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Janmashtami : The Celebration in Odisha

To save the world from sins, cruelty and evil, Lord Krishna came to the earth. Out of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu (Dashavataras), Krishna Avatar is the eighth one. The day of birth of Krishna is a cause of celebration as Krishna Janmastami in India. It is also known as Gokulashtami. People in Odisha celebrate the festival devoted to the most loved God Shree Krishna is with great rigour. Specially in the state of Odisha, the celebration of Janmastami evokes devotional and spiritual feelings in people. 

Since ancestrial period. people are celebrating Janmashtami. The festival fervour of Odisha is never ending. In Odisha is a state where there are thirteen festivals to celebrate in twelve months. That’s true. One festival follows the other. The chain of celebration goes on. Shree Krishna Janmastami is one such auspicious day which usually falls in the month of August or September. Also in Odisha, there is a two days of celebration. 

Children dressed as Lord Krishna, 2018
Children dressed as Lord Krishna, 2018 (courtesy Kalinga TV)

Janmastami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, is a festival which people celebrate all over Odisha with great enthusiasm. But why is it so important? Why is it celebrated for two days? When is it celebrated and how do people celebrate it? Let’s know about the festival of Janmastami in great details. 

When Do People Celebrate? 

As per Hindu calender, Janmastami is falls in the month of Shravana (In Gregorian Calender it is August or September). Lord Krishna was born on this day. Eight days after the Rakhsha Bandhan, His birthday comes and people celebrate it as Janmasthami.

According to Indian mythologies and epics, Krishna was born on this day. His birth time was midnight. So, some people observe it before one day while some people observe it after that day. There is a variation in the celebration because in Odisha we have different local calenders (Colloquially known as Panji).

Why Do People Celebrate? 

The birth (janma) of Krishna on the eighth (ashtami) day of dark fortnight of the Bhadrapada month marks the festival of Janmastami. According to Vishnu Puran (an Indian Mythology), Krishna was the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva. They were prisoned by the cruel king of Mathura, Kansa, who had killed seven new born babies Devaki gave birth to. Meanwhile, Devaki was the sister of King Kansa.

Krishna was saved by Basudeva accompanied by several miraculous incidents. It was midnight when Krishna was born. Everyone was sleeping. Vasudeva carried Krishna to a safe place, Gokul. And hence he was brought up by her step mother Jashoda. 

As a remembrance of Krishna’s birthday, people of Odisha celebrate the day as Janmashtami. Not only in Odisha but also across the country, people celebrate the festival.

What is the Significance? 

For Hindus, Krishna is the most adorable and most affectionable God. He has many names – Nanda Lala, Jashoda Nandana, Kanha, Shyama, Gokul Nandan  and many more. Krishna is the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu who is the care taker of the world. Krishna is intellectual, spiritual and full of wisdom and devotees love him for his policy of Leela ( a divine act). He also stood with Pandavas in the war of Mahabharat to eliminate the unjust and unfair. 

The primary reason of Krishna’s birth on earth is to punish the evil. In Gita, there is a verse which mentions the same. 

Yada-yada hi dharmasya

Glanir bhavati bharata

Abhyutthanam adharmasya

Tadatmanam srjamy aham…

Paritranaya sadhunam

Vinasaya ca duskritam

Dharma-samsthapanarthaya

Sambhavami yuge-yuge…

The verse, a part of the Geeta from  the epic Mahabharata means that whenever there would be wickedness in the world, Lord Krishna would arrive to teach a lesson to the wicked. his was the reason why Krishna took birth in the terrestrial world.

To remember the Lord, to fill the environment with prosperity and devotion, people celebrate Janmashtami in Odisha. 

How is the celebration in Odisha?  

Usually devotees in large number rush to temple of Lord Krishna. Some people arrange puja (worship) at their homes. Keeping fast is also an optional ritual on this day. Also to keep fast on Janmastami is holy and auspicious.

In villages and cities, citizens organize various programs like Bhajan Sandhya, Bhajan song programs. While, some people also go for live events of discussion on Srimad Bhagabad Gita. 

Janmashtami in Puri, 2019
Janmashtami in Puri, 2019 (courtesy Times of India)

They also decorate the idols of Lord Krishna very beautifully. To welcome Lord Krishna, people adorn the houses and temples with lights and flowers. People prepare many dishes like Sweets and cakes for family members and neighbours.

Finally people break their fast after worshipping the Lord.

Why Two Days Celebration? 

In some places, people celebrate Janmashtami for two days. This is because of different reasons. Usually it falls on the day of coinciding of the eighth day of Krishna Pakhsha along with Rohini nakshatra, which may not be same every year. 

Since the nakshatra called Rohini and the 8th day of Krishna Paksh may not fall on the same day, so it has a variation. 

Sand Art by Sudarshan Patnaik, 2016
Sand Art by Sudarshan Patnaik, 2016 (@sudarshasand, Twitter)

The first day or the Krishnashtami, is the birthday of Krishna in Mathura. On this day Lord Krishna took birth which comes on the eighth day after the festive occasion of Raksha Bandhan. The second day or the Nandostav, is the day on which Krishna reached in Gokul. There was a function in the house of Nanda King brings the name as Nandostav.

Breaking Dahi Handi is a tradition rarely followed in Odisha. But in some parts of Odisha, people do it. Meanwhile Dahi Handi is popular in most parts of India.

What Does The Festival Show Us? 

Celebration of Janmashtami in Odisha is a matter of love, kindness, fervour and brotherhood. It spreads the world with the message of Lord Krishna to love everyone,  to stand with the truth, right and just. As there is no hard rules and regulations in observing the festival, it is only a celebration of Shree Krishna’s birthday with happiness and affection. Thus, one can attain peace of mind by worshipping Krishna.

Finally, the festival grips the message of truth from the life of Krishna. Human beings have come to the earth for only doing Karma. No one has right on the fruits. Better actions lead to better results.

Hence, that’s all what Krishna has told.  

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