Krishna Janmashtami Festival and Rituals
Krishna Janmashtami is one of the most popular festivals in Hindu Religion. This day Hindus celebrate the birthday of Lord Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. This year this auspicious day falls on the 14th of August 2009. Krishna Janmashtami is also known as Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanthi or simply Janmashtami. In Mumbai and Pune this festival is also referred to as Dahi Handi. This festival is observed on the eighth day, Ashtami tithi, of the dark half or Krishna Paksha of the month of Shravan in the Hindu calendar, when the Rohini Nakshatra is ascendant. It is believed that Krishna was born on Wednesday,the eighth day of second fortnight in the month of Shravana in Mathura around 3228 BC in Dwapur Yug. The main objective of Lord Krishna's birth was to re-establish righteousness and to restore peace on Mother Earth from the demons.
On the day of Krishna Janmashtami Hindu houses are beautifully decorated by women and sweets like Shrikhand, Pedhas, Kheer and other special recipes are made and offered to the lord. Many Devotees fast for the entire day and break it after the birth of Lord Krishna at midnight. Some people do not take even water during the time. People also make child footprint marks using some flour mixed with water in the entire house and sing bhajans, chant Shri Krishna Mantras, the 108 names of Lord Krishna and Bhagavatam. Plays depicting the various events in the life of Lord Krishna are also part of the festival. Krishna is worshipped and prayed on the entire day and offerings of butter, sweets and flowers are made. The worship concludes with Aarti at midnight and the ritual of the murti of the Lord is rocked in a beautifully decorated cradle.
The Story of Lord Krishnas Birth
The city of Mathura was ruled by King Ugrasen. He had a son named Kansa and a daughter Devki. Kansa jailed his father and forcefully became the king of Mathura. Kansa married off his sister to Vasudev who was one of the officers in is army. On the day of wedding Kansa heard a heavenly prediction that the eighth son of Devki will be born to kill him he decided to kill his sister also. But on Vasudev’s pleading he imprisons both of them on condition that they will handover all their children to Kansa. Kansa killed all the six new born babies of Devki and Vasudev but the seventh child Balram was saved by divine intervention as the child was transferred from Devki’s womb to that of Rohini's. When Krishna, the eighth son of Devki and Vasudev, was born as if by a sheer miracle, all the soldiers guarding the couple fell asleep and the gates of the dungeon flew open themselves and Vasudev smuggled the child in a basket to his friend Nand in Gokul. On the way he had to cross River Yamuna and it was raining heavily but the five headed serpent Sheshnag protected the child with its fangs. After putting the child near Yashoda who had that time given birth to a girl child Vasudev returned with the girl child to the dungeon. On hearing the news of the eighth born child, Kansa rushed to kill the girl. He held the child by her legs and just as he was about to bang her against the wall, the girl vanished into thin air and told Kansa that his slayer had been born and was safe. Krishna grew up as Yashoda and Nand’s son in Gokul and later killed his maternal uncle Kansa, freeing all the people of Mathura from his tyranny. He also liberated his parents from prison and reinstated Ugrasen as the King of Mathura. Lord Krishna also later played an important role in the Mahabharata War.