Krishna Janmashtami ( also known as Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti or sometimes merely as Janmashtami ), is an annual commemoration of the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.
The festival is celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) day of the dark fortnight of the month of Shravana (August\September) in the Hindu calendar.
Rasa Lila, dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna, are a special feature in regions of Mathura and Vrindavan, and regions following Vaishnavism in Manipur.
Hindus celebrate Janmashtami by fasting and staying up until midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. Images of Krishna’s infancy are placed in swings and cradles in temples and homes. At midnight devotees gather around for devotional songs, dance and exchange gifts. Some temples also conduct reading of the Hindu religious scripture Bhagavad Gita. Fasting, bhajans, pujas and many other rituals mark Janmashtami celebrations in India.
People fast on this day, usually a waterless fast.
They spend the day immersed in Shri Krishna’s glory by reading, reciting and singing his divine leela especially in the evening in mandirs. Temples of Lord Krishna are decorated most beautifully and children are adorned as Lord Krishna and Radhika, his spiritual beloved. Krishna Leela or the plays depicting scenes from Krishna’s life, especially childhood, are performed. At midnight, the Lord’s birth hour, arti is performed. He is also installed in the form of ‘Lalji’ (child form) in a swing and devotionally offered many sumptuous food dishes. ‘Makhan’ (butter) is especially included since Shri Krishna loved this in childhood. The traditional prasad is ‘Panchajiri’ – made of five ingredients: powdered ginger, ‘suva’, coriander, sugar and ghee. Other ingredients include poppy seeds (khaskhas) and dessicated coconut shavings.The most popular ceremony of Dahi-handi (breaking a pot full of milk and its derivatives} takes place on the second day.