Ekadashi comes twice a month, about four days before every amavasya and purnima. Devotees wake up early in the morning and offer arghya (water) to the Sun God, Lord Shiva and the tulsi plant. No cereal or rice is cooked and just milk and fruits are taken. Sadhakas chant at least 16 malas of the mahamantra
hare ram hare ram ram ram hare hare
hare krishna hare krishna krishna krishna hare hare
5th February, 2012: Lord Shiva's Pradosha Fast in the auspicious month of Magh. Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept for propitiating Lord Shiva. With His blessings all desires are fulfilled and one attains spiritual enlightenment. People generally 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 Shiva and the three gunas.
Kindly bring your copy of 'The Bhagavad Gita' and join us in recitation/Kirtan from 5 pm onwards at revered Bharti ji and Vikasji's residence under the instructions of Prabhu Dhananjay ji.
Devotees Bathe at the Triveni in Allabhabad
7th February, 2012: Magh Purnima is on a Tuesday. Magh Purnima is the full moon day in the month of Magh (January – February) during which the famous Kumbh Mela and 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 day to bathe and for some Hindus, the last date of Magh Snana. Please take a dip in the Ganges, Yamuna or any other sacred river. There will be a great rush at Goverdhan/Vrindavan and Kamad Giri at Chitrakoot for parikrama or circumambulation.
It is believed that Vishwamitra II performed a ritual bath during the Kumbh Mela on a Magh Purnima in 2382 BCE. Maghi Purnima usually falls at the end of Magh and signals the end of the Kumbh Mela. Most Kalpvasis start their return journey from the Sangam on this day.
Saint Usha ji fondly Known as Bobo
9th February, 2012: Saint Ushaji's Punya Tithi (anniversary of her death) falls on a Thursday 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! Highly revered Susheela Bahenji requests everyone to reach Vrindavan in time as the program starts sharp at 9 am.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu & Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa were secular saints of India and inspired Saint Usha ji fondly known as Bobo. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu embraced Haridas sji, a Muslim whereas Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa though a great devotee of goddess Kali, actually practised Islam and Christianity for some months.
Lord Brahma & Narada
18th Februay, 2012: Vijaya Ekadasi is on a Saturday. It is observed during the krishna paksha of the Phalgun Month as per the North Indian calendar. Those who observe this Ekadasi are said to triumph. This fact 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 day of Ekadashi, avoid food made from grains and rice
Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa Worshipped Goddess Kali
18th February, 2012: Jayanti of Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa He was born on 18th Feb 1836 in West Bengal in Kamarpukur, some 70 miles from Calcutta. Later Swami Vivekananda, Brahamanada and others became his disciples and set up Ramakrishna Missions, Ramakrishna Maths and hospitals all over India and the world. He lived in this mundane world for 50 years and worshipped Goddess Kali. Swami Ramakrishna also practised Christianity and Muslim rituals to endorse that all religions lead to one God if one is sincerely unbiased, in his commitments.
A great saint inspired by Swami Ramkrishan Paramhansa to renounce this world was Sri Sri Balkrishan Das ji Maharaj of Vrindavan. He had experienced the highest ideal of religious rapture by relishing Shri Radha-Krishna's madhurya or sweet romance.
18th February: Lord Krishna leaves earth A truly interesting fact is that about 5100 years ago, Lord Krishna left this material world and scholars have found that the date in the English calendar was 18th February, 3102 B.C.! The period after his disappearance marks the beginning of Kaliyuga.
20th February, 2012: The Maha Shivratri Fast is on a Monday.
The Festival of Mahashivratri
Maha Shivratri, the night of the worship of Shiva is celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day of the krishna paksha or waning phase of the moon in Phalgun. Along with keeping a fast, cold water and bel patra (leaves of the wood apple tree) are offered to the lingam during the day. The festival is celebrated by traditional offerings such as bathing Shiva in milk, panchamruta (milk,curd,ghee,sugar and honey [the symbols of sustenance]),one after the other in succession; or anointing the lingam with vermilion (kumkum), white consecrated rice and askshata, (symbols of fertility or creation), when Shiva is worshipped as the god of dissolution.
The three principal reasons for Shivratri are:
Sadashiv, the Cosmic Form of Shiva
1] Sadashiv, the cosmic form of Lord Shiva, appeared as 'Lingodbhav Moorti' precisely at midnight on Maha Shivratri. That is why all Shiva devotees keep vigil during the night of Shivratri and do abhishek of the Shivalingam (the form in which Shiva is worshipped). It is the night when Shiva performed the tandava nritya or the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction.
Lord Vishnu is Born as Krishna
It is believed that Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as Krishna, was born in Gokul in the middle of the night on Janamashtami, 180 days after Shivratri. Amazingly the circle of one year is divided into two by the festivities of Shivratri and Janamashtami.
Marriage of Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati
2] Lord Shiva was married to Goddess Parvati on Shivratri. Shiva without Parvati is an absolute 'Nirgun Brahman' (formless static God), whereas with Parvati, or purna-shakti, the most complete form of divine feminine energy, He becomes the 'Sagun Brahman' for his dedicated devotees.
Shiva as Neelkantham
3] On Shivratri, Lord Shiva became 'Neelkantham' or the blue-throated one by swallowing the deadly poison, halahala, that came up when the devas and asuras churned the sea to obtain the nectar of immortality. Even a drop of the poison would have annihilated the entire world but Shiva held it in His neck, which turned blue with its impact.Ever since Shivratri is celebrated as a day of thanksgiving to the Lord for protecting us from destruction.
At highly revered saint Sushila Bahinji's Gaura Colony the festival is celebrated with Thakurji. At our residence that is 'Hari:Vrinda Dham', chanting of Om Namah Shivay and Lord Shiva-Parvati vivah from Baalkand doha 88 to 103 ( Goswami Tulsidassji's Sri Ramcharitmanas) given on pages 28 to 37 of the new edition of the Sankirtan & Stuti Dhara will be read from 2 to 4 pm. Due to my Dialysis on the same day from 4 pm onwards, co-operation is requested and all are cordially invited.
Shri Banke Bihari in Vrindavan
21st February, 2012: Phalgun Amavasya On this amavasya or new moon day, devotees throng to the Sri Banke Bihari Temple and since this is the holy month of Phalgun, the rush will be much greater. It is the last day of krishna paksha or waning phase of the moon. The Amavasya is also popularly known as the Maha Shivaratri Amavasya as the day prior to Amavasya is celebrated as the festival of Maha Shivaratri.
21st February, 2012: Gaulok Gaman Diwas of revered Kamda Bahen ji (mother of Sri Piyush and Shalini Aggarwal). As Bobo was being taken for union with the divine, Shri Kamda Bahen a devout recipient of Usha Bahenji's grace, made an obeisance and prayed, “Bobo! Do take me along too.Take me along.” And Kamda Bahenji also departed when Bobo was being taken to be consigned to the Yamuna's water, as if she had come readily prepared in advance.