Thursday, November 7, 2013

Bhaiya Dooj holy dip in Yamuna

It is believed that if the brother and the sister take holy dip together in Yamuna on Bhai Dooj day then they would get rid of Yama Lok troubles. This year, Bhai Dooj was observed on November 5, Tuesday. On the significant day of Bhai Dooj, which is observed on Kartik Shukla Dwitiya as per Hindu almanac, thousands of brothers and sisters took holy dip at Vishram Ghat of Mathura.

According to legends, Yamuna the daughter of the Surya Dev after getting cursed reached Mathura after wondering at different places. Goddess Yamuna took rest at Mathura and the place where she rested got famous as Vishram Ghat. Lord Yamaraj who is the son of Surya Dev and the elder brother of Goddess Yamuna came to Vishram Ghat to meet His sister. It is believed that it was an emotive meeting for Lord Yama and Goddess Yamuna. Goddess Yamuna did auspicious Tika to Lord Yama and in return Lord Yama asked Her to make any wish which He can fulfill. Goddess Yamuna asked that anyone who takes dip in my water at our meeting place would never go to Yama Lok.

Bhaiya Dooj Tika after holy dip in Yamuna at Vishram Ghat
Since then brothers and sisters take bath together every year on the auspicious day of Kartik Dwitiya. After bath sisters do Tika on the forehead of their brothers. After this brothers and sisters visit Yamuna Maharani and Dharmaraj temple at Vishram Ghat and offer Puja, clothes and various Shringar items.

Govardhan Puja

Govardhan Puja celebrations are none other than those at Govardhan town in Mathura. Govardhan Puja is celebrated on the next day of Diwali on Kartik Pratipada. Devotees throng to Govardhan hills from far flung places on the auspicious day of Govardhan Puja. In 2013, Govardhan Puja was celebrated on November 4, Monday.

Chhappan Bhog offered to Lord Giriraj on Govardhan Puja
The Puja began around 4 a.m. during Arunodaya time. Devotees took holy dip at the bank of Manasi Ganga and lit lamps to pay their respects to the holy lake. It is believed that Manasi Ganga was created by Lord Krishna itself. After holy dip at Manasi Ganga people worshipped Lord Giriraj Maharaj and performed Sapta-Kosi Parikrama of Govardhan Hills. Giriraj Maharaj is one of the several names of Lord Krishna.

Giriraj Maharaj made of cow-dung 
Traditionally, devotees who are not able to visit Govardhan hills make Giriraj Maharaj with cow-dung at home and worship it in the evening. People offer various types of food to Lord Giriraj and this ritual of offering different type of food items to Lord Krishna is known as Chhappan Bhog.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ravi Pushya Yoga - Oct 27, (Sunday)

Ravi Pushya Yoga is highly regarded Yoga in astrology. Pushya is an auspicious Nakshatra and when it falls on Sunday it forms highly auspicious Ravi Pushya Yoga. 

Details of next Ravi Pushya Yoga are following.

Ravi Pushya Yoga Day on October 27, 2013 (Sunday) 
Start Time - After Sunrise
End Time - upto 19:13

As Diwali is just around the corner it is good time to do Diwali shopping. The five days Diwali Calendar can be checked at Diwali Calendar

People prefer Ravi Pushya Yoga to do shopping for upcoming marriages, events and festivals as this time is considered auspicious to buy all sort of new items. According to astrology, along with new items, Goddess Lakshmi comes and resides within the home for long time.

Ravi Pushya Yoga is also considered good to buy new car or any other vehicle, gold and diamond jewelry, domestic and electronic items. On this day any new venture can also be started. It is believed that all new works, started during this time, are fulfilled and give positive results.

In a year only two or three times such auspicious Yoga is formed. Ravi Pushya Yoga is also known as Ravi Pushya Nakshatra Yoga.

Exact time for Ravi Pushya Yoga can be found on the following link Ravi Pushya Yoga.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Vijayadashami on October 13th or 14th

As per Drik Panchang the date of Vijayadashami in 2013 is on October 13thThe team of Drik Panchang has received many queries on the date of Vijayadashami. Many sources have published Vijayadashami on 14th October.

