God Vishnu is invoked in his human incarnation as Krishna on his birth anniversary in the festival of Janmashtami. This festival of Hindus is celebrated with great devotion on the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the month of Sravana (July-August) in India. According to Hindu mythology, Krishna was born to destroy Mathura’s demon King Kansa, brother of his virtuous mother, Devaki.
Men and women fast and pray on the occasion of Janmashtami. Temples and homes are beautifully decorated and lit. The temples of Vrindavan, in Uttar Pradesh witness an extravagant and colourful celebration on this occasion. ‘Raslila’ is performed to recreate incidents from the life of Krishna and to commemorate his love for Radha. This festival is also known as Krishnastami or Gokulastami.
The image of the infant Krishna is bathed at midnight and is placed in a cradle. Devotional songs and dances mark the celebration of this festive occasion all over Northern India.
In Maharashtra, Janmashtami witnesses the exuberant enactment of Krishna’s childhood endeavours to steal butter and curd from earthen pots beyond his reach. A matka or pot containing these is suspended high above the ground and groups of young men and children form human pyramids to try and reach the pot and eventually break it.