Janmashtami 2024

26 August 2024
All States    Regional holiday

Janmashtami, Hindu festival celebrating the birth of the god Krishna on the eighth (Ashtami) day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada (August–September). The number eight has another significance in the Krishna legend in that he is the eighth child of his mother, Devaki.

Lord Krishna was born in Mathura, ruled by the evil King Kansa, whose sister, Princess Devaki was Krishnas mother. Devaki and Vasudeva were married with a lot of fanfare, however, a prophecy said that the couples eighth son would cause Kansas death. As expected, all hell broke loose when Kansa heard of this and imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva intending to not let their children survive. The evil king killed their first six children, but at the time of the birth of the seventh child, Balram, the foetus is said to have been mystically transferred from Devakis womb to Princess Rohinis. When the couples eighth child, baby Krishna, was born, Vasudeva was able to rescue the baby and gave him to Nand Baba and Yashodha in Vrindavan. Vasudeva returned to Mathura with a baby girl and handed her over to Kansa, however, when the king attempted to kill this baby too, she transformed into Goddess Durga, warning him about the impending doom that he was fated for.

The largest celebration of this Hindu festival takes place in Mathura and Vrindavan, the birthplace of Krishna and the place spent his growing up years, respectively. He was born at midnight, devotees observe a fast and sing devotional songs for him as the clock strikes twelve. As a part of the ritual, statues of baby Krishna are washed and placed for worship. Devotees then break their fast and share food and sweets. It is a joyous and pious celebration.