We follow festivals rules mentioned in religious texts, including Puranas to decide the day of the festival. We don’t change our calculations to match the modern dates of the festivals and stick to what have been dictated in various religious texts.

This year there is no dispute among various religious texts to decide the day of Vijayadashami. On October 13th, Dashami Tithi starts at 13:17 and prevails during whole Aparahana duration (i.e. afternoon). It is Aparahana time of the day when most rituals on Vijayadashami are followed. Further most religious texts emphasize on the importance of Shravana Nakshatra on the day of Vijayadashami. On October 13th, Shravana Nakshatra prevails from sunrise to throughout the day.

Lord Rama killing demon Ravana on Dussehra
On October 14th Dashami Tithi is getting over at 11:15 only and this day doesn’t have significant touch of Shravana Nakshatra. Devotees who would observe Vijayadashami rituals on October 13th should not have any doubts on the significance of the day compare to October 14th. The day of October 14th has neither Tithi during Aparahana time nor the Sparsh of Shravana Nakshatra. 

The city based timings for Vijay Muhurat and Aparahana Puja Time can be checked on the following page Vijayadashami Puja Time.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

21 Patra for Ganesha Chaturthi

List of 21 Patra for Ganesha Chaturthi Puja 
In Hinduism, flowers and leaves are given utmost importance while worshipping Hindu Gods and Goddesses. All Gods and Goddesses have their own favorite list of flowers and leaves.

While worshipping Gods and Goddesses, devotees choose only those flowers and leaves which are favorite of the deity. Some flowers and leaves are prohibited for some of the deities and should not be offered to them.

21 different types of leaves are suggested for Ganesha Chaturthi Puja and popularly known as Patris Puja or Patra Puja. As it is not practical to have all of them during the Puja time, devotees can include some of them in Puja Samagari.

Due to one legend in Ganesha Purana which talks about Tulasi and Lord Ganesha cursing each other, Tulasi leaves are not offered to Lord Ganesha. However as an exception Tulasi leaves are offered to Lord Ganesha during Ganesha Chaturthi Puja which is also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi Puja. 

1. Peepal Patra
Peepal patra
Hindi – पीपल 
English - Peepal Tree
Botanical – Ficus Religiosa 
Sanskrit – अश्वत्थः  
Telugu – Raavi 
Marathi - पिंपळ  
Oriya – Ashwatth Patram

2. Bael Patra
Bael Patra
Hindi – बेल
English - Bengal Quince, Stone Apple
Botanical – Aegle Marmelos
Sanskrit – बिल्व
Telugu – Vilvam
Marathi - बेल

3. Durva Patra
Durva Patra
Hindi – दूर्वा, दूब
English - Bahama grass, Indian doab
Botanical – Cynodon Dactylon
Sanskrit – दूर्वा
Telugu – Arugampul, Garika
Marathi – दूर्वा

4. Datura Patra
Dhatura Patra
Hindi – धतूरा
English - Thorn Apple, Downy Thorn Apple
Botanical – Datura Innoxia, Datura Metel
Sanskrit – धत्तूर
Telugu – Ummetta
Marathi – धोत्रा

5. Tulasi Patra
Tulasi Patra
Hindi – तुलसी
English – Basil, Holy Basil
Botanical – Ocimum Sanctum
Sanskrit – तुलसी
Telugu – Tulasi
Marathi – तुळशी, तुळस

6. Apamarga Patra
Apamarga Patra
Hindi – अपामार्ग
English – Prickly Chaff Flower
Botanical – Achyranthes Aspera
Sanskrit – अपामार्ग, अपामार्गसस्यम्, खरमञ्जरी
Telugu – Uttareni
Marathi - अघाडा

7. Ber Patra
Ber Patra
Hindi – बेर
English – Indian date, Jujube
Botanical – Ziziphus Mauritiana, Ziziphus Jujuba
Sanskrit – बदर
Telugu – Regu
Marathi – बोर

