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Janmashtami

National and Public Holidays in India Regional Holiday celebrated across India

Janmashtami
Copyright: muralinathypr / 123RF Stock Photo

When is Janmashtami?

Year Day Date
2018 Monday September 3rd
2017 Tuesday August 15th
2017 Monday August 14th
2016 Thursday August 25th
2015 Saturday September 5th

Janmashtami is a Hindu festival and a Gazetted holiday in many regions of India. It may be known as Sreekrishna Jayanthi in some regions.

Janmashtami is also a public holiday in Bangladesh.

Indian regions observing Janmashtami in 2016

On 24 August 2016, Janmashtami is a public holiday in Kerala and Odisha.

On 25 August 2016, Janmashtami is a public holiday in Assam, Bihar, Chandigarah, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand.

History and Background to Janmashtami

One of the most important Hindu festivals, Janmashtami (Krishna Jayanti) is the birthday of Lord Krishna, the eighth re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu who gave the vital message of the Bhagwat Gita - the guiding principles for every Hindu.

Across India there will be ceremonies and prayers at temples dedicated to Krishna. The day before may consist of fasting and prayer up to midnight, the time at which it was said that Krishna was born.

Krishna was born in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. In this region, a common tradition is the performance of Krishna Lila, a folk drama consisting of scenes from Krishna's life.

Many customs have developed in the different parts of India, all based on stories from Krishna's life. For instance, it is said that as a boy, Krishna loved butter and milk so much that they had to be kept out of his reach. This story is reflected in many climbing games for children.

  • In Tamil Nadu, oiled poles with pots of money tied to the top are set up. Boys dressed as Krishna then try to climb these poles to get the money while onlookers squirt water at them.
  • In Maharashtra, where the festival is known as Govinda, pots containing buttermilk are suspended high over streets. Teams of boys then form human pyramids competing against each other to see who can break the most pots.

Krishna

Many colourful legends tell of Krishna's life and he is a prominent figure in Hindu writings.

As a child he is noted for his pranks such as the aforementioned butter stealing and images of him as a child often show him dancing joyously and holding a ball of butter in his hands..

As a adult, he is most commonly depicted as a dancer or a lover, often playing the flute and surrounded by adoring women. In one story, it is said that defeated the many headed serpent Kaliya by dancing it into submission.


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