Janmashtami is celebrated across the world on the occasion of Lord Krishna’s birth. It is a very famous annual Hindu festival observed as per the date in the Hindu calendar.
Janmashtami is derived from the Sanskrit word, ‘Janma’ means birth and ‘astama’ means eight. Devaki and Vasudeva’s eighth son was Krishna. Also as per old texts, he was the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Krishna – The Legend
The era in which Lord Krishna born was full of cruelty and injustice, meted out by the mighty king Kansa. Being very powerful and that’s why arrogant, he many times disrespected even Gods.
To eliminate this evil ruler and bring stability in that region, Lord Vishnu decided to born as Krishna to Devaki, Kansa’s own sister, and Devaki’s husband Vasudeva. However, Kansa came to know about this plan and both were imprisoned in Mathura prison.
On the night when Krishna born, the prison gates automatically opened and all the guards went to sleep. This gave Vasudeva the opportunity to take little Krishna across Yamuna River and to a place named Gokul and to Krishna’s foster parents Nanda and Yashoda.
After overcoming many obstacles and killing a considerable number of monsters unleashed upon him and his village, Krishna eventually killed the evil king Kansa.
Lord Krishna was also instrumental in making Pandava’s win the famous Kurukshetra battle in Mahabharata. He also gives the Gita teachings to Arjuna before the battle of Kurukshetra.
It is this legends birthday which is celebrated across the world and is called Janmashtami. During Janmashtami, drama on Krishna is staged in many places in India and abroad, to create the awareness or who he was.
Recital of Gita is done. Devotional songs on Krishna are sung starting from the middle of the night since Lord Krishna born in the mid of the night. Many keep fasting and place baby Krishna’s statue on the cradle. After distributing foods and sweets, specially butter and rock sugar (‘Mishri’) the fasting is broken.
Various regions in India have their own way of celebrating Janmashtami. In Maharashtra and specifically in Mumbai region, Janmashtami is one of the prominent festivals, which is celebrated with “Dahi Handi” (Pot full of Curd) competition. In this a pot full of Curd is hanged at a considerable height. Curd and Butter was favourite to Lord Krishna. Teams from various areas participate in this compitition. The team which creates strong human pillar, reaches the height, and breaks that pot is declared as the winner.
Almost all the Temples are decorated and entire night singing happens and in many places dancing takes place. Though Ganesh Chathurti is said to be the beginner of the festive season in India, in my opinion, it is the Janmashtami which begins the festive season in India.
Incarnations of Lord Vishnu
Lord Vishnu’s incarnation in chronological order is Matsya (Fish), Kurma (Tortoise), Varaha (Boar), Narasimha (Half-Man/Half-Lion), Vamana (Dwarf), Parashurama, Ramachandra, Krishna, Buddha, Kalki (Destroyer of Darkness). But in various texts, this differs however these are the main incarnations of Lord Vishnu.
Yes we can relate
Many consider Lord Krishna as their brother, many as a Father, many as God but then many consider him to be their good friend.
Krishna’s born at a time, when hope was a word no one knew, to an imprisoned parents, growing up in a small village, doing mischief with other children and his foster parents, facing many challenges and ultimately winning the final battle – somehow every one of us can relate him in some way and that’s what makes Lord Krishna every body’s favourite.