August 28 – Janmashtami

Posted August 28, 2013

Today is celebrated as the birthday of the Hindu god Krishna.

It's a really big deal! According to some sources, this holiday is like Christmas and New Year's rolled into one, for more than 900 million people worldwide. Of course, with so many celebrations in so many places, there are a lot of variations of customs. 

For some, festivities begin before dawn and extend all day until midnight. There is prayer and scripture reading, singing and dancing, fasting and feasting, ceremonial washing statues of gods, and decorating temples and statues of Krishna. People often re-enact scenes from Krishna's life or perform other dramas. In some places, teams of young men form human towers so they can reach and break a pot of butter that has been hung up high. People often exchange gifts; in some places people compete for cash awards.

The story of Krishna's birth has a few similarities with the story of Jesus's birth:

An evil ruler had heard a prophecy that one of the sons of his sister and her husband would destroy him, so he imprisoned the couple. Each time the couple had a baby (always a boy), the evil ruler had his newborn nephew killed. Before their eighth son was born, the couple was already mourning his death, but the Supreme Lord Vishnu appeared and assured them that he himself was coming in the form of this baby. Vishu instructed the father to take the baby, the moment he was born, to the home of a cowherd and swap his baby boy for the cowherd's newborn daughter. Of course, the father pointed out that he was a prisoner and couldn't go anywhere at all—but Vishnu assured him that all the barriers would give way on this important night.

Krishna was born exactly at midnight, and his earthly father did as Vishnu said. Magically, his leg irons broke apart, the door lock opened, the iron bars gave way, and Krishna's father was able to get to the cowherd's house and make the swap. When Krishna's father returned to his wife, all the doors and bars and locks and leg chains snapped back into place.

When the evil ruler arrived the next morning, ready to kill the new baby, he discovered that it was a baby girl. He still tried to kill the infant, but she was transformed into a goddess who taunted the ruler with the knowledge that his nemesis was hidden somewhere else.

Also on this date:

Plan ahead:

Here are my Pinterest pages on August holidayshistorical anniversaries in August, and August birthdays.

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