in Mathura. He made use of elephant Kuvalyapeeda to kill Krishna at the entrance of the arena, Krishna killed him followed by killings of Charuna and Toshalaka- chosen atheletes of Kansa. Krishna went to Kansa, took him by hair and threw him on the ground; finally killing him. The slaying Of Kansa ended his tyrannical rule and people rejoiced and celebrated his death.
Legend of Putana
The legend Of Janmashtami- Birth of Bhagwan Krishna, has it that Lord Vishnu took birth as a human to annihilate demons and rid Mother Earth of their monstrosity.
Reliable Aide of King Kansa
A heavenly prediction forewarned King Kansa that the eighth child of his sister Devki will be responsible for his death. So he decided to get rid of the child and entrusted the work to one of his reliable aides, Putana- A Demoness.
Demoness Disguised as Human
As per the instructions of King Kansa, Demoness Putana disguised herself as a beautiful woman. Having applied poison on her chest she went from house to house in various towns and villages, feeding all the one day old male infants and killing them.
Suckling Life of The Demoness
Demoness Putana entered the house of Baba Nand and saw the divine child,lying in the cradle. She took the child outside and started to feed him in the vain hope of killing him. Lord Krishna sucked her Breast embalmed with poison. Putana was happy the child was sucking poison and will die soon; little did she realise that God was sucking her life. The Lord, pressed her breasts with his hands and sucked her last breath. The demoness shrieked in pain,met her fate with her eyes popping out simultaneously.
Rituals and Customs of Janmashtami
Janmashtami festival witnesses many interesting customs and rituals in various states and cities of India. While some rituals are common to all, others are unique and restricted to a particular region or city. These customs and rituals are followed religiously by all the Lord Krishna devotees year after year.
Rituals and Customs Observed during Janmashtami Fasting: The most common ritual observed all over during Janmashtami is fasting by
devotees on the day of the festival. Devotees fast for the entire day and break it after the birth of Lord Krishna at midnight. People prefer to have only milk and milk products as they were the favourite of Lord Krishna. Some devotees of Lord Krishna go to the extent of keeping 'Nirjal' fast- It involves fasting without having a single drop of water. There are other ardent followers , who keep the fast for two days in the honour of Lord Krishna.
Chanting: Devotees indulge in continuous chanting all day long. They chant mantras
and shlokas to please the lord. Religious atmosphere prevails everywhere. Devotees highlight his feats and his divine characteristics. Chanting of 108 names of Lord Krishna is another ritual that takes place in various temples. Chanting of names is accompanied by showering of flowers on the idol of Lord Krishna.
Devotional Songs and dances
Another popular ritual is singing of songs (bhajans) in the praise of Lord Krishna. Bhajans are an important custom of the midnight celebration during the festival. Dances are also performed by devotees depicting the various events of Lord Krishna.
Staging of Plays or Dramas of Lord KrishnaPlays depicting various events
and accomplishments of Lord Krishna during his lifetime is another important custom during the festival. Both professional artists as well as amateurs stage plays at various places that are widely attended by devotees.
Preparation of SweetsAccording to legend, Lord Krishna was very fond of milk
and milk products like butter and buttermilk. He was also fond of Sweets like Kheer, Pedhas etc. Therefore devotees all over make sweets during the festival to please the Lord.
Rituals in South India during Janmashtami
The houses in South India are beautifully decorated by women on Janmashtami. Various sweet meals are prepared and offered to the Lord. Butter, one of the favourite dishes of Lord Krishna is offered to please him in almost every house. The entire house right from the door to the temple is marked with the footprints of a child. Mixture of water and flour is used to make footprints. This custom creates a feeling of joy
among the people as they feel Lord himself has blessed them by entering their homes. The day is marked with the ritual of chanting of the holy Bhagavatam, accompanied by singing of devotional songs and dances.
Ritual in GujaratGujarat witnesses a very peculiar as well as an interesting ritual by
the womenfolk during Janmashtami. Women give up all the household chores like cooking and cleaning etc. to play cards. This is an age old tradition. Women doing mind placing bets during the card session. The exact history of this peculiar tradition during Janmashtami is unknown but according to sociologists, this custom may have begun as a pass-time for women in the joint family system. Fasting all day long, the women played cards to kill time as well as keep them awake the entire night. It is said that women eat cold food prepared two days in advance.
