The festival of Janmashtami holds special significance in India, largely due to the religious and spiritual population present in this subcontinent. This festival marks the birth of Lord Krishna and is celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) in the holy month of Shravan (as per the Hindu lunar calendar). Janmashtami is widely celebrated in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and many parts of South India.
Krishna Janmashtami is mostly celebrated on two consecutive days. The first day is celebrated for Smarta Sampradaya and the second, for Vaishanava Sampradaya. If the Hindu calendar lists a single date for Janmashtami, this means that both the Sampradayas will observe Janmashtami on the same date. This year, the festival falls on a Thursday, 24th August, giving people the luxury of time to have a huge celebration of the festival. Since Lord Krishna was born at midnight, the Nishita Pooja Time is also kept then.
Like all the mythological festivals, this one also has a very interesting story behind it. Legend has it that the Kingdom of Mathura was suffering under the rule of King Kansa, who was quite cruel. The king loved his sister, Princess Devaki, dearly. When Devaki got married to Vasudeva, a mighty cloud suddenly roared with a divination that the eighth son born to the two would be the cause of King Kansa's death. Hearing this, King Kansa was outraged. He ordered for Devaki and Vasudev to be imprisoned immediately and killed the first six children born to the couple. Fortunately, Princess Devaki’s seventh child, who would later be named as Balram, was mystically transferred, while still in the womb, to princess Rohini in Vrindavan.
After the eighth child’s (Lord Krishna) birth, the Gods guided Vasudev to give the baby to Nand and Yashoda in Vrindavan. Years later, Lord Krishna killed King Kansa and freed the kingdom of Mathura from his shackles of cruelty.
Here are some rituals and customs associated with the festival-
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