Friday, January 30, 2015

Spiritual Calendar: February, 2015

1st February, 2015: Pradosh Vrata 

Lord Shiva

Lord Shiva Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept on the 13th day of each lunar fortnight for propitiating Lord Shiva. With His blessings all desires are fulfilled and one attains spiritual enlightenment. It is said that on this day all gods and goddesses assemble at Mount Kailash to worship Shiva. 

 Worship of Shiva throughout the night, bathing the Shivalinga with panchamrta (milk, curd, ghee, sugar and honey), homa, japa or chanting of the mulamantra (Aum Nama Shivaya) and praying for forgiveness are the other religious observances. At the end of the vrata one must do parana (break the fast by partaking the offerings)

3rd February, 2015: Magh Purnima 

Devotees Bathe at the Triveni in Allahbad

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. 

6th February, 2015: Saint Ushaji's Punya Tithi 

Saint Usha Bahenji 

Fondly Known as Bobo Her death anniversary 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 Haridasji, a Muslim whereas Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa though a great devotee of goddess Kali, actually practised Islam and Christianity for some months.

7th February, 2015: Sankashti Chaturthi 

Lord Ganesha 

Sankashti Chaturthi also known as Sankata Hara Chaturthi is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Ganesha. This day is celebrated in every Lunar month or Hindu calendar month on the fourth day of Krishna Paksha (dark lunar phase or the waning phase). On this day, the devotees observe strict fast. They break the fast at night after having darshan/auspicious sight of the moon preceded by prayers to Lord Ganesha. 

Sankashti means deliverance during troubled times, hence observing this fast is believed to reduce your problems as Lord Ganesha symbolizes the remover of all obstacles and supreme lord of intelligence. 

Before moonlight the Ganapati Atharvashesha is recited to summon the blessings of Lord Ganesha. Each lunar month in Hindu calendar has two Chaturthi Tithis which belong to Lord Ganesha. The Chaturthi after Amavasya or new moon during Shukla Paksha is known as Vinayaka Chaturthi and the one after Puranmasi or full moon during Krishna Paksha is known as Sankashti Chaturthi. 

12th February, 2015: 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 the Phalguna month (February – March). Mata Sita is an embodiment of purity and wifely devotion and the consort of Sri Ram in the Ramayana.

 King Janaka Ploughing his Field

 Ma Sita was adopted by King Janaka when he found her while he was ploughing his field.

13th February, 2015: Kumbha Sankranti 

 Kumbha Sankranti 

Sankraman means transition of the sun from one zodiac sign to another. Kumbha 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. A ritual bath in a nearby river is performed on this day. Sankranti is good to perform dana and punya.

15th February, 2015: 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.

16th February, 2015: Som Pradosh Vrata

 Lord Shiva

Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept on the 13th day of each lunar fortnight for propitiating Lord Shiva. With His blessings all desires are fulfilled and one attains spiritual enlightenment.It is said that all gods and goddesses assemble on Mount Kailash to worship Lord Shiva on this day. The Pradosh which falls on a Monday is of special significance.  

17th February, 2015: 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]), in quick 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 

 Lord Shiva is Married to 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 

 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. 

18th February, 2015: 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. 

20th February, 2015:Shri Ramakrishna Paramahansa Jayanti

Ramakrishna Paramahansa Worshipped Goddess Kali

Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa 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 Dasji Maharaj of Vrindavan. He had experienced the highest ideal of religious rapture by relishing Shri Radha-Krishna's madhurya or sweet romance.

22nd February,2015: Vinayaka Chaturthi 

Lord Ganesha

Each lunar month in Hindu calendar has two Chaturthi Tithis. According to Hindu scriptures Cued Krishna's foster father, Shri Nandrai ji. Highly revered by Vaishnavas, the place invokes their devotional service. Bhaktimati Usha Bahenji says, “ Delightedlyhaturthi Tithi(s) belongs to Lord Ganesha. The Chaturthi after Amavasya or new moon during Shukla Paksha is known as Vinayaka Chaturthi and the one after Purnimasi or full moon during Krishna Paksha is known as Sankashti Chaturthi. 

26th Feb, 2015: 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. 

27th Feb, 2015: Lathmar Holi in Shri Radha Rani's 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. 

28th Feb, 2015: Lathmar Holi of Nandlala's Nandgaon

 Lathmar Holi of Nandgaon

The following day, the play of Holi manifests itself in Nandgaon, Krishna’s village. Men of Barsana retaliate by invading Nandgaon and drenching the women in colours of kesudo, naturally occurring orange-red dye, and palash. Whereas the women of Nandgaon reign supreme over the men of Barsana, beating the invaders in joyous abandon in yet another day of Lathmar Holi.But the beatings are much gentler, since Radha’s side remains the more powerful one during Holi. 

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.”

1 comment:

Minakshi Aggarwal said...

Interesting calender with the colors of Holi this month and also beautiful pics.