Krishna Janmashtami is also known as Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, Srikrishna Jayanti, Ashtami Rohini or Janmashtami. The annual festival marks the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna and is celebrated on Ashtami of Krishna Paksha of the dark fortnight in the month of Shravan. In Sanskrit, ‘Ashtami’ means ‘eighth day’ and thus the name ‘Janmashtami’.The next day is celebrated as Dahi Handi. It celebrates Lord Krishna’s childhood who was fond of curd and butter and how he would steal it. According to the Gregorian calendar, Janmashtami usually falls in the month of August or September. In 2019, Janmashtami falls on August 23 and Dahi Handi falls on August 24.
Krishna Janmashtami also celebrates ‘Nandotsav’. It is the day when Nanda Baba distributes gifts to the community in honor of the birth. According to the mythological stories, in the Kingdom of Mathura was under the rule of King Kansa. The king had a sister named Princess Devaki. He got his sister married to Vasudeva and suddenly the cloud roared with a prophecy that their eighth son would be the cause of his death. The king threw Devaki and Vasudev into the prison. The king killed all the six children of Devaki. The seventh child was secretly transferred to the womb of Princess Rohini in Vrindavan who grew to become Balram. However, after the birth of their eighth son Krishna, Vasudev took the baby braving the storm and chopping the river to Nanda and Yashoda.
Vasudev reached Nanda’s residence, gave the son to them and in return took their baby girl with him. He told King Kansa that a girl child was born assuming he wouldn’t harm her as according to prophecy eighth ‘son’ would kill him. But Kansa threw the baby girl against a rock and suddenly the girl took the form of Goddess Durga and warned Kansa about his death. And years later, Krishna took the life of Kansa and Mathura was a happy kingdom.
Those fasting during Janmashtami should not consume grains until parana when the fast is broken on the next day after sunrise. For the Janmashtami fast, parana is done on next day after sunrise when Ashtami Tithi and Rohini Nakshatra is over. Devotees should also take a Sankalpa which is a one-day long fast broken on the next day. Devotees also sing devotional sings, chant ‘Vishnu Sahasranamam’ and indulge in a ritual of placing Krishna’s idol in a cradle.
Ashtami tithi begins: 8:09 am on August 23
Ashtami tithi ends: 8:32 am on August 24