Celebrate Janmashtami At Home And With Krishna.com
If you don’t live near a temple, and can’t make it to a major celebration, Janmashtami can be celebrated anywhere.
- Invite friends and family to participate in the festivities.
- Decorating your home for Krishna can be great fun, particularly for children. Encourage them in helping to make garlands, hanging balloons and festoons of leaves, and generally making the house beautiful for Krishna’s appearance.
- Sing your favorite bhajanas(devotional songs in praise of God) from the Vaishnava Songbook. One of Krishna's many names is Murlidhara, “one who holds the flute.” He loves when His devotees sing and play music for His pleasure. And your friends and family will enjoy singing and playing instruments. Alternately, play prerecorded bhajans to heighten the spiritual atmosphere in your house.
- You can also chant extra rounds of the Hare Krishna mantra on japa mala (prayer beads). This is an intimate one on one exchange with Krishna.
- Read the history of Krishna’s advent and other pastimes from Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead or Srimad Bhagavatam, Canto Ten. Pass the book around. Try dramatic readings to bring the story to life. Janmashtami is all about completely immersing yourself in thoughts of Krishna in a festive way.
- If you have Radha-Krishna Deities, make or buy new outfits for them. Exercise your creativity and pay special attention to decorating their altar.
- Recreate the temple program and hold an abhisheka, bathing ceremony, for your deities. Bathe the deity with yogurt, honey, ghee and fruit juices while singing devotional songs.
- Temples usually prepare at least one hundred and eight different food dishes on Janmashtami. Of course, you don’t have to go that far, unless you’re feeling particularly energetic! But it’s always nice to cook some very special preparations to offer to the Lord. Imagine that Krishna was actually right there, in your house—what would you offer Him? This makes for a wonderful meditation while cooking on Janmashtami.
- Have a midnight arati (worship ceremony) with a kirtan. This is the exact time that Krishna appeared on earth, so it is most auspicious and spiritually inspiring. If you have arati paraphernalia, then you can do a full offering. If not, don’t worry–Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita, “If you offer Me with love a leaf, flower, fruit or water, I will accept it.” So offer whatever you can—it’s your love and devotion that matters.
- Tune into Krishna.com’s webcams and watch the festivities going on at some of ISKCON’s major temples.
- Buy a special gift for the Lord. You can wrap it and write a card to Krishna. Here are some gift ideas:
- If you have Deities you can buy or make jewelry, new clothes, garlands, peacock feathers, turban pieces, flutes or water cups
- Fruit basket
- Offering plate
- New picture frame if you worship a picture of Krishna
- Brand new aratiset
- If you are able to fast from food, fasting until midnight is recommended. If fasting is too difficult, then try to eat only light foods during the day. By putting our own needs aside and concentrating more on Krishna’s, we show our love for Him.
- You can engage your children in many of the above activities. Depending on your children’s ages, they can help cook, make garlands, design a birthday card, play musical instruments, dance and chant Hare Krishna. There are many children’s books about Krishna as well as DVDs of Krishna pastimes at the Krishna.com store.
- Children also enjoy dressing up as Radha, Krishna and their associates, and re-enacting Krishna’s pastimes. This helps create a festive mood.
Just as we like attention and fun on our birthday, Krishna also likes our attention and gifts on Janmashtami. The difference between Krishna and us is that He is able to reciprocate perfectly with each one of us. In the transcendental realm, everything that we offer to the Lord with love and devotion will benefit us unlimitedly, and those benefits will stay with us for eternity.
"I try to meditate on how auspicious and unique the day is. But the highlight for me is greeting the deities at midnight. After fasting and doing other austerities throughout the day, it’s a dramatic reward. You see the deities every day, but this day is special." —Yamaraja dasa, BTG design/layout
"I go to the temple and attend the programs there. I particularly like to participate in the kirtan." —Ijya dasa, Store Manager
"I love to bake a birthday cake for Krishna, and make it really fancy by decorating it. I dress the deities in their new outfits. And of course I try to chant extra rounds."—Lokasaksini dasi, Customer Service
"When we lived in North Carolina, my whole family would get together and cook about twenty-five small preparations for the deities. That was lots of fun. Also, if Janmashtami falls on a school day, I’ll wear a sari to school." —Lila Sadkin, BBT copyrights
"Janmashtami’s all about the kirtanas for me. There’s something electrifying about them on that day. I love dancing and roaring the holy name as loud as I can. I also like hearing new stories about Krishna that I’ve never heard before, and acting in the dramas."—Madhava Smullen, Staff writer/editor
"I like spending as much time as I can at the temple."—Ganga Sutton, BTG Circulation
"I really like listening to bhajanas, and getting into the mood of them. I also love that moment when the curtains open and I see the deities in their brand new outfit."—Shanti Day, BTG Circulation/customer service
"I like to do bhajanas with all my friends; it’s a fun way to glorify Krishna."—Balarama Bosch, programmer/website developer
"I like to make garlands, and help in the kitchen. My dad used to make the Janmashtami feast every year, and I would help. I guess that’s what makes it special for me. Also, there’s usually a lot of people in the kitchen, which makes it fun. Hot work, but fun."—Jivana Wilholt, website
"I do abisheka for the deities, and dress them in their new outfits. I try to cook something special, and offer it to the deities. And I always look forward to the temple programs, especially the kirtans. And of course the feast!" —Sathya Sikdar, website
"I like to chant a lot of extra rounds—all day if I can!" —Pranada dasi, website