Janmashtami in Dwarka
Dwarka, meaning Door to Moksha (Salvation) is a popular city of Gujarat. It was established by Lord Krishna with his elder brother Balram. The city is also known as Golden City. It was built by divine architect Vishwakarma in two days. The city is said to have been made up of diamonds and crystal, with palaces made of gold, emeralds and other precious stones. It was the abode of Lord Krishna for nearly a 100 years. After Lord Krishna's death, the city is believed to have been submerged in the sea.
The celebration of Janmashtami in the main Dwarkadhish temple is very famous in India. Devotees from all over India throng the city of Dwarka during Janamashtami. The celebration on Janmashtami follows the daily routine or Nitya Kram of Lord Krishna. Rituals are performed by Aboti brahmins, who are special brahmins performing these rituals for the past many centuries now.
The festival day begins with mangla arti performed in the morning. Mangla arti is always performed at 7 in the morning. Beginning with 'Banta Bhog' (of milk and milk products) offered to Lord Krishna, followed by cleansing of his face with water, brushing of the idol's teeth. Then the first darshan of the day is allowed to the devotees.
Abhishek or bath of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna is given the holy bath between 8 - 10 am and devotees are given a chance to see the abhishek which happens only twice a year. The bath is given right after the mangla arti with Panchamrit (mixture of gangajal, ghee, honey, curd and sugar).
Adorning Lord Krishna (Shringar)
After the bath, Lord Krishna is adorned with clothes and ornaments. Lord is made to wear Pitamber, a yellow coloured cloth. Ornaments consists of Chandanmala, Vyjantimala ( garland) and Suparimala (Made of Betel nut). Makeup on the face of Shri Dwarkadhish is done and he is also adorned with shankh (Conch), Discus (Chakra).
Darshan and Shringarbhog
After the adornment of Shri Krishna, the curtains are removed and devoteed are allowed to do the darshans of the Lord. This is Followed by offering of Shringar Bhog (Swees) to the Lord. During this time, the curtains are drawn again and the devotees are not allowed to see the Lord. The Shringarbhog is prepared in the temple premises.
Shayan bhog and Shayan arti
After the evening arti, Lord is offered sweets again, devotees are not allowed the darshans of the Lord during this time. Then it is time for Dwarkadhish to sleep. This happens around 9:00 pm. It is around 10:30 pm that darshans are opened again for the devotees during the Janmashtami celebrations.
Lord Dwarkadhish is adorned with lot of Gold jewellery and other precious stones such as Diamonds and Topaz. This happens around 11:00 pm. Utsav Bhog is offered to Lord around 11:30 pm. Devotees are not allowed to see the process of Utsav Bhog though they wait eagerly for their beloved Lord in the temple premises and sing bhajans. The devotees welcome the Lord at 12 midnight with immense enthusiasm and joy. After nearly two hour celebrations, the temple closes at 2:00 am after the mahabhog offerings to Lord Krishna. Bal Gopal idolis kept in a cradle in the temple premises for the darshan of the general public. Thus the janmashtami celebrations finally come to an end in Dwarkadhish temple.
Janmashtami, the birthday of Shri Krishna, is celebrated with great splendour. Rows of lights are lit everywhere, kirtans and bhajans are sung, sermons are delivered and Krishna is worshipped in his infant form. Thousands of people go to Dwarka to visit the temple and participate in the fair. After visiting the main temple, devotees go to Shankhoddhar Beyt. There are some other important temples, both old and new. Among these is the temple of Shank-Narayan, dedicated to the Matsyavatar, the incarnation of Vishnu as a fish. This was constructed over 200 years ago.