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
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.
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.
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’.
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.