Friday, April 1, 2011

Spiritual Calendar, April 2011

All the dates given below are as per the Banke Bihari Panchang of Vrindavan.

Shri Banke Bihari ji of Vrindavan

3rd April, 2011: Chaitra Amavasya is the No Moon day in the month of Chaitra as per the Hindu calendar. 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 crop, cow, gold and clothes and feed the Brahmans according to your capacity. By doing so one gets the blessings of one's ancestors.

3rd April, 2011: Celebration of highly revered Dharam Bahenji 's birthday

Shri Dharam Bahen ji

at Vrindavan. Dharam Bahenji was a famed saint of Vrindavan who was born on 2nd April, 1927 and left for Golok (the abode of Lord Krishna) on 25th May, 2001.

Right from the age of six she used to fluently chant the Bhagavad Gita and at the tender age of eleven wrote the renowned play 'Giridhar Ki Meera,' a beautiful composition on Meera, the bhakti poet-saint of Rajasthan.

She was a teacher in Delhi ( BA , Prabhakar ) but after meeting Saint Ushaji in 1950, she shifted to Ambala. This was pre-destined because from 1954 onwards, the arrival of Sakha ji (a siddha from Golok) had become a regular practice.

Saint Usha ji & Sushila Bahen ji

Hence the trio of Ushaji-Susheelaji-Dharamji used to relish the lilas or playfull dalliances of Lord Krishna, as friends.

Only when Usha ji renounced the world for settling in Vrindavan on 17th November, 1959, Dharam ji joined her job in Delhi. In fact, her divine experiences with Thakurji reveal that a sort of Vallabhacharya -Tulsidas- Surdas Bhakti-Yuga was re-enacted in Bobo's era as well. When great devotees of Krishna are born they generally come together as a parikar or divine group so that the time on earth is not wasted in worldly affairs but spent in singing the glories of the Lord. For example we had Bhai Poddarji-Radha Baba-Sethji of Gorakhpur.

4th April, 2011: The Chaitra Navratas Begin and the new Panchang is read before Sri Banke Bihari ji in Vrindavan.

Ma Durga, the Divine Feminine Energy or Shakti

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 no one could dare defeat him. Equipped with unprecedented might he started terrorizing the deities. One fine day he ventured to Heaven or Swargaloka to kill Indra, the King of the Gods. Greatly distressed, Indra and other deities entreated Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva along with Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, released their energies. The shaktis of the gods 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, saving the universe from his reign of terror. The Goddess’s triumph because of her innate divinity symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

Navratri is Celebrated Twice a Year

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 month Ashvin.

4th April, 2011: Gudi Padwa

Gudi Padwa Ushers in the New Year

Gudi Padwa is mainly celebrated in Maharashtra on the first day of Chaitra (March-April). The Marathi name for Chaitra Shukla Pratipada it marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year,according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar. People get up early in the morning, clean up their houses, have ablutions and wear festive new clothes. Women decorate their houses with Rangoli. A silk banner is raised and worshipped and thereafter greetings and sweets are exchanged.

6th April, 2011: Matsya Jayanti

Lord Vishnu Incarnates as Matsya Avatara

or the appearance day of Matsya Avatar of Lord Vishnu is observed on the third day of the waxing phase of the moon of Chaitra (March – April). The very first incarnation in the Hindu pantheon, the Matsya Avatara epitomizes the various incarnations of Vishnu that follow. 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.

During the deluge that night the Matsya Avatar kept the boat afloat and narrated the contents recorded in the Matsya Purana to Satyavrata preparing him for his role as the next Manu. The liberated Vedas were restored to Brahma so that he could resume the function of creation at the proper time. Consequently Lord Vishnu saved his true devotees from dissolution in the Matsya incarnation.

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.

6th April,2011: Skanda Chhathi

Lord Skanda or Murugan

is the sixth day after purnima (Full Moon) or Amavasya (No Moon) in the Hindu calendar. Skanda is a Hindu god also known as Karikeya or Murugan. Shashti Vratham is an auspicious fast dedicated to Lord Subramanya or Murugan. Devotees fast on Shashti day and worship Murugan with shodashopachara puja.

There are two Shashtis in a month and devotees of Skanda observe partial or full fast on the Shashti occurring after the new moon (Amavasya).

