Widely recognized as Janmashtami or Gokulashatami, this annual Hindu festival marks the birth of Lord Krishna, who is believed to be the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Usually it is observed on the eighth day (ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha in the month of Sharavan or Bhadrapad.
This year, Janmashtami celebrations will commence on August 11, with people also likely to celebrate it with huge pomp the next day. On this prosperous occasion, people take to curate dance-dramas based on the life of Krishna according to Bhagavata Purana, engage in lending their voices to devotional hymns throughout midnight and fast through the day. Mathura and Vrindavan celebrations during this festival are a sight to behold.
According to Hindu traditions, it is believed that Krishna was born in Mathura at midnight on the eighth day of the Bhadrapada month. Immediately after his birth, his father Vasudeva Anakadundubhi took Krishna across the Yamuna river to save him from the evil plans of uncle King Kansa and handed him over to his foster parents in Gokul, Nanda and Yashoda.
As legend goes, Kansa’s sister Devaki’s eighth son was predicted to take the life of the cruel king. So Kansa imprisoned Devaki and Vasudeva and started killing their sons one by one until Krishna was born.
On Janmashtami, idols of infant Krishna are washed, clothed and placed in a cradle. The devotees then break their fast and share foods and sweets.
Krishna puja usually is performed at midnight. As per the rituals and customs, the puja includes 16 steps which are part of the Shodashopachara puja vidhi. Here are the pooja timings of Janmashtami 2020, according to drikpanchang.com:
Janmashtami tithi- August 11 (Ashtami tithi will begin on 09:06 am on August 11 and end at 11:16 am on August 12)
Nishita (midnight) puja time – August 12, 12:21 am to 01:06 am
Dahi handi – August 12