The word for fasting i.e. Upavasa, means to move near to the Supreme and to overcome helplessness. The practice of fasting, could have originated as part of the offering that one could give God for getting a boon fulfilled. The festival of Janmashtami is characterised with keeping fast by devotees.
Nirjal Fast or Upavasa for Lord Krishna
Ardent followers of Lord Krishna celebrate Janmashtami by keeping 'Nirjal' fasts. This kind of fasting involves not having even a single drop of water during the entire day. People feel keeping nirjal or waterless fasts will help them get closer to God. Devotees also keep 'Phalahar Vrat' having milk and fruits during the fast. Devotees observe strict discipline while fasting. They refrain from having cereals and salt on the day of the festival . They also feel keeping such fast is the only thing that they can offer God. Fasting is accompanied by singing of devotional songs and mantra chanting.
Popular Dishes made during Janmashtami Fast
Devotees make various dishes during the fast. They have milk and milk products during the fast. This because Lord Krishna was particularly fond of milk and butter. Sweet dishes are also made and had during janmashtami fast. Kheer, Pedhas are popular sweets that devotees have. People do not include salt in their meals during the fast. Devotees fasting on janmashtami break the fast at midnight after the birth of Lord Krishna. They break their fast with Prasad of the Lord. However with changing times, and even children keeping fasts in the current scenario, the stringent rituals of fasting have been done away with. Sendha namak (salt of a special kind used during fasting) is now allowed during the fast.
Ceremony of Dahi Handi
Celebration of Janmashtami, birth of the famous Lord Krishna includes a number of ceremonies like, Raslila, Jhankis (tableaux) etc. Dahi Handi is a popular ceremony, celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and glee. Dahi Handi is an enactment of Lord Krishna's efforts to steal butter from Matka (earthen pot) suspended from the ceiling.
Dahi Handi generally takes place on the second day of Janmashtami. An earthen pot containing a mixture of milk, dry fruits, ghee is hung around 20-30 feet high in the air with the help of a rope. Silver coins are hung along with the rope,which are later distributed as prize to the winners. Enthusiastic young men, form a human pyramid by standing one on top of the other, trying to break the pot. Onlookers throw water on the young men in order to prevent them from breaking the pot. Breaking of the pot is followed by prize distribution. Devotees believe that the broken pieces of earthen pot will keep away mice and negative powers from their homes. Dahi Handi is celebrated with fervor, especially in the twin cities of Mathura Vrindavan, Dwarka and Mumbai. Young men in Mumbai yell 'Ala re ala, Govinda ala' during the ceremony.
An important feature of Janmashtami is Jhanki (tableau) and cribs depicting various stages of Lord Krishna's childhood. Jhanki means peeping in the past life, in relation with Janmashtami it means peeping into the life of Lord Krishna. "Jhankis" are miniature representation of a village made of clay, humans are represented by dolls dressed up as kids, men and women with lehangas, chunnis, dhotis and kurtas. Five commonly depicted scenes in jhankis are presented in a sequence:
Birth of Lord Krishna Tableau
This tableau depicts the birth of Lord Krishna in the prison cell of Mathura. Dolls dressed up as Lord Krishna, Mother Devki And Vasudev are used.
Vasudev carrying Baby Krishna across river Yamuna Tableau
This tableau depicts Vasudev, father of Lord Krishna carrying him in a basket across swollen River Yamuna to Gokul. An artificial snake is used in the jhanki to depict Sheshnag. Legend has it that Sheshnag, the serpent of Lord Vishnu protected baby Krishna from rain.
Exchange of Lord Krishna with the baby girl Tableau
This tableau depicts Vasudev bringing back a baby girl with him, while leaving Lord Krishna in Gokul, in the safe hands of his friend Nand.
King Kansa killing the Baby girl Tableau
This tableau depicts King Kansa killing the new born baby girl in the prison and the baby vanishing into thin air and forewarning the king that his annihilator had been born and was in safe hands.
Baby Krishna in a cradle in Gokul Tableau
This Tableau depicts Lord Krishna in a cradle in Gokul, growing up with Mata Yashoda and Baba Nand.
