Today marks the annual celebration of the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.
The festival is celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Krishna Paksha (dark fortnight) of the month of Bhadpadra (August–September) in the Hindu calendar.
Krishna was the eighth son of Devaki and Vasudeva. According to Hindu tradition, baby Krishna was born at midnight. The sacred day of Janmashtami celebrates the beautiful moments of Lord Krishna depicted as a child. Lord Krishna is revered as a representation of joy and simplicity and this aspect is brought out very well throughout the episodes in Mahabharata. Lord Krishna represents the joyful spirit in all of us that we should invoke, especially when we face difficult situations in life. The main significance of Janmashtami is to encourage goodwill and to discourage bad will. Krishna Jayanti also celebrates togetherness. The holy occasion brings people together, signifying unity and faith.
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 readings of the Hindu religious scripture Bhagavad Gita.