6th April,2011: Shri Ramanujacharya Jayanti

Shri Ramanuj Acharya

He is hailed as one of the four main Acharyas of Sanatan Dharma, the famous South Indian philosopher who advocated that bhakti or devotional worship of Lord Vishnu in any form is the ideal method to attain salvation or moksha. Moving away from the Advaita principles, Ramanuja amalgamated philosophy of Upanishads, Brahma Sutras and gave the Bhakti Tradition a strong intellectual basis.

7 April, 2011: Vinayak Chaturthi Vrat

Vinayak Chaturthi Vrata

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.

The Legend of Ganesh Damnak Chaturthi Fast

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.

9th April, 2011: Yamuna Jayanti Mahotsav

Shri Yamuna Maharani

Yamuna Jayanti is dedicated to the Yamuna River and it is also known as Yamuna Chhath, observed mainly in Mathura. It is observed on the sixth day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) in Chaitra (March – April). Special pujas are offered on the banks of the Yamuna River on this particular day. On Yamuna Jayanti, Yamuna ji is believed to have appeared on earth in the form of a river.

Invariably people visit banks of the Yamuna River and do puja. Taking a sip of water , they chant” Yamuna Maiya Ki Jai.” Shri Yamuna is known to fulfil all our desires not of this material world but for attaining Lord Krishna.She grants fruition when we long to attend to Krishna's needs, sight His lilas and relish His rasa or religious rapture,making us reach the heights of elation and ecstasy.

11April, 2011: Shri Durga Maha Ashtmi Vrat

Shri Durga Ashtami

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.

11th April to 13th April, 2011: Sai Baba Utsav at Shirdi

Shri Sai Baba of Shirdi

The Utsav observed in Chaitra Month attracts thousands of devotees to the Saibaba Temple at Shirdi. Special pujas and programs are held during the three days. The festival also marks the end of the Chaitra Navratri.

12 April,2011: Shri Ram Naumi

Shri Ram Naumi

We celebrate the festival on the ninth day of the new moon in the month of Chaitia to mark the birth of Lord Ram and his three brothers, Bharat, Lakshman and Shatrughan.Although this festival is primarily to remember Lord Ram on his birthday, in some parts of India devotees also mark the nine days of Ram Naumi as Nao Ratri (nine nights).

Lord Ram’s father Raja Dashrath was the king of Ayodhya. He had three wives: Kaushalya, Kakai and Sumitra – and all three Queens could not bear any children to succeed the beloved King.In Ayodhya during the Treta Yugha there was never a shortage of anything but King Dashrath longed for a successor to his rule.

Lord Ram was born at sharp midday on the ninth day of the bright side of the month of Chaitra. (In contrast Lord Krishna was born at midnight in the dark side of the month of Bhadrapath – around August of every year)

Tulsidaas, the great narrator who wrote the Ramayana noted that Lord Vishnu came to earth for the protection of four living beings:


Devis and devtas

Gao mata (holy cow)

Saints (sants & rishis).

Lord Vishnu agreed to incarnate to destroy the demon king, Ravan, and allow the brahmans and saints to worship freely again. It was after all the devis and devtas together with Mother earth (in the form of a holy cow) went to Lord Vishnu that he agreed to transcend on earth.

Shri Ananddass Baba, a Great Devotee of Shri Hanuman

Sri Ramnaumi Bhandara is also organised at the ashram of Ananddass Baba who was a great Hanumana devotee and the deities (Lord Ram-Sita & family) whom he served have a new dress each Sri Ramnaumi. Thereafter Sri Ram Kirtan is held in the evening again.

12th April, 2011: Monthly Sri Hari Kirtan

Shri Hari Kirtan

and the akhand Ramyana Path at Santosh Bahenji's place.

14April, 2011: Kamada Ekadashi Vrata

Lord Vishnu

expiates all the sins including Brahma Hathya.The legend or the Vrat Katha of Kamada Ekadasi is mentioned in the Varaha Purana as a conversation between Lord Krishna and King Yudhistira.

Once, a Gandharva called Lalita was married to a beautiful woman. After his marriage, he was unable to do his regular tasks with dedication because of attraction towards his wife. Pundarika, the King of Gandharvas, therefore cursed him to become a cannibal. Gandharva with his wife wandered to many holy places to get rid of the curse.

