Krishna Janmashtami or the birth of Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu on earth, is observed on the eighth day of the dark half (Krishna Paksha) of the month of Bhadrapada according to the Hindu calendar.
Dwarka, the kingdom founded by Lord Krishna is located within the territories of the present day Gujarat and therefore, Krishna Janmashtami in Gujarat India is one of the most popular of the fairs and festivals in Gujarat. Every Vaishnav home with Krishna belief and even people from other faith, follow Janmashtmi.
The festivities begin with fasting on the previous day (Saptami, seventh day) which is followed by a night-long vigil commemorating the birth of Krishna at night, and his immediate removal by his father to a foster-home for safe-keeping at Gokula. At midnight, the idol of the infant Krishna is bathed, placed in a cradle and worshipped.
After ablutions, morning prayers and worship, the devout break their fast with food that has first been offered to Krishna. During the fore-noon hours, the “Dahi-Handi” custom is celebrated. It is customary to break earthen pots filled with buttermilk, which is tied high up on a rope on this day. Hundreds of people join hands to make a human pyramid, so that they can reach the pot. But the crucial factor is that people who surround the pyramid, keep throwing water on the group forming the pyramid.
The breaking of Handis is followed by sumptuous mid-day feasts, where extended families customarily get together. Sweets made of milk and other dairy products, especially butter, are traditionally prepared for this occasion.
Devotional songs and dances mark the celebration. Rasa Lila is performed to recreate incidents from the life of Krishna and commemorate his love for Radha. Homes and temples are filled with Krishna chants of ‘Hare Ram, Hare Krishna’ and every Gujarati worship Lord Krishna and celebrates his birth with great faith and joy.
Janmashtmi fairs are held at various places in Gujarat. It is believed according to a legend that the Yadavs, the clan Lord Krishna belonged to, left the town of Mathura and settled down in the town of Dwarka for the betterment and further perpetuation of their clan. Hence, Dwarka, situated in Gujarat celebrate the ocassion of Janmashtmi at midnight with the birth of Lord Krishna, who as a child is adorned with a crown and made to sit on a cradle. Dwarka temples, Dakor and Krishna temples in Gujarat, celebrate Janmashtmi festival with great holy celebrations.