8. Aam Patra
Aam Patra
Hindi – आम
English – Mango
Botanical – Mangifera Indica
Sanskrit – आम्र, अम्लफल
Telugu – Mamidaaku
Marathi - आंबा

9. Kaner Patra
Kaner Patra
Hindi – कनेर
English – Oleander, Indian Oleander, Red Oleander
Botanical – Nerium Indicum
Sanskrit – करवीर
Telugu – Ganneru
Marathi – कणेर, कणेरी

10. Shankhpushpi Patra
Shankhpushpi Patra
Hindi – शंखपुष्पी
English – Bindweed, Aloe weed
Botanical – Convolvulus Pluricaulis
Sanskrit – शङ्खपुष्पी
Telugu – Vishnukanta
Marathi – शंखवेल, गोकर्णी

11. Anaar Patra
Anaar Patra
Hindi – अनार
English – Pomegranate
Botanical – Punica Granatum
Sanskrit – दाडिमफलम्
Telugu – Danimma
Marathi – डाळिंब

12. Devdar Patra
Devdar Patra
Hindi – देवदार
English – Deodar Cedar, Himalayan Cedar
Botanical – Cedrus Deodara
Sanskrit – देवदारु
Telugu – Devadaru
Marathi – देवदार

13. Maruvaka Patra
Maruvaka Patra
Hindi – मरुआ
English – Marjoram
Botanical – Origanum Majorana
Sanskrit – सुरभिपत्त्र
Telugu – Maruvam
Marathi –

14. Sindhuvara Patra
Sindhuvara Patra
Hindi – निर्गुंडी
English – Five-Leaved Chaste Tree, Horseshoe vitex
Botanical – Vitex Negundo
Sanskrit – सिन्धुवार
Telugu – Sindhuvara, Vavili
Marathi – निर्गुंडी

15. Chameli Patra
Chameli Patra
Hindi – चमेली
English – Jasmine, Spanish jasmine, Royal jasmine
Botanical – Jasminum Grandiflorum
Sanskrit – मालती, मल्ललका
Telugu – Jaji
Marathi – जाई

16. Shami Patra
Shami Patra
Hindi – खेजड़ी, शमी
English – Prosopis cineraria
Botanical – Prosopis Cineraria
Sanskrit – केशदमनी, शङ्कुफला, पापशमनी
Telugu – Jammi
Marathi – शमी

17. Arjuna Patra
Arjuna Patra
Hindi – अर्जुन वृक्ष, कौहा / कोह
English – White Marudah
Botanical – Terminalia Arjuna
Sanskrit – अर्जुनवृक्षः, अर्जुन
Telugu – Tella Maddi, Yerra Maddi
Marathi – अर्जुन वृक्ष

18. Arka Patra
Arka Patra
Hindi – आक, मुदर
English – Sodom, Sodom Apple, Dead Sea Apple
Botanical – Calotropis Procera
Sanskrit – अर्क
Telugu – Jilledu
Marathi – अर्क, अर्की

19. Brihathi Patra
Brihathi Patra
Hindi – बृहती
English – Poison Berry, Indian Nightshade, African Eggplant
Botanical – Solanum Indicum
Sanskrit – बृहती
Telugu – Vaakudaaku
Marathi –

20. Nagadona Patra
Nagadona Patra
Hindi – नागदोना, दवना
English – Mugwort, Common Wormwood
Botanical – Artemisia Vulgaris
Sanskrit – नागदमन, दमनक
Telugu – Masipatri
Marathi – ढोरदवना
Oriya – Dayona

21. Gandaki Patra
Gandaki Patra
Hindi – गुलु, कुलु
English – Sterculia, Bassora Tragacanth, Indian Tragacanth
Botanical – Latha Durva, Sterculia Urens
Sanskrit –
Telugu – Tapasi Chettu
Marathi – कांडोळ
Oriya – Gudalo

In 2013 Ganesha Chaturthi is on Sept 9, Monday
In 2014 Ganesha Chaturthi would be on Aug 29, Friday

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Grand Abhisheka at Janmabhoomi

Grand Abhisheka at Janmabhoomi on Krishna Janmashtami 

On Krishna Janmashtami, grand Abhisheka was performed at Bhagwat Bhawan of Krishna Janmabhoomi Mathura. The milk, curd, Ghee, Boora (the crusted sugar), honey and the water from the Ganga and the Yamuna were used for Abhisheka. Later the Panchamrit, formed due to Abhisheka, was distributed to devotees. 

