Monday, February 27, 2012

Spiritual Calendar, March 2012

2nd March, 2012: The Holi of Sri Radharani at Barsana

Lathmaar Holi of Barsana
Men from Nandgaon, the land of Krishna, arrive to play Holi with the women of Barsana and hope to raise their flag over Shri Kishori ji's temple. But, instead of colours they are greeted with sticks by the gopis. Thus Holi in Barsana is called Lathmaar Holi. The men are smart enough and come fully padded, knowing fully well that they will not be allowed to retaliate on this particular day. In this mock battle they try their best not to be captured. However,those who are unlucky are forcefully led away and get a thrashing from the women. Further, they are made to don a female attire and dance in public.

Lord Krishna Dancing Before the Gopis

Renowned poets like Surdas, Nand-Das, Kumbhan-Das and others have beautifully described how Lord Krishna was forced to wear a sari and make-up, and dance before being set free by the gopis.

3rd March, 2012: Nandlala & Balrama Holi in Nandgaon

Holi in Nandgaon

The next day, it is the turn of men of Barsana. They retaliate by invading Nandgaon and drenching the women in colours of kesudo, naturally occurring orange-red dye, and palash. Whereas the women of Nadagaon beat the invaders from Barsana, in joyous abandon. Nandgram is the village of dark-hued Krishna's foster father, Shri Nandrai ji. Highly revered by Vaishnavas, the place invokes their devotional service. Bhaktimati Usha Bahenji says, “ Delightedly, Sri Krishna-Balram along with their sakhas daily go to graze cows, the wealth of their tiny village. Their mother splendidly decks the two brothers, packing chhak or their midday meal.”

4th March, 2012: Sri Bihariji Holi at Vrindavan

Shri Bihari ji Dressed in Pure White on Holi

Holi celebrations start from the evening of Aanwla Ekadashi (Falgun Shukla Ekadashi) and continue till Holika Dahan (Falgun Shukla Poornima). During this time span, a silver hut is erected in the jagmohan and Thakurji is resplendent there. He is much closer to devotees and easily accessible during this period. Bihari ji is adorned in a spotless white dress which is multi-hued by the end of devotees darshan.

Priests Sprinkle Coloured Water on Devotees

Colour is extracted by boiling the flowers of tesu in water. This naturally coloured warm water which has a pleasant fragrance, is sprinkled on devotees by the priests. A number of other scents like sandal paste, itra (sandal wood oil based natural perfumes), and rosewater are also distributed. Dry coloured natural powders in silver, gold, red, green, yellow and purple are used in abundance so that the temple interiors are colourful.

Songs Composed by Swami Haridas are Sung

Goswamis and groups of devotees sing songs composed by saints. While devotees of yesteryears, describe the varying moods and joyous scenes of Holi (such as the one composed by Swami Shri Haridas) in the temple courtyard as well as in city streets. They are well equipped with musical instruments like dhap, khartal, mridang, manjeera and chimta. Steeped in the spirit of holi, bhaktas throw coloured water and powder on each other, as they sing, dance and cry out – holi hai!

Bobo ji's Yugal Sarkar or Sri Radha-Krishna

Usha Bahenji's Yugal Sarkar are coloured with gulal on their pedestal, from Basant Panchami to Holi.

5th March,2012: Somwari Prodosh Fast for Lord Shiva.

Lord Shiva

Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept for propitiating Lord Shiva. With his blessings one's desires are fulfilled and one attains spiritual enlightenment. Generally people observe the Pradosha Vrata on every trayodashi tithi (13th lunar day falling in Krishna and Shukla Pakshas) in the evening. Please offer plain water and bel patra to Lord Shiva. The bel patra or leaf of the wood-apple tree represents the three eyes of lord Shiva and the three gunas.

7th March, 2012: Holi Poornima fast or Holika-Dahan

Bhakta Prahlad is Unhurt in Holika Dahan

Bonfires are lit on the eve of Dhulendi, on Holika Dahan. After this observance prayers are said and praise is offered. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape of young Prahlad when demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu, escaped unhurt.

8th March, 2012: Dhulendi

Dhulendi, When Holi is Played All Over the Country

The day when holi is played all over the country. Holi celebrations peak in Vrindavan as well as in the temple of Bihariji. As per tradition, Bihariji does not play Holi on this day but merely watches the devotees playing Holi.

8th March, 2012: The appearance day of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Sri Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

(1486-1533) the celebrated Vaishnava saint and mystic, and chief exponent of the Gaudiya Vasihnavism movement in eastern India. Theologians of his school claim that Chaitanya was fair-complexioned because he was Radha's incarnation, yet internally he was Krishna. Since Lord Gauranga appeared nearly 600 years ago on Phalgun Poornima, our own Saint Ushaji used to bow to Him in Vrindavan on every Holi.

He specifically worshipped the forms of Radha and Krishna and popularised the chanting of the Hare Krishna maha mantra. ISKCON established by Prabhupad ji is popularizing the famous Naam-sankirtan of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu

Hare Ram Hare Ram, Ram Ram Hare Hare

Hare Krishan Hare Krishan, Krishan Krishan Hare Hare

8th March, 2012: Appearance Day of Sri Hari Baba, a saint of the early twentieth century.

