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.
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