JANMASHTHAMI:

        On the eighth day of the black half of Bhadra (August-September). Shri Krishna, the eighth Avatar of incarnation of Vishnu was born. Therefore, this day is well known as Janmashthami or Krishna Janmashthami. This auspicious day of the birth of Krishna, the direct manifestation of Vishnu is celebrated in all parts of India with eclat and great enthusiasm. In the Bhagvad Gita Krishna declares, " All this Universe has been created by me, all things exist in me". Arjuna addresses him as "the supreme universal spirit, the supreme dwelling, the eternal person, divine, prior to the Gods, unborn, omnipresent". His life is celebrated in great detail in the Purans like Harivamsha and Shrimad Bhagvatam. The circumstances in which he was born were quite peculiar and mysterious. He incarnated himself primarily to destroy evil and wickedness and to establish Dharma.

        The demon king Kansa was a great and dreaded tyrant, but he loved his sister, Devaki, and at her marriage with Vasudev, he out of great affection, drove their marriage chariot. Then, all of a sudden everything went topsy-turvy when an oracle told him that the eighth born of Devaki shall be the cause of his doom and death. At this he would have killed her then and there, but Vasudev intervened and promised to give him over each and every child born to them. They kept their promise, and Kansa killed the six children born to them one after the other. The couple could do nothing except remaining as mute witness to keep under strict vigil. The seventh child born to them was saved by divine grace.

        The eighth son Krishna, when he was born it so happened that with divine grace, the guards fell asleep, their chains loosened and the gates of the prison cell opened. Vasudev took the child Krishna to his friend Nand’s house in Gokul. He entrusted his son with Nand and in exchange carried back the baby girl born to Nand and Yashoda. When Kansa heard of the birth of a girl child, he at once rushed to the prison cell, and lifted the female child high, catching it by the feet. When he was about to dash her against a rock the slipped from Kansa’s grip and assuming the beautiful form of the Divine Mother vanished in the sky saying, "Wretch! Thy destroyer is flourishing in Gokul". People at Gokul were rejoiced at the birth of a son to King Nand and Queen Yashoda. Yashoda was quite unaware of the exchange that had taken place during the night.

        The Janmashthami celebrations start right from the early morning with a bath in sacred waters and prayers. The celebration reaches its climax at midnight with the rising of the moon, which marks the divine birth. On this auspicious day strict fast is observed which is broken only after the birth of Lord Krishna at midnight. The temples and homes are decorated, scenes depicting Krishna’s birth and his childhood pranks etc. are staged with models both live an dinanimate, child Krishna’s image is placed in a richly decorated swing and rocked with tender care all the day by the devotees. At midnight, time after the birth of Lord Krishna, a small image of todding Krishna is bathed in Charnamrit, amidst chanting of hymns, blaring of the conches, ringing of the bells and joyous shouting of ‘victory to Krishna’.

        In Brij Mandal, especially in Gokul and Mathura, this festival is celebrated with great religious fervour and enthusiasm and the special deliberations of the day are relayed on the air. People from distant places congregate at Mathura and Vrindavan on this day to participate in the festival. The piety and fast observed on this day ensures the birth of good sons, and salvation after death. Reading and recitation of the Bhagvadam and Geet Govidam are recommended on this day.