Why is it called as Janmashtami or Gokulashtami?
The birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated on the eighth day of Krishna Paksha (or second half) of Sravana month. The word ‘Janma’ means birth and ‘Ashtami’ translates to eighth day, hence this festival is known as ‘Janmashtami’. It is also called as ‘Gokulashtami’ since Lord Krishna spent his childhood in the town of Gokula.
Krishna was born in an era of chaos, persecution was rampant, freedoms were denied, evil was everywhere, and when there was a threat to his life by his uncle King Kansa. Immediately following the birth, his father Vasudeva took Krishna across Yamuna, to foster parents in Gokul, named Nanda and Yashoda. This legend is celebrated on Janmashtami by people keeping fast, singing devotional songs of love for Krishna, and keeping a vigil into the night. After Krishna’s midnight hour birth, statues of baby Krishna are washed and clothed, then placed in a cradle. This excerpt is taken from here.
Krishna Satakam Shlok
वसुदेव सुतं देवं कंस चाणूर मर्दनम्।
देवकी परमानन्दं कृष्णं वन्दे जगद्गुरुम्॥
vasudeva sutaṃ devaṃ kaṃsa cāṇūra mardanam।
devakī paramānandaṃ kṛṣṇaṃ vande jagadgurum॥
I offer my obeisance’s to Lord Krishna, the beloved son of Vasudeva, who killed the great demons Kamsa and Canura,
who is the source of great joy to Mother Devaki; and who is indeed a world teacher and spiritual master of the universe.
मैं वसुदेव पुत्र, देवकी के परमानन्द, कंस और चाणूर जैसे दैत्यों का वध करने वाले,
समस्त संसार के गुरू भगवान कृष्ण को वन्दन करता हूँ।
Read all about the importance of Gayatri Mantra.