Krishna Janmashtami commemorates the birth of Krishna, one of the most important gods in the Hindu religion. Consequently, this holiday is held in high regard among Hindu people. They celebrate Krishna Janmashtami, also referred to as Gokulashtami, on the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadrapada. The holiday’s date fluctuates year to year but usually occurs in August or September.
What is Krishna Janmashtami?
Vishnu, one of the triumvirate gods in Hinduism, is recognized as Krishna’s father. Vishnu is seen as the protector of all the universe and believed to be incarnated to return to Earth and restore the balance between good and evil. His eighth incarnation is Krishna.
The god Krishna is recognized as a warrior, hero, teacher, and philosopher in the Hindu religion. His birthday is celebrated by having grand festivals over a two-day period. During these 48 hours, Hindu people often do not sleep but instead partake in traditional celebrations. Some people fast for the first full day, and then at midnight—the time Krishna is believed to have been born—the festivities begin. Dances and traditional Hindu songs called bhajans are performed to honor Krishna during these celebrations. Food is prepared from milk and curds (Krishna’s favorite foods) and re-enactments of his life are performed.
In temples, images of Krishna are bathed and placed in cradles and then worshiped while conch shells and bells are played and mantras are chanted. Shrines in homes are decorated with leaves and flowers, and food that represents the god’s leftovers are distributed to the household as blessings. People commemorate Krishna’s birth by making representations of Mathura (the city where he was born) the Yamuna River, and ancient Vraja, where Krishna grew up. These scenes of his childhood are decorated with small images of the god. In the city streets, pots of milk are hung from tall poles. Men form huge human pyramids to reach and break open the pots as a representation of Krishna’s childhood games.
Christians also celebrate a significant birthday every year—the birth of Jesus. Since Krishna Janmashtami celebrates Krishna’s birthday, use the similarity of Christmas to foster a gospel conversation.
After asking a Hindu friend the significance of Krishna Janmashtami, explain the significance of Jesus’ birth. Jesus left Heaven and the presence of His Father to be a vulnerable human like the rest of us. He did this so that he could live a sinless life and then die on the cross as the propitiation for our sins. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus because He was God’s greatest gift to the world.
Because of this great act of love and sacrifice, people can experience a personal relationship with God. All you have to do is believe and confess that Jesus is the Son of God and that He took your place of punishment and covers sin. Believers are then restored to the Father and forgiven of sins, saved to live with Jesus for all eternity in Heaven.
Not only are Christians invited into a personal relationship with a God who loves them, but they also receive eternal life with Him. Emphasize the importance of knowing the one true God and how He has formed a personal relationship with us.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” -1 John 4:9-10