Mathura (Uttar Pradesh): Thousands poured into Mathura on Friday to celebrate Janmashtami in the land of Lord Krishna.

After several years, Janmashtami fell on a rain drenched day, with a cool breeze and dark clouds threatening to unleash more showers.

The festival celebrates the birth of Lord Krishna, believed to have taken place some 5,000 years ago in Mathura, located about 135 km south of New Delhi.

Mathura adorns a festive look on Janmashtami, with devotees crowding its temples and bylanes.

The water level has gone up in the Yamuna river, adding to the flavour of the festival.

With thousands of devotees thronging Mathura, where the celebrations will begin with gusto in the evening, hotels and dharamshalas are packed, musicologist Acharya T. Jaimini said.

Some temples in Vrindavan and Mathura have already celebrated Janmashtami with special prayers and bathing the idols with milk, curd and honey.

"Everywhere you go, you hear 'Radhey Radhey' and 'Jai Sri Krishan'," Jaimini added.

The main function is to be held at Mathura's Sri Krishan Janambhoomi temple.

"Pilgrims prefer to spend the day in Vrindavan where several temples have afternoon pujas. The crowds shift to Mathura in the evening," said Vrindavan-based Kunj Bihari Sharma.

The Brij city of Mathura celebrates his birthday on the eighth day of Ashwin month of the Hindu calendar.

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All efforts were made to give the festival a decorative look.

Preparations for Janmashtami

The city comes alive with people decorating their houses and buying new clothes to celebrate the birth of ‘Bal gopal’.  Leaves of the Ashok tree and flowers are used to decorate the entrance of the house to welcome the God.  A swing decorated with flowers and lace is prepared for the newborn.

A ‘Shalegram’ (round black pebble) identified as the lord’s symbol is inserted in a cucumber depicted as the womb.

At midnight, the cucumber is cut and distributed as prashad while the Shalegram is bathed in Panchaamrit (mixture of honey, ghee, powdered sugar, milk, curd) and dressed in new attire. 

Toys and decorative items are also kept in front of Nandlala.

A special prasad called ‘mingipaag’ made of musk melon seeds, sugar and dry fruits is also prepared to celebrate the big day.

The birth of Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna was born in a jail to Vasudeva and Devaki in Mathura located on the banks of Yamuna river in Uttar Pradesh.

Krishna was secretly taken out of the prison cell to be raised by his foster parents, Yasoda and Nanda, in Gokula village in Mathura. Born in the dark night and dusky in complexion, he was named ‘Krishna’ by the saints. He grew up herding cows, playing with gopis and his childhood love Radha and stealing butter from the households of the village.

Later Krisna visited Mathura from Nandgaon and killed the wicked king Kansa who was his maternal uncle.

Ruchi Kaushal/JPN/Agencies

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