Krishna Janmashtami (also known as Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti) is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, an avatar of the god Vishnu.
The festival of Krishna Janmashtami is observed on Ashtami, the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhadra in the Hindu calendar. The festival is celebrated all over the world with great joy and devotion. Krishna temples are decorated with flowers and lights and witness huge gatherings of devotees lined-up to have a glimpse of Lord Krishna.
Each region has its own way of celebrating Krishna Janmashtami. People of Mathura and Vrindavan (two important places associated with the life of Lord Krishna) celebrate Janmashtami by staging Raslila (which re-creates the flirtatious aspects of Krishna's youthful days) and offering prayers and kirtan to Lord Krishna. Dahi Handi is a popular way of celebrating Krishna Janmashtami in western part of India particularly Maharashtra where devotees try to break dahi handi (clay pot filled with curd) by making a human pyramid. Dahi handi is quite popular in cities like Mumbai and Pune.
Over the years, Handis are set up in various localities of the city and groups of youngsters roam around, trying to break as many handis as possible during the Janmashtami celebrations. Many of these handis have become popular for their hefty rewards.
While Raslila highlights the flirtatious aspects of Lord Krishna's life, Dahi Handi celebrates his playful and mischievous side.
Krishna Janmashtami Celebrations at Vrindavan
The Janmashtami celebrations at Banke Bihari Temple, Rangnathji Temple, Shri krishna Balram Temple, Radharaman Temple, ISCKON Temple attract thousands of devotees, who gather to see various ceremonies including poojas all day long. The Banke Behari temple in Vrindaban is decorated with flowers and a large number of devotees gather in the temple courtyard to have a glimpse of the 'abhishek' of Lord Krishna with milk, curd, honey and ghee amid chanting of vedic hymns. The 'abhishek' ceremony is followed by distribution of among the people.
Besides Raslila, dahi handi, puja, abhisekh and prasadam, the Janmashtami celebration is also marked by exchange of gifts among people; Janmashtami gifts usually comprise of idol of lord Krishna, silver coins, flute etc.