Hindus around the world are observing Janmashtami, a holy day that celebrates the birth of Krishna, who is believed by devotees to be the eighth avatar of Vishnu (the Hindu deity of cosmic maintenance) and the Supreme Lord of the Universe. The holiday falls on August 17 in 2014.

Krishna is the teacher in the Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse scripture set on a battlefield that contains some of the most important teachings of Hinduism. He is often depicted in the form of a dark-skinned young boy playing a flute, wearing a peacock feather crown and yellow garments.

Krishna, whose name is often translated as “all-attractive,” is honored and worshiped in many ways. To his devotees, he is not only the Supreme Lord and a wise teacher, but also a dear friend, beloved child, and a handsome lover.

According to Hindu teachings, Krishna was born at midnight on the ashtami or the 8th day of the Hindu lunar month of Shravan in a prison to Vasudev and Devaki in the town of Mathura. Moments after his birth he escaped to the village of Gokul, where Krishna was raised by Nanda and Yasoda, his foster parents. The stories of Krishna’s childhood and youth paint the picture of a mischievous and endearing flute-playing cowherd who loved to play pranks on everyone and flirt with the gopis, or cowgirls.

Janmashtami is a festive occasion and celebrations on this day re-enact popular tales from Krishna’s childhood. Many devotees fast on this day and stay up all night worshiping, listening to stories about Krishna’s childhood and singing devotional songs. In Krishna temples across the world, a statue of the infant Krishna is bathed and placed in a cradle which is rocked by devotees amidst the chanting of devotional songs.

One particularly popular Janmashtami tradition in India is dahi handi. In this observance, a clay pot filled with butter or curd is hung high on a rope while a human pyramid is formed underneath it. The person on the top tries to catch and break the pot with a blunt object. This tradition is based on popular Krishna narratives according to which he would steal butter, prepared by the women of the village and hung on handis. In fact, one of Krishna’s many names is maakhan chhor, meaning one who steals butter.

Many Hindus believe that one night when Krishna played the flute, all the gopis of the village were so entranced that they left their houses and families to come and dance with him in the forest for the entire night. In bhakti or devotional paths of Hinduism, the supreme form of devotion is understood to be the soul’s ecstatic love for Krishna, who is believed to be the Supreme Lord. On Janmashtami, young boys and girls dress up as Krishna and his gopi lovers, and in this spirit of devotion, perform Rasa Lila.

Have you been to a Janmashtami celebration in your local temple? Share your experience with us in the comments section.

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  • San Jose, CA

    Metro area: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA<br> 2,383 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Kluft-photo-Circle-of-Palms-San-Jose-April-2008-Img_0778.jpg">here</a>.

  • Phoenix, AZ

    Metro area: Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale, AZ<br> 697 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Phoenix_AZ_Downtown_from_airplane.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Austin, TX

    Metro area: Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos, TX<br> 615 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/06/AustinSkylineLouNeffPoint-2010-03-29-b.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Columbus, OH

    607 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/ColumbusNightSkyline2.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Raleigh, NC

    Metro area: Raleigh-Cary, NC<br> 513 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5c/Downtown-Raleigh-from-Western-Boulevard-Overpass-20081012.jpeg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Pittsburgh, PA

    489 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/Pittsburgh_WEO_Night_1.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Sacramento, CA

    Metro area: Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Rosenville, CA<br> 445 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Sacramento_Skyline_%282%29.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Washington, DC-VA-MD-WV

    Metro area: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV<br> 434 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/Cherry_Blossoms_and_Washington_Monument.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • New York, NY-NJ-PA

    Metro area: New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA<br> 424 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> (Photo: In this March 26, 2012, file photo, One World Trade Center towers above the Lower Manhattan skyline and Hudson River in New York. One World Trade Center, the giant monolith being built to replace the twin towers destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks, will lay claim to the title of New York City.)

  • Milwaukee, WI

    Metro area: Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Alis, WI<br> 396 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Solomon_Juneau.jpg">here</a>.

  • Oklahoma City, OK

    388 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Bricktown_Canal_Water_Taxis_in_Oklahoma_City.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Hartford, CT

    Metro area: Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, CT<br> 379 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Hartford_CT.JPG">here</a>.

  • Atlanta, GA

    Metro area: Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, GA<br> 378 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Midtownatlanta.jpg">here</a>.

  • Memphis, TN-MS-AR

    Metro area: Memphis, TN-MS-AR<br> 367 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Hernando_de_Soto_Bridge_Memphis.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Tampa, FL

    Metro area: Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, FL<br> 357 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7b/Tampa_Florida_Lawyers.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Dallas, TX

    Metro area: Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX<br> 356 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Downtown_Dallas_from_the_Trinity_River.jpg">here</a>.