Shri Hari Baba

The main attraction which drew everone to Shri Maharaj was the bhakti bhava of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and the propagation of sankirtan. Impressed by his strict discipline of self-denial and conscientious observance of sankalp, Bhaktimati Usha Bahenjii had once raved, "He was a such a great devotee that the earth was blessed, the era was honoured and followers were enlightened by his calibre. Several festivals of Vrindavan were graced by his presence."

8th March, 2012: Appearance Day of Shri Anand Das ji Baba of Vrindavan

Shri Anand Das Baba

Highly revered Shri Anand Das ji Baba, a great devotee of Lord Hanuman, was a close associate of Manohar Baba. His dedicate devotion is renowned the world over.

18th March,2012 : Papmochini Ekadashi

Lord Vishnu

Ekadashi is the Goddess that arose from Lord Vishnu to fight and defeat the demon Mura. When she defeated the demon, Lord Vishnu was pleased. The fast of Papamochani Ekadashi expiates the sins of devotees. Literally paap means sin and mochani stands for the remover.

Papamochani Ekadasi is observed on the day of Chaitra Krishna Paksha Ekadashi in the North Indian Calendar.This is the last of the Ekadashi vrats of the Hindu Year. The legend of Paapmochni Ekadasi is mentioned in the Bhavishya Uttara Purana as a conversation between Lord Krishna and Yudhishtira. Charity and fasting are important aspects of the vrata.

19th March, 2012: Somwari Prodaosh fast for Lord Shiva

Chaitra Amavasya

22nd March, 2012: Chaitra Amavasya is the No Moon day in the month of Chaitra. On the following day, the Vaishakh Month begins. Many devotees throng to Sri Banke Bihariji temple particularly as the New Year and Navratras are about to start. Chaitra Amavasya is auspicious for Pinda daan and Pitru Tarpan. After bathing donate crops, cow, gold and clothes, and feed the Brahmans. By doing so one gets the blessings of one's ancestors.

23rd March, 2012: The Chaitra Navratris

Goddess Durga

The Navratris begin and the new Panchang is read before Sri Banke Bihari ji in Vrindavan.The Sri Krishna Samvat 5238 and Samvat 2069 start.

As per astrological predictions there are two major solar influences each year. One is the Dakshinayana period when the Sun crosses the Equator moving towards the southern hemisphere, heralding the start of winter. The second is the Uttarayana period when the Sun crosses the Equator moving towards the northern hemisphere, indicating the onset of summer. These two periods are cited as the sacred time for worshipping the Mother Goddess and celebrating Navratras. Ram Navratri is celebrated in the Chaitra Month, and the Durga Navratri in the first nine days of the light half of the Ashvin Month.

25th March, 2012: Matsya Jayanti

Matsya Avatara

The appearance day of the Matsya Avatara of Lord Vishnu is observed on the third day of the waxing phase of the moon of Chaitra (March – April). Preserving all life forms in a boat during the deluge, the incarnation establishes the concept of Manus for each Great Yuga coupled with the task of recovering the lost Vedas.

There is only one temple in India dedicated to Lord Matsya – Nagalapuram Veda Narayana Swamy Temple near Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Matsya and the idol has the head and torso of Lord Vishnu and golden human-like feet.

26th March, 2012: Sri Ganesh Chaturthi Vrata

Lord Ganesha

Known as Ganesh Damnak Chaturthi. The fast is observed to please Lord Ganesha. Ganesha is called the Vighanharta and a puja begins with worship of Lord Ganesha.

A tale recounts how the Gods decided to choose their leader between the brothers, Kartikeya and Ganesh. Whoever took three rounds of the earth first, would be acclaimed with the position. Kartikeya seated on a peacock, his vehicle, soon enough set out for the mission. Ganesh was given a mooshak or rat, which moved swiftly. He made obeisance to his parents and circumambulating them three times, completed the test before Kartikeya. He reasoned, "My parents pervade the entire universe and going around them, is more valuable than going round the earth." All present were amazed at Ganesha's logic and he was renowned as Ganadhipati or leader, now famed as Ganapati.

31st March, 2012: Sri Durgashtami

Maa Durga

On the 8th day of this colourful festival, yagna or religious sacrifice and homa or holy fire is performed. Pure ghee, kheer and sesame seeds are offered to Goddess Durga. Many people in north India celebrated the 8th day as ashtami when nine young girls symbolizing Navdurge are fed with halwa, puri and kale chane.

In Hindu mythology Durga is Shakti, the divine feminine energy. According to a legend, Lord Brahma granted a boon to Mahishasur, the buffalo demon. Armed with infinite power, the asura created havoc in the universe, and started terrorizing the deities. One fine day he ventured to Swargaloka to kill Indra. Greatly distressed, Indra and other deities begged Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva along with Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, released their energies or shaktis which flashed forth and fused together, bringing to life a magnificent Goddess resplendent with many arms.

Acclaimed as Durga, she was ravishingly beautiful and deadly. The armed Durga rode a Lion and fought a fiercely bloody battle with Mahishasur, raging for nine days and nights. Finally on the tenth day, Durga trampled him under her foot and Mahishasur was killed. The Goddess’s triumph because of her innate divinity symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

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