Janmashtami celebrates Krishna’s first appearance, who is believed to be God himself, according to India’s age-old religious texts. Celebrated by around 930,000,000 devotees around the world, Krishna Janmashtami is one of the biggest Hindu festivals in the world.
For devotees, Krishna Janmashtami is like New Years and Christmas in one. It is a day that comprises of deep spiritual celebration and renewal that marks the end of the old year and begins a new one.
Krishna, as opposed to any other Hindu God, is unique because of his personable-ness. He answers his followers in personal ways and said said to be the most mischievous son, most adorable, most compassionate friend and the most romantic lover.
It is on Janmashtami, that Krishna’s devotees celebrate his multifaceted personality. Just like Krishna reciprocates with his confidantes and relatives individually, similarly he addresses the distinct desires and feelings held deep in the heart of his worshippers.
Krishna Janmashtami begin just before dawn and go on until midnight, which is said to be the anniversary of when Krishna made his first appearance. Events include – Singing the Krishna’s name alongside other devotees, Kirtans, and Japa (a private and more intimate prayer). Some devotees perform dances and dramas while others prepare over a 100- course meal. Some decorate and clothe the Krishna deity, while others present large flower garlands and other such decorative items to the temple. Scriptures are read, incense is burned, and all except the young and infants fast the entire day. An ablution ceremony called abhisheka is also performed where the deities are washed with a large variety of auspicious liquids. Sometimes exceeding two hours, abhisheka is performed with great fervor and pomp.
Finally, as the clock strikes 12am (midnight) priests unfurl the freshly and exquisitely dressed Krishna deity on a creatively coloured and festooned altar. As the excitement builds, and a magnanimous kirtan begins.