Hindus around the world will be celebrating Krishna Day also known as Janmashtami this year on August 10, 2012. This date marks the birth of Lord Krishna the much loved Hindu deity. He is believed to be the eighth and most powerful incarnation of Lord Vishnu. According to legend, the city of Mathura was once ruled by an evil king named Kansa. The king’s oracles warned him that his sister Devaki and her husband Vasudeva would have a male child (Sri Krishna) who would one day kill him. This news infuriated Kansa. Desperate to save himself he orders the killing of all Devaki’s male children and imprisons a pregnant Devaki and Vasudeva. On the day rishna is born there is a severe rain storm. Thunder and lightning fill the night sky and at midnight Lord Krishna is born. Vesudeva, desperate to save his child swaddles him in his arms and manages to escape. His escape is made easy as all the guards have mysteriously fallen into a deep sleep. With the help of Seshnag (the serpent god), Vasudeva is able to cross the Yamuna River. At the edge of the river is the home of Yashoda. Yashoda had also giving birth during the night to a baby girl. Upon entering the home Vasudeva finds Yashoda enveloped in the same mysterious sleep that had taken over the prison guards. Vasudeva quickly swaps the babies and returns to the prison with the baby girl. Kansa is none the wiser and eventually Krishna kills him. Krishna festivals begin at midnight to honor the Lord’s time of birth. Many visit temples to offer prayers, chant the holy mantra, Omnamo Bhagavate Vasudevaya, sing bhajans  (religious songs) and pull a string to rock the cradle of Krishna. Children dress up like Krishna and perform plays at the bank of the Yamuna River. Krishna’s life and his love of Radha are reenacted in plays. Teams of youngsters form human pyramids, known as uriadi, to reach high strung pots of butter. This is a reenactment of Krishna’s childhood attempts to steal curd and butter which were out of his reach. During this time it is common for devotees to fast beginning at midnight on the eve of Krishna’s birth and ending 24 hours later after his birth. Special dishes and sweet treats are cooked for the after fast elebration.

Krishna day, as it is written in Gita, is a reminder to man that he will receive the fruits of his actions. Good deeds and actions will beget good. One must always follow a righteous path and never tolerate injustice