Janmashtami is one of the most important Hindu festivals for devotees of Lord Vishnu and his eighth avatar, Lord Krishna. If you are keeping a fast on Krishna Janmashtami 2023, here are some of the key guidelines you should follow. Read on to know more.
Also known as Janmashtami or Gokulashtami, Krishna Janmashtami is a Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. One of the most important Hindu festivals of the year, Janmashtami is especially critical for those who follow the Vaishnav tradition of Hinduism that gives Lord Vishnu the greatest prominence. Observed on the Ashtami of the Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Sawan or Bhado, Janmashtami dates usually fall in the months of August or September. In 2023, Janmashtami will be celebrated on September 6 or 7 because of muhurat timings.
While Mathura and Vrindavan, the two places associated with the birth and childhood of Lord Krishna and his Leela become the biggest centres of Janmashtami celebrations in India, the festival is also celebrated with great aplomb across other Vaishnavite regions of the country. Celebrations for Janmashtami include fasting for the day, dressing up and worshiping the idol of Lord Krishna and preparing delectable dishes that are favourites of the deity. But when it comes to Janmashtami fasting—as is the case for ritual fasting for all Hindu festivals—there are rules that you should observe with care.
The Janmashtami fast is usually followed for a period of 24 hours, beginning post midnight when the puja muhurat starts and ending with a midnight feast the following night. Here are some of the key do’s and don’ts you should keep in mind when it comes to following the Krishna Janmashtami fast.
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1. Stick To The Sankalp: Every ritual fast is started with a Sankalp or pledge that you will offer complete devotion and strictly follow the rules of fasting. Keep the Sankalp while keeping your own health in mind, so if you are unwell, pregnant or diabetic for example, skip the fasting and follow a sattvik diet for the day instead.
2. Healthy Pre-Fasting Meal: Since the Krishna Janmashtami fast usually lasts for 24 hours and it is indeed a long period of time, you should ensure that you get proper nutrition from your pre-fasting meal. Avoid rich foods and stick to fresh fruits, vegetables and light meals at this time.
3. Stay Sattvik: Make sure that you and your loved ones consume a sattvik diet on Janmashtami, whether they are keeping the fast or not. This means avoiding all Rajasic and Tamasic foods, including onions, garlic, meat and alcohol.
4. Lord Krishna’s Specials: There are a certain food items that are considered especially precious for all festivals associated with Lord Vishnu and his avatar of Lord Krishna. Milk and milk products like ghee, butter, yoghurt and paneer are key among these. Make sure you include these in your sattvik diet for Janmashtami.
5. Prepare Special Prasad: Preparing special offerings for Lord Krishna as home is a critical part of Janmashtami celebrations. Apart from homemade butter and Panchamrit, you should also whip up other dishes like Panjiri, Seedai, Peda, Gajak and kheer.
1. Avoid Non-Vegetarian Food: Even if you aren’t keeping the Janmashtami fast, avoid eating all Tamasic and Rajasic foods on the day. This means avoiding non-vegetarian food in all forms, along with skipping onions, garlic, rice, wheat and alcohol. Instead, focus on Sattvik foods and ingredients for Krishna Janmashtami.
2. Avoid Oily Food: Traditionally, the pre-fasting meal and post-fasting feast for Janmashtami end up being loaded with fried foods and snacks like puri sabji, samosa, pakodas, etc. Since fasting can put a strain on the digestive system, eating these foods can lead to acidity and indigestion—so it’s best to eat simple, light meals.
3. Skip Tea & Coffee: While milk is allowed during the Janmashtami fast, it is best to avoid beverages like tea and coffee which can cause indigestion and acidity while you are fasting. Instead, indulge in healthier drinks like lassi, chaas and smoothies if you must.
4. Separate Utensils: Make sure the utensils you use for Janmashtami food preparation and prasad are clean. These should ideally be utensils separated for puja and special ritualistic occasions, but if not, make sure these have never been used to cook, serve or store non-vegetarian food.