Krishna Janmashtami, also called Gokulashtami, is an annual Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Vishnu. Devotees keep fast on the day of Krishna Janmashtami and offer prayer to the deity for good health and happiness.
Hindus believe that on this day, Lord Vishnu, the preserver or sustainer of life, was incarnated on Earth as Lord Krishna in order to fight evil. The festival falls on the eighth day (Ashtami) of Krishna Paksha or the eighth day of the dark fortnight in the Hindu month of Bhadon.
The parents of Lord Krishna, Devaki and Vasudeva, were thrown into prison by Mathura’s King Kansa. Mathura is a sacred city in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, and was the capital of the Vrishni kingdom where King Kansa was the ruler. Devaki was the sister of King Kansa, but on the day of her marriage it was prophesied that her eighth son would kill Kansa. After this, Kansa threw both his sister and brother-in-law into prison and killed all of their sons one-by-one until Krishna was born.
On the night Krishna was born, a divine voice told his father, Vasudeva, to carry the baby to Vrindavan in order to protect him from Kansa’s attack.
People wear new clothes, and dance and sing in celebration of the birth of their deity. Fasting is observed for the entire day and broken only after the birth of Lord Krishna at midnight. The puja ritual, which takes place at midnight, sees the idol of Lord Krishna worshipped, with people offering flowers, fruits and sweets to the god, as well as praying for the welfare of their family.
Some vegetables are permitted during the fast, such as aloo (potato), shakarkandi (sweet potato), jimikand (yam), nimbu (lemon), hari mirch) (greenchilli), adrak (ginger) and dhaniya (coriander).