The highly revered festival of ‘Vaishnav’ Hindus would be falling on India’s 70th independence day this year. The day that embarks India’s freedom would observe the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the Supreme Lord Vishnu. Also referred as ‘Krishna Janmashtami,’ it precedes the ‘Nandotsav’ festival which commemorates the occasion when Krishna’s foster father ‘Nanda’ distributed gifts among the community honouring the birth. Janmashtami is observed on Ashtami of the ‘Krishna Paksha’ in the ‘Bhadrapada’ month according to Hindu lunisolar calendar. It overlaps with August-September according to Gregorian calendar.
Fasting, praying, dahi-handi, fair, traditional sweet dishes, etc are key to the festive celebrations. The ‘Bhagavata Purana’ states that apart from fasting and praying, devotional singing, night vigil and dramatization of Krishna legends are significant rituals of Krishna Janmashtami.
Janmashtami is celebrated in ‘Gurukuls’ (A kind of community colleges where the pupils accommodate in the mentor’s house.) particularly in ‘Mathura,’ ‘Vrindawan’ and ‘Dwarka.’ Mathura and Vrindawan signify the childhood and adolescence memories of Lord Krishna. While Dwarka has a rich heritage comprising fables of sages Ravidas and Meerabai, known to be the highly respected ‘Bhakti’ saints of Krishna movement. The importance of the festival is attributed to the spiritual teachings of 15th and 16th century scholar-saints ‘Sankradev’ and ‘Chaitanya Mahaprabhu.’ The festivities are at an epitome level in Imphal’s ‘Shree Govindajee’ temple and ‘ISKCON’ temples as well.