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Krishna Janmashtami falls on Friday, August 10, 2012

The Smarta Tradition observes the festival on August 10 and the Vaishnava Tradition on August 9 this year.

History of Janmashtami

Krishna Janmashtami is the birthday of Hinduism’s favorite God – Lord Krisha, and is observed on the eighth day of the Shukla Paksha of Bhadrapad month, Lord Krishna was born when the moon entered the house of Vrishabha (Taurus) at the Rohini Nakshatram (star) on the eight day (Ashtami) of the second fortnight of the month of Sravana , as per traditional calendar followed in North India. In 2012, the date of Janmashtami in North India is August 10 and in other parts it is on August 9. The birthday of Hinduism’s favorite Lord Krishna is a special occasion for Hindus, who consider him their leader, hero, protector, philosopher, teacher and friend all rolled into one.

Krishna took birth at midnight on the ashtami or the 8th day of the Krishnapaksha or dark fortnight in the Hindu month of Shravan (August-September). This auspicious day is called Janmashtami. Indian as well as Western scholars have now accepted the period between 3200 and 3100 BC as the period in which Lord Krishna lived on earth.
The devotees of Lord Krishna observe fast for the whole day and night, worshipping him and keeping vigil through the night while listening to his tales and exploits, recite hymns from the Gita sing devotional songs, and chant the mantra “ Om namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya. “
Krishna’s birthplace Mathura is a world famous festival in India. Krishna was born in Mathura. So, especially at Mathura -Vrindavan where the lord spent his childhood, celebrate this occasion with great pomp and with Great Spirit, devotion and pleasure all over India.
Raslilas or religious plays are performed to recreate incidents from the life of Krishna and to commemorate his love for Radha.
Song and dance mark the celebration of this festive occasion all over northern India. At midnight, the statue of infant Krishna is bathed and placed in a cradle, which is rocked, amidst the blowing of conch shells and the ringing of bells.
In the south western state of Maharashtra, people enact the god’s childhood attempts to steal butter and curd from earthen pots beyond his reach. A similar pot is suspended high above the ground and groups of young people form humans pyramids to try and reach the pot and break it.
The town of Dwarka in Gujarat, Krishna’s own land, comes alive with major celebrations as hordes of visitors flock to the town.
Although the festival takes place throughout India, one of the best places to experience it is Mumbai Competitions take place at hundreds of locations throughout the city, and they can get quite intense. Also known as Govinda, Krishna Janmashtami commemorates the birthday of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The highlight of the festival involves young males forming a human pyramid and climbing on top of each other to reach a pot of curd. Competitions take place at hundreds of locations throughout the city, and they can get quite intense. The human pyramids can go up as high as 40 feet, with as many as eight layers. Many competitors suffer bone injuries each year in their attempts to win.
• Maharashtra, certain communities in Gujarat, Assam, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and those people that follow Smarta Tradition – August 9
• North India, Gujarat (Dwaraka Temple), Vaishnava tradition in all regions – Sri Krishna Janmashtami is on August 10. (vrat or fasting in North India is on August 10).
• Dahi Handi and Gopalakala in Maharashtra is on August 10.
• Vittal Pindi at Udupi Sri Krishna Temple – August 10
• Kalo in Goa – August 10
• Tamil Nadu and Kerala (Ashtami Rohini ) – September 8, 2012 (Here Janmashtami takes place on Rohini Nakshatram in Aavani and Chingam months – these two months begin only by mid august.)
Tamil Nadu and Kerala follow solar calendars and the festival is observed annually in Tamil month Aavani and Malayalam Chingam month in Kerala. Once in three years there is a difference in dates in calendars followed in other regions (which is lunar calendar) with the calendars followed in these two stat

• Maharashtra, certain communities in Gujarat, Assam, Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and those people that follow Smarta Tradition – August 9
• North India, Gujarat (Dwaraka Temple), Vaishnava tradition in all regions – Sri Krishna Janmashtami is on August 10. (vrat or fasting in North India is on August 10).
• Dahi Handi and Gopalakala in Maharashtra is on August 10.
• Vittal Pindi at Udupi Sri Krishna Temple – August 10
• Kalo in Goa – August 10
• Tamil Nadu and Kerala (Ashtami Rohini ) – September 8, 2012 (Here Janmashtami takes place on Rohini Nakshatram in Aavani and Chingam months – these two months begin only by mid august.)

