Kansa Vadh is the festival in commemoration of destruction of the demon Kamsa by Bhagwan Sri Krishna. The festival occurs on the Shukla Paksha Dashami of the Karthika month as per Purnimantha Calendar.
For the Year 2023, Kansa Vadh occurs on Wednesday, 22nd November 2023. The exact duration of the Dashami Tithi has to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.
Demon Kansa was the King of Mathura. He was the brother of Devaki. He was against her marriage to Vasudeva. The astrologers had predicted that Kansa would be killed by the eighth child of Vasudeva and Devaki.
He has imprisoned his sister and brother-in-law. He had killed the seven kids born to them. He was biding his time to destroy the eighth child as soon as it was born. He was of the opinion that a newly born child would not put up any resistance.
However, God had decided otherwise. As was already decided by Sri Maha Vishnu, Devaki had begot Him as her eighth child in the prison. As pre-arranged, Vasudeva had taken the divine Child in a basket and went to the bank of river Yamuna to cross it. It was raining heavily. The river was swelling.
Due to divine intervention, Yamuna had realized who was in the basket. It had parted its course so as to leave path to Vasudeva to cross the river. Adi Sesha, the servant of Sri Vishnu at Vaikunt had acted as the umbrella to protect the child from the rains.
Vasudeva had crossed the river and reached Gokulam. There, Yashoda, the wife of Nanda Gopa, had given birth to a baby girl. She was unconscious. Vasudeva had kept his child near Yashoda and had taken the girl baby in his basket, re-crossed the Yamuna, reached Mathura and kept the baby near Devaki.
In the morning, Kansa came to know about the child. He had learnt that it was a girl baby. Though the astrologers had predicted his end only through a male baby, he was not taking chances. So he went to the prison, hauled the girl baby by feet and threw her up in the air.
He was keeping his sword ready to strike if and when the baby would come down. But the baby did not come down. It went up the sky and appeared in the form of Durga Devi. Yes. The baby was Sri Durga Devi who had come down to threaten Kansa.
The Devi said, “I am not killing you for two reasons. First, without knowing or not knowing, you had touched my feet. I always protect the people who touch my feet. Second, my brother Vishnu has already incarnated and only He will take care of your end. Your days are counted.”
Kansa later had learnt that the original son born to his sister was growing up in Gokulam. He had also learnt that Yashoda had named the child as Krishna as the child was dark in color.
Sri Krishna also had an elder brother Sri Balarama. Sri Balarama was born to the second wife Rohini of Nanda Gopa. Kansa had sent numerous demons to Gokulam to destroy Sri Krishna. All his efforts went in vain.
On attaining teenage, Sri Krishna and Sri Balarama had come to Mathura to join a Guru as Sishyas. The brother duo directly went to the palace and Sri Krishna had destroyed Kansa on a direct attack.
He also made Ugrasena as the King of Mathrua.
The day when Sri Krishna killed Kansa and made Ugrasena the King is observed as Kansa Vadh celebration. The festival is prominently observed in Mathura, Vrindhavan, Garun Govind and the surrounding areas.
On the eve of Kansa Vadh, the devotees take the procession of Sri Krishna and Sri Radha. Vedic chants and prayers are recited.
On the day of Kansa Vadh, special prayers are held at all the Sri Krishna temples. An idol of Kansa is prepared and then burnt to signify the destruction of evil forces.
The devotees then offer sweets as Neivedyam and distribute to all as prasad.
Sri Krishna Leela events are enacted similar to Sri Ram Leela. Various bhajans and keertans are sung. Dances and dramas depicted the Kansa Vadh are enacted with fervor.
The festival denotes the triumph of goodness over evil and prevailing of Dharma over adharma.