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Krishna Janmashtami
Krishna Janmashtami
Lord Krishna
Also called Krishnashtami
Saatam Aatham
Ashtami Rohini
Srikrishna Jayanti
Sree Jayanthi
Dahi Handi
Observed by Hindus
Type Religious
Date Bhaadra, Ashtami
Observances Night Vigil, Fasting, Praying
Related to Krishna

Krishna Janmashtami (Devanagari कृष्ण जन्माष्टमी), also known as "Krishnashtami","Saatam Aatham" ,"Gokulashtami", "Ashtami Rohini", "Srikrishna Jayanti", "Sree Jayanthi" or sometimes merely as "Janmashtami", is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna, an avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu.[1]

Krishna Janmashtami is observed on the Ashtami tithi, the eighth day of the dark half or Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhaadra in the Hindu calendar, when the Rohini Nakshatra (called Aldebaran in the West) is ascendant. The festival always falls within mid-August to mid-September in the Gregorian calendar. In 2009, for example, the festival was celebrated on the 14th of August.

Rasa lila or dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna are a special feature in regions of Mathura and Vrindavan, and regions following Vaishnavism in Manipur. While the Rasa Lila recreates the flirtatious aspects of Krishna's youthful days, Govinda Pathaks or Dahi Handi celebrate the God's playful and mischievous side, where teams of young men form human pyramids to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it.


Statue of baby Krishna being carried in a basket, protected by seven hooded serpent, by Vasudeva across the Yamuna river at midnight

The ritual is to fast the previous day (Saptami, seventh day), which is followed by a night-long vigil commemorating the birth of Krishna at midnight in the jail where his maternal uncle Kansa was keeping them captive, and his immediate removal by his father Vasudeva to a foster-home for safe-keeping.

At midnight, the idol of the infant Krishna is bathed, adorned in new clothes and jewelery, placed in a cradle and worshiped. The fast is completed after Aarti, a special prayer. At day break, ladies draw patterns of little children's footprints outside the house with rice-flour paste, walking towards the house. This symbolizes the entry of the infant Krishna into his foster-home i.e. their homes.

In South India

Celebration of Lord Krishna's birthday as Srijayanthi in an Iyengar's house in South India

File:Janmastami kishna.JPG

Children dressed as Krishna during Janmashtami

In the south, the festival is celebrated as Sri Krishnajanmashtami, Janmashtami or Gokulashtami.

In Tamil Nadu in particular Yadhavs, Chettiars, Pillais and Brahmins celebrated the festival. Nowadays, Yadhavas briefly celebrated the festival with rath and uriadi function. In Karnataka in particular, Madhwas (Vaishnavas) (followers of saint Madhwacharya), Iyengars and Srivaishnavas, (followers of saint Ramanujacharya) make elaborate preparations for the festival. The idol of Lord Krishna is placed in a decorated Mantapa on which the Bhakshanam (snacks and sweets in Tamil) that are specially prepared for the festival are suspended along with fruits considered the favourites of Lord Krishna. The pooja is performed late in the evening,[Particularly time when Moon rises this time will differ for different places this time will mentioned in Hindu calendar Panchanga as Krishna was born at midnight. Generally, most of the sweets and savouries are prepared on that day. Normally, a Kolam (rice flour drawings on ground), also known as rangoli, drawn specially for the occasion, called ezhakoolam, decorates the front yard. Footprints representing those of Krishna are drawn from the front yard to the pooja room, representing the god entering the devotee's home.

Divergent traditions among Srivaishnavas

Within the Sri Vaishnava tradition itself, there have developed slight differences as to when to observe SrI jayantI. There is also disagreement as to *how* exactly to observe the day. Should one observe upavAsa through the night, ceremonially breaking the fast the next morning, or should one eat immediately after the midnight Pooja and Aradhana? Broadly, there are two different opinions within the Sri Vaishnava tradition concerning this matter. One can be called the 'mannAr' tradition, the other the 'tOzhappar' tradition. In a nutshell, the difference stems from lunar vs. solar month and whether to take sunrise or moonrise into consideration for determining jayantI.

The mannar tradition is followed by Sri Parakala Matham and 'munitraya' tradition Sri Vaishnavas such as both Andavan Ashramams and most Vadagalai acharya-purusha families. It is named after one mannAr svAmi of unknown date who is the first extant authority arguing for this calculation. The 'tOzhappar' tradition is named after Sri Vaidika Sarvabhauma Swami, also known as Kidambi Thozhappar, who wrote a detailed text establishing the reasoning behind his tradition.[2]

In Maharashtra

Govinda Pathaks forming human tower to break the Dahi handi

Janmaashtami, popularly known in Mumbai and Pune as Dahi Handi is celebrated with enormous zeal and enthusiasm. The handi is a clay pot filled with buttermilk that was positioned at a convenient height prior to the event; the topmost person on the human pyramid tries to break the handi by hitting it with a blunt object, and when that happens, the buttermilk is spilled over the entire group, symbolizing their achievement through unity. Various Handis are set up locally in several parts of the city, and groups of youngsters, called Govinda, travel around in trucks trying to break as many handis as possible during the day.

Many such Govinda Pathaks compete with each other, especially for the handis that dole out hefty rewards. The event, in recent times, has gathered a political flavor, and it is not uncommon for political parties, and rich community groups to offer prizes amounting to lakhs of rupees.

Some of the most famous handis are at Dadar, Mazgaon, Lalbaug and some in Thane a neighboring district of Mumbai and Babu Genu, Mandai in Pune.[3]

Cash and gifts are offered for Govinda troops to participate; for over 4000 Handis in Mumbai, 700 Govinda troops compete for the prizes.

In Manipur

Janmaashtami is popularly known in Manipur as Krishna Janma is celebrated as a very big festival in two temples in Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. First is the Govindaji temple and the second one is at the ISKCON. Various devotees of lord Krishna gather mostly on the ISKCON for the festival.

See also

  • Castellers


External links


hi:जन्माष्टमी nn:Krisjna-djanmasjtami ru:Кришна-джанмаштами sv:Janmastami ta:கிருஷ்ண ஜெயந்தி te:కృష్ణాష్టమి