In this article, we have published an Essay on Shri Krishna Janmashtami Festival, Its Importance, Celebration in India.
Shree Krishna Janmashtami, mostly famous as Janmashtami or Gokulashtami, is a yearly festival of the Hindu, which is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu.
According to the Hindu Luni-Solar calendar, the dark day of Shravan or Bhadrapada (the dark side) is the eighth day (Ashtami) (depending on whether the calendar selects the new moon or full moon day as the last day), which overlaps with the August / September of the Gregorian calendar.
It is a famous festival for the Vaishnavism of Hinduism in particular. According to the Bhagavata Purana (such as Rasa-Lila of Krishna-Lila), Krishna’s dance-drama laws, devotional singing, fasting, night vigil (night Jagran) and a festival (Mahotsava) until the midnight of Shree Krishna’s birth are part of the Janmashtami celebrations.
This festival is celebrated in Mathura and Vrindavan, also with Major Vaishnava and sectarian groups found in other states of India. The festival of Nandotsav takes place after the birth of Krishna Janmashtami, a celebration of the birth of the Nanda Baba community.
Shri Krishna is the son of Devaki and Vasudeva, and Hindus celebrate his birthday as Janmashtami, most notably the Gaudiya Vaishnava tradition as the supreme personality of his god. According to the Hindu tradition in Mathura, Janmashtami is celebrated when it is believed that Krishna was born, which is the midnight of the eighth day of the Bhadrapada month (which overlaps with August and September 3 in the Gregorian calendar).
Krishna was born in a confused region. It was a time when violence was rampant, denial of liberty, evil everywhere, and his life threatened by his uncle, King Kansa. Soon after his birth in Mathura, his father, Vasudeva, adopted Krishna as the father of the Yamuna and his parents in Gokul and named him Nanda and Yashoda.
This myth is held fast by the people, singing devotional songs of love towards Lord Krishna and celebrating vigil at night. The devotees break their fast by sharing food and sweets. Women draw small footprints outside the door and kitchen of their home, walking towards their home, symbolizing Krishna going into their homes.
Janmashtami (popularly known as “Gokulashtami” in Maharashtra) is celebrated in cities like Mumbai, Latur, Nagpur, and Pune. Every August / September, the day after Shri Krishna’s birth, Janmashtami is celebrated as Dahi Handi. The word means “crockpot.”
The festival derives its name from the legend of Baby Krishna. Accordingly, he would steal and steal dairy products such as yogurt and butter, and people would hide their supplies without making it available to the baby. Krishna tries all kinds of creative ideas, like making human pyramids with his friends to break these high hanging pots.
This story is the theme of many reliefs on Hindu temples across India, as well as a collection of literature and dance-drama, symbolizing the joyful innocence of children, the manifestation of god in love and life.
In Maharashtra and other western states of India, this Krishna myth is practiced as a community tradition in Janmashtami, where yogurt pots are hung high, sometimes with tall pillars or ropes hanging from the second or third floor of a building.
According to an annual tradition, groups of young men and boys known as “Govindas” roam around these hanging pots; climb over each other to form a human pyramid, and then break the pot.
The girls surrounded these boys, cheering and cheering them on while dancing and singing. Spilled things are considered Prasada (ceremony offering). It is welcomed as a public spectacle, enthusiastic, and social event.
There are youth groups from Govinda Pathaks, which compete with each other, specifically for prize money on Janmashtami day. These groups are called mandalas, and they roam around the local area, trying to break as many pots as possible every August.
Social celebrities and media attend the celebrations, and corporations sponsor part of the event. Govinda teams are offering cash and gifts, and according to the Times of India, in Mumbai alone in 2014, there were over 4,000 handicap hangings, and many Govinda teams participated.
Gujarat and Rajasthan
The people of Dwarka in Gujarat – who are believed to have established their kingdom – celebrate the festival with a tradition similar to that of Dahi Handi, known as Makhan handi (pot with freshly boiled butter).
Others perform folk dances, sing bhajans, and visit Krishna temples such as the Dwarkadhish Temple. In the Kutch district, farmers decorate their bullock carts and play Krishna ions, with group singing and dancing.
The carnival-style and playful poems and writings of Dayaram, a scholar of Vaishnavism’s Puthiya Marg, became popular in Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Janmashtami is the biggest festival in the Braz region of northern India, in cities like Madura where Krishna was born, and in Vrindavan where he grew up. Janmashtami is celebrated in the northern areas of Uttar Pradesh along with the Vaishnavas and others in the state viz: Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and the Himalayas. Krishna temples are decorated and lit. They attract many visitors during the day. Devotees of Krishna perform devotional ceremonies and watch the night.
The festival usually comes as the rainy season in northern India is short, with time to play on crops and in rural areas. In the Northern states, this festival is celebrated with the tradition of raslila, which means “happiness, essence (rasa) of play (Lila).” It is expressed as a solo or group dance and drama event in Janmashtami, in which Shri Krishna compositions are sung, along with a musical performance, where actors and audiences share and celebrate the play.
Shri Krishna’s childhood pranks and Radha-Krishna’s love affairs are especially famous. As per the findings of Christian Roy and other scholars, the Radha-Krishna romances are Hindu symbolism of the desire and love of the human soul, which is called Brahman for Divine Principle and Reality.
In Jammu, a part of the celebration of Krishna Janmashtami is flying kites from the rooftops.
Odisha and West Bengal
The festival is also known as Sri Krishna Jayanti or Sri Jayanthi in the eastern state of Odisha, especially around Puri and in Nabadwip in West Bengal. People celebrate birth by fasting and worshiping until midnight. People recite the Bhagavata Purana from the 10th chapter devoting it to the life of Krishna.
The day after that is called “Nanda Utsav” as Krishna’s adoptive parents Nanda and Yashoda had a joyful celebration. Upon this day, people break their fast and serve different cooked sweets after midnight.
In Tamil Nadu, people decorate the soil with kolam (decorative pattern drawn with rice batter). Gita Govindam and other devotional songs are sung in praise of Krishna. They then draw Krishna’s footprints from the entrance of the house to the pooja room, which depicts Krishna’s entry into the home.
Bhagavad Gita recitation is also a popular technique. The offerings to Krishna include fruits and butter. The delicacies that are considered to be Krishna’s favorites are carefully prepared.
The most important of them are Varkadai, Sweet Seed, and Seedai. Janmasthami is celebrated in the evening as Krishna was born at midnight. Many people practice strict fasting this day and eat only after midnight pooja. Even the toddler dressed like Krishna.
In Andhra Pradesh, recitation of devotional songs and hymns serve as the hallmarks of this festival. Apart from that, another unique feature of this festival is that young children dress like Shri Krishna, and they visit their neighbors and friends.
A variety of fruits and sweets are first served to Shree Krishna, and then they are distributed to the visitors. The people of Andhra Pradesh also fast. A variety of desserts are prepared to help Gokulnandan this day.
Milk and yogurt are edible as well as digestible for Krishna. Some of the temples of the state are celebrated with joy. The number of temples dedicated to Lord Krishna is minimal. The reason is that people have taken to worship him through images, not statues.
The famous South Indian temples dedicated to Lord Krishna are devoted to the Rajagopalaswamy Temple in Mannargudi in Thiruvarur district, Pandavapura Temple in Kanchipuram, Sri Krishna Temple in Udupi and Krishna Temple in Guruvayur in memory of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that the idol of Sri Krishna erected in Guruvayur belongs to the Dwarka and is drowned in the sea.