Janmashtami is also known as Krishna Janmashtami or Gokulashtami. This day marks the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna who is considered as one of the most powerful human incarnations of the Lord Vishnu. In 2019, Janmashtami is celebrated on 23rd and 24th August.
Interesting story behind the festival Janmashtami
Before starting the story do you know why it is celebrated on the eight day or ashtami? It is believed that the Krishna is the eighth child of his mother, Devaki so, Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated on eighth day.
According to the Hindu mythology, the evil king Kansa ruled Mathura. To extend his empire he married his sister with Vasudeva, the Yadu king. After the marriage Kansa decided to shower the newlyweds with lavish gifts because he wants to gain the trust of Vasudeva. But heaven has another plan for them. When he takes the reins of the nuptial chariot a voice from the heaven booms that his evil ways will come to an end by his sister’s 8th child.
After knowing about his prophecy, Kansa send his sister and her husband Vasudeva in a prison. Actually, Kansa wants to kill Devaki but Vasudeva promised him that he will give all his 8 children in the hands of Kansa if he would spare Devaki’s life.
Kansa agreed and one by one he killed all the six children who were born to the couple. For the 7 time when Devaki gets pregnant interesting things started happening. Through the divine intervention, the seventh child of Devaki is transferred from her womb to the womb of Rohini, Vasudeva’s first wife and in this way Devaki’s and Vasudeva seventh child was safely born.
When again Devaki was pregnant Kansa again was anxious to kill couple’s another child but God’s wish was different. Krishna was in fact the eighth child of Devaki and also avatar of Lord Vishnu.
When Devaki was going into the labour pain, Vishnu appears in her prison cell and informs Vasudeva that his eighth child is an incarnation of himself that is Lord Vishnu and will make end of the kingdom of Kansa.
That night was dark with thunderstorm and lightening; Vishnu destroys all the locks and puts the guards to sleep. He also gave Vishnu instructions what he has to do and then suddenly Lord Vishnu disappears.
Vasudeva as per the instructions left the palace by carrying a wicker basket containing his divine son. He crossed the Yamuna into the village of Gokul and exchanges the baby with the new born baby girl of Gokul’s head Nanda and his wife Yashoda.
In this way Krishna grew up in Gokul and finally killed his uncle, Kansa.
How Janmashtami is celebrated?
The actual celebration of Krishna Janmashtami takes place during the midnight because it is believed that Lord Krishna was born on a dark, stormy and windy night to end the rule of his maternal uncle Kansa. In whole India, it is celebrated with devotional songs, people keep fast whole day, several temples were decorated beautifully dedicated to the life journey of Krishna. Mainly, Janmashtami celebration at Mathura and Vrindavan is very special as he had spent his life there. The image of Krishna in the midnight is bathed in water and milk then he dressed in new clothes and worshipped. Sweets are first offered to the God and then distributes as prasada.
Also, on this day people used to hung pots of butter and milk in the streets on the poles, men form pyramids to reach and break the pots. It is famous as Dahi Handi. This predicts the Krishna’s childhood days when he used to play with the cowherds boys and stole curds hung out of reach by their mothers. So, he was also known as ‘Makhanchor’ the one who steals butter. People used to sing, dance in groups.
So, now you may have come to know about the interesting story behind Janmashtami festival and how it is celebrated.