BBC – Religions – Hinduism: Krishna Janmashtami (Krishna Jayanti)

Krishna Janmashtami (Krishna Jayanti)

Find the date for Krishna Janmashtami 2014 in the multifaith calendar

Krishna dancing with women Krishna dancing ©

The Krishna Janmashtami festival marks the birth of Krishna, one of the most popular Gods in the Hindu pantheon.

Krishna is perceived by most Hindus to be an avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu, who is regarded as the highest avatar. It is believed that all other deities are manifestations of him. Krishna is considered to be a warrior, hero, teacher and philosopher by Hindus.

Krishna’s birthday is celebrated eight days after Raksha Bandhan in the month of Sravana and celebrations are spread over two days.

The first day is called Krishan ashtami or Gokul ashtami. The second day is known as Kaal ashtami or more popularly Janam ashtami.

Celebrations

For the 48 hour period Hindus are likely to forego sleep and instead sing bhajans, which are traditional Hindu songs. It is believed that Krishna was born at midnight and it is at this time that the true festivities commence. Food is prepared from milk and curds said to have been favoured by Krishna. Some Hindus choose to fast for the first day of Krishna Janmashtami, choosing only to eat after the midnight celebrations.

Dances and songs are used to venerate and remember this supreme God. Plays are also carried out re-enacting scenes from Krishna’s early life. In Temples images of Krishna are bathed and placed in cradles, whilst the shankh (conch shell) is played and bells are rung. Holy mantras are also chanted to venerate Krishna.

Given the significance of Krishna in the Hindu pantheon, Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated with great importance and consideration.

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