  • Jacksonville, Florida

    341 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:JaxLanding1.JPG">here</a>.

  • Cleveland, OH

    Metro area: Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor, OH<br> 319 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Clevelandcityscape.jpg">here</a>.

  • Houston, TX

    Metro area: Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown, TX<br> 300 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Aerial_view_of_Texas_Medical_Center.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Orlando, FL

    Metro area: Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL<br> 296 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/6b/Orlando_downtown_2011.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Philadelphia, PA-NJ-DE-MD

    Metro area: Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD<br> 288 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/Independence_Hall.jpg" target="_hplink">here.</a>

  • Seattle, WA

    Metro area: Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA<br> 276 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/10/Seattle_Ferry.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Portland, OR-WA

    Metro area: Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, OR-WA<br> 269 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/TomMcCallWaterfrontPark.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Buffalo, NY

    Metro area: Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY<br> 269 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/20080310_Soldiers_and_Sailors_edit.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • San Francisco, CA

    Metro area: San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, CA<br> 250 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/da/SF_From_Marin_Highlands3.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Richmond, VA

    225 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:City_of_Richmond_Business_District.jpg">here</a>.

  • San Diego, CA

    Metro area: San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos, CA<br> 222 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Downtown_San_Diego_from_75.JPG">here</a>.

  • Nashville, TN

    Metro area: Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN<br> 205 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/94/Nashville_Downtown.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Los Angeles, CA

    Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA<br> 195 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/92/Hollywood_boulevard_from_kodak_theatre.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • St. Louis, MO-IL

    193 Buddhist adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5a/Tower_Grove_Park_Scene_1.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Chicago, IL-IN-WI

    Metro area: Chicago-Joliet-Naperville, IL-IN-WI<br> 193 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4b/2011-08-07_2000x3000_chicago_from_skydeck.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • San Antonio, TX

    Metro area: San Antonio-New Braunfels, TX<br> 192 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/11/Rio_del_pasio_05.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • New Orleans, LA

    Metro area: New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, LA<br> 178 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/ef/Altaner.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Kansas City, MO-KS

    163 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d2/Community_Christian_Church_KCMO.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Miami, FL

    Metro area: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, FL<br> 158 adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a5/Mouth_of_Miami_River_20100211.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Detroit, MI

    Metro area: Detroit-Warren-Livonia, MI<br> 155 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Detroit_Night_Skyline.JPG">here</a>.

  • Denver, CO

    Metro area: Denver-Aurora-Broomfield, CO<br> 155 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e9/DENCP.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Boston, MA-NH

    Metro area: Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, MA-NH<br> 148 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons.<br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3e/USA_09562_Boston_Luca_Galuzzi_2007.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Virginia Beach, VA-NC

    Metro area: Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC<br> 131 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a9/Sunset-_Waves.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Indianapolis, IN

    Metro area: Indianapolis-Carmel, IN<br> 130 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/Indiana_State_Capitol_Market_St.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Minneapolis, MN-WI

    Metro area: Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, MN-WI<br> 123 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Minneapolis_05042012.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Providence, RI-MA

    Metro area: Providence-New Bedford-Fall River, RI-MA<br> 116 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Providence_Cathedral%2C_RI_edited.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Riverside, CA

    Metro area: Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA<br> 115 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/18/Riverside_06Skyline.JPG" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN

    Metro area: Cincinnati-Middletown, OH-KY-IN<br> 113 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Cincinnati_oh_skyline.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Las Vegas, NV

    Metro area: Las Vegas-Paradise, NV<br> 108 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Sacramento_Skyline_%282%29.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Charlotte, NC-SC

    Metro area: Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC<br> 72 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3b/Southpark_aerial_Charlotte_NC.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Birmingham, AL

    Metro area Birmingham-Hoover, AL<br> 63 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alabama_Theatre.jpg">here</a>.

  • Rochester, NY

    51 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e3/Colgate_8751.jpg" target="_hplink">here</a>.

  • Salt Lake City, UT

    39 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Utah_State_Capitol_seen_from_State_Street.jpg">here</a>.

  • Louisville, KY-IN

    Metro area: Louisville-Jefferson County, KY-IN<br> 22 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Highlands.jpg">here</a>.

  • Baltimore, MD

    Metro area: Baltimore-Towson, MD<br> 3 Hindu adherents per 100,000 persons. <br> Credit: Wikimedia Commons. Original photo <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1city_hall_baltimore.jpg">here</a>.