While there are innumerable gods that we worship, a freedom that is given to us even in the Constitution of India, Hindu’s, in particular, have always had one God remains common, i.e. Lord Krishna. And in his name, on his birthday, the country celebrates Janmashtami, which is also known as Krishna Janmashtami. The festival is a commemoration of the birth of Lord Krishna, and this year, Janmashtami 2017 falls on the August 14th.
Why does Janmashtami fall on the August 14th?
The belief is that Lord Krishna was born on ‘Ashtami’ or otherwise taken as the ‘8th day’ in the holy month of Shravana at midnight. The celebration knows no limits in the magnitude of celebrations across the country, but it is celebrated in a much grand fashion in Mathura, which is also the birth place of Lord Krishna, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Assam, and Manipur.
What is the significance of the Janmashtami? How is it celebrated?
As mentioned earlier, Hindu’s in the country has a large number of gods to worship to. However, considered to be the dearest and most loved is Lord Krishna, and this is no surprise that the festival is celebrated across the country. According to the Vaishnav calendar, Janmashtami is one of the most important religious festivals. One of the most known ways of commemorating the festival is by enactments of Raas Lila or Krishna Lila, which is a dance drama depicting the life of Lord Krishna as mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana. Apart from Raas Lila, Janmashtami is also celebrated by observing Fasting (Upavasa), Night Vigil (Jagarana) and Mahotsav. Since Lord Krishna is believed to be one amongst the Ten avatars (8th in the Dasavatara) of Lord Vishnu, the festival is celebrated majorly by Vaishnavism followers.
Though the festival is celebrated on the birthday of Lord Krishna, as mentioned earlier, famous depictions from Krishna’s life constitutes a major portion of how the festival is celebrated. One such portrayal is the chapter narrates that Lord Krishna’s uncle King Kansa wants to kill the Lord himself as he poses a threat to the life of King Kansa. Upon knowing this, Lord Krishna’s father takes him across the river (Yamuna) to Gokul where he is brought up by Nanda and Yashoda. Janmashtami also celebrates the victories of Lord Krishna, which includes overcoming the evil act of King Kansa, surviving and later killing the King.
During the festival, devotees of Lord Krishna offer ‘Chappan Bhog’ where a list of 56 dishes is offered to the Lord. Once the Puja (offering) is over, the Prasad is distributed among the devotees to end the fast.
The ‘Chappan Bhog’ as mentioned earlier consists of 56 dishes, which is majorly made out of Butter, considering how much Lord Krishna loved butter, thus giving him the name MakhanChor (Butter Thief). Some of the dishes in the bhog include Mathri, Malpua, Jalebi, Rabri, Makhan Mishri, Rasgulla, Saag, Murabba, Dry Fruits, Khichdi, Milk, and so on.
When is Janmashtami celebrated across the country?
In order to fixate on a date for the festival, Nishita Kala is the time at midnight that is based on the Vedic time formats. The fast observed for the festival is usually broken at midnight, where the time to break the same is called Parana. For devotees who follow Vaishnavism, Janmashtami is celebrated on August 15th, with the Parana time considered to be at 5:54 AM.
Nishita Puja: 12:03 am to 12:47 am
Nishita phase (Midnight Time)- 12:25 am
On the day of Janmashtami (August 15th)
Parana Time- Past 5:39 pm (Also Ashtami Tithi End Time)