Celebrated on the birthday of Lord Krishna, Gokul Ashtami is a very auspicious day for the Hindus across the world. The birth of Lord Krishna, son of King Vasudeva and Queen Devaki, is a great story in Hindu mythology.
Devotees observe fast throughout the day and break the fast at midnight when the Lord is believed to have been born. Devotional songs are sung by the devotees.
Time to celebrate
Gokul Ashtami is celebrated in the month of Bhadrapada which is between August and September.
People treat this day as one of very great rejoicing. There is recitation of the "Bhagavatam", singing and praying everywhere. Temples are decorated for the occasion, Kirtans are sung, bells are rung, the conch is blown, and Sanskrit hymns are recited in praise of Lord Krishna. At Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, special spiritual gatherings are organised at this time. Pilgrims from all over India attend these festive gatherings.
People observe a daylong fast, which is broken only at midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. The festival is a community celebration, and people visit Krishna temples, which are specially decorated and lit for the occasion. On the occasion of 'Gokulashtami', we can find kids forming a human pyramid to reach the pot full of curds (dahi-handi) and break it.
A little before midnight, devotees pour into temples to participate in the special 'Arati' and to relive the birth of Krishna. Till midnight, devotional songs are sung in anticipation of the holy birth. Special cradles are installed at temples and a small statue of the "Balgopal" is placed in them.