Friday, April 1, 2016

Spiritual Calendar : April, 2016

2nd April, 2016: Celebrating Dharam Bahenji's Birthday

Shri Dharam Bahenji

Dharam Bahenji (2nd April, 1927 till 25th May, 2001) 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.

'Giridhar Ki Meera'

Right from the age of six Dharam Bahenji 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 the arrival of Sakha ji (a siddha from Golok) had become a regular practice from 1954 onwards.

Saint Usha ji & Sushila Bahenji

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

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.

3rd April, 2016: Pampochani Ekadashi Vrata

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.

5th April,2016: 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.

7th April, 2016: Shradh 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.

8th April, 2016: Chaitra Navratris Begin

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.

9th April, 2016:Matsya Avatar Jayanti

The Matsya Avatara

The appearance day of the Matsya Avatara of Lord Vishnu is observed on the third day of the waxing phase of the moon of Chaitra (March – April). 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.

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.

10th April, 2016: Ganesh Chaturthi Vrata

Lord Ganesha

The fast is kept to please Lord Ganesha. Ganesha is called Vighanharta and a puja begins with the worship of Lord Ganesha.

Each lunar month in the Hindu calendar has two Chaturthi Tithis which belong to Lord Ganesha as per the Hindu scriptures. 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 April,2016:Shri Yamuna Jayanti

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.

13th April, 2016: Vaisakhi

Celebrating Vaisakhi

The Vaisakhi harvest celebration is an occasion of dancing, singing, music, wearing of festive garments and religious praise in India. The festival marks the start of the New Year in the Nanakshahi solar calendar and recognizes the Sikh religious faith.

14th April, 2016: Shri Durgashtami

Goddess Durga

On the 8th day of the navratris, yagna and homa are 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.

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 started terrorizing the deities. One fine day he ventured to Swargaloka to kill Indra. Greatly distressed, Indra and other deities begged Lord Shiva for help. Lord Shiva along with Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, released their energies or shaktis which 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. The Goddess’s triumph because of her innate divinity symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

15th April, 2016:: Shri Ram Navami

Lord Rama

We celebrate Ram Navami on the ninth day of the new moon in the month of Chaitra to mark the birth of Lord Rama and his three brothers, Bharata, Lakshmana and Shatrughana. In some parts of India devotees also mark the nine days of Ram Naumi as Nao Ratri (nine nights).

Lord Ram was born at sharp midday on the ninth day of the bright side of the month of Chaitra. (Whereas 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: Brahmans, Devis and devtas, gau mata (holy cow) and Saints.

Lord Vishnu incarnated as Rama to destroy the demon king, Ravana, so that brahmans and saints could worship freely again. It was after all the gods and goddesses together with Mother earth (in the form of a holy cow) went to Lord Vishnu that he agreed to transcend on earth.

Anand Das Baba, a Great Hanuman Devotee

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, wear a new dress on each Sri Ramnaumi. Thereafter, Sri Ram Kirtan is held in the evening again.

17th April,2016: Kamada Ekadashi Vrata

Lord Vishnu

This ekadashi expiates all sins including Brahma Hathya.The legend 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 the 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 and that was fasting. As suggested by the Sage, the Gandharva couple observed the Kamada Ekadasi fast and got rid of the curse.

19th April,2016: Bhaum Pradosh Vrat

 Lord Shiva

 It 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 and fasting are the main rituals of Pradosham. When the Pradosh Vrat falls on Tuesday, it is known as Bhaum Pradosh.

19th April, 2016: Shri Mahavir Jayanti

Lord Mahavir

In Jainism, Mahavir Janma Kalyanak is the most important religious holiday. It celebrates the birth of Mahavira, the last Tirthankara. On the Gregorian calendar, the holiday occurs either in March or April.

Lord Mahavir was born on the thirteenth day of the waxing moon of Chaitra. Chronology places Mahavir's birth in 599 BCE. He was born into royalty as the son of King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala. It is said that when Trishala finally gave birth to Mahavir, Indra bathed the newborn with celestial milk, a ritual which marked him as a Tirthankar.

Shri Surdas wrote about the most beautiful childhood lilas or playfull dalliances of Lord Krishna. He is one of the astachhap kavis of the Pushti Marg Sampradaya.

The bhajan sites of Surdas are Sur Kuti and Sur Samadhi which lie within the periphery of Vallabhacharyaji's Baithak.

Shri Nathji being a svarupa or living presence of Lord Krishna was clearly perceptible for the poet. The padas sung in praise of Nathji are compiled in the text 'Sur Sagar'. Through his poetic creations, Surdasji enhanced the beauty of worship, giving bhakti a new more intimate direction. Remaining a Krishna devotee, he did not lose sight of the Lord's romantic nuances and was therefore able to bring both religious and aesthetic truths to his compositions.

Celebrations: Local statues of Mahavir are given the abhisheka or ceremonial bath. During the day, Jains are engaged in some charitable act in the name of Mahavir while others go to temples for meditation and prayers. Typically lectures are held in temples to preach the path of virtue as defined by the Jain doctrine. Donations are collected to promote charitable missions like saving cows from slaughter or feeding the poor.

21st April, 2016: Chaitra Purnima

The Full Moon on Chaitra Purnima

Chaitra Purnima is sacred for taking a dip in holy rivers and doing charity. Chaitra Purnima marks the end of Chaitra Mahina in North Indian Hindi calendar. Chitragupta Puja is also celebrated on Chaitra Purnima in some North Indian castes.

22nd April,2016: Hanuman Jayanti

Baby Hanumana, a Great Devoee of Lord Rama

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 Lord 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.

25th April, 2016:Sankashti Ganesh Chaturthi Vrata

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.

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