Krishna Janmashtami is known through many different names like Gokulashtami or just simply Janmashtami. This festival is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Krishna, who is the 8th avatar of the trinity of Hinduism, Lord Vishnu. This festival falls on the 8th day of the Krishna Paksha which is also called the dark fortnight. It falls on Shrawan of the Hindu calendar and August or September of the Gregorian calendar. This year’s Krishna Janmashtami falls on August 23, 2019.
Role of Krishna in history
Krishna was the avatar of Lord Vishnu and like with previous incarnations, his purpose was to free the world from evil. He took birth as the eighth child of King Vasudev and Queen Devaki of Mathura. He belonged to the Vrishni clan in Mathura. His uncle, King Kansa, was a wicked persona and was causing havoc in the world. He had kept his sister in prison and had murdered all her previous children. Krishna was born exactly at midnight and to protect the child, his father carried him across the Yamuna amidst the heavy downpour. He was raised in Gokul by his foster parents, Nanda and Yashoda. As time passed, Krishna went back to Mathura and ended the treacheries caused by the evil king Kansa.
Krishna also played a pivotal role in the holy battle of Mahabharata. He was a teacher and a close friend to Arjun, who was one of the Pandavas. Through his teachings and philosophies, the Pandavas gained victory over the Kauravas, which later came to be known as the battle of Kurukshetra.
Why do we celebrate Krishna Janmashtami?
The prominent reason as to why we celebrate Krishna Janmashtami lies on the fact that evil cannot prevail on the world for so long. When the time is due, evil will be exterminated by the good forces, which in this sense is Lord Vishnu. Through Lord Krishna, the Bhagavad Gita came into existence and in there, Krishna says “Whenever there is predominance of evil and decline of good deeds, I will reincarnate again and again to end the evil and to save the Dharma”. This festival serves as a reminder that dharma will prevail one way or another.
How is Krishna Janmashtami celebrated?
This festival is of utmost importance to Hindus throughout the world. Although the methods of celebrating may differ from one country to another, the common aspect involves fasting until midnight. People chant verses from the ‘Bhagavad Gita’ and indulge in bhajans and kirtans. In Nepal, the Krishna temple in Patan Durbar Square sees a delightful makeover with lights and flowers. They pray to the lord and chant religious hymns. Flowers and sweets are also offered. In some parts of Nepal, there is a tradition of hanging a clay pot of yogurt at a height and the men and children, through joint effort reach it. This tradition stems from the fact that Krishna was very fond of dairy products and would often end up doing mischievous deeds to get them.
In a nutshell, Krishna Janmashtami is more than a festival, it is an insight into the very core of Hinduism.