Gokulashtami | Krishna Janmashtami | Krishna Jayanthi Celebration 2020

Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated on August 11, 2020 

The Krishna Jayanti | Krishna Janmashtami | Gokulashtami festival marks the birth of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Lord Krishna is the incarnation of Maha Vishnu, the supreme God. Lord Krishna is considered to be one of the important Hindu Gods.

Significance of His Avatar:

Maha Vishnu was born as Lord Krishna, to show the world that He will always come to the rescue of His devotees and protect them from enemies and eliminate evil forces, thereby restoring peace, dharma, and righteousness.

When is Krishna Jayanthi celebrated and the reason behind it:

Some celebrate the festival on the day of Lord Krishna’s birth star "Rohini". This is known as "Gokulashtami" or "Sri Jayanthi", while some celebrate the birthday of Lord Krishna on Ashtami Thithi as "Kalashtami" or "Janmashtami".

What is the date of birth of Lord Krishna and the Birthplace of Lord Krishna:

He was born in Dwapara Yuga roughly 5000 years ago in Krishna Paksha Ashtami, with Rohini as His birth star in the Tamil month Avani (which corresponds to mid-August to mid-September). Lord Krishna was born in Mathura on the banks of river Yamuna in the state of Uttar Pradesh. He spent his childhood days in Vrindavan which is about 13 km away from Mathura.

Krishna Janmashtami celebrations in North India:

In North India, the majority of the Hindus celebrate Krishna Janmashtami.

In Vrindavan and in Mathura the festival is celebrated as "Janmashtami". In Mathura, the celebrations start over a month before the day of His birth.

The two important aspects of "Janmashtami" followed here are "Jhulanotsav" and "Ghatas".

"Jhulanotsav" is a ritual practiced by the people of Mathura to welcome baby Krishna to their houses, by suspending the swings in the courtyard decorated with festoons, flowers, and rangolis. Even in temples swings are suspended and the idol of baby Krishna is placed and decorated with silk cloth and flower garlands.

"Ghatas" is a unique feature of the celebrations followed for one month in all the temples in Mathura. It is a tradition of decorating all the temples as well as the dress of the idol of Lord Krishna with the chosen theme color.

In Vrindavan, the celebrations start ten days before His day of birth. Vrindavan is the place where Lord Krishna spent His childhood days and teenage years. It is the place where He performed "Raas Leela" with the "Gopikas" (Cowherd girls). "Raas Leela" (a dance drama) is performed by the professional artistes which form an important part of the celebrations. They enact the life history of
Lord Krishna.

In Maharashtra, it is celebrated as "Dahi Handi". When Lord Krishna was a small boy, He was fond of stealing butter from the pots. ”Dahi Handi” is an event based on this story, which forms a ritual followed in Maharashtra. "Dahi" means curd and "Handi" means earthen pot. Youngsters dress up in colorful attires and they form human pyramids to reach the earthen pot containing curd suspended in the mid-air. The team which breaks the pot is rewarded.

In Jammu, there is a tradition of flying kite from the rooftops which form part of the celebrations.

Krishna Janmashtami celebrations in South India:

Janmashtami is celebrated as “Vittal Pindi” (“Raas Leela”) by the locals in Karnataka. The ritual of breaking the “Dahi Handi” is popularly followed in some cities of Karnataka.

In Andhra Pradesh to celebrate Janmashtami, young boys dress in colorful costumes portraying Krishna Avatar and they visit the houses of their friends and neighbors.

In Kerala, it is celebrated as Gokulashtami and people perform rituals and poojas. For many, it is customary to visit the Guruvayurappan temple.

In Tamil Nadu, people celebrate Sri Jayanthi in the evening, as Lord Krishna was born at midnight. They celebrate the festival for two days. Some celebrate the festival as SriJayanthi on the day of the star Rohini, the birth star of Krishna, while some celebrate on the day of Ashtami thithi as Gokulashtami. Krishna Jayanthi falls on the eighth day after Avani Avittam's function.

The story behind Krishna Jayanthi:

According to the Hindu mythology, Mathura was ruled by the benevolent King Ugrasena, but his wicked son Kamsa usurped the throne from him and became the ruler. Mother Earth unable to bear the wicked nature of the tyrannical ruler, informed to the Creator Brahma. 

