celebrating the Birth of Krishna
Janamashtami, an Indian festival marking the birth of Krishna, will be celebrated on Thursday 25th August 2016 on the eighth day of the dark fortnight, as well as in Indian communities throughout the world. This festival marks the anniversary of the birth of the Hindu Saviour, Lord Sri Krishna, one of the main spiritual founts of the Hindu religion. Akash Bisht, a contributor to our sister site Truth Star, briefly discusses the festival for us on AstroScope Me.
Hindus believe Krishna to be the eighth "avatar", or reincarnation of Lord Vishnu, the divine maintainer of the Universe. Vishnu, perhaps the most prominent divinity in the Hindu pantheon, is believed to have revealed the Bhagavad Gita – the source of the guiding principles for every Hindu. Krishna's birthday is celebrated all over India, but the temples of the twin cities of Mathura (where Krishna was born) and Vrindavan are a particular focus.
Lord Krishna is the symbol of devotional love. Lovers down the ages are signified by the divine love of Radha and Krishna. Raslila, a special kind of dance drama is performed illustrating incidents from the life of Krishna, particularly his love for Radha.
Colourful Festivities on the Day of Love
But Janamashtami is not just a day for lovers. Mathura, 145 km from Delhi, celebrates Janamashtami with great enthusiasm. The main celebrations are performed at the Dwarkadhish temple and the Ghatas (bathing places) during the entire month of Shravan. The ghatas are a unique feature of the month long celebrations. The festivities are very colourful. The twin cities of Mathura-Vrindavan take on a festive look and a spirit of devotion is evident.
Krishna played on the banks of the Yamuna River during his childhood, often indulging in pranks with his friends and with the gopis (cowgirls). There are some 400 temples dedicated to Sri Krishna in this sacred city; major festivities are held at the Banke Bihari, Rangaji, Sri Krishna Balram temple and Gopinath temple.
Over a 48 hour period, the faithful forego sleep and sing bhajans, traditional Hindu songs. Krishna was born at midnight, so it is at this time that the true festivities commence. Some choose to fast for the first day of Janamashtami, eating only after the midnight celebrations. Food prepared from milk and curds was favoured by Krishna, so this is what people will eat.
Devotional songs and dances mark the celebration of this festive occasion all over Northern India. Plays are also featured, re-enacting scenes from Krishna's early life. In the temples, images of Krishna are bathed at midnight and placed in cradles, while the shankh (conch shell) is played and bells are rung. Holy mantras are also chanted to venerate Krishna.
The festivity is one of the main holidays in India, and is widely celebrated, especially in the north of the country.
To read more on Janamashtami, please click here.