Lord Krishna is the most favourite Hindu god, and the eighth avatar (incarnation) of Lord Vishnu. The eighth day after the start of Shravan which comes during the month of August and September is the day when Lord Sri Krishan took birth to free people from evil. According to the Hindu calendar, this day falls in the 'Bhadrapada' month. It was the darkest day of the month and Sri Krishna was born at midnight. His birth is celebrated as the greatest boon for the humankind. All Hindus in India worship Him. Even thousands of foreigners who have adopted the Hindu religion love him intensely.
Gokulashtami is the day celebrated as the birthday of Sri Krishna. The day is also remembered as 'Krishna Jayanti,' 'Krishnashtami,' or 'Janmashtami.' There are many names given to Sri Krishna. He is called 'natkhat' (naughty) by his mother since he used to be very naughty during his childhood. His mastery over the flute and the melodious tune rendered through it has given him the name of 'Hindu God of Music.' Devotees also refer him as Govinda, Gopala and Kanhaiya.
Birth of Lord Sri Krishna
The period when Lord Sri Krishna was born is considered as the Dwapur Yug which means the Iron Age. He was born on Rohini Nakshatra, which is the most auspicious day of the Hindu calendar. There was a specific purpose for his birth. He was meant to take birth as a human to free mother earth from the brutalities inflicted by the demons. Besides, spreading the message of good karma and aiding the Pandavas in winning the war of Mahabratha were additional objectives of the Lord's birth.
Before the birth of Sri Krishna, Mathura was ruled by king Kansa. He was the most tyrant ruler of his time. When his cruelty kept growing, Lord Vishnu appears in his dream and tells him that the eighth child of his sister, Devaki would be the reason for his death.
Dreaming about his imminent death, he puts Devaki and her husband, Vasudev in a cell so that he can kill each child as they are born. Under the confinement, Devaki gives birth to six sons and all were killed instantly by Kansa. When Devaki's eight children bear, who is the god's avatar, he commands Vasudev to escort him to Nandgaon and place him next to Yashoda. It was the power of the god that all the guards on the duty go into deep sleep and the door gets unlocked. Seeking the opportunity, Vasadev quickly transfer the godchild into a basket and carries him on his head to Nandgaon which was across the Yamanu River. While crossing the river, suddenly the water level start rising but when it touched the child's feet, it parted ways for Vasudev to cross it. Thus, Lord Sri Krishna was safely transferred to where he directed.
Gokulashtami is celebrated all over India and the world where there is a population of Hindus. All the towns of Mathura, Dwarka and Vrindavan come alive during this day. Thousands of devotees start gathering at Krishna temples to offer prayers. The celebration starts before the midnight. The temple priest bathes the idol and place it on a cradle. The deity is then adorned with flowers, jewelry and a golden crown. Bhajan or religious songs are then recited while swinging the cradle.
There is a joy in the atmosphere, and people have faith that their god has taken birth to take over evil. Then devotees line up for Darshan and offering. Many devotees offer sweets, fruits, cash and jewelry to the deity. The Prasad or Naivedya is offered in milk, puffed rice, curd, sugar and butter.
The arrival of the god is announced by ringing the temple bells and blowing the conch shells. Most devotees, especially women keep fast for the whole day and break it only after the midnight.
Dahihandi is celebrated on the next day of Sri Krishana's birth. This festival is most famous in Pune and Mumbai in Maharashtra. On this day, a clay pot is filled with curd, milk, butter, fruits, and honey. The post is then tied to a rope and hung high. People in groups form a human tower and try to break the post. This festival is a grand event and lots of social and political parties dole out attractive prizes for breaking the pot.
Dahihandi is more than a festival for people of India. It is one of the special moment when all communities come together and enjoy it to the fullest. Many organizations invite Bollywood celebrities to make the event more spectacular. In addition, the prize money for breaking the handi is also attractive.
In Mathura and Dwarka, Gokulastmi is celebrated for eight days to welcome the god. Sermons and reading from the Bhagwatgeeta is performed during these days in the temples. People also decorate their homes to enjoy this special moment of the year.
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