India, the land of festivals, celebrates each one with great devotion and happiness with friends and family.

Every festival has a social, religious and mythological value. Janamshtami, the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, also has great significance from time immemorial. It is believed that Janmashtami is celebrated every year on the ‘eighth day’ or the ‘Ashtami’ of the holy month, Shravana, according to the Hindu Lunar calendar. Janmashtami is also known as Gokulashtami, Krishnasthami, Srijayanti. Janmashtami is famous for Dahi Handi in Maharashtra.

Janamashtami is marked by grand celebrations at the Krishna temples across India. The festivities are more pronounced in Mathura and Vrindavan, the places where Lord Krishna is believed to have been born and spent his childhood days.

RITUALS ACROSS THE NATION

People generally observe a day long fast and break it at midnight, the time when Lord Krishna was born. Devotional songs, aartis, dance performances and bhog like rituals mark the auspicious occasion.

Rasa leela, is a special feature, in regions of Mathura and Vrindavan, is a stage program of Krishna’s youthful days. Dahi Handi, to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break, is also a tradition followed in Maharashtra each year. It is a major event in Tamil Nadu termed as Gokulashtami.

SIGNIFICANCE

5000 years ago, during the reign of the brutal King Kansa, Lord Krishna’s maternal uncle, was a power driven and self-obsessed King. He married his sister Devaki to Vasudeva and according to a prophecy it was believed that Devaki’s eighth child would be the one who would end Kansa’s rule, and kill him. Kansa had put Vasudeva and Devika behind bars fearing for his life. He even killed their first six children as soon as they were born. The eighth child, Lord Krishna was born on a day when it was raining heavily with thunder storm. Amidst all this, Vasudeva himself carried his baby across a river to his cousin Nanda and his wife Yashoda’s house in Vrindavan. Yashoda is believed to have raised Lord Krishna as her own son. As prophesied, Lord Krishna ended Kansa’s life years later, making Mathura safe again.

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