Being the birth place of Lord Krishna, it is the most significant place to watch the birth rituals of Lord Krishna. On the eve of Janmashtami 1008 Brahma Kamal (lotus flowers) were brought from Himalaya and were offered to Lord Krishna. 

It was the 5240th birth celebration of Lord Krishna. For details on the time of birth of Lord Krishna please visit Birth Time of Lord Krishna.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Nandotsav after Janmashtami

Nandotsav on the next day of Krishna Janmashtami 

Nandotsav which is also known as Nanda Mahotsav is celebrated on the next day of Krishna Janmashtami. Nandotsav is celebrated in most of the Krishna temples in Mathura and Vrindavan. In 2013, the date of Nandotsav is August 29. 

The word Nandotsav is formed after joining of Nanda and Mahotsav. Nanda refers to foster father of Lord Krishna and Mahotsav refers to celebrations. Hence the event refers to celebrations held at Nandgaon to mark the arrival of Lord Krishna. 

Nandotsav is also referred as Dadhi-Kando (दधिकांदौ). Dadhi-Kando is a mixture of curd and milk which is colored with Haldi, Chandan and Kesar known as turmeric, sandal and saffron respectively. In Dadhi-Kando, Dadhi refers to the curd and Kando refers to the sludge. 

Dadhi Kando is thrown on devotees during Nandotsav celebrations. Devotees who are sprinkled or smeared by Dadhi Kando are considered lucky as it is believed to be “Lala ki Chhee Chee” i.e. potty of new born Krishna

Dahi Handi is another popular event which is organized on the same day of Nandotsav. 

Janmashtami at Janmabhoomi

Janmashtami celebrations at the birth place of Lord Krishna 
Although Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated throughout India but celebrations at Mathura and Vrindavan are the most significant one. Mathura city attracts maximum number of devotees and tourists during the time of Janmashtami. The center of attraction and devotion is the birth place of Lord Krishna which is famously known as Janmabhoomi temple. This place gets its significance for being the exact place of the birth of Lord Krishna about five thousand years before

At Janmabhoomi temple, the celebrations begin five days before of Janmashtami and continue even after that. Various plays which are famously known as Krishna Leela(s) are organized during these five days which are watched by thousands of visitors and devotees. 

Lavishly decorated Keshava Dev Mandir at Janmabhoomi - 2013

Although couple of temples are built within Janmabhoomi compound, but the most famous temple which is also the tallest one is known as Keshava Dev Temple. Keshava Dev Temple is lavishly decorated with colored lights ahead of Janmashtami. The decorated shrine of Keshava Dev is equally admired by tourists as well as local devotees. 

It is Bhagwat Bhawan of Keshava Dev Mandir where the birth of Lord Krishna is replayed every year. The Janmashtami celebrations reach its peak during midnight when the birth of Lord Krishna is re-played. The deity of Lord Krishna is given grand Abhisheka and Panchamrita thus formed is distributed to devotees along with Prasad. 

The maximum security is provided to Krishna Janmabhoomi at the time of Janmashtami celebrations. Special arrangements are made to control the mass of devotees.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Lord Krishna as Makhan Chor

Lord Krishna as Makhan Chor 
Makhan Chor is another famous name of Lord Krishna. In Braj region, including Mathura and Vrindavan, it is as famous as Laddu Gopal. Both Makhan Chor and Laddu Gopal represent toddler form of Lord Krishna when as an infant He started crawling on both legs. Bal Gopal, another common name to refer infant Lord Krishna, can mean either Makhan Chor or Laddu Gopal.

