Sri Krishna Jayanthi is a festival that marks the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth. Lord Krishna was one among the 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver of the Universe, according to Hindu belief. The incarnation of Lord Krishna became necessary to destroy evil on earth. According to the Hindu calendar or Panchanga, the festival is held on the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) in Shravan month (August – September).
Legend behind Krishna’s birth
The legend behind Krishna’s birth is quite intriguing. According to Hindu mythology, sinful and evil forces began to take over the world. In desperation, Mother Earth asked Lord Brahma to put an end to it. Lord Brahma went to Lord Vishnu and apprised him of the situation. Vishnu reassured him that he would take birth on earth to destroy the evil forces.
On the 8th day (Ashtami) of Shravan month, Lord Vishnu was born as Krishna on earth at the hour of midnight. Krishna was an avatar of Lord Vishnu, the 8th in fact. He was born as the son of Devaki and Vasudev, a Yadava prince, in Mathura. Devaki and Vasudev were imprisoned in a dungeon during Krishna’s birth by Kamsa, brother of Devaki. A divine prophecy had foretold that the eighth child of Devaki and Vasudeva would kill Kamsa, hence he imprisoned them. Krishna was born when evil forces were reigning on earth. Helped by divine powers, Vasudeva was able to leave the prison and take the infant Krishna to Gokul where his friend, Nanda and his wife, Yashoda, raised him as their own son. This story is celebrated as Janmashtami by Krishna’s devotees who observe fast, sing bhajans and worship at Krishna temples on this day.
Shri Krishna Janmashtami 2019: Significance
Krishna Jayanthi is celebrated with great fun and gaiety throughout the world by Hindus. Krishna was one of the most important human incarnations of Lord Vishnu. He even played an important role in the great Hindu epic, Mahabharatha. He was also the one who gave us the Bhagvad Gita, the ‘Song of God’ which tells us how to live a purposeful life. As a child, Krishna was an adorable prankster and as a youth, a charming lover who was always surrounded by the love-struck gopis or village belles. But he was also a spiritual guide who helped the Pandavas in their fight for justice against their evil cousins. The real reason for his birth on Earth was to end the darkness that pervaded the earth and eliminate all the evil forces which were threatening the rule of ‘Dharma’.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says- “Whenever there will be a dominance of evil and decline of religion, I will reincarnate to destroy the evil and protect the good.” The festival of Krishna Jayanthi encourages goodwill on earth. It is a sacred occasion that celebrates togetherness and faith.
Shri Krishna Jayanthi Celebrations
Krishna’s birth is celebrated with great fervor and devotion in the county. There is a palpable enthusiasm in all the major cities across the country. Devotees observe a fast on this day and the story of Krishna’s birth is narrated in temples and homes. Young men take part in the dahi handi festival, where they compete as teams to break a pot suspended from a height in a public place. The pot may contain gifts, cash, etc. People also perform raslilas that recreate interesting events from the life of Lord Krishna. There will be plays and dance performances based on the Lord’s life.
On this auspicious occasion, Krishna’s idol is kept in a cradle and bathed with panchamrit made from items like milk, ghee, honey, gangajal and tulsi leaves. The panchamrit is later given to the devotees as prasad. The cradle is swung joyously by the devotees who welcome the advent of Krishna in their lives. Aartis are performed and mantras are chanted. Conches are blown and people sing hymns and kirtans.
Krishna temples will be lit up with lights and decked with flowers. People wear new garments and visit temples to pray and take part in poojas. The temple priests sing hymns and recite mantras. Some temples also perform readings of Bhagavad Gita.
Krishna Jayanthi Celebrations
The celebrations in Mathura and Brindavan are even more spectacular as it was in these places where Lord Krishna mostly lived during his lifetime. At the temples in Mathura and Vrindavan there will be plays, jagrans and dance performances on themes from Krishna’s childhood.
Celebrations in Maharashtra and Gujarat
Pune and Mumbai in Maharashtra and Dwaraka in Gujarat also have splendid celebrations on this occasion. A special feature is the dahi handi competition. Initially, the pots were filled with butter as it was a favorite of Lord Krishna but nowadays, the pot usually contains gifts or money. The prize money goes to the winning team that breaks the handi.
Celebrations in South India
In South India, people make large kolams, or rangolis made using colored rice flour, on the floor. They also draw tiny footprints leading to the entrance of their homes, representing the entry of Baby Krishna into their homes.