While they were passing by a hermitage, they met a Sage and asked for a remedy to get rid of this curse. That Sage advised them to perform the religious observances associated with Kamada Ekadashi. He suggested that the sole remedy was Ekadasi fasting. As suggested by the Sage, the Gandharva couple observed the Kamada Ekadasi fast and got rid of the Gandharvas curse.

14th April, 2011:Phool Bangla Utsav Of Shri Bankey Bihari Ji

Shri Radha Raman ji in a Phool Bangla of Vrindavan

Maharaj begins in Vrindavan. Phool Bangla Utsav in Vrindavan is a festival celebrated for many days, starting from Chaitra Shukla Ekadasi up to Haryali Amavasya (Shravan Amavasya). In Vrindavan, during this festival of flowers, Lord Shri Banke Bihariji is adorned with leaves and blossoms of summer. The leaves of Vatvriksha (Banyan) are strung as garlands and ornaments for Bihariji. Phool Bangla is the decorated home to seat Lord Bihariji and every devotee longs to view this ethereal scene at least once in his lifetime.

15 April,2011: Bengali New Year begins

Pohela Boishakh Ushers in the Bengali New Year

The Bengali calendar is closely tied with the Hindu Vedic solar calendar, based on the Surya Siddhanta. The Bengali calendar commences in mid-April of the Gregorian year. In Kolkata, Pohela Boishakh (and indeed the entire month of Boishakh) is considered to be an auspicious time for marriages. These days people wear new clothes and go about socialising. Choitro, the last month of the previous year, is the month of hectic activities and frantic purchases.

Pohela Boishakh is the day for cultural programmes. Prayers are offered for the well-being and prosperity of the family. Young ladies clad in white saris with red borders and men clad in dhuti and kurta take part in the Probhat Pheri processions early in the morning to welcome the first day of the year.

This day being auspicious, new businesses and new ventures are started.Pohela Boishakh is the beginning of all business activities in Bengal. The Bengali Hindu traders purchase new accounting book. Long queues of devotees are seen in front of the Kalighat temple from late night to receive the blessings of the almighty.

On Pohela Boishakh various fairs are held in West Bengal.

15th April, 2011: Shiva Pradosh Vrat

Lord Shiva Pradosh

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.

18th April, 2011- Chaitra Poornima

Chaitra Purnima

is sacred for taking a dip in holy rivers and doing charity. Full Moon in April 2011 is known as Chaitra Purnima in Hindu Calendar. Purnima April 2011 date is April 18, Monday.

Chaitra Purnima marks the end of Chaitra Mahina in North Indian Hindi calendar. Purnima time in India – begins at 12 noon on 17 April and ends on 18 April at 8.14 am. 17 April 2011 is observed as Hanuman Jayanti Upvaas.

Chitragupta Puja is also celebrated on Chaitra Purnima in some North Indian castes.

18th April, 2011: Shri Hanuman Jayanti

Shri Hanuman Jayanti

is an important festival of Hindus and celebrates the birth of Lord Hanuman during the month of Chaitra.Sri Hanuman is worshipped all over India either alone or together with Sri Rama. Hanuman is an incarnation of Lord Shiva, and born of the Wind-God and Anjani Devi. A symbol of strength and energy, He is the living embodiment of Ram-Nam, a great devotee and an exceptional celibate. He did what others could not do-crossing the ocean simply by uttering Ram-Nam, burning the city of Lanka and bringing the sanjeevini herb for restoring Lakshmana to life again.

On Hanuman Jayanti people read the Hanuman Chalisa, fast and spend the whole day chanting the name of Ram. The devotees visit temples and apply a tilak of sindoor to their foreheads from Hanuman's idol as a symbol of good luck.

21st April, 2011: Shri Ganesh Sankashta Chaturthi Vrat

Sankashta Ganesh Chaturthi

Sankashta Ganesh Chaturthi is observed on the Chavithi day during Krishna Paksha in every Hindu month. The legend of Sankashta Ganesh Chaturthi is associated with King Shursen, Lord Indra and sage Bhushundi:

Once God Indra's Vimana (plane) returning home from sage Bhushundi (a great devotee of Lord Ganesha), was flying above king Shursens kingdom. One person who had sinned in his life saw that plane in the sky and it landed on the ground. Surprised by the radiance, the king went to see the plane.