Brahma prayed to the Supreme Lord Maha Vishnu to protect the people from the wicked ruler. Maha Vishnu told that He would be born as the eighth child to Devaki and Vasudeva to kill Kamsa by taking the avatar as Lord Krishna. Kamsa had a sister named Devaki. He got his sister married to prince Vasudeva, (son of king Shurasena) of the Yadava clan. 

After their marriage, to gain the confidence of Vasudeva, Kamsa gifted them lavishly. But a voice from heaven told that all his wicked plans would come to an end and Kamsa would be killed by the eighth son born to Devaki and Vasudeva. Hearing the prophecy, Kamsa got frightened and he put Devaki and Vasudeva in prison. 

When he decided to kill Devaki, Vasudeva pleaded to spare Devaki's life and promised to give all the eight babies born to them. Kamsa agreed and started killing all the babies one by one, born to Devaki. But when the seventh child was born, due to divine intervention things happened in a different way.

On the night when Krishna was born, a bright light filled the prison. A divine voice woke up Vasudeva and instructed him to leave his baby son in Gokul (in Tamil it is Gokulam) at his close friend Nandagopa's (Head of the Gopa tribe) house and exchange the baby girl born to Yashoda (wife of Nandagopa). Miracles started to happen.

The men guarding the prison were put to deep sleep. Vasudeva found himself freed from his handcuffs. While carrying baby Krishna in a basket, Aadi Shesha the five-headed serpent protected baby Krishna like an umbrella. The raging river the Yamuna remained calm till Vasudeva crossed the river.

Vasudeva reached Nandagopa's house at Gokul.  He saw Nandagopa's wife Yashoda sleeping and had given birth to a baby girl. Holding the sweet and bright dark-colored baby son Krishna in his hands, Vasudeva felt difficult to part with him.

Vasudeva gave his baby son Krishna to Nandagopa explaining everything to him. Nandagopa happily received baby Krishna and agreed to give his girl baby.

Vasudeva quickly returned to the prison and placed the baby girl of Yashoda near Devaki. Hearing the loud cry of the baby, the guards woke up and informed Kamsa that the eighth child was born. Kamsa came to the prison to kill the child. 

But the baby girl flew away from his hands and transformed into Goddess Durga, who said that the eighth child has already been born and will come at the right moment to put an end to Kamsa. Saying so, the Goddess vanished into the sky.

Meanwhile, baby Krishna was raised by his foster mother and father, Yashoda, and Nandagopa at Gokul. Finally, Lord Krishna grew up and killed Kamsa and rescued his original parents Devaki and Vasudeva from the prison and regained the lost kingdom.

How is Krishna Jayanthi celebrated in Tamilnadu:

1. On the day of Sri Jayanthi, Ezhai Kolam is drawn in the front yard of the house, as well as in the pooja room.

2. Tiny footprints from the entrance to the pooja room are drawn with wet rice flour paste as a sign of welcoming the arrival of baby Krishna into the house.

3. At the entrance of the house mango leaf festoons, flowers, garlands are tied.

4. A picture of baby Krishna and an idol of baby Krishna are placed on a wooden plank or a Mandapam.

5. Gopi Chandan/Thilakam is applied in the forehead of baby Krishna’s idol and the picture.

6. The picture and idol of baby Krishna are decorated with flowers and garlands.

7. Like dressing up the baby on its birthday, nice silk cloth is tied around baby Krishnas idol.

8. Incense sticks and lamps are lighted.

9. With the Akshatha (consecrated rice), flowers, and few Tulsi leaves, start the pooja ringing the bell.

10. As written for Varalakshmi Vritham, after performing Ganesha pooja, start the pooja for baby Krishna.

11. Krishna Ashtothra Sathanaamavali, Bala Mukunda Ashtakam, and Bhagavatham are recited.

12. Favorites of baby Krishna like butter, Aval, curd, milk sweets like Thirattupaal, sweet, Seedai,  and savories like Thattai, Uppu Seedai, and Murukku are prepared and offered as Neivedhyam.

13. Two betel leaves, two betel nuts, two bananas, a coconut with other fruits like apples, oranges, guava, are offered as Neivedhyam.

