Sri Krishna Janmashtami, also known as Ashtami Rohini Festival or Sree Krishna Jayanthi, marks the birthday of Lord Shri Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Krishna Janmashtami festival is observed on the eighth day, Ashtami tithi, of the dark half in the month of Shravana (mid August - mid September); on the day of Rohini nakshatra (star). Sri Krishna Janmashtami is known by various names such as Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, Saatam Aatham, Ashtami Rohini, Sri Krishna Jayanti and Sree Jayanthi. Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated for two days. The first day is known as Krishnashtami and the second day is known as Kalashtami. According to traditions, Lord Krishna was born to demolish Kamsa, the demon king of Mathura. Lord Krishna played an important role in Hindu epic Mahabharata (legendary battle in Kurukshetra) and also emphasized the theory of bhakti. In 2016, Sree Krishna Janmashtami date is celebrated on 25th August in North India, and 24th August in other parts of India.
The 2016 Ashtami Rohini Festival date is on 24th August.
Rituals of Krishnashtami Festival
Krishna Janmashtami is observed through various customs and rituals in various states of India. However, the fasting observed during the festival is a common one. Devotees observe fast for the entire day and it is broken after the birth of the Sreekrishna at midnight. Only milk and milk products are preferred by them, as these were the favorites of Lord Krishna. Some undergo 'Nirjal' fast which means not consuming even a single drop of water. Few devotees fast for two days also.
Ashtami Rohini Celebrations in India
On this auspicious day, devotees recite slogans and mantras of Lord Krishna. Another important custom of Sri Krishna Jayanti is singing of Hindu Bhajans (devotional songs) during the Janmashtami festival. People involve in dance performances that portray the life of Lord Krishna. To commemorate the birth anniversary of the Lord, Rasa Lila or the dramatic performances of the life of Krishna are performed by devotees. Butter, buttermilk and sweets are offered to the Lord on the day.
On the Ashtami Rohini festival occasion Lord Krishna Temples are brilliantly decorated with oil lamps and festival celebration continues till early hours of morning. Thousands of devotees visit the temples on Krishna Janmashtami day to get a glimpse of their favorite God in full decoration. Special feasts will be arranged by temple authorities on Krishnashtami day for devotees.
Famous Krishna Temples in India
Besides celebrating at home, devotees throng to famous Krishna Temples during the day. Some of the famous Krishna Temples in India where Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated with much importance include Guruvayur Temple in Kerala, Ambalapuzha Sree Krishna Temple in Alappuzha, Udupi Sri Krishna Temple in Karnataka, ISKCON Temple in Tirupati, Srinath Temple in Rajasthan, Dwarkadhish Temple in Gujarat, Krishna Temple in Hampi, Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir in Mathura, and Banke Bihari Mandir in Vrindavan.