The Hindu festival of Janmashtami is taking place this week, celebrating the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of the god Vishnu.
Here is everything you need to know about the festival, including exactly when it falls in 2023 and how it is celebrated.
When is Janmashtami 2023?
Janmashtami always falls on the eighth (ashtami) day of the dark fortnight of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada, which is in either August or September in the Gregorian calendar.
The festival will be celebrated on Wednesday 6 September and Dahi Handi will be celebrated the following day on Thursday 7 September.
What is the meaning behind Krishna Janmashtami?
Krishna is Devaki and Vasudeva Anakadundubhi’s son and his birthday is celebrated by Hindus as Janmashtami.
The festival is particularly important to those of the Gaudiya Vaishnavism tradition, as they consider him the Supreme Personality of Godhead.
Hindus believe Krishna was born at midnight on the eighth day of Bhadrapada.
Many see the festival as a celebration of good over evil.
How is it celebrated?
On the day before Janmashtami, Hindus fast until midnight to acknowledge it as the time of Krishna’s birth. Once the fast is broken they bathe figures of Krishna in water and milk, dress them and worship them.
Temples and household shrines are decorated with leaves and flowers. Sweetmeats are first offered to Krishna and then distributed as prasada – the leftovers which carry his favour – to members of the household.
Devotees also construct representations of Mathura, where Krishna was born, the Yamuna River, over which he was transported to safety, and Gokul, where he spent his childhood.
People sing and dance together in celebration in honour of the god.