Krishna Janmashtami is the annual festival among Hindus that celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the Lord Vishnu. It is observed on the eighth day or on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Bhadrava. It usually falls in August or September. This year, the pious day will be celebrated on 11th August, 2020.
Krishna Janmashtami is also known as Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanthi, Janmashtami among devotees. It is a public holiday. Schools and most businesses generally remain closed on this day.
How is Janmashtami Celebrated
Devotees celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna by keeping a fast on the day. They have a single meal the day before. The fast is usually broken on the next day after both Rohini Nakshatra and Ashtami Tithi are over as per Vedic timing—which happens after midnight.
Devotees chant the Janmashtami Vrat Katha or the holy janmashtami scripture. Krishna’s statues are washed, clothed and placed in a cradle. Devotees also draw tiny footprints outside their house, representing Krishna walking in.
Janmashtami 2020 Shubh Muhurat, Date & Time
- Date: Tuesday, August 11, 2020
Nishita Puja Time: 12:05 am to 12:48 am, August 1
(Duration: 00 Hours 43 Mins)
Krishna Janmashtami Vrat Parana Time as per Dharma Shastra
- Parana Time: After 11:16 am, August 12
- On Parana Day Ashtami Tithi End Time: 11:16 am
- Janmashtami without Rohini Nakshatra
Dahi Handi:Wednesday, August 12, 2020
Significance of Nanda Utsav
The following day after midnight is celebrated as Nanda Utsav where devotees prepare a list of 56 Krishna’s favourite dishes or the legendary chappan bhog and distribute among themselves after the fast.
Some of those include: makhan mishri, kheer, mohanbhog, saag, dahi, Khichadi, mathri, malpua, tikkis, chutney, murabba, rasgulla, jalebi, rabri, milk and cashews.
The Chappan bhog legend is linked to the Govardhan parvat. Vrindavan was once flooded because of the wrath of Lord Indra, the Rain God. It continuously rained in a row for several days.
When people sought help from Lord Krishna, he led them all in the direction of Govardhan hill. On his little finger he then raised Govardhan hill, under which all the villagers took refuge. He stood there without moving or eating, seven days straight. After the rain subsided, villagers thanked him with 56 of his favorite foods.
Janmashtami Vrat Katha in English
In the Dwapar Yug when the atrocities of demons started increasing, Prithvi (Earth) took the form of a cow to share his story to the world. He approached Lord Brahma for his salvation. Upon his arrival, Lord Brahma gathered all other gods and along with all earth went to meet Lord Vishnu at Kshirsagar.
Lord Krishna was fast asleep and woke up agitated upon the god’s arrival. When he asked Lord Brahma the reason behind their visit, Prithvi announced sadly saying – “God! I am buried under the burden of sin. Please help me!”
Hearing Prithvi’s appeal, Lord Vishnu said “I will be born in the Braj Mandal from the womb of Vasudeva’s wife Devaki. I request all the deities to go to Braj Bhumi and accordingly reincarnate in the Yadav dynasty.”
The gods dispersed and came down to Braj Mandal and were born in Yadukul as Nand-Yashoda and gop-gopis as decided. During that time, which was towards the end of the Dwapar Yug, King Ugrasena was ruling Mathura. He had a son named Kansa who imprisoned his father and took over his throne to become the king himself.
Kansa had a sister Devaki who was married to Vasudeva in the Yadav clan. On the wedding day, when he was heading to leave Devaki, King Kansa heard a Akashvani (heavenly voice) saying, “Kansa, your days of tyranny will soon be over, you will be killed by the eighth child of Devaki”.
With a threat on his life from his real nephew, Kansa thought to kill Devaki so there is no fear of offsprings at all. A petrified Vasudeva tried to calm Kansa saying,”You have no fear from Devaki. You are only afraid of Devaki’s eighth child. I will hand over our eighth child when it arrives. Please spare her life.”
However still, Kansa put Devaki and Vasudeva behind the bars. He killed every child of Devaki, until the time came for the delivery of the eighth child. When Devaki conceived for the seventh time, the gods transferred Devaki’s embryo to the womb of Vasudeva’s second wife, Rohini, who gave birth to Balarama, the incarnation of the Shesh Nag.
Devaki’s eighth child was born at midnight. As the Gods planned, Vasudev’s chain fell off and the guards fell sound asleep. He carried the baby in a basket and started towards his friend Nanda who lived in Gokul, a village situated near Yamuna river.
It was a dark stormy night and suddenly a miracle happened. Yamuna parted so Vasudeva could walk easily across the river. Throughout the journey, Vasuki, the eternal snake protected the baby from the rain.
Upon reaching Nanda’s house, he exchanged Nanda-Yashoda’s new born girl with his baby and left for the prison with the baby girl. As soon as he arrived, things got back to normal. Kansa was informed when the guards heard the cry of the baby. But to his surprise, it was a baby girl and not a boy.
Still, he spared no mercy and while he was holding the baby to smash her head, she slipped out of his hands and flew to the sky. Another akashvani was heard:
“Kansa, the one who shall destroy you still lives. He is growing in Gokul.”