JANMASHTAMI, THE BIRTH OF KRISHNA
Today begins the annual Janmashtami festival, a very special day for Hindus as it marks the birth of Krishna, one of their most popular deities. According to the Hindu lunar calendar, the celebration is observed on the ashtami or eighth day of Krishna Paksha (second fortnight) in the month of Shravan, between August or September of the Gregorian calendar.
The main celebrations take place at midnight because it is believed that Krishna may have appeared at that time. For this special day, Krishna temples are decorated with flowers and lights; Processions are held, while religious sites sing bhajans (spiritual chants) and satsangs sessions or scripture discussions and reflections.
Fasting, prayer and other rituals are carried out in temples and houses before images of Krishna as a child, playing on a swing or lying in a crib. Idols are put on new clothes and ornaments and offered pujas (offerings) of fruits and sweets and a special type of offering called makkhan malai, consisting of milk cream with a little sugar.
Sri Krishna is the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu and the commemoration of his birth brings families together in an atmosphere of joy. It is celebrated all over the world, with celebrations in the US, Canada, Singapore, France and New Zealand being especially popular.
Source: Ann Rajkumari Jodhaa