The much awaited Hindu religious festival Krishna Janmashtami is here. The festival is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. On this pious occasion, devotees observe fast and chant mantras. People also recite Bhagwadgita and offer prayers in temples.
Several Krishna temples celebrate Janmashtami with great zest in India. Listed below are some of the places where the celebrations and rituals are unique and specific to their region:
Mathura in Uttar Pradesh – Mathura is the birth place of Krishna. It is known much for its culture and heritage. It is also one of the sites that is known for granting moksha or salvation to the pilgrims visiting it. Janamashtami is the most popular festival celebrated here. It includes staying up till midnight, fasting, singing hymns in praise of krishna, dancing and offering prayers through mantras and artis. At midnight, an idol of infant Krishna is bathed in pure water and milk, dressed in colourful clothes and placed in a beautiful cradle. Devotees rock the cradle amidst the sounds of bells and conch shells. Special prasad is distributed to celebrate the birth of the lord. It is a place you must visit to experience different flavours of Janamashtami. Temples and homes are decorated and hymns from Bhagwad Geeta are sung. Temples you can visit here are Dwarkadheesh Temple, Krishna Janambhoomi Temple, keshav Deo Temple and Gita Mandir.
Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh – On Janamashtami, you will find a different look of Vrindavan as different from any other days. It is the best period to be here and become part of the festivities. There are many temples to visit in Vrindavan and every year lakhs of followers from Vaishnava sect visit this town to experience its most buoyant mood on Krishna’s birth anniversary. Vrindavan is a little historic holy village that bristles with a mix of fascinating stories and interesting leelas performed by Lord Krishna in his childhood. Madan Mohan Temple, Sri Ranganatha temple, Krishna Balram ISKCON Temple, Prem Mandir and Banke Bihari Temple pack in everything so as to delight every Krishna lover on this festival. Although, Banke Bihari Temple is the most preferred destination for devotees for all the reasons. This temple ensures the idol of Bihariji made of black stone and the crowds of devotees gather here is vast during Janamashtami.
Dwarkadheesh Temple in Gujarat – Lakhs of pilgrims visit the town to celebrate Janamashtami. Elaborate arrangements are made every year in the temple to ensure smooth darshans for the devotees. Krishna who was born in Mathura and brought up in Vrindavan is thought to have spent three quarters of his life here. Dwarka and Dwarkadheesh temple both have a festive look during Janamashtami celebrations. The temple precincts and surrounding areas are decorated with lights and flowers. The celebration at the temple starts at midnight with the birth of Gopala. Darshans continue till 2.30 am. A ‘Mahabhog arti’ takes place inside the temple and dishes fried in pure ghee are offered to the God. The next day onwards, laddoo Gopal’s idol is put in decorated cradle by the priests. Krishna fans get a chance to pull the string of cradle for the next five days.
Jagannath Temple in Puri – It is a temple where Lord Krishna, his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra are placed in the form of incomplete idols. During Janamashtami, the temple draws unbelievable crowd of Krishna’s devotees and tourists from all around the world. Devotees fast throughout the day until the birth of Shri Krishna in the midnight. Krishna bhajans, Shri Krishna chanting and midnight food offerings to the Lord are the main attractions of this day. Prasad is distributed amongst the people present in the temple. Special cultural programmes are organised on Puri beach where Odissi dancers depict magical Krishna’s raasleela. It is worth watching.
Udupi Shree Krishna Matha (Karnataka) – Are you aware that Janamashtami preparation takes place in full swing in South India too. In this popular temple of Karnataka, the deity is decked up with jewels by his followers. Devotees can view Krishna through a small window which has nine holes. This window is famous as ‘Navagraha Kitiki’. These darshans are the main attraction of the festival. Arghya Pradana is another important part of the festivity. Milk and water is offered to the Lord created by clay. A grand procession also takes place which includes tiger dance, performance by musicians followed by other cultural programmes. Laddoos and Chakkuliis are made on this occasion as they are believed to be the favourite of Mahaprabhu.
Guruvayur Temple (Kerala) – This famous Krishna temple celebrates Janamashtami with lots of zeal and devotion. The idol is made of Patalanjana stone which has special medicinal properties. The deity in the form of baby Krishna is decorated with gold ornaments, tulsi and rose garlands. The temple organises a grand procession that includes decorated elephants and children dressed up as Lord Krishna. Milk kheer and Neyyappam are the two important delicacies prepared for bhog and distributed amongst the devotees.
Iskcon Temple (Juhu Mumbai / East Kailash New Delhi) – On Janamashtami, there is a massive celebration in ISKCON temples. The festivities begin with the mangal arti early in the morning. Krishna idol is bathed and dressed in new colourful clothes and ornaments. The magnificent temple complex is well-decorated. Here are several stalls and activities planned for the visitors. Other artis are held in the evening and the celebration culminate with the final arti called ‘Maha Arti’ atmidnight.
Don’t miss visiting any of the above temples this Krishna Janamashtmi.
Janamashtami wishes and blessings to you and your family. May Lord Krishna spread good things and perfect health everywhere on this special day!