Killing of King Kansa
Another popular Jhanki created during Janmashtami is the depiction of King Kansa's killing. Legend has it that Lord Krishna caught hold of his maternal uncle Kansa by his hair and threw him from the platform killing him with bare hands
Killing Of Kaliya Serpent Tableau
An important incident associated with Lord Krishna's life is the killing of Kaliya Nag during his childhood. The serpent was dreaded in Gokul. It lived in a lake and would kill anyone entering or having water from the lake. Lord Krishna killed Kaliya Nag thereby giving respite to the people from the dreaded serpent. This incident is also very well captured in Tableau during Janmashtami.
Lifting of Govardhan Hill Tableau
During Janmashtami, tableau of a very interesting incident of Lord Krishna's life is created. Lord Krishna is said to have lifted Govardhan hill on his index finger and provided shelter to the people of Gokul. This was done to protect them from incessant rains.
Modern Day Jhanki (Tableau)
With the change in times and great technological advancement, jhankis have also adorned a new look. Jhankis are made on large scale in big towns and cities with lot of special effects.
One of the most important aspects of the festival Janmashtami is Rasleela. Rasleela is a divine sport (Kreeda), which Sri krishna played with his gopis on the banks of river Yamuna in Vrindavan. Radha was the most important gopi and closest to the Lord. Her love for Lord Krishna was complete and in its purest form. Sri Krishna was ten years old when he performed Rasleela. Rasleelas are particularly performed in the city of Vrindavan.
According to Bhagavata Puran, Lord Krishna was loved immensely by gopis. The love gopis felt for Lord was not carnal,it was prerna (Divine love).The love for Sri Krishna was so strong that gopis forgot all about their worldly chores. The gopis were totally merged in the love of god through the practice of constant smaran (remembrance).
Performance of Rasleela
Lord Krishna promised gopis that he will dance with all of them. So Bhagwan Krishna stood in the centre suurounded by gopis who danced and sang in the glory of Lord. Sometimes Sri Krishna would put his arms around the neck of gopis and all of them would dance together. All the demigods, like Gandharva, Yakshas were witness of the divine dance, as they threw flowers from the sky, giving their blessings. The gopis would rejoice with sheer bliss in the company of the lord and consider themselves fortunate
Disappearance of God during Rasleela
Dancing almost every full moon night during autumn made the gopis conceited. They started considering themselves superior to other women who were not fortunate enough to be with Lord Krishna. One night during Rasleela, lord Krishna did the disappearing act to teach them a lesson of humility. Not finding Krishna amongst them, the gopis started feeling the agony of desertion. Overwhelmed with grief, they started searching for God and prayed him to come back. During their search for Lord they sang songs popularly known as Gopika Gitam. Lord returned after many pleadings.
Rasleela in its present form
In the current age, Rasleela is performed only by Brahmin boys between the age of 1013 years. The main theme of rasleela revolves around the formative years of Lord Krishna. There are five main raslilas performed like janamleela- details regarding the birth of Lord Krishna, Shankarleela, Putanaleela- Killing of demoness Putana, And Nagleela- killing of the dreaded serpent Kaliya . They are performed by professional troupes with utmost devotion and love. The troupe captivates the audience with their performance. Rasleelas are usually performed in the local language, Brajbhasa, which is somewhat similar to Hindi language and therefore easy to understand. At the end of the performance, devotees throng to touch the feet of the young boy dressed as Lord Krishna. The young boy ceases to be human for the devotees and becomes a divine being during the festival.Rasleelas are performed by various renowned theater groups, plays are stages with celebrities playing the lead roles to mark the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna.
Janmashtami in Mathura
The celebration of Janmashtami is at its peak in the city of Mathura-birth place of Lord Krishna. The city is about 145 kms from Delhi. Lord is said to have been born around 5000 years back to put an end to the evils of demons. The city of Mathura adorns a complete festive look and the devotional mood reaches its pinnacle. The main celebration takes place at the actual place of birth, now converted into a big temple known as Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir. Lord's idol is kept in a room also known as the ‘Garbha Griha’. Devotees keep a day-long fast and break it at midnight after the birth time of Bhagwan Krishna. All through the day devotees remain immersed in the chanting of Shlokas and name of the Lord. Songs and hymns are also sung in the glory of Sri Krishna.
