Janmashtami 2023: India's Popular Traditions On The Auspicious Day

Whether it's fasting, singing bhajans, participating in Dahi Handi competitions, or dressing up as Lord Krishna, Janmashtami is a time for joy, reflection, and spiritual growth
A glimpse of Butter Festival celebrations in Uttarakhand
A glimpse of Butter Festival celebrations in UttarakhandSuresh K. Pandey

The colourful festival of Janmashtami, which marks the birth of Lord Krishna, will be observed on September 6 and 7 this year. Devotees mark this occasion by fasting, reciting Krishna shlokas, and, close to midnight, bathing Lord Krishna's idols, placing him on swings, adorning their homes with flowers and diyas, and engaging in joyous celebrations.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna, an avatar of Lord Vishnu, was born on the eighth day of the month of Bhadra in the Hindu calendar, known as Gokulashtami. This day symbolises Krishna's birth to vanquish Mathura's demon king, Kansa, who was the brother of Krishna's mother, Devaki. The most fervent celebrations occur in Mathura, Krishna's birthplace, and Vrindavan, where he spent his childhood. Devotees gather to enact dance dramas depicting Krishna's life, sing devotional songs, and observe a fast throughout the day.

If you are a Krishna devotee or wish to experience Janmashtami's authentic celebration in India, these five places are worth a visit.

'Nandotsava' In Mathura

For representational purposes
For representational purposesShutterstock

Janmashtami is a significant celebration in Mathura, where Lord Krishna was born. This event attracts people from all over India and the world for a week of festivities. The Dwarkadhish Temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna, is the heart of the celebration. It is adorned with beautiful decorations, flowers, and lights, creating a magical atmosphere.

The most important moment during Janmashtami in Mathura is the midnight celebration known as Nandotsava. It marks the exact time of Lord Krishna's birth, believed to be midnight. Devotees gather around the temple, eagerly awaiting a glimpse of the Lord. At midnight, the idol of Lord Krishna is placed in a decorated cradle, and hymns and mantras are chanted. People offer sweets, fruits, and flowers to seek blessings for prosperity and spiritual well-being.

Mark Lord Krishna's Youth In Vrindavan 

Vrindavan is where Lord Krishna spent his early years. The town bursts with colours, music, and devotion. A popular tradition here is "Dahi Handi," where teams of young men create human pyramids to break clay pots filled with yoghurt and goodies, echoing Krishna's love for butter. Spectators cheer on, creating an exciting atmosphere. Melodious devotional songs fill the air all day, creating a deeply spiritual vibe. At night, the town comes alive with Rasleelas, re-enacting Krishna's life stages.

Mumbai's 'Dahi Handi' Euphoria

For representational purposes
For representational purposesShutterstock

In Mumbai, Janmashtami is famous for the exciting "Dahi Handi" celebrations. Inspired by Krishna's playful nature, people form human pyramids to break hanging clay pots filled with yoghurt or butter hung at great heights. What makes Mumbai's Dahi Handi special is the fierce competition among different groups, often called "Govindas." They strive to create the tallest human pyramids, drawing huge crowds. Interestingly, the Maharashtra government in 2022 declared the human pyramid formation as an adventure sport.

The ISKCON Revelry 

ISKCON temples worldwide celebrate Janmashtami with splendour. These temples, run by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, share a common celebration style. They decorate their premises with flowers and bright colours. Devotees sing and dance to devotional songs, creating a spiritually uplifting atmosphere. The main event is the midnight aarti, symbolising Lord Krishna's birth.

The 'Raasleela' Of Manipur

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For representational purposes Om_Joshi / Shutterstock

In Manipur, Janmashtami, known as "Krishna Janma," is celebrated uniquely with a focus on "Raas Leela," a traditional Manipuri dance depicting Lord Krishna's life and adventures. In Tripura, thousands of Manipuri devotees also celebrate "Maha Raas," a festival celebrating Lord Krishna's love life. This festival occurs annually on the full moon day of the Hindu month, Kartik Poornima. Young girls dressed in traditional attire portray the role of "Gopis" and dance around idols of Lord Krishna and Radha.

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