Krishna Janmashtami

Definition - What does Krishna Janmashtami mean?

Krishna Janmashtami is the Hindu festival celebrating the birthday of Lord Krishna, the god of love and compassion. In Vaishnavism, the largest sect in Hinduism, Krishna is the eighth incarnation of the supreme god, Vishnu. Some Hindus worship Krishna himself as the supreme deity.

Also called Gokulashtami (after an alternate name for Krishna) or simply Janmashtami, the celebration is held on the eighth day of the waning moon in the Hindu month of Shraavana. That date falls in July or August each year.

Yogapedia explains Krishna Janmashtami

The way Hindus celebrate Krishna Janmashtami varies by region and tradition. Among the rituals and observances are:

  • Fasting
  • Dancing and drama performances
  • Hymn singing
  • Scripture readings
  • Private prayers

Observances are held all day long, from before dawn up until midnight – believed to be the actual time of Krishna's birth – when a statue image of the infant is revealed and placed in a cradle. The ritual may include dressing the infant Krishna and/or bathing his body in milk. If fasting, the devotees break the fast with various sweets and even a feast.

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