The Birth of Lord Krishna at midnight is followed by performance of pooja and other ceremonies. The idol of Lord Krishna is bathed with milk and curd and then rocked in the cradle. A popular belief of the inhabitants is that any wish made while rocking the cradle is fulfilled on this day. The entire Mathura echoes with the sound of the conch (shankh) and ringing of bells. Devotees pray and welcome the lord with slogans of 'Jai Shri Krishna'. After the prayers have been performed, Panchamrit, a mixture of honey, gangajal, curd, ghee is distributed. Lord is fed with the customary prasad of ‘Chhapan Bhog’ (Fifty six dishes). Devotees break their fast with 'Prasad' of the Lord. Lot of eatables made of milk and milk products are relished by the devotees. Kheer, Laddoo, Butter, Shrikhand and Singhare ki Poori are few of the main dishes prepared on the day.
Performance of Rasleelas
Rasleelas, a kind of dance drama are performed at various places in Mathura city both by professionals as well as amateurs. Rasleela is performed by young boys between the age of 10-13 years. The artist acting as Krishna takes the divine form for devotees who touch his feet in reverence.
Jhankis, cribs or scenes depicting the various stages of Life of Lord Krishna are a common sight during Janmashtami all over Mathura city. Jhankis depict various important activities of Lord Krishna right from the childhood like - Janmlila, Shankarlila, Putanalila and Naglila.
Jhulanotsav and Ghatas
Another important feature of celebrations in Mathura city are Jhulanotsav and Ghatas. These are specially held only in Mathura City. During Jhulanotsav, Swings are put in courtyard of temples and houses to welcome Lord Krishna's birth. It symbolizes cradling of Lord Krishna. Ropes of swings are decorated with flowers to give a festive look.The celebration of Sri Krishna's birth will be incomplete without Ghatas, another month-long unique feature, wherein all the temples of Mathura City are decorated with the same colour according to the theme selected. Even The idol of Lord Krishna is adorned with the Clothes of same colour. Devotees put their and heart and soul in decorating the temples and their house to welcome the birth of Lord Krishna.
Janmashtami in Vrindavan
Vrindavan is quite a famous place for pilgrimage in North India. Just about 15 kms from Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, it houses nearly 5000 temples both ancient as well as modern. The holy town of Vrindavan is where Lord Krishna spent his formative years. The town situated on the banks of river Yamuna is also known for the famous rasleelas that Lord Krishna performed with his beloved gopis. During Janmashtami, the entire city gets immersed in the spirit of devotion. Euphoric celebrations among the devotees is a common sight. The sound of bhajans and chanting echos in the city.
Rasleelas and staging of various plays
It is said that the city of Vrindavan starts celebrating Janmashtami 7-10 days before the actual date of the festival. This is done by staging various plays and rasleelas at different places in the city. Professional artistes enact various episode of Lord krishna's life. These plays are a huge drawers of devotees.
Celebrations at main Temples in Vrindavan
Although there are around 5000 temples in Vrindavan but the main temples are Banke Bihari Temple, Rangnathji Temple, Shri krishna Balram Temple, Radharaman Temple, ISCKON Temple etc. These temples have an itenarary for the entire day, with timings fixed for various ceremonies and poojas all day long. Darshans are open for devotees even during Abhishek (holy bath) of lord Krishna.
Celebrations at Madhuban during Janamashtami
According to legend in Vrindavan, Madhuban is the exact place where Lord Krishna is said to have performed rasleelas with his beloved Gopis more than 5000 years ago. A famous folklore associated with the place is that Lord Krishna till date ascends to perform rasleela with the gopis. Anyone venturing into the place during night either dies or becomes insane. Thus no localite ventures into Madhuban during night. The place becomes alive during Janmashtami with rasleelas being performed in the premises during the daytime.
Fasting by devotees
Fasting is another ritual followed by all the devotees religiously every year. Devotees observe all day long last and break it at midnight after the arrival of Lord Krishna. It is believed by devotees that fasts act as an offering that humans can make to the Lord and bring them closer to him. Devotees cook various dishes of milk and milk products to mark the occasion. This is so because Lord Krishna was quite fond of milk and butter. Popular dishes include Kheer, Pedha, Shrikhand and Singhare ki poori.
