Janmashtami in Mathura
The celebration of Janmashtami is at its peak in the city of Mathura-birth place of Lord Krishna. The city is about 145 kms from Delhi. Lord is said to have been born around 5000 years back to put an end to the evils of demons. The city of Mathura adorns a complete festive look and the devotional mood reaches its pinnacle.
The main celebration takes place at the actual place of birth, now converted into a big temple known as Krishna Janma Bhoomi Mandir. Lord's idol is kept in a room also known as the Garbha Griha. Devotees keep a day-long fast and break it at midnight after the birth time of Bhagwan Krishna. All through the day devotees remain immersed in the chanting of Shlokas and name of the Lord. Songs and hymns are also sung in the glory of Sri Krishna.
The Birth of Lord Krishna at midnight is followed by performance of pooja and other ceremonies. The idol of Lord Krishna is bathed with milk and curd and then rocked in the cradle. A popular belief of the inhabitants is that any wish made while rocking the cradle is fulfilled on this day. The entire Mathura echoes with the sound of the conch (shankh) and ringing of bells. Devotees pray and welcome the lord with slogans of 'Jai Shri Krishna'. After the prayers have been performed, Panchamrit, a mixture of honey, gangajal, curd, ghee is distributed. Lord is fed with the customary prasad of Chhapan Bhog (Fifty six dishes). Devotees break their fast with 'Prasad' of the Lord. Lot of eatables made of milk and milk products are relished by the devotees. Kheer, Laddoo, Butter, Shrikhand and Singhare ki Poori are few of the main dishes prepared on the day.
Performance of Rasleelas
Rasleelas, a kind of dance drama are performed at various places in Mathura city both by professionals as well as amateurs. Rasleela is performed by young boys between the age of 10-13 years. The artist acting as Krishna takes the divine form for devotees who touch his feet in reverence.
Jhankis, cribs or scenes depicting the various stages of Life of Lord Krishna are a common sight during Janmashtami all over Mathura city. Jhankis depict various important activities of Lord Krishna right from the childhood like - Janmlila, Shankarlila, Putanalila and Naglila.
Jhulanotsav and Ghatas
Another important feature of celebrations in Mathura city are Jhulanotsav and Ghatas. These are specially held only in Mathura City. During Jhulanotsav, Swings are put in courtyard of temples and houses to welcome Lord Krishna's birth. It symbolizes cradling of Lord Krishna. Ropes of swings are decorated with flowers to give a festive look.
The celebration of Sri Krishna's birth will be incomplete without Ghatas, another month-long unique feature, wherein all the temples of Mathura City are decorated with the same colour according to the theme selected. Even The idol of Lord Krishna is adorned with the Clothes of same colour. Devotees put their and heart and soul in decorating the temples and their house to welcome the birth of Lord Krishna.
Number of Visitors During Janmashtami
An estimated 8 lakh devotees visit the birth city Mathura during Janmashtami. The number, however, keeps growing every year. One finds it difficult to find an accommodation during festival days, so devotees get prior reservations made. All the temples witness long queues and it becomes quite a task for the security to maintain law and order.