Janmashtami celebrates the birth of one of the most famous Gods of Hindu religion, Bhagwan Krishna, on the eighth day (Ashtami) in the month of Sravana or Savana. Lord Sri Krishna was born on the 'Rohini' nakshatram (star). It is generally celebrated in the month of August-September according to the Christian Calendar. Legend has it that Sri Krishna was born on a dark, stormy and windy night to end the rule and atrocities of his maternal uncle, Kansa.
It was only on the eighth day of the second fortnight, in the month of Sravana when, the moon entered the house of Vrishabha in Rohini Nakshatra (star) that Lord appeared. According to Barhapatyamana, the month of Sravana corresponds to the month of Bhadrapada Krishnapaksha. Lord was born in the year of Visvavasu, appx. 5,227 years ago.
Janmashtami is celebrated for over two days as “Rohini” nakshatra and Ashtami may not fall on the same day. The first day known as Krishnashtami, as the birth of Bhagwan Krishna falls on the eighth day after Raksha Bandhan, which generally falls in the month of August. The second day is known as Kalashtami. It is only at midnight between the first and the second day that birth of Sri Krishna took place. The actual festivities begin during midnight in this 48 hour period. The celebration reaches its peak at midnight, with the birth of Lord Krishna, with lot of hymns, arti taking place and blowing of the Conch (shankh), rocking the cradle of Lord. The idol of lord is bathed with Panchamrit (A mixture of milk, ghee, oil, honey and Gangajal). The Panchamrit is later distributed as Prasad to the devotees along with other sweets. While some Fast on the first day and break it at midnight for others the fasting continues for both days. The period coincides with rainy season.
Janmashtami is celebrated to welcome and enjoy Lord Krishna's birth. The birth of Lord Krishna took place when the various planets were in auspicious places. It is said that God chooses a particular time, as to when he will take birth as a human and the planetary systems are adjusted accordingly. Around the time of Bhagwan Krishna's birth, Rohini Nakshatra was predominant as it is considered to be quite auspicious. This is so because it is under the supervision of Brahma, the creator of Universe. Sri Krishna was born in the month Of Sravana more than 5000 years ago.
According to some scholars,
Krishna was born on Wednesday,the eighth day of second fortnight in Sravana month in the year of Visvavasu around 3227 BC, also known as Dwapur Yug. July 19th 3228 BC to be more accurate. He lived for 125 years and disappeared on February 18th 3102 BC on the new moon night of Phalguna. His death was the onset of the current corrupt age known as Kaliyug. From the time, Devki conceived Sri Krishna, she began to glow and exude divine light. The prison walls glowed with the aura of the new born infant. Atmosphere of peace and happiness prevailed all over, Forests were all green and full of trees with all kinds of beautiful flowers, rivers were all swollen due to joy, peacocks began to dance in sheer joy, people in all villages started being happy.
The main objective of Lord Krishna's birth was to free Mother Earth from the wickedness of demons. Playing an important part in Mahabharata (legendary battle in Kurukshetra) and propagating the theory of bhakti and good karma were other important objectives.
The people of Mathura were extremely unhappy with the wicked king Kansa who put his father, king Ugrasen in prison and declared himself the king of
Mathura . It was to put an end to his evil ways and other demons that Lord Vishnu decided to take birth on Earth in human form. According to Akashvani (heavenly voice) at the wedding of his beloved sister Devki, Kansa got to know that the eighth child of his sister will take birth to kill him. So, in turn he rushed to kill his sister. Kansa gave up the idea of killing after being assured by Vasudev that he will handover all his children to him. He put them in Prison. Kansa killed all the six infants as soon as they were born. The seventh child (Balram) was saved due to divine intervention, when he was transferred from Devki's womb to that of Rohini's other wife of Vasudev.
Lord Krishna was born in a prison cell in the captivity of King Kansa. He took birth in divine form with lotus like eyes,his palms bearing the signs of a lotus and discus. He had a swastika sign on his sole. Wearing a yellow colored silk cloth, adorned with precious diamond earrings and a crown made of emeralds. Soon after the birth, a chain of events astonished Vasudev,when he saw the gates of the cell flow open and all the guards fast asleep. He immediately thought of Nand ,his close friend in Gokul and decided to handover his child to him in order to save him from the clutch of Kansa. The night of birth was witnessed by heavy rains which led to River Yamuna being in floods. As soon as the feet of Lord immersed in the river, the flow became normal and Yamuna made way for the Lord. Sheshnag, the serpent formed an umbrella to save the new born baby from rain. Vasudev kept his child next to fast asleep Yashoda and took the baby girl lying with him back to
Mathura . The baby girl is believed to be the sister of Lord Vishnu.
On hearing the news of birth of the eighth child of Devki and Vasudev, Kansa rushed to the prison-cell and lifted the baby girl to kill her despite pleadings from Devki. However, instead of hitting the stone, the child flew up in the air and announced that the annihilator of Kansa was born and in safe hands.
Krishna later grew in Gokul and finally killed his maternal uncle, King Kansa.