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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. Janmashtami celebration in Dwarka is very special. Dwarka, means ‘Door to Moksha (Salvation).’ Lord Krishna with his elder brother Balram established this ancient city. Divine architect Vishwakarma built it in two days. The city is said to have been made up of diamonds and crystal, with palaces made of gold, emeralds and other precious stones. It was the abode of Lord Krishna for nearly 100 years. After Lord Krishna’s death, the city is believed to have been submerged in the sea.
The celebration of Janmashtami in the main Dwarkadhish temple is very famous in India. Devotees from all over India throng the city of Dwarka during Janamashtami. The celebration on Janmashtami follows the daily routine or ‘Nitya Kram’ of Lord Krishna. The festival day begins with mangla arti performed in the morning. Beginning with ‘Banta Bhog’, which made of milk and milk products offered to Lord Krishna, followed by cleansing of his face with water, brushing of the idol’s teeth. Then the first darshan of the day is allowed to the devotees.
Lord Krishna kkis given the holy bath between 8 – 10 am and devotees are given a chance to see the abhishek, which happens only twice a year. The bath is given right after the mangla arti with Panchamrit –which is a mixture of gangajal, ghee, honey, curd and sugar. After the bath, Lord Krishna is adorned with pitambar, yellow colored clothes and ornaments. Ornaments consists of Chandanmala, Vyjantimala, made of flowers and Suparimala made of Betel nut. After the adornment of Shri Krishna, the curtains are removed and devotees are allowed to do the darshan of the Lord.
During this ritual, the curtains are down again and darshans are not allowed. After the evening arti, Lord is offered sweets again; devotees are not allowed the darshans of the Lord during this time. Then it is time for Dwarkadhish to sleep. This happens around 9:00 pm. It is around 10:30 pm that darshans are opened again for the devotees during the Janmashtami celebrations.
Lord Dwarkadhish is adorned with lot of Gold jewellery and other precious stones such as Diamonds and Topaz. Utsav Bhog is offered to Lord around 11:30 pm. Devotees are not allowed to see the process of Utsav Bhog though they wait eagerly for their beloved Lord in the temple premises and sing bhajans. The devotees welcome the Lord at 12 midnight with immense enthusiasm and joy by chanting “Nand Gher Anand Bhayo- Jay Kanaiya lal ki”. After nearly two-hour celebrations, the temple closes at 2:00 am after the mahabhog offerings to Lord Krishna.
In Gujarat, markets are also filled up with idols of Bal-Krishna and colorful swings. Every temple and house hold has decorated swings with Bal-Krishna-idol in colorful costumes sitting on it. The main Prasad known as PANCHAJIRI-or PANJARI is also work as protection against the seasonal disorder in people, as it made from five important elements of Ayurveda.
Apart from Dwarka, the people of Gujarat also visit Mathura, Dakor, Shrinathdwara and Shamlaji- for pilgrimage. Krishna Janmashtrami in Gujarat is also celebrated as festival of fairs in the state. Most of these fairs have been organized in towns and cities of Saurashtra region, which displays the rich culture and traditions of rural folklore.