Janmashtami Festival in Maharashtra(Last Updated 05 Aug, 2021)
Little kids dressed up as Kanha and eating Maakhan is a memory that is revisited every year on the day of Janmashtami. Also known as Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, and Sri Krishna Jayanti; Janmashtami is a festival that brings hope, light, and laughter to the world. It is a day that marks the birth of the Hindu god Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
Janmashtami is grandly celebrated in various parts of India but Mathura, the birthplace of Krishna, becomes the center of attention during this time. The devotees of Lord Krishna can be found across the world, who celebrate Janmashtami with pomp and show. Maharashtra is one state that becomes a testimony of the devotion and spirituality of Krishna Bhakts (devotees).
Historical Significance of Janmashtami
Janmashtami is a significant Hindu festival, which celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, a Hindu God, who gave the teachings of Bhagavad Gita. The history of the festival goes back to around 3200 to 3100 BC. The evil king of Mathura, Kansa was prophesied to die at the hands of his sister Devaki's eighth son. Despite several efforts to stop the birth of Devaki and Vasudeva’s son, Krishna was born on the eighth day of Bhadrapada month, ending the terror of Kansa. The festival is still celebrated to memorialize the victory of good over evil.
When is Janmashtami celebrated?
According to the Hindu Calendar, Janmashtami is celebrated on Ashtami, the eighth day of Bhadra. Janmashtami is a day-long festival that ends at midnight when Lord Krishna was born. Usually, the preparations begin days before the big day.
Janmashtami 2021 Date - 30th August
Where is Janmashtmi celebrated in Maharashtra?
Janmashtami is celebrated in major Indian cities like Mathura, Vrindavan, Dwarka, and Maharashtra on a grand scale. Here are some places to visit in Maharashtra to witness Janmashtami -
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness or ISKCON temple in Juhu is a famous attraction in Maharashtra. The temple is exquisitely built with paintings of Mahabharata on the walls. On the day of Janmashtami, the temple is decorated beautifully. Also, the ISKCON temple’s committee organizes langars (free food service) and devotional songs are sung in the complex. People from neighboring cities visit the temple on Janmashtami to be a part of this lively event.
Sangharsh Pratishthan Dahi Handi
Although various localities organize Dahi Handi on public grounds, there is one place you can go to get the real taste of the competition. Sangharsh Pratishthan in Mumbai offers money prizes of lakhs to the winning team of Dahi Handi. The premises is filled with loud music and the high spirit of the participants along with the audience.
Sri Sri Radha Gipnath Mandir
It is an Iskcon temple in the south of Mumbai. Thousands of devotees throng the temple for Darshan. The first Darshan of Lord Krishna begins at 5 AM and ends at 1 PM. Kirtan or singing of devotional songs takes place throughout the day. The festival of Janmashtami ends with a grand prayer at midnight.
What to expect during this festival?
Janmashtami brings in a lot of joy and you can experience it in places where it is celebrated. You can witness temples and idol of Lord Krishna decorated with garlands and lights, and also hear the sweet sounds of gongs in the streets. Apart from this, special delicacies made on Janmashtami like Malpua, Panjiri, Peda, Makhan (white butter), etc, serve God but you can delight in these after the puja/aarti. You can expect a lot of dancing, singing, and anticipation of the arrival of Lord Krishna during the night.
Here are a few highlights of Janmashtami -
People fast on the day of Janmashtami. It is 'Nirjala' fast meaning that the devotees cannot drink even a sip of water. However, these days people choose to eat fruits or eat 'Satvik' food as it is difficult to go on an empty stomach for the whole day. The fast is completed on the next day.
Dancing and Singing on Devotional Songs
On the day of the festival, the devotees sing 'Bhajans' to praise Lord Krishna. Cultural programs are organized in various places, where kids dance to popular songs based on the festival.
Recitation of Bhagavad Gita
Bhagavad Gita is a 700-verse holy scripture of Hindus. Men and women gather in temples where the scripture is read and deciphered. The devotees sit and learn the life lessons Bhagavad Gita offers.
One of the most exciting parts of the day is Dahi Handi. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm and zeal. A Handi (earthen pot) is hung with ropes high above from the ground. The pot is filled with white butter, milk, ghee, and dry fruits. Young men gather to form a human pyramid. One of the team members climbs the pyramid to break the Handi. It is organized as a competition every year at various places in India.
- Raas Leela
Another intriguing event of the day is Ras Leela. Young actors prepare skits and play to depict the life of Lord Krishna. These plays capture significant events like his birth or the defeat of Kansa.