Janmashtami is a vibrant religious festival celebrated by Hindus across the world as the birthday of Lord Krishna. Celebrated with much fanfare and fervour, it is considered as one of the biggest religious festivals among Hindus. Grand festivities are held during the festival – melodious kirtans are sung, temples are decorated, delicious feasts (bhog) are offered, and mythological dance-drama performances are held at pandals (festival tents). As Lord Krishna was born at midnight, the main celebrations are held at midnight across temples.
This year, Janmashtami will be celebrated on 25th August. Here are the top places to experience the festivities.
The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh is home to Mathura, Lord Krishna’s birthplace. Mathura hosts thousands of pilgrims who throng the city temples to celebrate the festival. Pilgrims fast all day, sing prayers, and read the holy Gita. The late-night Aarti ritual kick-starts various ceremonies to relive the moment of the lord’s birth. Visit the Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir here to watch celebrations on a grand scale.
Vrindavan and Gokul are the two other places in Uttar Pradesh that have mythological importance due to their association with Lord Krishna’s life. It is believed that Lord Krishna spent much of his childhood in Vrindavan. Important temples here are Shri Krishna Balram Temple, Rangnathji Temple, Radharaman Temple, Banke Bihari Temple, and ISKCON temple. The temples are filled with lively Jhankis and scenes depicting the life of Lord Krishna. These are similar to the Nativity scenes of Jesus Christ during Christmas.
Dwarka is a holy city in the Indian state of Gujarat, which is believed to be Lord Krishna’s kingdom. This city holds one of the best and grandest Janmashtami celebrations. Visit the magnificent Dwarkadhish Temple, where Lord Krishna is adorned with precious gold, diamond, and topaz jewellery. Also visit the Rukmini temple, which is dedicated to Lord Krishna’s wife, Princess Rukmini.
India’s eastern state of Manipur celebrates Janmashtami in a delightful way. Visit the Govinaji, ISKCON, and Hanuman Thakur temples in Imphal to see the devotion with which festivities are carried out here. Dance and musical programs depicting Krishna’s Raas Lila are held across the state.
The Jagannath Temple at Puri in the Indian state of Odisha holds the grandest celebrations. Festivities last for 17 days across the state. The temple holds special midnight prayers and folk theatre depicting the life of Lord Krishna every evening.
Janmashtami is observed as Sree Krishna Jayanthi in the Indian state of Kerala. The Guruvayur temple holds a special procession in which a golden idol of ‘Balakrishna’ or Lord Krishna in his infancy is carried by elephants of the temple. The Sri Krishna Mutt at Udipi in the Indian state of Karnataka also sees fervent celebrations by local devotees.