Friday, January 31, 2014

Spiritual Calendar: February 2014

3rd February, 2014: Shri Ganesh Chaturthi Vrata

Lord Ganesha

When people fast on Ganesh Chaturthi, they either opt for the nirjal vrat (a stringent, waterless fast) or phalahar vrat (a diet). Devotees are allowed to have sweets including til ke ladoo , gajak and rewari along with tea and coffee. In order to concentrate, the devotees chant mantras invoking Lord Ganesha and sing bhajans in his praise. It is believed that if one observes a fast on Ganesha Chaturthi with sincerity, he is blessed with health, wealth and prosperity.

Those who are not able to observe fast on this day can donate things to the poor people like warm clothes and blankets. After offering ladoos to Lord Ganesha, they should be distributed amongst the poor as a prasad.


4th February, 2014: Basant Panchami

Godess Saraswati

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 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.


Mustard Flowers

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.

7th February, 2014: Bhishma Ashtami
 

Bhishma Ashtami

This festival is associated with 'Bhishma Pitamaha, the legendary king of Mahabharata whom Lord Krishna praised as the Lord of the lords. Bhishmashtami ie Bhishma Ashtami,is the festival which is celebrated on the twenty-third day of Magha (Jan-Feb) and eighth lunar day of the light half (waxing phase of the moon).
Important part of this festival is the worship of the Pitris, the ancestors.It is the next day to Ratha Saptami.It is believed that Bhishma's soul departed on this day after the war of Kurukshetra came to an end. Bhishmashtami is dedicated to Bhishma, the son of Ganga, and great uncle of the Pandava and Kaurava.Bhishma died childless without any direct descendant.

On this day devotees take bath early in the morning,perform the pooja and observe the fast from sunrise to sunset.Being the 'Pitamaha', all the devotees come together and make religious offerings of Ganga-water, to his spirit.Sesamum seeds and boiled rice is offered to him.These rituals compensate the sins of the whole year.

This offering is given to the childless hero Bhishma of the race of Vyaghrapada. Then people pray saying, "May Bhishma, the son of Santanu, the speaker of truth and defeater of his passions, obtain by this water the oblations due by sons and grandsons."

10th February, 2014: Jaya Ekadashi Vrata


Lord Vishnu

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.

The legend of Jaya Ekadasi Vrata is explained in the Padma Purana as a conversation between Lord Krishna and Yudhistira.

11th February, 2014: Bhishma Dwadashi


 Bhishma Dvadashi

Bhishma Dvadasi, is observed on the 12th day in the month of Magha (January – February) during the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon). Bhisma Dwadasi is also known as Magh Shukla Dwadasi. It is widely believed that Pandavas performed the last rites of Bhishma, the son of King Shantanu and Ganga in Mahabharata, on this day.

It is popularly believed that Bhisma who was wounded and lying on a bed of arrows chose to leave the earth 58 days after the beginning of the Great War in Mahabharata. Bhishma was blessed with a boon that he could choose the day of his death. It is believed that he chose Magh Shukla Ashtami day to leave the earth and merge with Brahman.

On the Bhishma Dwadasi day, Pandavas performed the last rites of Bhishma Pitamah on the banks of Ganga.

There is a popular belief that offering Tarpan and Shradh on the day to ancestors is highly beneficial. Some people also perform Tarpan in the name of Bhishma as he had no children.

12th February, 2014: Shiva Pradosh Vrata

Lord Shiva

Is 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.

13th February, 2014: Kumbha Sankranti


Kumbha Sankranti

Sankraman means transition of the sun from one zodiac sign to another. Kumbh Sankranti is the transition of the sun from Makara Rashi (Capricorn) to Kumbha Rashi (Aquarius).

Kumbha Sankranti marks the start of the eleventh month in the traditional Hindu solar calender that is beginning of Kumbha Masam in Malayalam calendar, Maasi Masam in Tamil calendar and Falgun Maas in Bengali calendar.. Ritual bath in a nearby river is performed on this day. Sankranti is good to perform Daana and Punya activities. Gau daan or donating a cow is considered auspicious on this day.

14th February, 2014: Magh Purnima

Devotees Bathe at the Triveni in Allahbad

Magh Purnima is the full moon day in the month of Magh (JanuaryFebruary) 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.

17th February, 2014: Saint Ushaji's Punya Tithi


Saint Usha Bahenji Fondly Known as Bobo

(anniversary of her death) falls on a Wednesday 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 Shivratari. In this way both the festivals were unaffected, a truly sublime happening!

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.

18th February, 2014: Shri Ganesh Chaturthi Vrata

Lord Ganesha

When people fast on Ganesh Chaturthi, they either opt for the nirjal vrat (a stringent, waterless fast) or phalahar vrat (a diet). Devotees are allowed to have sweets including til ke ladoo , gajak and rewari along with tea and coffee. In order to concentrate, the devotees chant mantras invoking Lord Ganesha and sing bhajans in his praise. It is believed that if one observes a fast on Ganesha Chaturthi with sincerity, he is blessed with health, wealth and prosperity.

Those who are not able to observe fast on this day can donate things to the poor people like warm clothes and blankets. After offering ladoos to Lord Ganesha, they should be distributed amongst the poor as a prasad.

23rd February, 2014: Shri Sita Ashtami


Ma Sita

Sita Ashtami, or Janaki Janma, is believed to be the day when Mata Sita appeared on earth as per traditional calendar and Panchangs followed in North India. Sita Ashtami is observed on the eighth day of the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) of Phalguna month (February – March).

Mata Sita is an embodiment of purity and wifely devotion and the consort of Sri Ram in Ramayan. 

 

Mata Sita was adopted by King Janaka; after he found her while ploughing his field.

25th February, 2014: Vijaya Ekadashi Vrata


Lord Brahma & Narada

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.

27th February, 2014: Shiva Pradosh Vrata


Lord Shiva

27th February, 2014: Maha Shivratri


Maha Shivrati

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.


The Yugal Sarkar of Saint Usha Bahenji

At highly revered saint Sushila Bahinji's Gaura Colony the festival is celebrated with Thakurji.

1 comment:

Minakshi Aggarwal said...

Very informative calender available in the beginning of the month with a compete knowledge about the day.