Special pujas are held in Sri Krishna Temples around the world. Special poojas and rituals are also held at midnight – the time of Krishna’s birth. Processions with tabloids depicting various episodes from the life of Shri Krishna enacted by children are a major highlight of the festival.
Special pujas are held in Sri Krishna Temples around the world. Temple is decorated with flowers and lamps. Sri Krishna Jayanti is celebrated with pomp and splendor. Plenty of sweets are made on this day. Among these are laddus (yellu oonde), chakli, cheedai, payasam (kheer), and so on. In addition, plenty of milk products especially butter, which was Sri Krishna’s favorite childhood food, is given in offerings. A wide variety of fruits are also offered. The most common sweets made laddus and payasamSpecial poojas and rituals are also held at midnight – the time of Krishna’s birth. Processions with tabloids depicting various episodes from the life of Shri Krishna enacted by children are a major highlight of the festival. Children also dazzle on the occasion as they dress themselves in fancy dresses as ‘Bal Krishna’ that makes the celebration livelier. Competitions and other special attractions are held on the occasion.
Shri Krishna Puja
Sri Krishna pooja during Janmashtami or Gokulashtami. The greatest Shri Krishna pooja that a person can do is to read the Bhagavad Gita and contemplate Staunch Krishna devotees fast on the day and it is a 24-hour fast, But many people feel the need to perform a puja when they feel they need to connect with the Supreme Being. A simple puja dedicated to Lord Krishna helps in keeping the mind calm and in concentrating.

Pooja Samagri
There are certain special items required for Krishnashtami pooja. Important pooja items are listed below:
Select a calm and quite place. Clean the place and then take a bath.
New clothes, flute and ornaments for Lord Krishna.
• A photograph or idol or picture of Lord Krishna also of Lord Ganesha.
Pooja thali containing a bell, diya, rice, elaichi(cardamom), supari, paan leaves, roli, small container filled with water, sindoor, incense sticks, flowers and ghee. sweets

For Panchamrit -milk, curd, gangajal, honey and ghee.
For Bhog or Prasad – Makhan & mishri, Panjiri and Sweet Ajwain .
A Copper plate and a roller.
Simple puja
Meditate for a few minutes to clear the mind of unwanted thoughts.
Now light the lamp. Pray to Ganesha
Meditate or pray to Lord Krishna.
Offer flowers – Tulsi leaves is the best offering made to Krishna
You can light incense or agarbathis. If needed you can ring the bell, while offering flowers.
Chant the shloka – Om Namo Vasudevaya Namah.
Now offer fruits or any sweet or usual food prepared for the deity. You can sprinkle some water after making the offering. You can meditate for a few minutes or read some shlokas or prayers dedicated to Krishna.
Special Pooja Vidhi:
Special pooja are performed both in homes as well as temples. The entire day is devoted to remembering and singing the praise of Lord Krishna.
People perform elaborate pooja during the festival. They keep day long fast. Functions and prayer meetings are organized to share the glory of their favorite God.
The general pooja process begins early in the morning with devotees giving a bath or abhishek to Bal Gopal’s idol with gangajal, ghee,

water, honey and curd. The idol is then adorned with new clothes (preferably in yellow colour), stone or other precious jewellery.
Next, the idol of lord is offered bhog, the contents of bhog may vary. Fruits, kheer, pedha, milk, and milk products are made. Makhan and Mishri are one of the most favourites Sweet dish of Bal Gopal There are devotees who offer chappan bhog(56 dishes) to Bal Gopal.
Thereafter, special Krishna pooja is performed. The cradle containing the divine infant’s idol is rocked, conch is blown. Devotees sing Krishna arti, some people read out 108 names of lord. They get totally immersed in the name and praise of Gopal.
After the entire pooja is over, devotees break their fast by having panchamrit.

You can meditate for a few minutes or read some shlokas or prayers dedicated to Krishna.
After the Krishna Puja remove the fruits and share it as ‘prasad’ with others.
After the puja, find some time to read the Bhagavad Gita and contemplate.
Other spiritual books that can be read include Uddhava Gita and Srimad Bhagavad Purana.

Shri Krishna taught us to rise above rituals and to perform action.
The life and message of Sri Krishna is the most stirring saga of one of the greatest saviour and profounder of Dharma. He was the unchallenged hero of his times both in terms of his bodily prowess and his intellectual brilliance.
Sri Krishna Jayanti, therefore, signifies not merely the birth of a great and Divine teacher of mankind in some distant past but the lighting of the spark of the Divine Power in every one of us, which spurs us on to play our dynamic part in this world of practical and hard realities with a sense of high spiritual purpose.

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