2nd February, 2011: Mauni Amavasya and the famed holy dip in Prayag during the Magh Mela. Mauni Amavasya is the no moon day in the month of Magh(January to February) as per the traditional Hindu calendar followed in North India.Several Hindus keep a vow of absolute silence on this day.According to Hinduism, mauna or silence is an integral part of spiritual discipline. Derived from the word muni, mauna ideally symbolizes a state of oneness with the Self. Silence has also been described by Adi Shankaracharya as one of the three essential attributes of a sanyasi. In recent times Ramana Maharshi popularized silence as a medium of spiritual instruction.
Devotees Bathing at the Sangam in Prayag
On Mauni Amavasi a large number of Hindu devotees join Kalpavasis at Sangam in Prayag (Allahabad) and meditate the whole day in an attempt to calm the restive mind. Bathing in the holy Ganges and other such sacred rivers,frugally eating selective foodstuffs like fruits or items made of kootu-flour, visiting religious shrines and listening to discourses by holy men on this particular day is said to bestow great merit.
In fact the MaghMela in Allahabad attracts millions of devout Hindus to bathe at the confluence of rivers Ganga and Yamuna. Many mendicants and aspirants stay on the banks of these rivers in Prayag. Aspirants who come here and stay for the entire month of Magh while doing religious observances are known as kalpavasis. Religious discourses, kirtans and satsangs are held for the devotees. Brahmans and others are bestowed with gifts and foods in charity.
On Mauni Amavasya traditionally Lord Vishnu is worshipped and the peepul tree is religiously circumambulated.
Shri Banke Bihari ji, Vrindavan
There is a great rush of devotees at the Shri Banke Bihari ji Temple in Vrindavan on every Amavasya. Since this is the Mauni Amavasya of the Magh Month, the devout Hindus thronging the shrine will be far greater.
8th February,2011: Basant Panchami is a Hindu festival celebrating Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music and art. It is celebrated every year on the panchami or fifth of Magh (January-February), the first day of spring. Traditionally during this festival children are taught to write their first words; brahmins are fed; ancestor worship (Pitr-tarpan) is performed; Kamdev, the god of love, is worshipped; and most educational institutions organise special prayers for Ma Saraswati.Notebooks, pencils and pens are kept at the Devi's feet for blessings and used by the students thereafter.
Celebrating Basant Panchami with Joyous Abandon
The colour yellow has an important role to play. People usually wear yellow garments, Ma Saraswati is dressed in yellow and worshipped with puja and havan, and yellow-hued sweets are relished and distributed amongst families.
The virtuous worship goddess Saraswati for spiritual enlightenment and the white swan of Saraswati stands for sattva or the quality of goodness.
Seasons undergo change and Basant Panchami heralds the arrival of spring.
Sprinkling of Gulal Starts in Vrindavan
From Basant Panchami the sprinkling of gulal or red coloured powder starts in Braj-Vrindavan and continues up to 20th March that is Holi. In Braj this festival of colours is celebrated for a span of 41 days (foreword on Braj Bhoomi Mohini by Saint Ushaji).
Saint Usha ji's Yugal Sarkar
At Vrindavan our Sri Yugal Sarkar (the svarupas of Shri Radha-Krishna) are decked with mustard flowers specially brought from Sri Nandgaon and padas of Basant are joyously sung in the evening.
On Basant Panchami adorn your Thakurji or living presence of Lord Krishna with yellow or mustard flowers.Offer yellow rice (namkeen tahri/sweet pudding and halwa (including the one made of besan) or besan laddus to your Thakurji.
13th February, 2011: The monthly Shri Hari Kirtan is on a Sunday from 5 to 7 pm in the evening and falls on Kumbh Sankranti ( when the sun enters the Aquarius sign of the zodiac).
14th Febrary, 2011: Jaya Ekadasi is on a Monday and is observed on the eleventh day of Shukla Paksha Magh.Though Magh is an auspicious month for propitiating Shiva, this Ekadasi is auspicious for Vishnu Puja. On this day, Lord Vishnu and Shiva are both worshipped. Keeping the Jaya Ekadasi Vrat gives devotees an opportunity to get rid of their sins and attain salvation.
Lord Krishna Narada & Yudhistira
The legend of Jaya Ekadasi Vrata is explained in the Padma Purana as a conversation between Lord Krishna and Yudhistira.
16th February, 2011: Lord Shiva's Pradosha Fast is on a Wednesday. Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept for propitiating Lord Shiva. With his blessings all 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.
18th February, 2011: Magh Purnima is the full moon day in the month of Magh (January – February) during which the famous Kumbh Mela and the annual Magh Mela take place at the Triveni Sangam in Prayag, Allahabad. Thousands of Hindu devotees converge to take a holy dip at the confluence of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati in Allahabad. It is an important date to bathe and for some Hindus, the last date of Magh Snana.
It is believed that Vishwamitra II performed the ritual bath during the Kumbh Mela on a Magh Purnima in 2382 BCE.
Maghi Purnima usually falls at the end of Magh month and signals end of the Kumbh Mela. Most Kalpvasis start their return journey from Sangam on this day.
Saint Usha Bahenji Fondly Known as Bobo
20th February, 2011: Saint Ushaji's Punya Tithi (anniversary of her death) falls on 20th February, 2011, a Sunday and will be observed at Gaura Nagar Colony, Vrindavan. Born on 30th July,1925, Usha Bahenji gained entry into Gauloka (where Lord Krishna forever dwells) in 1992 after Basant Panchami but before Sri Shivrtari. In this way both the festivals were unaffected, a truly sublime happening!
28th February, 2011: Vijaya Ekadasi Ekadashi is on a Monday. It is observed during the Krishna Paksha of the month of Phalgun as per the North Indian calendar. Thus those who observe this Ekadasi are said to triumph and this is highlighted in the Skanda Purana and narrated by Lord Brahma to Sage Narada.
Lord Rama Wanting to Cross the Ocean
Legend has it that Lord Rama and his army comprising of monkeys and bears was searching for a means to cross the ocean to reach Lanka.That is when Lakshman spoke of a great Saint living nearby, who could provide them with a solution. It is this sage who raved about Vijaya Ekadasi and said that observing it would make Lord Rama victorious.
It is said that demon Mura found a place to dwell in grains of rice and Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of Ekadasi to annihilate Mura. Therefore devotees who fast on the Ekadashi day avoid food made from grains and rice.