The Significance Behind Janmashtami and How It is Celebrated All Over in India
Janmashtami is truly a wonderful festival celebrated joyously everywhere in India. It is a great representation of our rich cultural values and an occasion to look inwards and awaken our spirituality.
Janmashtami is celebrated everywhere in India with joy and fervour. The festival comes in the month of Shravana, and the celebrations start at midnight, which is when Lord Krishna is known to have been born. People throughout India love worshipping Krishna since he represents pure love and joy. The Lord is known for his wisdom, intellect, strength, and bravery. People practice his teachings in their everyday life.
Lord Krishna was born to Devaki in Mathura, which was ruled by her brother, the evil king Kansa. After his birth, Vasudeva, Krishna’s father, safely carried him to Vrindavan to escape Kansa, who was informed that Devaki’s eighth-born child would be born to kill him.
Janmashtami’s biggest celebrations take place in Mathura and Vrindavan, where Krishna grew up with his foster parents Nand and Yashoda. Janmashtami celebrations usually last two days, with the first day spent in fast and pujas at midnight when Krishna was born. The next day, there is a popular ritual called Dahi Handi, which attracts several onlookers wherever it is held in India.
How Janmashtami in India is Celebrated
These are the main highlights of the Janmashtami celebrations:
Devotees of Lord Krishna observe fast in different ways. There are people who consume only a single meal a day before the event. Some observe a strict fast in which they do not even consume water. But generally, most people observe a simple fast, eating only permitted items. They mostly avoid eating flours made of wheat or rice and consume only permitted vegetables and fruits. They can also consume dairy products like milk, yoghurt, and butter. The whole day is spent in prayers, songs, and dances in praise of the Lord. Devotees also make special sweets like milk kheer, sweet poha, and foods that Krishna loved.
The fast is broken at midnight when Krishna was believed to have been born. Devotees perform puja with devotion and offer the prepared foods to the Lord. They break the fast with all family members consuming special food and fruits.
This ritual happens somewhere around noon or early evening the day after Krishna is born. The ritual is related to the childhood days when Krishna used to steal butter kept in pots at a height by forming pyramids with his friends. The Dahi Handi rituals copy Krishna’s efforts to steal and eat butter with his friends. Nine-tier pyramids are made, and the person at the top breaks the earthen pot suspended at a height. The group of people who form the pyramid share the reward money after successfully breaking the pot.
Highlights of Celebrations in Dwaraka, Mathura, and Vrindavan:
- In Dwaraka, the festivities are lavish, beginning with a performance of the mangla art. The lord is offered milk products or banta bhog, given a bath, and dressed in yellow-coloured robes and flowers. Then he is made available for darshan to his devotees.
- In Vrindavan, festivities begin ten days before the festival, with Rasleelas and plays performed by professional artists. Rasleelas are joyful performances depicting Lord Krishna’s divine dance with ‘gopis’.
- In Mathura, there is Jhulanotsav, where people put swings outside their homes and also decorate temples to welcome the Lord to their homes. Rasleelas are also performed everywhere. The main event takes place at Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir, which is believed to be his actual birth location. The Lord is offered Chappan bhog, which consists of fifty-six dishes.
What to Do During Janmashtami in India
You can make Janmashtami a memorable occasion for you in the following ways:
- It is considered spiritually good to observe fast from morning till midnight. You can observe a simple fast, consuming lights food items like milk, fruits, and water.
- You can prepare special foods to offer Lord Krishna and eat with your family and friends after breaking your fast. Prepare traditional food items like milk kheer or sabudhana thalipeeth.
- Decorate your house with flower garlands, festoons of leaves, and lights to create a special ambience for the festival.
- If you have a Krishna deity, bathe it in fragrant water, or milk and decorate it with new colourful clothes.
- At midnight, welcome Lord Krishna to your home by singing kirtans or reciting chants in his praise. You could also read or listen to elders reciting from the holy books like Bhagavad Gita or Bhagvata Purana. Then, perform puja and offer the prepared food to the Lord.
- Break the fast by having special food and sweets with members of your family during the public holiday.
- You could also watch the live telecast of Janmashtami celebrations at places like Dwaraka, Mathura, or Vrindavan.