The king was much pleased and saluted God Indra and asked the reason for landing of the plane. God Indra told him that a sinner from your kingdom looked at the plane, due to his sins the plane landed on the ground. King Shursen asked Lord Indra how the plane could start again.

Lord Indra told him that today is Panchami, yesterday was Chaturthi. If a person, who fasted yesterday, gives his virtue to me the plane would start.Right then the some soldiers saw a woman who had died recently being taken away by Ganesh-Duta (a soldier of Lord Ganesha). They asked him that how they could take such a sinner to Ganesh Loka.

Ganesh-Duta replied that yesterday she had slept the entire night and not eaten anything. She woke up late night after moon-rise and ate some food. Unknowingly she had kept the Sankashti Chaturthi fast and died today.

The soldier also said that a person, who does Sankashti Chaturthi at least once in life-time, goes to Ganesh loka or Swananda loka after death. Soldiers requested Ganesh-Duta to give that womans body to them but he refused. The wind which blew from the dead womans body suffused the place where Indra's plane had stopped and the air turned virtuous. Those who keep the Sankashti Chaturthi fast even once in their lives are said to go to Ganesh Loka.

25 April, 2011: Sheetala Ashtami

Shri Sheetala Mata

is an auspicious day dedicated to Goddess Sheetala in the month of Chaitra (March-April) as per the traditional calendar followed in North India.Its Vrat is observed on the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) in Chaitra month and helps in curing diseases. Sheetala Mata is popular as the goddess of chicken pox and small pox.Many people of rural India believe that by revering the goddess on this day there will be immunity all around and children will be safeguarded from hazardous epidemics.

It is mainly celebrated in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and some other North Indian states.

28th April,2011: Varuthini Ekadashi

Lord Vishnu

is observed on the eleventh day of Krishna Paksha or waning phase of the moon in Chaitra/Vaisakha month. It is believed that observing Varuthini Ekadasi makes a person fortunate, prosperous, expiates his sins and helps in attaining moksha. The greatness of fasting on this Ekadasi was narrated to Yudhishtira (the eldest of the Pandavas) by Lord Krishna and is mentioned in the Bhavishyottara Purana.

To get the merits of Varudhini Ekadasi, on Dashami, the day before Ekadashi, devotees avoid consuming onions, spinach and some more foods. On Dwadasi, the day after Ekadasi, devotees avoid the eatables as they did on the Dashami day.

On Varuthini Ekadasi, devotees spend time reciting Holy Scriptures such as the Bhagavada Puraram and do jagaran or keep awake during the night. During Ekadashi people avoid cutting their hair, shaving and taking an oil bath.

28th April,2011: Sri Vallabhacharya Jayanti

Shri Vallabhacharya

Shri Vallabhacharya is one of the five main Acharyas of the Hindu Religion. (The other four being Shankaracharya, Shri Ramanujacharya, Shri Madhavacharya and Shri Nimbarkacharya.) He propagated the philosophy of Shuddhadvaita and founded the Pushtimarg, a sect of the Hindi religion around 1500 AD. Shri Vallabh with his unopposed arguments proved that God is purely non-dualistic or Shuddhadwait.

During the second pilgrimage, Lord Krishna appeared as Shrinathji in front of him and ordered him to propagate the pushti kind of devotion among the chosen ones and bring them back in their original state to Golok-dham.

Lord Shrinathji assured him that with brahamasambandha, (relationship with God) whichever soul gains entry into the Pushti Marg, its impurities will refrain from obstructing the soul's relation with the Divine and the soul will be eligible to pursue His bhakti.

30 April, 2011: Shani Pradosh Vrat

Lord Shiva

an auspicious fast dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is observed on the thirteenth day of every fortnight (Shukla Paksha and Krishna Paksha) in the Hindu calendar. Shivalinga puja at the time of pradosha time and fasting are the main rituals of Pradosham.

In all Pradosha vratas, Shani Pradosha which falls on a Saturday and Soma Pradosham on a Monday are important days.

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