One of the Avatars of Vishnu, a Hindu-Trinity Deity, Krishna is revered as the ultimate leader of Hindu religion.
Krishna Janmashtami (Nepali: कृष्ण जन्माष्टमी) is a festival observing the birth of lord Krishna. This festival is also known as Krishn Ashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini and Sri krishna Jayanti, which falls on the 8th day of the dark lunar fortnight (Krishna Paksha).
The day is marked with observant fasting the entire day. It’s widely celebrated by the Hindus living around the world, however, it’s mainly observed in India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
In Bhagavad Gita, Krishna said,
Whenever there is predominance of evil and decline of good doings (religion), I will reincarnate again and again to end the evil and to save the Dharma (good)”. Krishna Janmashtami is celebration of victory of good and Dharma over devil and bad power.
Therefore, the festive holds a value of eliminating evils from the society, by celebrating the birth of Krishna –he who eliminated evils.
~Origin & History~
According to the ancient scriptures, the birth of Krishna took place on July 19 3228 BCE, around 5,200 years ago. He supposedly lived for 125 years. Being the 8th incarnation of Vishnu, he was endowed with majestic charm and unmatchable powers and wit.
Krishna belonged to the Vrishni clan of Yadavas from Mathura, and was the eighth son born to the princess Devaki and her husband Vasudeva. He was wanted by his maternal uncle Kansa, for he was the chosen one who would kill the latter and eliminate evils from the society. Despite many hardships and bad lucks, he was finally able to overcome Kansa.
He played a major role in the battle of Kurukshetra, a holy battle mentioned in the Hindu mythology of Mahabharata. A precursor of justice, he helped remove ills and mark the importance of virtues in the then society. The death of Krishna in 3102 BCE is considered the start of Kali Yuga (Dark Age) which prolongs still today. He is revered by many from the western nations for the Bhakti movment, largely due to International Society for Krishna Consciousness.
The celebration of Krishna’s birth started thousands of years ago in India. Later, it followed to other surrounding nations due to greater influx of Hindu inhabitants. The city of Mathura in Northeastern India is considered his birthplace, therefore, people of the city celebrate the day with humongous zeal.
Celebration in Nepal
Nepal, with a Hindu population of almost 80%, tend to celebrate the festival with great zeal. One of the public holidays, throngs of devotees line up outside the major Krishna temples in the city of Kathmandu to offer prayers. The Krishna temple of Mangal Bazar in Lalitpur receives the highest numbers of devotees on this day.
Some of the fascinating observations of the festival in Nepal are;
- The ‘Bhagavataam’ (Bhagwat Ramayan: the story of Lord Krishna) is recited. Rhymes are sung and devotees pray and Sanskrit hymns are recited in admiration of Krishna.
- The devotees gather in the temple premise and offer prayers, flowers, food and sweets.
- Devotees observe fast till midnight.
- At midnight, devotees throng temples to take part in the special ‘Aarati’ –relieving the birth of Krishna.