Janmashtami 2017 and 2018
Janmashtami is a traditional Hindu holiday that celebrates the first earthly appearance, or the birth, of the god Krishna.
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Celebrated by 930 million people all around the world, it is a holiday that brings spiritual renewal and the celebration of new beginnings and a fresh new year. The holiday sits in the Hindu month of Sravana, and the holiday lasts for two days. The celebrations begin at midnight, the time when Krishna is thought to have been born in 3228 BC.
Krishna is one of the most important and loved deities in Hinduism because he is the embodiment of divine joy and love. He was born and entered the world to establish the religion of love. Krishna’s love is universal, and he is often shown as playing a flute and standing near a sacred cow. Krishna survived many mortal dangers throughout his life, and he is celebrated for his intellect as well as his strength and agility. Krishna is not loved only for being a divine teacher, but also because he signifies lighting the fire of Divine Power that exists within everyone.
This Divine Power is what sends people out to play their part in the world while maintaining their sense of spiritual purpose. It is in his love, inspiration and wisdom that Krishna is a source of divine joy.
The celebrations of Janmashtami are passionate, and many people move through the two-day celebration without sleep. They sing, dance and some choose to feast on traditional festival foods while others choose to fast until the birth of Krishna Janmashtami at midnight. Special foods are prepared in celebration, and they reflect the foods that Lord Krishna was fond of. Many people make sweets like Doodhachi Kheer, Gopal Kala and Gulab Jamon to celebrate the birth of Krishna and the spiritual renewal he brings. People all over India celebrate and get lost in song, dance and praise of Lord Krishna. Celebrations often include the Raslila, which is a drama that re-enacts scenes of Krishna’s life through joyous dance. Many communities, especially those in Mumbai, also participate in Dahi Handi, a ritual in which people form a human pyramid to break the Handi, or Earthen Pot, which is being suspended by a rope.
In Dwarka, the city in which Krishna spent most the life, the entire city is decorated to welcome the pilgrims who arrive for the festival. Dwarka means “door to salvation,” and Lord Krishna worked with his brother to establish this city and its palaces made of gold, rubies, emeralds and diamonds. After Krishna’s death, it is said that the city was lost and submerged in the water. The events in Dwarka are some of the most exuberant and famous in all of India. The festival is organized according to the daily routine of Lord Krishna, and it begins with a performance of the mangla arti.
Afterward, devotees offer Lord Krishna banta bhog, or milk products, and then Lord Krishna is given a bath between 8 and 10 in the morning. After the bath, Lord Krishna is dressed in yellow colored clothes and ornaments made of flowers. Following his adornment, Lord Krishna is again made available for devotees to perform darshans, and in the evening, the nagla arti is performed again and once again, Lord Krishna is offered his favorite sweets.
Janmashtami is one of the most vibrant holidays in Hinduism and is celebrated in honor of the birth of one of the most loved deities. Pilgrims flood holy places and temples and the cities are lit up while the kirtans and bhajans are sung by loyal devotees in order to celebrate one of the most beloved holidays in India.