The holidays in the Vedic tradition are calculated according to the Vedic calendar. This is a lunar based calendar. Holidays do not necessarily fall on a particular date, but rather are honored each year based on the lunar month and the phase of the Moon, according to Vedic astrology, or Jyotish. Each lunar month is named according to the nakshatra or the lunar constellation in which the Moon will be full that month. This lunar month is the month of Shravan, in which the full Moon fell in the nakshatra of Shravana. While one important meaning traditionally associated with the month of Shravan is the worship of Lord Shiva, there is also the celebration of Lord Krishna’s birthday. That day is known as Krishna Janmashtami. August 28 marks Krishna Janmasthami 2013.
As we celebrate Krishna Janmashtami today, we are honoring the birth of beloved Krishna, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The sacred Vedic text, the Bhagavad Gita is features a dialogue between Shri Krishna and his devoted disciple Arjuna, regarding proper dharma, or right moral conduct.
The word janma translates as “birth”. Ashtami is the 8th tithi (ti-thee) or phase of the Moon. Krishna Janmashatmi 2013 is celebrated on the 8th phase of the waning Moon or what is known as Krishna paksha (the dark phase of the Moon) in Vedic astrology.
The phase of the Moon is calculated each morning at sunrise in the Vedic calendar. Janmashatmi is celebrated at midnight following the day of tithi of ashtami. Krishna devotees traditionally fast during the day or refrain from eating grains and stay up till midnight celebrating Krishna’s life. There are plays depicting snippets of Krishna’s life and his glory. They adorn and worship statues of Lord Krishna. They chant bhajans or devotional songs to Shri Krishna and lose themselves in the bliss of ecstasy during the chants. One traditional chant is “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna”. They break their fast at midnight and enjoy a glorious feast to celebrate the birth of Krishna. The tulsi (holy basil) mala is associated with Krishna, as is the tulsi plant.
Baby Krishna (or “Bal Krishna” as he is known) was a playful, mischievous child. He had great enthusiasm for life. Thus, his birthday is celebrated with a great deal of mirth and merriment. Krishna is also associated with bhakti or devotion. Krishna devotees lovingly shower Krishna with their devotion on his birthday of Krishna Janmashtami.