The festival of Gokul Janmashtami 2018 is one of the most important festivals celebrated amongst Hindus. On this day, devotees of Lord Krishna observe fast and worship Lord Krishna, who is regarded the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna, who was born in Mathura. In 2018, the celebrations would be taking place on 2nd September.
As per the Hindu Calendar, it is celebrated on the 8th day of Krishna Paksha in the month of Shravana which generally takes place in August or September. It is celebrated in every part of India with varying ritual and customs. Janmashtami is known by different names like Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti.
Janmashtami is celebrated by 930 million people all around the globe. It is generally a holiday that brings spiritual renewal and the celebration of new beginnings amongst people. The festivities begin at midnight because it is assumed that Krishna was born in midnight in 3228 BC.
Krishna is one of the most important and loved deities in Hinduism because he is symbolic of divine joy and love. He was born to establish the religion of love. Krishna’s devotees are spread all over the world. Krishna survived many life-threatening dangers throughout his life, and he is celebrated and praised for intellect as well as his strength and agility he possessed. Krishna is not loved only for being a divine teacher, but also because he signifies and is symbolic of lighting the fire of Divine Power that exists within everyone.
The celebrations of Gokul Janmashtami 2018 are passionate and full of energy. Many people move through the two-day celebration even without sleep. People sing, dance and some choose to feast on traditional festival foods, while some decide to fast until the birth of Krishna Janmashtami that takes place at midnight. Special meals are prepared in celebration, and especially those foods Lord Krishna was fond of.
People prepare sweets like Gopal Kala and Gulab Jamun and Doodhachi Kheer for the occasion. Celebrations also include Raslila, which is a drama that re-enacts scenes of Krishna’s life through happy dance and theater. Many communities like 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 and is filled with Dahi (curd) or Makhkhan (Butter).
In Dwarka, the city in which Krishna spent most of his life, the entire town is decorated to welcome the pilgrims who arrive for the festival celebration. Many people from different parts of the world visit Dwarka to celebrate this festival. Dwarka means “door to salvation,” and Lord Krishna worked with his brother to establish this city to achieve the same aim.
After the death of Krishna, it is said that the city was lost and got submerged in the water. The events in Dwarka are some of the most exuberant and famous in all parts of the world. The festival is organized according to the daily routine of Lord Krishna, and it begins with doing mangla arti.
Janmashtmi Celebrations In USA – What to do for Gokul Janmashtami 2018
In the USA, the Janmashtami celebrations began as a result of the efforts of Srila Prabhupada, also known as A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, who is the founder of the ISKCON, an offshoot of Hinduism that rejects materialism and preaches devotion to Lord Krishna. Srila Prabhupada traveled extensively to all the countries, states and cities to spread the message of the holy teachings of Lord Krishna as laid down in the Bhagavad Gita, and America was not left out. With the initiation of the ‘Hare Krishna’ movement in the USA, Lord Krishna began to be worshipped amongst many people in the country, and many Americans started to follow the ideals of Hinduism and tried their bit to spread the consciousness regarding Lord Krishna. All of this led to the celebrations of Janmashtami in the USA.
The festival is a significant and grand affair in the United States of America, and it begins early in the morning time. A large number of Americans, Europeans, and Asians associated with Hare Krishna groups organize exciting events and cultural programmes celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna. It is the day for family gatherings, feasting, and enjoyment all over the USA. The families gather and together they offer prayers to Lord Krishna. On this day, some people keep a fast and break it only at the time of ‘pooja’ at midnight. In short, the day of Janmashtami begins and ends with the name of Lord Krishna.
The birth anniversary of Bhagwan Shri Krishna is celebrated traditionally at BAPS Mandirs across America. Devotees express their devotion on Janmashtami by observing a waterless fast and spending the day immersed in reading, reciting and singing about Shri Krishna’s life and message.
The celebration involves great excitement and devotion as devotees gather for an evening of bhajans, inspirational discourses by swamis, skits and folk dances performed by children and youth. The 2017 year’s event reflected the theme “Tav Gunānāmīśa Pāraṁ Na Yāti” (the limit of your virtues will not be reached).
Attendees recall divine incidents of Bhagwan Shri Krishna and messages from the Shrimad Bhagwad Gita as they are depicted through cultural dances, theatrical stage productions, and speeches performed by children and adults who are devotees of Lord Krishna. True to the theme, the program highlights numerous incidents which emphasize various virtues of Bhagwan Shri Krishna and teachings he aimed to instill in devotees, primarily through his interaction with Arjuna according to Bhagavad Gita.
History of Janmashtami
There is a history behind the celebration of the festival of Janmashtami. Kansa who was the ruler of Mathura, during Dwapara Yuga had a sister named Devaki who was married to Vasudeva. As the marriage solemnized, an Akashvani that means a voice from the sky was heard that Devaki’s and Vasudev’s 8th son would mark an end to Kansa’s evil deeds and will save the people of Mathura from him. Listening to Akashvani, Kansa got scared and wanted to kill Devaki. Vasudev, who was the husband of Devaki begged for Devaki’s life and promised Kansa that he would hand over all his newborn children to him. Kansa with no mercy imprisoned them both.
Kansa killed six newborn sons of theirs. His seventh son was Balarama who was transferred to Vasudeva’s second wife’s womb and was thus saved. At the time of the birth of their eighth child, Lord Vishnu appeared and said that he would be taking birth as their child. Hence, Lord Vishnu took birth as Lord Krishna at the end of the “’Dwapara Yuga” and the starting of the current Yuga that is ‘Kali Yuga.’ Thus, the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated as Janmashtami.
Lord Vishnu asked Vasudeva to take the child (Krishna) to his friend Nand’s house in Gokul. On the day of Ashtami at midnight, Lord Krishna was born in the prison of Kansa’s place. By Lord Vishnu’s grace and magic, the gates of prison got unlocked on their own, and the guards went off to sleep.
It is said that Vasudeva carried the baby Krishna through the river Yamuna on his head and rains. But as Lord Vishnu had assured that nothing should block the path of Vasudeva, the very same thing happened, and he could go smoothly. The river which was overflowing got subsided once the feet of Lord Krishna touched the river and the Naag (five mouthed snake) protected the child from the heavy rains.
Nand’s wife, Yashoda, gave birth to a baby girl. Vasudeva exchanged Lord Krishna with that girl child and came back to the place. On the other hand, when the people of Gokul came to know about the birth of Nanda’s son, they celebrated in happiness.
Kansa came to know about the birth and tried to kill the baby girl, but this time the baby transformed herself into the Goddess Yogamaya and told Kansa that his death is near, as the child is already born.
Post this incident, Shri Krishna grew up in Gokul, and he marked the end of the atrocities of Kansa. Since that day, we celebrate Janmashtami as the birth of Lord Krishna. Balgopal performed various Leelas in Gokul. The people residing in Gokul celebrate Janmashtami as Gokulashtami.
Janmashtami or the Gokulashtami is among such festivals that are celebrated in the whole world. Janmashtami is celebrated in various styles and forms, and you can also observe this festival of Janmashtami by enjoying the Leelas of Kaanha.