Krishna Janmashtami or just Janmashtami is basically a festive ceremony performed across India to celebrate the birth anniversary of Lord Vishnu's eight incarnations, Lord Krishna. Krishna means one who attracts. Hindus consider him to be their leader, protector, philosopher, teacher and friend. The festival is known by several other names such as Saatam Aatham, Sri Krishna Jayanti, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Shree Jayanti and Krishnashtami.
Krishna Janmashtami in 2016 is falling on the 25th of August. It will mark the 5243th birth anniversary of Lord Krishna. August-September (Shravana month) is the time when Janmashtami is celebrated. It is marked on the 8th day (ashta in Sanskrit meaning eight) of the Krishna Paksha of the Shravan month. 26th of August will be celebrated as Dahi Handi.
Krishna Janmashtami Puja Muhurat
Nishita Puja Time - 24:00+ to 24:45+
Duration - 0 Hours 44 Minutes
On 26th, Parana Time - After 10:52
Parana means the breaking of the fast and it should be done at the correct time.
Fasting on Janmashtami
Those who plan to fast on the day of Janmashtami should eat only a single meal on the previous day. During Janmashtami devotees should take a Sankalpa to observe a one-day long fast and break it the next day after Rohini Nakshatra and Ashtami Tithi are over. The whole day fasting starts with the Sankalpa and it must be taken after finishing morning rituals. The fast should be broken the next day after sunrise. Nishita Kala is the appropriate time to perform the Krishna Puja. According to Vedic time-keeping Nishita Kala is the midnight. The sixteen steps of the Shodashopachar Puja Vidhi should be ritualistically followed during the puja.
Until the fast is broken the next day, no grains should be consumed. The fasting rules of Janmashtami are similar to that of Ekadashi.
Krishna Janmashtami fasting may continue for two days. Devotees who are not able to follow this can break the fast on the next day after sunrise as per Dharmasindhu (hindu religious text).
What the legends say:
Hailing from the Yadava's clan of Mathura, Lord Krishna was the eighth son of Vasudeva and his wife Devaki. Devaki's evil-minded brother Kansa toppled his own father King Ugrasena and assumed the stately administration. Later, a celestial prophecy predicted that the eighth child of his sister Devaki will take his life. Scared to death, Kansa had his sister and her husband Vasudev behind the bars and awaited the birth of eighth child who would be known as Krishna.
Kansa killed the six children before his attempt to kill the seventh that was an apparent miscarriage, a clandestine shifting of the infant to Rohini as Lord Balarama. When Krishna was born, Lord Vishnu appeared in front of Vasudev and told him to carry baby Krishna to Gokul where He would be fostered by Yashoda and her husband Nanda. Vasudev did what was told to him and kept the baby secretly at Nanda's residence after crossing River Yamuna which was turbulent at nights. He returned carrying Nanda's daughter. Kansa tried to kill the baby girl thinking that it was the eight son who would kill him. But the girl morphed into Goddess Yogmaya, the divine servant of Lord Vishnu, and foretold the death of Kansa.
After His pastimes in Gokula, Lord Krishna along with His brother Balrama eventually killed the arrogant Kansa.
What the legends say:
The festival is marked with enthusiasm, love and divine spirit across the country. The devotees observe fast and stay up till midnight, when the Lord is said to be born. Beautiful pictures of Lord Krishna are installed on the walls of homes, in swings and cradles in Krishna's temples. The worshippers congregate in homes and temples in order to recite devotional melodies, perform dance and read the verses from the Holy Bhagvad Gita.
Dramas on the pastimes of Lord Krishna are the cream of the celebration in Vrindavan, Mathura, Manipur and other parts of the country. One of the most attractive festive activities is Dahi Handi where a group of young people imitate the Lord's pastime by creating a human tower to break a pot of butter suspending atop. This was performed by the Lord when His mother kept the butter pots out of His reach. The Lord along with his cowherd friends towered up to bring the pots down.
Janmashtami is celebrated in different ways in parts of India.
|STATE/PART OF COUNTRY||MAJOR TOWNS/PLACES||CELEBRATIONS|
|Uttar Pradesh||Gokul, Vrindavan and Mathura||Festive celebrations|
|Gujarat||Dwarka||Dwarkadhish Temple visited|
|Maharashtra||Mumbia, Pune||Performing Dahi Handi|
|Eastern India||Odisha, Puri, Nabadwip||Fasting and reading Shrimad Bhagvatam's 10th Canto|
|Jammu||Entire region||Kite flying|
|Assam||Entire region||Rituals and sharing prasadam|
|Manipur||Imphal||Celebration by ISKCON|
|South India||Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and other||Floor decorations, devotional songs, recitations of Holy Bhagvad Gita, rituals and sweets preparations.|
Celebrating Janmashtami at home:
- Do not worry if going out to visit Lord Krishna's temple is somewhere next to impossible. You can celebrate it at home with faithful devotion and invite others as well.
- First, invite all your friends and family members to participate in the festive activities. Kindly ask them to decorate the house with spiritual objects related to Krishna such as posters, cradles, balloons, festoons and the like.
- Bring or buy books filled with the songs dedicated to Lord Krishna especially Vishnava's collection of bhakti songs. You can even get audio CDs and create a spiritual atmosphere.
- Chant the Hare Krishna mantra on the beads especially Tulasi beads if any.
- Read the stories about Krishna's childhood pastimes.
- If you have the idols of Radha and Krishna, dress them in new attires and embellish Their altar.
- Celebrate the abhishek ceremony by bathing the idols with ghee, honey, yogurt, honey, fruit juices and holy water. Sing devotional sings while doing so.
- Prepare special delicacies like kheer, sweet rice or any milk items. Also you can prepare puri, vegetables, rice, dal, ras gula, shira etc.
- Perform aarti at midnight with kirtan, a congregational performance of devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna. This is the time when Lord Krishna appeared on this earth.