Janmashtami is the day that celebrates the birth of Hindu deity Krishna. Much owing to our unique diversity, devotees from all over India celebrate the day in their own grand and special ways. While Vrindavan, the land where the deity spent most of his childhood, gives you the best spiritual experience; Mathura shows you its own special “Dahi Handi” ceremony. In Tamil Nadu, people decorate the floor with Kolams while Andhra Pradesh entices through devotional songs and hymns.
Here, is a brief journey through cities that hold a special significance in Lord Krishna’s life and ones that celebrate the day through utmost enthusiasm and their own special local practices.
Mathura being famously known as the birthplace of Lord Krishna attracts thousands of devotees each year on this auspicious occasion. As travelers spill into this place with high expectations, Mathura fulfills each and every one of them. Janmashtami in Mathura is celebrated with great enthusiasm and unmatched zeal. With thousands of temples in the city, the celebrations start over a month before the day of birth.
Jhulanotsov is a ritual wherein devotees decorate temple halls and their own courtyards with flowers and rangolis. The idols of Radha and Krishna are taken out from the altar and placed on heavily decked swings, which are sometimes made of gold and silver. These swings are put out in courtyards and aartis are offered as well.
Rasleelas are popular entertainment as well as informative tools that are enjoyed by the masses during the celebrations. These are performed by various groups, especially by 10-15-year-old children. This ‘Dance of Divine Love’ that involves a display of Lord Krishna dancing with Radha and her sakhis, also involves Jankis which are clay modeled figures on display wherein scenes depicting various stages of Krishna’s life.
One of the many specialties Mathura showcases to its visitors during Janmashtami includes Ghatas- a ritual in which all the temples, as well as the clothes of Lord Krishna’s idol, are decorated with the color of a chosen theme. This tradition is followed for a month and marks a special occasion in the city.
While Mathura became the birthplace of the deity, Vrindavan in Mathura was the exact place where Lord Krishna grew up and performed various miracles that have been mentioned in epics like Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Vrindavan has a unique spiritual charm and religious aura, especially during the preparation days of Janmashtami, when the forest comes to life and attracts thousands of travelers every year.
The ISCKON (International Society of Krishna Consciousness) Temple is a must-visit if you’re in Vrindavan during the celebrations of Janmashtami. Aside from its stunning visuals that include floors and domes carved in white marble, the spiritual grace of the temple and the unanimous vibe would stop you in your tracks.
If you’re paying a visit to the temple in Mathura, do not miss out on the aarti and kirtan. The experience is something which will stay with you for a very long time.
Timings: All days of the week
Summer: 4:30 AM – 12:45 PM and 4:30 PM – 8:00 PM
Winter: 4:30 AM – 1:00 PM and 4:00 PM – 8:15 PM
Entry fee: None
This is the place where Haridas established the Lord Krishna idol that emerged in the forests of Nidhivana. Such is its history, that to date thousands visit it each year to get a glimpse of Lord Krishna’s idol, which is shown through the curtain every few minutes.
Timings: All days of the week.
Summer – 7:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Winter – 8:45 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Entry fee: None
Just like every part of the country has its own unique way of celebrating the festival, Maharashtra brings the joy of Janmashtami in its own way. Mumbai is one of the most happening areas in Maharashtra to celebrate the festival. The famous ‘Dahi Handi’ ritual involves the youth making a team climb over one another and forming a human pyramid to break the pot.
Maharashtra adds flavor to this auspicious day and makes it a grand event dashed with spices of fervour and vigor.
If you are someone who wants to get a taste of the local culture along with all the energy it has to offer, the Dahi Handi organized by Sangharsh Pratishthan is a must-visit for you.
Popular for being one of the richest Dahi Handis in Mumbai, the prize money goes up to lakhs. The event is accompanied by groovy music and unbeatable zest. The vibe of the whole event would certainly make your spirits soar and leave you wishing that it never ends.
Venue: Sangharsh, Open House Panchpakahadi, Thane
The ISCKON Temple located in Juhu is another famous one, besides the one situated in Vrindavan. The temple has an impressive architecture and paintings on the temple walls that depict scenes from the Mahabharata.
Like most other Krishna temples in the country, ISKCON in Chowpatty celebrates Janmashtami with great pomp. Splendid decorations, elaborate langars, and beautifully sung devotional songs mark the essence of Janmashtami in these temples. People from all over the country visit this temple in huge numbers to be a part of this elaborate affair.
Venue: Hare Krishna Land, Juhu, Girgaon Chowpatty
Timings: All days of the weekend.
4:30 AM – 8:30 PM
Entry Fee: Entry and Photography is free.
Yet, even when every place cherishes the day in its own way, Janmashtami marks that one day in the calendar when communities come together to immerse themselves in raas leelas, melas and devotional hymns. The diversities flourish in a special unity and joy becomes the sole mode of communication between people of various races and languages.
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