Janmastami, Appearance Day of Lord Sri Krishna


HOUSTON: As Vasudeva stood perplexed with the divine newborn held tightly to his chest, the chains that held him broke and the heavy iron doors that barred any escape, swung open. The guards were snoring, and Vasudeva swiftly ran into the pouring rain, the baby Krishna now in a basket in his hands. As he neared the river Yamuna, who was in full spate, and wondered how to get to Nandaraja’s home as prophesized in a divine appearance by the Supreme, all of a sudden the path cleared and Ananta-Sesa (a manifestation of Krishna’s elder brother Balarama) protected them, and guided them to Nandaraja’s home, where again everyone was in deep slumber.

Vasudeva quietly exchanged Krishna for another newborn (a girl, who was actually Yogamaya) and returned to the prison-house, where things immediately went back to their original state, including his shackles and the massive iron doors.

When the evil Kamsa, brother of Devaki (and thus Vasudeva’s brother-in-law) swooped down to kill this child (who had been foretold to be the reason for his death) the child simply slipped out of his hands, laughed and said, Kamsa, your killer, the eighth child, is still alive! Kamsa’s rage knew no bounds and he set upon finding that elusive eighth child of Devaki and Vasudeva, the child who would destroy him and his dark shadow that had held the hapless Mathura-vasis in thrall.

Thus begins the sublime and mesmerizing story of the Supreme Lord Sri Krishna, the advent of whom we celebrate as all over the world as Janmashtami, Gokulashtami, Krishnashtami, or Krishna Jayanti.

This is such a joyous and universally uniting festival that all of the world comes together to rejoice in the birth of the protector of saints and destroyer of demons. There are slight differences in how the various parts of India celebrate Janmashtami, but the unifying aspect is that of complete submission to the utter bliss that comes with chanting the names of the Lord and in glorifying Him by hearing and reciting His delightful pastimes.

Most traditions call for fasting until midnight, when Krishna was born, and then performing aarti and rousing kirtan for His pleasure. In the northern part of India, especially Uttar Pradesh – where places such as Vrindavan, Gokul, and Mathura hold deep significance due to Krishna’s intimate association with them and because of the multitude of His pastimes that were enacted there – the festivities are especially pronounced.

In South India the event is generally known as called Gokulashtami and people draw tiny feet (imprints using a mixture of flour and water) that lead into the kitchen and other rooms from outside the residence, representing Krishna’s mischievous pastimes where he used to steal butter by smashing open the pots hung high from the rafters. As a recurring leitmotif of how this sweetest of festivals is celebrated, devotees cook sumptuous food (with a lot of sweets!) and offer to the Lord to express their love and devotion.

In Dwaraka (Gujarat), where Krishna founded His kingdom, devotees exemplify their uncompromising bhakti towards the Supreme Personality of Godhead Sri Krishna by thronging Dwaraka-dhisha temple (also known as the Jagad Mandir).

In the great state of Maharashtra the dahi-handi (buttermilk-pot) event is not to be missed. Teams of players come together to form a human pyramid and the person at the apex tries to break the pot open.

As one can see, the sheer joy and gaiety that characterize this festival is highly infectious and is universal in nature. Let us pray to the Supreme Lord Sri Hari, simply by chanting whose glorious names we can attain moksha – eternal liberation from this material world!

On Wed, Aug 28, 6:30pm Hare Krishna Dham, ISKCON Houston, will celebrate this grand occasion of Janmashtami festival with special aratis, Abhishek Bathing Ceremony of the Deities, Melodious kirtans and delicious prasadam.”

Every Houstonion looks forward to experiencing the Janmashtami celebrations at the Hare Krishna Dham, ISKCON Houston. Thousands of devotees eagerly wait in line for the special darshan and arati of the beautiful Sri Sri Radha NilaMadhava, the presiding Dieties, while enjoying the cultural activities and delicious prasadam.

Aparat from the celebrations on the actual day, Wed Aug 28, Hare Krishna Dham (1320 W 34th Street, Houston TX – 77018. www.iskconhouston.org , 713-686-4482), will also conduct a public celebration of the Janmashtami festival on Sun, Sep 1, from 5:30pm, with a bonanza of cultural activities, dramas and dances.

Join in the festivities this year and experience the joy of the Janmashtami Festival.”