Janmashtami in Dwarka
Dwarka, meaning ‘Door to Moksha (Salvation)’ is a popular city of Gujarat. It was established by Lord Krishna with his elder brother Balram. The city is also known as Golden City. It was built by divine architect Vishwakarma in two days. The city is said to have been made up of diamonds and crystal, with palaces made of gold, emeralds and other precious stones. It was the abode of Lord Krishna for nearly a 100 years. After Lord Krishna's death, the city is believed to have been submerged in the sea. The celebration of Janmashtami in the main Dwarkadhish temple is very famous in India. Devotees from all over India throng the city of Dwarka during Janamashtami. The celebration on Janmashtami follows the daily routine or ‘Nitya Kram’ of Lord Krishna. Rituals are performed by Aboti brahmins, who are special brahmins performing these rituals for the past many centuries now.
The festival day begins with mangla arti performed in the morning. Mangla arti is always performed at 7 in the morning. Beginning with 'Banta Bhog' (of milk and milk products) offered to Lord Krishna, followed by cleansing of his face with water, brushing of the idol's teeth. Then the first darshan of the day is allowed to the devotees.
Abhishek or bath of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna is given the holy bath between 8 - 10 am and devotees are given a chance to see the abhishek which happens only twice a year. The bath is given right after the mangla arti with Panchamrit (mixture of gangajal, ghee, honey, curd and sugar).
Adorning Lord Krishna (Shringar)
After the bath, Lord Krishna is adorned with clothes and ornaments. Lord is made to wear Pitamber, a yellow coloured cloth. Ornaments consists of Chandanmala, Vyjantimala ( garland) and Suparimala (Made of Betel nut). Makeup on the face of Shri Dwarkadhish is done and he is also adorned with shankh (Conch), Discus (Chakra).
Darshan and Shringarbhog
After the adornment of Shri Krishna, the curtains are removed and devoteed are allowed to do the darshans of the Lord. This is Followed by offering of Shringar Bhog (Swees) to the Lord. During this time, the curtains are drawn again and the devotees are not allowed to see the Lord. The Shringarbhog is prepared in the temple premises.
Shayan bhog and Shayan arti
After the evening arti, Lord is offered sweets again, devotees are not allowed the darshans of the Lord during this time. Then it is time for Dwarkadhish to sleep. This happens around 9:00 pm. It is around 10:30 pm that darshans are opened again for the devotees during the Janmashtami celebrations.
Lord Dwarkadhish is adorned with lot of Gold jewellery and other precious stones such as Diamonds and Topaz. This happens around 11:00 pm. Utsav Bhog is offered to Lord around 11:30 pm. Devotees are not allowed to see the process of Utsav Bhog
though they wait eagerly for their beloved Lord in the temple premises and sing bhajans. The devotees welcome the Lord at 12 midnight with immense enthusiasm and joy. After nearly two hour celebrations, the temple closes at 2:00 am after the mahabhog offerings to Lord Krishna. Bal Gopal idolis kept in a cradle in the temple premises for the darshan of the general public. Thus the janmashtami celebrations finally come to an end in Dwarkadhish temple. Janmashtami, the birthday of Shri Krishna, is celebrated with great splendour. Rows of lights are lit everywhere, kirtans and bhajans are sung, sermons are delivered and Krishna is worshipped in his infant form. Thousands of people go to Dwarka to visit the temple and participate in the fair. After visiting the main temple, devotees go to Shankhoddhar Beyt. There are some other important temples, both old and new. Among these is the temple of Shank-Narayan, dedicated to the Matsyavatar, the incarnation of Vishnu as a fish. This was constructed over 200 years ago.
Janmashtami by ISKCON
History of ISKCON
ISKCON is an acronym of International society for Krishna consciousness. The organization was founded by Swami Prabhupada, an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. At the age of 69, Swami Prabhupada left for United States. In 1965, ISKCON was established with its headquarter in New York. ISKCON is a monotheist faith organisation that believes Lord Krishna is supreme to all the other deities in Hinduism. The organisation is famous all over the world. ISKCON took the western countries by storm with its mantra chanting of “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare; Hare Rama, Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare”
Day of Celebrating Janmashtami in ISKCON
Almost every year, Janmashtami is celebrated over two days by various communities of Hindus. Lord Krishna is believed to have been born at midnight so while Shaivyas celebrate it on the second day after midnight when Vasudevji took him to Gokul, The Vaishnavs choose to celebrate the festival on the first day. ISKCON too celebrates Janmashtami on the second day ie. the day after the birth of Lord Krishna.
