Krishna Janmashtami

Festivals of India, September 6th, 2023
illustration by Manish

Krishna Janmashtami, also known simply as Janmashtami, is a Hindu festival celebrated to mark the birth of Lord Krishna, who is considered one of the most revered deities in Hinduism. It usually falls in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, which typically falls in August or September of the Gregorian calendar.

The festival is celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm across India and among Hindu communities around the world. Some key features of Krishna Janmashtami include:

  1. Fast and Prayer: Many devotees observe a day-long fast leading up to midnight, the time believed to be Lord Krishna’s birth. They spend the day in prayer, singing devotional songs, and reading or narrating stories from Lord Krishna’s life.
  2. Midnight Celebration: The highlight of Krishna Janmashtami is the midnight celebration, as it is believed that Lord Krishna was born at midnight. Temples and homes are beautifully decorated, and an idol or image of the baby Krishna is placed in a cradle. At midnight, the moment of his birth, devotees celebrate with great enthusiasm, singing bhajans (devotional songs), dancing, and offering special sweets and fruits to the deity.
  3. Dahi Handi: In some regions, particularly in Maharashtra, a popular tradition called “Dahi Handi” takes place. A pot of curd (dahi) is hung high above the ground, and teams of young men, known as “Govindas,” form human pyramids to break the pot and claim the prize. This reenacts a playful aspect of Lord Krishna’s childhood, where he would steal butter and curd.
  4. Devotional Plays and Processions: In many places, devotees perform plays or reenact scenes from Lord Krishna’s life, such as his childhood pranks and the legendary dance of the Gopis (milkmaids). Processions with idols or images of Lord Krishna are also a common sight, accompanied by singing and dancing.
  5. Feasting: As with many Hindu festivals, Janmashtami is a time for special feasting. Devotees prepare a variety of delicious sweets and dishes, with particular emphasis on dairy products, as Lord Krishna is often associated with butter and milk.

Krishna Janmashtami is not just a religious festival but also a cultural and social celebration of the life and teachings of Lord Krishna. It brings families and communities together in joyous celebration and devotion.

Manish Pushkar Jha
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