Janmashtami or Gokulasthami is the day when Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu was born. This year, it falls on Monday, August 14th, and with August 15th being Independence Day, it translates to a four-day weekend of festive fun. And what better place to celebrate this auspicious occasion than in Mathura, where Lord Krishna was born. In fact, with four days in hand, you could also visit Vrindavan, where Lord Krishna spent his childhood.
Although celebrated all across Maharashtra, Janmashtami celebrations are at their peak in the twin cities of Mathura and Vrindavan. Walk through the streets and be awestruck by the beautifully decorated courtyard temples and vibrant swings cradling Lord Krishna’s idol. Since Lord Krishna was born at the stroke of midnight, several rituals are performed at precisely that hour. People also read the holy Bhagvad Gita, sing devotional songs, and dance to Krishna bhajans as the celebrations last all night. One of the most famous traditions is the rasaleela (a night-long dance drama about Lord Krishna’s life and love, Radha), which draws you in with its vibrant story-telling.
Another ritual that is famous is the offering of Chappan Bhog, which consists of 56 dishes that are later distributed among the devotees after Lord Krishna is bathed. Watch the Dahi Handi celebrations in wonder, where teams of young boys called Govindas form large human pyramids to reach and break earthern pots of yoghurt hung high in the air. This is done as an enactment of Lord Krishna’s childhood when he stole butter from people’s homes. Cheer along and immerse yourself in the grand traditions and rituals that include fasting, prayer, and special food.
Celebrate Janmashtami in Mathura like the locals do!