Festive Activities at ISKCON
An offering of 108 dishes to Lord Krishna known as 'Bhog' takes place at midnight and thereafter it is distributed among devotees . Viewing or darshan of the idol of Lord Krishna takes place. The idol is beautifully decorated with flowers. The platform on which the idol is kept is also equally laden with flowers. Thereafter, Abhishek (bathing) of the Lord takes place with milk, milk products and fresh fruit juices. This is followed by Bhajans (devotional songs) sung with various musical instruments in the glory of the Lord, dances are performed by devotees to rejoice the birth of Lord. Finally plays or dramas are held enacting the various phases and leelas of lord Krishna's life. Reading of Scriptures From Bhagawad Gita especially the episode of Birth of Lord Krishna is a special feature during Janmashtami. Group Chanting of the Hare Krishna slogan takes place continuously and for a longer period than usual days. This is done to appease the Lord.
Celebration of Janmashtami in Brajbhumi
ISKCON organises 'Braj Mandal Parikrama' every year in the months of OctoberNovember. This involves a walking tour of nearly 84 miles to about 12 forests in Vrindavan and neighboring towns of Mathura, Barsana, Nandgaon, Gokul, Govardhan Hill and Radha kund. This traditional walk takes nearly a month to cover all the areas. Devotees of Lord Krishna cover this distance barefoot though shoes are also allowed. This Parikrama is undertaken by the organization to promote Krishna consciousness as well as spirituality. Devotees from all over take active participation to make this event a success. Worldwide celebrations by ISKCON ISKCON, celebrates Janmashtami festival at its various centres all over the world. Main Celebrations are held in the prominent cities of United States including New York. Discourses and lectures are organised to mark the festival and spread the accomplishments of Lord Krishna.
Janmashtami Pooja Process
The festival of Janmashtami is considered a very pious day by Hindus. Lot of bhajan singing, hymn chanting and poojas are performed this day. Devotees queue all the major Krishna temples to seek his blessings. People perform elaborate poojas during the festival. They keep day long fast. Functions and prayer meetings are organised to share the glory of their favourite God. The general pooja process begins early in the morning with devotees giving a bath or abhishek to Bal Gopal's idol with gangajal, ghee, water, honey and curd. The idol is then adorned with new clothes (preferably in yellow colour), stone or other precious jewellery. Next, the idol of lord is offered bhog, the contents of bhog may vary. Fruits, kheer, pedha, milk, and milk products are made. There are devotees who offer chappan bhog(56 dishes) to Bal Gopal. Thereafter, special Krishna pooja is performed. The cradle containing the divine infant's idol is rocked, conch is blown. Devotees sing Krishna arti, some people read out 108 names of lord. They get totally immersed in the name and praise of Gopal. After the entire pooja is over, devotees break their fast by having panchamrit. The time of breaking the fast may vary, this is so, because the time of performing pooja also differs from place to place. While some devotees choose to perform pooja at midnight and break fast, others perform pooja in the evening and have food.
Janmashtami Pooja Items
The festival of janmashtami is observed with lot of gay and happiness all over India. Special poojas are performed both in homes as well as temples. The entire day is devoted to remembering and singing the praise of Lord Krishna. Devotees welcome and celebrate the birth of their favourite god with lot of fervor. There are certain special items required for Krishnashtami pooja. Important pooja items are listed below:
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Lord Krishna's idol with cradle and conch New clothes, flute and ornaments for Lord Krishna Pooja thali containing a bell, diya, rice, elaichi(cardamom), supari, paan leaves, roli, small container filled with water, sindoor, incense sticks, flowers and ghee. For Panchamrit -milk, curd, gangajal, honey and ghee. A book containing shri Krishna's arti.
The list of items may vary according to pooja process performed by different people.
