Friday, February 28, 2014

Spiritual Calendar: March 2014

1st March, 2014: Shanaishcari Amavasya

The Day of the New Moon

Amavasya is the day of conjunction of the sun and moon, on the fifteenth day of the dark half of a lunar month.  Amavasya or the new moon, is the last day of the waning moon. Though Amavasya occurs every month Shanaishchari Amavasyas have always been considered very auspicious for appeasing Lord Saturn, due to excellent combination of Saturday and  Amavasya.

3rd March, 2014:Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa Jayanti

                        Ramakrishna Paramahansa Worshipped Goddess Kali

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 Ramakrishna 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.

4th March, 2014: Shri Vinayak 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.

8th March, 2014: Holashtak Begins


Holashtak witnesses the arrival of Holi. Looking at the literal meaning of Holashtak means eight days before Holi, that is Holashtak. Basically, we can see that holi is a festival of nine days instead of a single day. On the day of Dhulendi this festival comes to an end with colours and gulal.

11th March, 2014: The Holi of Shri Radha Rani at Barsana

Lathmar 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.

12th March, 2014: 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.”

12th March, 2014:Amla Ekadashi

Lord Vishnu

It falls on the 11th day (Ekadashi) of the waxing phase of the moon, in the lunar month of Phalgun (February–March). It is a celebration of Amla also known as the Indian gooseberry.

12th March, 2014: Holi Celebrations Begin in Shri Banke Bihariji Temple
Shri Banke Bihariji

Holi celebrations start in Shri Banke Bihari ji temple from the evening of Amla Ekadashi and continue till Holika Dahan. During this time span, a silver hut is erected in the jagmohan and Shri Banke Bihari ji 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 Shri 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!

Boboji's Yugal Sarkar

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

14th March,2014: Lord 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.

15th March, 2014: Meen Sankranti

Transition of the Sun

Sankranti means transition.When the sun transits from one rashi (zodiac sign) to Meen rashi it is known as Meen Sankranti. As the sun passes through twelve rashis in a year there is one sankranti every month.

16th March,2014: Holika Dahan

Bhakta Prahlad is Safe on 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.

16th March, 2014: Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabu Jayanti

Shri Shri 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 Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna Hare Hare

 16th March, 2014: Appearance Day of Sri Hari Baba

Shri Hari Baba

The main attraction which drew everyone to Shri Maharaj, a saint of the early twentieth century 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."

16th March, 2014: Appearance Day of Shri Anand Dasji Baba of Vrindavan

Shri Anand Dasji 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.

17th March, 2014:Dhulendi on Phalgun Purnima, Dol Utsav

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.

24th March, 2014: Sheetala Ashtami

Ma Sheetala

Ma Sheetala is worshipped on Sheetala Ashtami. She is the goddess of small pox, who is always accompanied by Jwarasura. Devotees do not cook food in the house, they are prohibited to light the stoves. Food is cooked the before day and eaten on Sheetala Ashtami which is famous in North India.

27th March, 2014: Papmochani Ekadashi

Lord Vishnu

Ekadashi is the Goddess that arose from Lord Vishnu to fight and defeat 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 Chaitra Krishna Paksha Ekadashi in the North Indian Calendar.This is the last of Ekadashi vratas of the Hindu Year. The legend of Papamochni 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.

28th March, 2014: Shiva Pradosh Vrat

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.

30th March, 2014:Amavasya

The New Moon Day

It is an indic name for the New Moon day which is the darkest day of the lunar cycle. People perform Shraddha and Tarpan rituals while some devotees observe a fast on this day.

 31St March, 2014: Chaitra Navratris

Goddess Durga

The Navratris begin and the new Panchang is read before Sri Banke Bihariji in Vrindavan.

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 Navratris is celebrated in the Chaitra Month, and the Durga Navratri in the first nine days of the light half of the Ashvin Month.

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