Heavy rains, singing and dancing and street performances, midnight celebrations in temples, the euphoria of crowds at dahi handis and great food – that is how the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated in India. Krishna Janmashtami also known as Gokulashtami, Srikrishna Jayanti, Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Ashtami Rohini or Janmashtami marks the celebration of the birthday of the Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Janmashtami is one of the most vibrant festivals celebrated in India. Typically falling in the months of August/September, the festival is celebrated with great fervor in different parts of India.
Houses and temples are cleaned & decorated, people fast awaiting the stroke of mid night when according to mythology, Lord Krishna was born. The day beholds a phenomenal event in most of the parts of the India. Here are some of the Best Places to Celebrate Krishna Janmashtami in India, and also perfect for a vacation during this festive season.
Dwarka is a popular city located on the coast of Kutch in Gujarat. As per Hindu mythology, the city was built in two days by Viswakarma as per the instructions of Lord Krishna. It was the abode of Lord Krishna for nearly 100 years. After Lord Krishna’s death, the city is believed to have been submerged into the sea. The Dwarkadheesh Temple is known for its Janamashtami celebrations. The devotees welcome the Lord at 12 midnight with immense enthusiasm and joy. After nearly two hour celebrations, the temple closes at 2 AM after the Maha Bhog offerings to Lord Krishna.
Mathura is an ancient city situated on the banks of River Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh. It is popularly known as the Brajbhoomi, the sacred land of Lord Krishna. The Sri Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple is home to a prison cell called Garbha Griha that is believed to be the exact birthplace of Krishna. The festival of Janmashtami is celebrated in Mathura with great devotion. The celebration goes on for two days, and it is expected that every year about 8 lakhs devotees turn up in Mathura on this occasion. Mathura is just 2 hours and 50 mins drive from Delhi. A detour to Gokul from Mathura across the Yamuna can be enjoyable for kids for its rustic and pastoral charm.
Vrindavan is a town in Mathura district, where Lord Krishna is believed to have spent his mischievous childhood. Situated on the banks of the River Yamuna, Vrindavan is where Lord Krishna performed the famous Rasleelas with his Gopis. There are over 4000 temples in Vrindavan of which Ranganathji Temple, ISCKON Temple, Radharaman Temple and Banke Bihari Temple are the main temples where people flock for their ceremonies and ritualistic events that takes place throughout the day of Janmashtami; especially the ‘Abhishek‘ which is the grand ritualistic bath of Lord Krishna before the ceremonies begin.
The dahi handi celebrations in Mumbai are legendary. Groups of young men called Govinda pathaks scale a human pyramid to break a handi (clay pot) filled with Krishna’s favorite drink – curd/buttermilk hanging by a rope sometimes over 30ft high, while their attempts are thwarted by onlookers who splash water on them. Old Mumbai neighborhoods with chawls – Dadar, Worli, Thane, Lalbaug – are famous for dahi handi celebrations. It has become a sport of sorts –competitions are organized during Janmashtami with people vying for the prize money.
Jagannath is one of the forms of Lord Krishna and Jagannath Temple in Puri celebrates the festival with great fervor. Special midnight prayers are held and the deity of the infant is set in a swing decorated with flowers. Chronicles of Lord Krishna and Balaram are enacted every evening. Children, dressed up as Krishna and Radha, perform Krishna Leela. The festivities go on for 17 days from Janmasthami, ending with the enactment of Kansa badha (slaying). Many areas organize dahi handi celebrations.
Udupi is a famous temple town and headquarters of the Udupi district in Karnataka which is famous for Sri Krishna Temple. The Udupi Krishna Math was established in the 13th century by the great philosopher, Madhavacharya. Janmashtami is celebrated in a grand scale in Udupi Sri Krishna Temple. Also known as Gokulashtami, the town celebrates the festival by Arghya Pradana, which is a ritual of pouring milk or water on the idol of Lord Krishna.
Guruvayur is a municipal town in Thrissur district of Kerala and is well known for the temple of Sri Krishna. The temple is built in a typical Kerala architecture. Vishwakarma, the divine architect is said to have built the first temple here. On Malayalam New Year day, the first rays of Sun fall directly at the feet of Lord Krishna. Ashtami Rohini or Janmashtami is one of the famous festivals celebrated with great pomp and fervor at Guruvayur Temple. Devotees observe fast on the previous day and spend their day in the temple singing bhajans and chanting slokas of Lord Krishna.
Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated as a week-long festival at the famous Govind Dev Ji temple situated at the City Palace complex in Jaipur, Rajasthan. With the melodious sounds of flute and bass of drums, Janmashtami festival brought the air of cheer and happiness in Rajasthan. Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor in Jaipur.
Janmashtami is celebrated in a big way at the Dargah of Narhar, situated in Jhunjhunu district, about 200 km from Jaipur. The dargah has been holding a three-day festival for the last 300-400 years. It attracts people from all communities. Hundreds of pop-up stalls come up in the area. Qawalis and dance dramas are held late into the night.
With over a million devotees visiting ISKCON this day, it is one of the most colorful events in India. Expensive offering, cultural events, religious preaching & many more live events are organized to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna at ISKCON temple of Delhi, situated at Hari Krishna Hill which is on the way to the East of Kailash region of New Delhi.