Janmashtami, popularly also known as Gokul Ashtami and Krishnashtami, is celebrated all over India on the 8th day of the month of Shravan in the Hindu calendar. The usual duration of the month of Shravan is from mid-August to mid-September. This festival is celebrated in honour of Lord Krishna’s birth, who is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Janmashtami in Mathura.
This festival is celebrated with tremendous zest and zeal all over, especially in the city of Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna. Mathura is situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh and is about 145 kilometers away from New Delhi. It is also known as the Krishna Janma Bhumi. The place where Lord Krishna is believed to be born is now converted into a huge, royal temple and is known as the Krishna Janma Bhumi Mandir. The main celebrations take place here. A Pooja is performed in the midnight and the idol of Lord Krishna is bathed with milk and curd. Then the idol is placed in a cradle. Songs and hymns are sung by the devotees and a number of other Shlokas and Mantras are chanted throughout the night. The Lord is served a Prasad, which consists of 56 sweets and savories. Gopalkala is the main speciality of this day, which is served to all the devotees presented on this auspicious occasion.
Janmashtami in Maharashtra
Janmashtami in Maharashtra is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Along with other traditional rituals, the main celebration that every devotee looks forward to is Dahi Handi. An earthen pot filled with milk and milk products is hung up on a great height and the young boys and girls form a pyramid, the person on the top breaks this Handi, which symbolizes the group’s victory. The story of Dahi Handi goes back in the pages of history. Lord Krishna, a big prankster, was very fond of milk and milk products. He would often steal the earthen pots of the women in the neighbourhood, who carried these products in the earthen pots. To avoid their pots being stolen, these women (also known as the Gopis) would hand the pots on great heights, with the help of ropes. Lord Krishna, in spite of this, would steal the pots. There are competitions held all over Maharashtra to celebrate Dahi Handi. Handsome prizes are given to the winners. Young men, and now-a-days, women too, come together to participate in this celebration. The human pyramid is constructed and the earthen pot is broken by the person at the top. Often the pyramid stumbles down, but no team gives up.
Janmashtami in other states of India.
A variety of delicacies are prepared in South India, to serve as Prasadam to the Lord. The Rajagopalaswami Temple in Mannargudi in the Tiruvarur district, Bala Krishna temple at Udupi, Pandavadhoothar temple in Kanchivaram and Krishna temple at Guruvayurare are the famous Krishna temples in South India, where the Janmashtami is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy. In Bengal and Orissa, people often observe a fast. This is considered as a noble way to offer their prayers to the Lord. The city of Dwarka, located in Gujarat, is believed to be the abode of the Lord. The celebrations of Janmashtami are celebrated with great pomp here and devotees all over the country visit the Dwarkadheesh Temple, which hosts a grand celebration. The devotees in Jammu-Kashmir celebrate this festival by flying kites. Loud music that consists of the bhajans is played while flying the kites.
This year, the Janmashtami will be celebrated on August 10th, Friday.