The Hindu community of India and abroad are all set to celebrate Janmashtami, the birth of Lord Krishna, on Thursday (Aug 25).
The festival celebrating birth of the eighth avatar of Vishnu falls on the Ashtami of the Krishna Paksha (eighth day of no moon) of the month of Bhadrapad (August–September) in the Hindu calendar.
On this pious occasion, we bring you 15 interesting facts about Janmashtami celebrations:
1. Janmashtami is also referred to as Krishna Janmashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti and Sree Jayanti.
2. In India, religious frenzy can be seen at North Indian city of Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, where Krishna was born, and Gokul, 15 km south-east of Mathura, where the Lord was brought up.
There are reportedly over 400 temples in Mathura dedicated to Nandgopal. There are celebrations galore at Mathura’s twin city Vrindavan as well.
3. Gokulashtami is also celebrated in South India where devotees offer Krishna fruits as ‘prasadam’ and sing devotional songs.
The floors are decorated with small footprints made of flour symbolizing those of Bal-Gopal (baby Krishna).
4. In the western state of Maharashtra, the major attraction of the festival is ‘dahi-handi’ (breaking of a pot full of curd hung in the air by a human pryamid).
Over 4000 “dahi-handi” events are organized on Janmashtami in Mumbai alone; the most popular of them being held at Girgaon, Dadar, Lower Parel, Worli and Lalbaug. The event symbolizes stealing of butter by Krishna and his friends.
5. Gujarat, a land which is believed to be Krishna’s kingdon, also celebrates the festival, especially at the Dwarkadhish temple.
6. In Eastern states of Odisha, especially in Puri, and West Bengal, especially in Mayapur and Nabadwip, devotees observe the day by fasting till midnight (till the birth time of Krishna), worshiping the Lord, reciting verses from the Bhagavad Gita (Krishna’s battlefield discussion with Arjuna during the war of Mahabharata), singing devotional songs and chanting of “Hare Krishna” and “Hari Bol”.
7. It is not only in India but also in abroad that Janmashtami is celebrated.
In fact, Singapore celebrates the festival with much fervour.
Religious processions amid “Hare Krishna” chanting are taken out at Serangoon Road, a street stretched from Little India to Kallang.
Vibrant celebrations can also be observed at Shree Lakshmi Narayan Temple at Chander Road in Little India district.
8. The Indian community in Canada, especially those residing at Toronto, organizes various cultural programmes at the Richmond Hill temple to mark the birth of Krishna.
9. Pakistani Hindus also celebrate the festival at Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Karachi with bhajans and sermons on Krishna.
10. Though predominantly a Muslim country, Janmashtami is observed with much vibrancy in Malaysia, especially at the Lord Krishna temple in Kuala Lumpur.
11. Indians residing in Paris and other parts of France, decorate their homes and temples and as soon as the clock strikes midnight, give idols of Gopal (baby Krishna) ceremonious bath with Ganga water which they especially get from India. Then the idols are put in cradles and swung, while conches are blown.
12. In Nepal, celebrations are held at the famous Krishna temple located at Patan Durbar Square where devotees offer flowers, “prasad” (food) and coins to the Lord.
13. In London, the festivity continues for two days. Over 60,000 people attend the Janmashtami celebrations at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the UK headquarters of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).
Pertinently, the country house was donated to the Hare-Krishna movement by George Harrison, lead guitarist, songwriter and singer of The Beatles.
14. Janmashtami celebrations are held in the US as well, especially in New York, Orlando, California and Massachusetts.
15. Janmashtami is a National Holiday in Bangladesh. Since 1902, a religious procession is taken out from Dhakeshwari National Temple located at the capital city of Dhaka, which passes through Old Dhaka streets.
The procession was suspended in 1948 after India-Pakistan partition. The ceremony resumed in 1989.
(Sources: ISKCON, 123janmashtami.com, TopListNow, itimes)
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.