Krishna Janmashtami is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna. According to the Hindu calendar, it is observed on the eighth day (ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Shravana. It is also popularly known as Gokulashtami or Shree Krishna Jayanti. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna was born to destroy Mathura’s demon King Kansa, brother of his virtuous mother, Devaki. In 2021, Krishna Janmashtami falls on the 30th of August.
Significance and ritual of Janmashtami-
Janmashtami is one of the most famous Hindu festivals and is celebrated all over India with great pomp and show. The biggest ceremony of this festival is conducted in Mathura and Vrindavan where Lord Krishna is said to have been born and spent his growing up years, respectively. When the clock strikes 12 on the Janmashtami day, the devotees observe a fast and sing devotional songs for Lord Krishna since he was born at midnight.
The statues of infant Krishna are washed and placed in a cradle for worship as a part of the ritual. Devotees then break their fast and share food and sweets. The ritualistic puja includes 16 steps which are part of the Shodashopachara puja vidhi. People also enact dance-dramas based on the life of Lord Krishna popularly called ‘Krishna Leela’ or ‘Raas Leela’ on this auspicious occasion.
Legend and celebration of Janmashtami-
Many customs and traditions have developed in the various parts of India, all based on stories from Krishna’s life. According to legend, it is said that as a boy, Krishna loved milk and butter so much that they had to be kept out of his reach. This story is reflected in many climbing games for children. For example, In Tamil Nadu, oiled poles with pots of money tied to the top are set up. Boys dressed as Krishna then try to climb these poles to get the money while onlookers squirt water at them.
In Maharashtra, Janmashtami witnesses the exciting enactment of Lord Krishna’s childhood endeavours to steal curd and butter from earthen pots beyond his reach. It is popularly called as Dahi Handi. A matka or pot containing these is suspended high above the ground and groups of young men and children form human pyramids to try and reach the pot and eventually break it.
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