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Baby Krishna sleeping. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Janmashtami is celebrated by 930 million people all over the world, in the month of July or August
  • The festival is 2-day long affair, also known as Krishna Ashtami on the first day, and Janmashtami on the second day
  • At midnight, the curtain is unveiled to finally reveal the flamboyantly decorated idol on an even brighter altar

August 24, 2016: Krishna Janmashtami is one of the most celebrated festivals among the Hindus in India and this year it falls on Wednesday, August 24. It is, after all, a day that marks the earthly appearance of the favorite Hindu god, Krishna!

Krishna is known to be the favourite of the whole Hindu pantheon. A reciprocator of devotees’ love, He is known to be adorable, the most mischievous. According to the Hindu Mythology, Krishna is known to be the most gentle and romantic lover and his loyalty and love for friends is unparalleled. A fierce warrior, an earnest hero and the wisest teacher and philosopher- Hindus view him as the most powerful human incarnation of Vishnu, the highest avatar, according to Hindu Mythology.

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Janmashtami is celebrated by 930 million people all over the world, in the month of July/ August and with the same spirit and zeal as that of a New Years. It marks the day of spiritual renewal and regeneration among Hindus.

Bal Gopal. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

According to Hindu Mythology, Krishna is said to have been born almost 5,200 years ago in the Indian city of Mathura and the main purpose for his birth is to free the earth from demons and their evil deeds. Krishna is also said to have given birth to the concepts of bhakti (devotion) and good karma in particular, which are very deeply mentioned in the Hindu text, Bhagavad Gita.

The festival is a 2-day long affair and is known as Krishna Ashtami on the first day, and Janmashtami on the second day. The entire period is observed by some Hindus by substituting sleep with bhajans (Hindu hymns). Krishna is believed to have been born at the stroke of midnight and it is at this time that the main festivities start.

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Bhog (food offered to the God) is prepared from milk and curd as Krishna was a famous dairy stealer in his young age and curd, butter, and milk are believed to be his favorites. A few believers also offer chappan bhog (56 dishes offered to the God). Some Hindus (except the young and infirm) even fast on the first day and only break their fast after the midnight festivities and religious ceremonies, by having panchamrit (holy water).

Krishna’s idol during Janmashtami. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Much like Diwali, various plays, dances, and songs are re-enacted from the god’s early life. In temples and homes alike, painting and idols of Krishna are bathed, decorated with new clothes, jewelry, and flower garlands, and placed in a cradle behind a curtain. A shankh (conch shell) and holy chants are also played and sung to express admiration for the little Krishna. The cradle is rocked by every attendee of the festival, or as many as possible. Incense is burnt and scriptures are recited, all adding to the vibrancy of the festivities.

At the midnight, the curtain is unveiled to finally reveal the flamboyantly decorated idol on an even brighter altar. Kirtans (group singing lead by an individual) usually begin at this time, all devoted Krishna. The religious celebrations in the temples of Mathura- Krishna’s birthplace, and Vrindavan- another religious city in India, are especially famous for their grandeur and illumination.

-by Varsha Gupta of NewsGram. Find her on Twitter: @VarshaGupta94




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