It is one of the most widely celebrated annual Hindu festivals which marks the birth of Lord Krishna. He is considered to be one of the most powerful incarnations of Lord Vishnu. The belief goes that when the world would get engulfed with evil, then the god will take human form and defeat the evil. To preserve mankind, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Krishna.
According to the Hindu calendar, Janmashtami is celebrated on the Ashtami of Krishna Paksh, or on the 8th day of the month of Bhadon. In 2019, Janmashtami will fall on 24th August.
The actual celebration takes place at night as it is believed that Lord Krishna was born on a dark, windy and stormy night.
People on this day sing devotional songs and dance to the tunes of songs devoted to Lord Krishna. Other rituals include puja, aarti, cradling of the Baby Krishna and blowing of the conch. People keep fasts, usually of two types, one is called Nirjal Fast where the devotees don’t consume water or food and the other one being Phalahar Fast where a devotee is allowed to consume milk and fruits. It is also believed that people who perform the puja at 12 AM sharp directly get the blessings from Lord Krishna.
One of the main highlights of the festival is the Dahi-Handi ceremony. This is performed in the memory of Lord Krishna’s love for milk and butter. The devotees form a pyramid-like structure by climbing on top of each other. Usually, this structure is 20 to 30 feet in height and the person who is at the top most of the pyramid breaks the pot hanging above them.
Soon after Janmashtami, Nandotsav is celebrated in the honour of Lord Krishna’s foster father Nanda Baba.