Sri Krishna Janmastami marks the celebration of the birth of Bhagavan Sri Krishna. This festival is also known as Krishna Jayanti or Janmashtami. Lord Krishna is regarded as the 8th avatar or 'incarnation' of Vishnu. The life of Sri Krishna is the most stirring saga of one of the greatest saviors and propounders of 'Dharma'. His life is filled with numerous dangers over which he ultimately gained victory. The stories of how he killed, one after the other, all the demonic adversaries- Pootana, Shakata, Agha, Dhenuka, Bakaa, Keshi, Kansa, Shishupala, Jarasandha etc. - has made him the peerless savior of mankind.
Mathura was the capital of a kingdom in North India. Ugrasen was the king of Mathura. He had a son, Kansa and a daughter, Devki. During the lavish wedding of Devki to Vasudev, Kansa heard a celestial voice announce,' O Kansa, Thy death is written at the hand of the eighth son born to this union.' Through the ensuing years the demon king put to death six children born to Devki in the dungeons of the Palace. On the day that Sri Krishna was born it was raining and dark. At midnight a bright light appeared in the room of Devki. Then the child was born. Vasudev, terrified for the bay's safety, carried it in a basket through the opened gates of the dungeon. On account of the heavy rain the river Yamuna was swollen. But as he stepped out of the prison the rain stopped and the dim light of the moon showed the way. A huge snake taking the shape of an umbrella protected the child. As he reached the river the waters were divided leaving a dry path for Vasudev to cross. Vasudev went to the home of his friend Nanda. He exchanged the baby boy with a baby girl and went back. The following day, when Kansa tried to kill the baby girl she slipped from his hands and the image of Devi appeared. She spoke to Kansa,''The one who is destined to kill you has already taken birth elsewhere.' Sri Krishna flourished under Nanda's and Yashodha's care and later on slew the wicked Kansa.
On Krishna Janmashtami numerous devotees flock to the ancient Krishna temple in old Patan Durbar Square to keep vigil through the glorious night of his birth. As they sit huddled together their bodies rocking in humble obeisance, the women chant the many names of the Lord,'Narayan, Narayan' and Gopal, Gopal'. Some sing ancient hymns, others clap their hands, while some pray. Crowds of men and women edge their way slowly up narrow steps through the seated devotees to the temple's dark interior to where the main idol stands. There they offer flowers, coins and food and wait for a glimpse of Krishna Janmastami festival at Krishna Mandir the idol. After the temple priest gives them 'prasad' they make their way down to join the multitude of devotees in the streets.
Article by Vani Shah
Photographs collected from Deependra Bajracharya and Madhup Mangal.