14. Few Tulsi leaves are sprinkled on the dishes prepared for Neivedhyam.

15. Sprinkle water thrice in a clockwise direction on the betel leaves with betel nuts, cracked coconut with bananas, and on the other fruits and dishes for Neivedhiyam.

16. Ringing the bell, light the camphor, and show it to the picture and idol of baby Krishna.

17. Keeping the Akshathai and flowers inside the right-hand palm, moving in a clockwise direction over the burning camphor, offer the flowers and Akshathai to baby Krishna.

18. Do the namaskarams and pray to baby Krishna to shower His blessings for a prosperous, healthy, happy life.

19. Then show the Aarathi.

20. After showing the Aarathi to baby Krishna, slightly spill the Aarathi on the Kolam drawn in the front yard.

21. Then slowly move the idol of baby Krishna towards the North.

22. The next day perform the Punar Pooja by offering payasam, betel leaves, and betel nuts, and two bananas as Neivedhyam.

23. Ringing the bell, light the camphor, and show it to the picture and idol of baby Krishna. 

What is kolam?

Kolam is a form of art, a drawing, drawn by using rice flour, chalk powder, and also color powders. Kolam using rice flour is drawn in the morning by women or girls in the threshold of the house to feed the birds and ants. Kolam is a symbol of prosperity to welcome Goddess Lakshmi

In Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra, Karnataka and in Maharashtra kolam is considered not only auspicious during festivals, but also a part of life as it attracts positive energy into the house. Ezhai Kolam is drawn by mixing water to rice flour during festivals (semi-liquid consistency).

Paksha means the phase of the moon. The two phases of the moon are Krishna Paksha and Shukla Paksha. Krishna Paksha is the dark phase of the moon for 14 days following the full moon day, while Shukla Paksha is the brighter phase of the moon following the new moon day.

Why is Krishna blue in Color and the two versions of Krishna’s blue color:

The blue color of Krishna symbolizes the vastness of the sea and sky. According to Swami Chaitanya, what is immeasurable appears blue to the mortal eye. Another version is that when Lord Krishna drank the poisoned milk of a demon, He turned blue in color.

Krishna Avatar portrayed as:

Krishna is considered to be a warrior, hero, teacher, philosopher, and the highest avatar. He is portrayed in different stages as a Godchild, as a small kid stealing butter, prankster, a young boy playing with the Gopikas, a young boy playing the flute with a peacock feather on His head, the charioteer of Arjuna 
(in Mahabharatha) and a Supreme God.

Reasons behind why Lord Krishna wears a peacock feather on His head:

To show that He has all the colors of life within Him and holds the whole universe with all His varied forms and personalities. Another reason is to wish His nephew, Lord Kartikeya, good luck in all His endeavors. Lord Krishna is considered to be Lord Kartikeya's maternal uncle. 

Kartikeya rides on a peacock and is the Lord of Wars. One more reason is that in Treta Yuga, a group of peacocks used the feathers of their tails to sweep the path where Lord Rama was taking a stroll. Seeing their devotion, Lord Rama was pleased and promised that he would come again in Dwapara Yuga and
wear their feathers on His head. 

Why Lord Krishna hold a flute? 

Lord Krishna was taught to play the flute by Lord Siva. It is written by Saint Sadhasiva Brehmendral and Saint Thyagaraja Swamigal in their compositions. Krishna is depicted with a flute in His hand. The eight holes in the flute represent the eyes, ears, tongue, nose, skin, intellect, mind, and ego. All the humans are like a flute with the Lord being the player of this flute. He is also worshipped as “Muralidhara” meaning a person who is holding a flute.

Happy Krishna Jayanthi 2020 to all my dear friends and visitors:)

Check out my other South Indian festival procedures if interested, the festival posts links are given below for you:)

The story, instructions, and procedures behind the Krishna Jayanthi mentioned in this post are completely based on our family tradition. This is how we perform our Krishna Jayanthi Pooja at home and the main reason for this post is to keep an online record for myself and for our future generations. I also would like to share the same with our family members and friends for reference. I'm sure this post would be useful if you are performing the Pooja every year. You may share this post with anyone. Thank you for understanding!!!

Learn how to celebrate Krishna Jayanthi | Krishna Janmashtami | Gokulashtami pooja procedures.

Authors: Revathi & Pavithra