Janmashtami Decorative Items
A number of popular traditional decorative items are used by devotees during Janmashtami. It is a time to decorate house with flowers, decorate the jhula/cradle of Lord Krishna. Beautify your house to celebrate the birth of Bhagwan Krishna. Listed below are a few of decorative items used during the festival:
Krishna Idols and Sculptures
Lord krishna's idols and sculptures are the most important decorative. Devotees perform pooja with the help of the idols. They can also be placed in living room etc.
Krishna Wall Hangings
Wall Hangings adorning the image of Lord Krishna are a popular Janmashtami decorative item. As the festival is traditionally celebrated, wall hangings with ethnic touch are preferred over others. Embroidered cloth panels too work wonders as a popular festival decorative.
Krishna Door Hangings or Torans
Door hangings with pictures of Lord Krishna pasted over them make a unique decorative item. Attractive torans can be made by stitching or pasting other popular Janmashtami symbols such as flute, morpankh (peacock feather), pots containing butter and butter milk. These eye catching Janmashtami decorative symbolize Lord's activities.
Arti for Janmashtami
Arti is a ceremony, held to welcome Lord or a saintly person. Auspicious articles like incense and diyas are offered to the lord. Arti is an important ceremony held to mark any kind of religious or spiritual celebration. Janmashtami arti is performed every year to mark the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna. Krishna arti is performed in every house as well as temple during the festival.
Lord Krishna's Arti
Jai shri Krishna hare, prabhu jai jai Girdhari, Danav-dal balihari, Go dwij hitkari. Jai Govind dayanidhi, Govardhan dhari, Vanshidhar banvari, braj jan priyakari. Ganika godh ajamil, gajpati bhayhari, Arat-arti hari, jai mangalkari. Gopalak gopeshwar, draupadi dukhdari, Shabar suta sukhkari, Gautam tiya tari. Jan prahlad pramodak, narhari tanu dhari, jan man ranjankari, diti sut sanhari. Tidwish-sut sanrakshak, rakshak manjhari, Pandu suvan shubhkari, kaurav madhari. Manmath-manmath mohan, murli rav kari, Vrindavipin bihari, yamuna tat chari. Agh bak baki udharak, trinavarta tari, bidhi surpati madhari, kansa muktikari. Shesh mahesh saraswati, gun gavat hari, Kal kirti vistari, bhakt bheeti hari. Narayan sharnagat, ati agh aghhari, Pad-raj pawankari, chahat hitkari.
Janmashtami is a festival celebrated with lot of enthusiasm and joy. It creates a euphoric atmosphere all around. Since Lord Krishna was very fond of milk and milk products, so devotees make various dishes of milk to please the Lord. Devotees observe to mark the day and break it at midnight after the birth of Lord Krishna. Certain people observe the day with waterless fast while others have fruits and milk. The traditional dishes prepared on Janmashtami are Singhare ki Poori, Shrikhand, Gopalkala, Kheer etc. Recipes of these mouth watering and easy to cook dishes are given below:
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Shrikhand Singhare ki Poori Pedha Til ki Kheer (Sesame Pudding) Aloo/Arwi ki Chaat
Janmashtami Special Recipes
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Kheer Murukku Gopalkala Kalakand
Sri Krishna's Lifetime Chart
Given here is a chronological list of Lord Krishna's lifetime achievements. Relevant aspects of Lord Krishna's life from birth to renunciation have been presented in a tabular form.
Age of Lord Krishna
Description In the month of Sravana, around July 19th 3227 BC in a prison cell in Mathura city to Vasudev and Devki. Lived in the neighboring town of Gokul with Nand and Yashoda, performed bal leela, including killing of demoness Putana, Trinivatra etc. Started living in Vrindavan, Killing of Demons Bakasura, Aghasura and Dhanuka. Lifting of Govardhan hill, played rasleelas with Gopis, Invited for a wrestling match by Kansa which results in his killing. Lived in Mathura and protected it from many Demons. Took the lessons in all the sixty four arts from Muni Sandeepani and perfected all the arts. Established kingdom in the city of Dwarka with Brother Balram. Married Rukmini and 16000 other princesses. Helped Pandavas win the battle of Mahabharata, explains teachings to Arjuna later written down by Rishi Vyas as Bhagwad Gita. Fall of Yaduvanshi dynasty due to fraternal killing. Disappearance of Lord Krishna on 18th February 3102 BC.
0 to 3 years
3 to 7 years
10 – 28 years
29 – 125 years
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