Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. In India, this saying almost comes closer to its meaning during the holy festival of Krishna Janmashtami, which is celebrated by Hindus to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna is believed to be the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu and has found his way into the hearts of millions of non-Hindus as well.
Krishna Janmashtami, the festival celebrating his birth, falls in the Hindu Bhadrapada month (August or September) spaced closely with Rakshabandhan. It is a festival observed with much fervor across various states of the country; although in different and unique ways. Devotees observe fasts, offer prayers and young kids are dressed up as Bal-Krishna and Radha as a unique feature.
So if you are travelling during these months and wish to experience Janmashtami in some unique ways, here are a few Indian places you must-visit; simply to experience the fervour, grandeur and sheer enjoyment of the festival:
Mathura, being Krishna’s birthplace, celebrates his birth in a grand way. All the city temples are beautifully decked up and there are prayers and hymns all through the day. There are midnight celebrations to mark the time of his birth and people religiously fast on this day for blessings. A unique feature is the dance-drama, which is conducted here to narrate the story of Krishna’s birth and beyond. It is typically called, Raasleela. There is a mystic scent of devotion in the air in Mathura on this special day and is worth loosing oneself.
According to Hindu Mythology, Lord Krishna spent his childhood in Vrindavan, making it a special place for Janmashtami celebrations. The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) temple, Banke Bihari Temple, and Radharaman Temple of Vrindavan are famous for their sacred celebrations on Janmashtami and worth visiting on this day. These temples are completely doused in the holiness of Krishna during this time. The festivities here are unparalleled to anywhere else.
The lost city of Dwarka is the city where Krishna lived with his wives till his death. After his death it is believed that the city submerged into the sea and got lost, after which Kalyug began. However, the Dwarka of today, even though is a fairly modern city, still holds immense importance especially during the Janmashtami celebrations. The Dwarkadheesh Temple hosts exemplary Janmashtami celebrations and the whole city soaks in the revelries of the festival.
In Maharashtra, Krishna Janmashtami or Krishnashtami is also known as Gokulashtami. Especially in the capital city Mumbai, Dahi handi celebrations can be witnessed in almost every street. The festival is popularly known as Govinda, as many boys and young men climb a human tower to break earthen post filled with curds and butter suspended high above by ropes. These people are generally referred to as Govinda. Govinda is another name of Lord Krishna.
Dahi Handi and the special dhol dances on streets are special attractions of Mumbai-type celebrations. It is one of a kind and if possible one must celebrate Janmashtami in Mumbai at least once to soak in all the adrenaline pumping through the crowd. Energetic and fun-filled it is a must-watch scene.
Apart from these selected places, ISKCON temples spread all over the nation and outside India too, celebrate Janmashtami in their special way. Celebrations galore everywhere in India to welcome Baby Krishna and to take the journey of faith and undergo purity of soul.