Janmashtami, the auspicious celebration of Lord Krishna’s birth, holds special significance in the cities of Mathura and Vrindavan. These historic places in Uttar Pradesh are intrinsically linked to the life and legends of the mighty yet playful eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. As devotees prepare to commemorate Krishna Janmashtami 2023, here is a guide to the festival dates and celebrations in Mathura-Vrindavan – the cherished land where Lord Krishna was born over 5000 years ago.
When Does Janmashtami Fall in 2023?
As per the Hindu lunisolar calendar, Janmashtami is celebrated on Ashtami tithi, the eighth day of the waning phase of moon (Krishna Paksha) in the month of Bhadrapada. Owing to the movement of the moon, Ashtami tithi may fall over two days.
In 2023, Ashtami tithi begins at 03:27 PM on September 6 and ends at 04:11 PM on September 7. Hence, Janmashtami will be observed on both days across India. However, celebrations are grander when Ashtami tithi coincides with Rohini nakshatra, considered highly auspicious for Lord Krishna’s birth.
Krishna Janmashtami 2023 Dates for Mathura & Vrindavan
This year, Krishna Janmashtami will be celebrated mainly on September 7 in Mathura Vrindavan since Rohini nakshatra prevails during Ashtami tithi on this day.
September 6 – Upavasa or fasting on the first day of Krishna Janmashtami.
September 7 – Parana time when devotees break their fast is between 05:59 AM to 08:06 AM.
September 7 – Main day of Janmashtami celebrations including puja and midnight birth ceremony.
September 8 – Celebration of Nandotsav in Nandgaon.
The History and Significance of Mathura-Vrindavan
Mathura and Vrindavan are ancient cities intricately linked to Lord Krishna’s life from birth till childhood days. Mathura, located on the banks of river Yamuna, is regarded as Krishna’s birthplace where he was born in the prison cell of his uncle King Kansa.
Vrindavan, 15 km away, is where Krishna grew up in the forests and farms, frolicking with the gopis and stealing butter. The fragrant town is dotted with places from his magical childhood including Kaliya Mardan, Rangji temple, Madan Mohan temple and Nidhi Van.
For Hindus, Mathura-Vrindavan is the holiest of pilgrimages to walk in the land where Lord Krishna’s footsteps once tread. Being the cultural and spiritual centre of the Krishna bhakti movement, it attracts millions during Janmashtami.
How are Janmashtami Celebrations Different in Mathura and Vrindavan?
Mathura & Vrindavan brings alive the love and playfulness of Bal Gopal with great fervour. Here’s what makes Janmashtami celebrations unique:
- Festivities begin 8-10 days prior to Janmashtami with nightly parikramas, rasleelas and murthis of infant Krishna installed at major temples.
- Banke Bihari temple at Vrindavan witnesses lakhs of devotees queued for a glimpse of the special Utsav murti.
- The streets come alive with Shringar decorations, beautiful rangolis and processions singing the glories of Krishna.
- At Krishna Janmabhoomi temple in Mathura, the Abhishek ceremony is a huge draw with chants of ‘Jaya Gokulananda’.
- At midnight, devotees surround the cradle of newborn Krishna and sing loris and chalisas at both Janmabhoomi and other temples.
- Janmashtami in Braj region culminates with delightful Dahi Handi events where young boys and girls form pyramids trying to break the pot and win the dahi-misri inside!
What are the Key Rituals and Customs of Janmashtami in Braj Bhoomi?
- Observing the Upavasa fast on first day and main day of Janmashtami. Devotees only consume milk, fruits and vrat recipes.
- Mahaabhishek of the idol of baby Krishna – bathing the murti with panchamrit and shringar at midnight.
- Chappan Bhog offerings – from kheer, rabdi, makhan mishri to sweets and savouries – total 56 items.
- Aarti, bhajans, kirtans performed at temples and community celebrations in the nandbhavans.
- Dwajarohan – hoisting of the Nishan Sahib holy flag atop temples signifying the Lord’s presence.
- Rocking the cradle, Raas Leela dances and performances, all invoking nostalgia of Krishna’s friendship, romance and teachings.
Which are the Famous Krishna Temples in Mathura & Vrindavan?
Here are some of the most famous Krishna Janmashtami celebration venues in the twin cities:
- Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple – Krishna’s birthplace temple with huge midnight celebrations.
- Dwarkadheesh Temple – A breathtakingly beautiful temple where Krishna is seated playing his flute.
- Banke Bihari Mandir – Famed for its opulent architecture and Utsav murti of a young Krishna.
- Prem Mandir – A sprawling architectural marvel with scenes from Krishna’s life engraved in marble.
- ISKCON Temple – Known for its ecstatic chanting and global Krishna consciousness movement.
- Rangji Temple – Dedicated to Rangji, a southern form of Lord Krishna worshipped in the temple.
- Radha Raman Temple – Established by Srila Gopal Bhatta Goswami said to be as merciful as Radha herself.
- Shahji Temple – Where Nand Baba distributed gifts to celebrate Krishna’s birth as per Nandotsava.
What is the Best Way to Reach Mathura-Vrindavan?
Here are some tips for smooth travel:
- Hire a taxi or drive down to Mathura from Delhi which is just 174 kms via Yamuna Expressway.
- Many tourists take the Shatabdi express early morning from Delhi which takes just 90 minutes.
- Fly down to Agra just 58 kms away and then proceed to Mathura-Vrindavan which is under an hour’s drive.
- Avoid driving during Janmashtami as the traffic and crowds can be massive. Walking around the city is advisable.
- Book your hotels/dharamshalas several months in advance as prices soar and rooms sell out fast.
- For Nandgaon visit, stay within the city as the key cultural sites are nearby.
In the pious land where Lord Krishna once frolicked, Janmashtami finds its ultimate spiritual and cultural celebration. Experience the magic, joy and devotion of Krishna Janmashtami 2023 in Mathura Vrindavan for memories to last a lifetime!