|Also called||Janmashtami / Dahi Handi|
|2012 date||10 August (India); 8 September (Kerala)|
Krishna Janmashtami (Devanagari कृष्ण जन्माष्टमी kṛṣṇa janmāṣṭami), also known as Krishnashtami, Saatam Aatham, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti or sometimes merely as Janmashtami, is an annual commemoration of the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.
The festival is celebrated on the eighth day (Aṣṭamī) day of the dark fortnight of the month of Śrāvaṇa or Bhādrapada (August–September) in the Hindu calendar. Rasa lila, dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna, are a special feature in regions of Mathura and Vrindavan, and regions following Vaishnavism in Manipur. While the Rasa lila re-creates the flirtatious aspects of Krishna's youthful days, the Dahi Handi celebrate God's playful and mischievous side, where teams of young men form human towers to reach a high-hanging pot of butter and break it. This tradition, also known as uriadi, is a major event in Tamil Nadu on Gokulashtami.
Birth (mythology) 
Krishna was the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva. Based on scriptural details and astrological calculations the date of Krishna's birth, known as Janmashtami, is 19 July 3228 BCE and departed on 3102 BCE. Krishna belonged to the Vrishni clan of Yadavas from Mathura, and was the eighth son born to the princess Devaki, and her husband Vasudeva.
Mathura (in present day Mathura district, Uttar Pradesh) was the capital of the Yadavas, to which Krishna's parents Vasudeva and Devaki belonged. King Kansa, Devaki's brother, had ascended the throne by imprisoning his father, King Ugrasena. Afraid of a prophecy that predicted his death at the hands of Devaki's eighth son, Kansa had the couple locked into a prison cell. After Kansa killed the first six children, and Devaki's apparent miscarriage of the seventh (which was actually a secret transfer of the infant to Rohini as Balarama), Krishna was born.
Since Vasudeva knew Krishna's life was in danger, Krishna was secretly taken out of the prison cell to be raised by his foster parents, Yasoda and Nanda, in Gokula (in present day Mathura district). Two of his other siblings also survived, Balarama (Devaki's seventh child, transferred to the womb of Rohini, Vasudeva's first wife) and Subhadra (daughter of Vasudeva and Rohini, born much later than Balarama and Krishna).
Hindus celebrate Janmashtami by fasting and staying up until midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. Images of Krishna's infancy are placed in swings and cradles in temples and homes. At midnight devotees gather around for devotional songs, dance and exchange gifts. Some temples also conduct reading of the Hindu religious scripture Bhagavad Gita.
Janmaashtami/ Gokulashtami ( Marathi- गोकुळाष्टमी ), popularly known in Mumbai and Pune as Dahi Handi, is celebrated with enormous zeal and enthusiasm. The handi is a clay pot filled with buttermilk that is positioned at a convenient height prior to the event. The topmost person on the human pyramid tries to break the handi by hitting it with a blunt object. Mostly nariyal (coconut) is preferred being a sign of purity, truth etc. in Hinduism. When that happens the buttermilk is spilled over the entire group, symbolizing their achievement through unity. Handis are set up around the city, and groups of youngsters, called Govinda Pathaks, travel around in trucks trying to break as many handis as possible during the day.
Many such Govinda Pathaks compete with each other, especially for the handis that dole out hefty rewards. The event, in recent times, has gathered a political flavor, and it is common for political parties and rich community groups to offer prizes amounting to lakhs of rupees.
Cash and gifts are offered for Govinda troops to participate; for over 4,000 handis in Mumbai, 2,000 Govinda troops compete for the prizes.
Janmaashtami, popularly known in Manipur as Krishna Janma, is a significant festival celebrated at two temples in Imphal, the capital city of Manipur. The first festival is at the Govindaji temple and the second is at the International Society for Krishna Consciousness temple. Devotees of Lord Krishna gather mostly at the ISKCON temple.
Northern and Eastern India 
Places in Uttar Pradesh associated with Krishna's childhood, such as Mathura, Gokul and Vrindavan, attract visitors from all over India, who go there to participate in the festival celebrations. People in the city of Dwarka in Gujarat, where Krishna is believed to have established his Kingdom, celebrate the festival by visiting the Dwarkadhish temple. In Jammu, kite flying is an important part of the celebration on his day.
In the eastern state of Odisha, in the region around Puri and in Nabadwip, West Bengal people celebrate Janmashtami by fasting and worship till midnight. Purana Pravachana from the Bhagavata Purana are recited from the 10th Skandha. This section deals with pastimes of Lord Krishna. The next day is called Nanda Utsav or the joyous celebration of Krishna's foster parents Nanda and Yashoda. On this day, people break their fast and offer various cooked sweets during the early hours.
South India 
Eighty percent of the population of Nepal identify themselves as Hindus and celebrate Krishna Janmaasthimi. They observe fast till midnight. They enchant Slokas from the Bhagavad Gita and sing religious songs called bhajans. The temples of Lord Krishna are decorated and bhajans and kirtan are sung or played. The Krishna Mandir in Patan Durbar Square, Narayanhiti Krishnamandir and other temples of lord Krishna are the centers for festivities in Krishna Janmaasthimi. Numerous devotees flock to the ancient Krishna temple in old Patan Durbar Square to keep vigil through the revered night of his birth. Sitting closely together, people's bodies rock as women chant the many names of Lord Krisha, Narayan, Narayan and Gopal, Gopal. Some sing hymns, others clap their hands, while some pray. Crowds of men and women edge their way slowly up narrow steps through the seated devotees to the temple's dark interior to where the main idol stands. There they offer flowers, coins and food and wait for a glimpse of Krishna Janmastami festival at Krishna Mandir the idol. After the temple priest gives them prasad they make their way home.
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Janmashthami is a national holiday in Bangladesh. On Janmashthami, a procession starts from Dhakeshwari Temple in Dhaka, the National Temple of Bangladesh, and then proceeds through the streets of Old Dhaka. The procession dates back to 1902 but was stopped in 1948 following the establishment of Pakistan and subsequent attacks by Muslim mobs in Dhaka. The procession was resumed in 1989.
Outside South Asia 
Street plays 
For the past few years, several thousand teams of youth perform street plays on the occasion of Janmashtami worldwide. The performers of these plays are inspired by Pandurang Shastri Athavale, of the Swadhyay Pariwar, to spread the message of Krishna. They disseminate the thoughts of Bhagavad Gita through street plays around the week of Janmashtami.
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