14 to 15 August
Janmashtami is a lively and colourful celebration of the birth of Krishna (born c. 3228 BC), one of the most popular Hindu deities. The festival takes place in the Hindu month of Sravana – usually August or September in the Gregorian calendar. Janmashtami lasts for two days, with many Hindus choosing to fast on the day and night of the first day. Their fasts are broken at midnight, when Krishna is believed to have been born, and Janmashtami celebrations become an altogether more joyous affair. Song, dance and drama are crucial to Janmashtami celebrations, with bhajans (traditional songs) sung, dances performed and plays about Krishna’s early life re-enacted.
In Hindu temples, bells are rung, the shankh (conch shell) is blown and holy mantras are chanted as images of Krishna are bathed and placed in cradles. Food has a central role in Janmashtami festivities. As Krishna was fond of milk, buttermilk and curds, celebratory foods are prepared based on these ingredients. Buttermilk also features in an unusual tradition in which a young boy carrying a handi (clay pot) filled buttermilk is lifted to the top of a human pyramid, where he smashes the pot and spills the contents.
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