Krishna devotee admiring Makhan Chor

While Laddu Gopal representation is widely used for worshipping Lord Krishna, Makhan Chor representation is used for admiration, for decorating personal spaces and as a gift to loved ones. Usually, Makhan Chor representation of Lord Krishna shows Him with a tilted Handi full of Makkhan.  In this form Lord Krishna is shown as devouring kid, spilling and dribbling Makhan all over the place. Handi is nothing but earthen pot and Makkhan is home-made butter.

In another representation of Makhan Chor, a slightly grown up Krishna is shown with His troop, forming human pyramid to steal the butter from the Handi which is hanging from the ceiling. However this representation of Makhan Chor is mostly seen in art work on canvas.

The statues of Lords Krishna in the form of Makhan Chor are in high demand during Krishna Janmashtami.

Read Lord Krishna as Laddu Gopal

Lord Krishna as Laddu Gopal

Laddu Gopal – Lord Krishna as Toddler 
The toddler form of Lord Krishna is famously known as Laddu Gopal. Krishna in the form of Laddu Gopal is worshipped at most of the homes in Braj region, including Mathura and Vrindavan.

In Braj, the brass statues of Laddu Gopal are manufactured and it is the most sought form of Lord Krishna. Devotees of Lord Krishna prefer Laddu Gopal over other forms of Lord Krishna and establish it in their home temple after Pran Pratishtha (प्राण प्रतिष्ठा). In this form of Laddu Gopal, baby Krishna holds Laddu(s) in both hands while crawling on the floor. While crawling posture of Lord Krishna is the most famous representation of Laddu Gopal, however one can also find Krishna dancing on one leg in some of the representations of Laddu Gopal.

During Janmashtami celebrations, Laddu Gopal is the most wanted form of Lord Krishna. Devotees use Laddu Gopal while re-replaying the birth scene of Lord Krishna during midnight celebrations of Janmashtami. The birth of Lord Krishna is re-played every year not only in Krishna temples but also in most of the homes in Mathura and Vrindavan.

Laddu Gopal dancing on one leg

Devotees give ceremonial bath to Laddu Gopal after midnight. The milk, honey, sugar, Ghee and butter are used for bath and Abhishekam of Laddu Gopal. The mixture of these ingredients when combined is known as Panchamrita and offered as Prasad. Panchamrita is also called Charnamrita as it comes out after touching the divine feet of Lord Krishna. Few devotees who break the fast after midnight take Charnamrita before breaking the fast.

After ceremonial bath, Laddu Gopal is dressed up with new clothes and is given exquisite Shringar. The must Shringar items include flute, Teeka, hand and leg bangles, ear-rings and crown with bird feathers including Morpankhi (मोरपँखी). After bath and Shringar Laddu Gopal is placed in a swing and offered lots of delicacies, including Laddu(s), prepared for the occasion. Basil leaves which please Lord Krishna are added to these delicacies. Later these delicacies are consumed and distributed as Bhog to others.

At most homes, it is traditional to buy new clothes and Shringar of Laddu Gopal just before Janmashtami.

Read Lord Krishna as Makhan Chor

Monday, August 26, 2013

Prasad preparation at Janmabhoomi

Prasad preparation at Krishna Janmabhoomi 
Gala Prasad preparation at Janmabhoomi temple, Mathura which is the birth place of Lord Krishna, has started 5 days before of Krishna Janmashtami.

It is customary to offer Bhog to all devotees who visit the temple on Janmashtami day. Due to expected increase in number of devotees who would visit the temple the amount of Prasad has been doubled compared to that of last year. The distribution of Prasad would start at 8 a.m. and continue till late night on Janmashtami day which would be observed on August 28. The Janmashtami celebrations would start from morning and would continue beyond midnight.

Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi - The most significant temple for Janmashtami celebrations

About one Lakh Laddu(s) would be offered to Lord Krishna as Prasad which would weigh about five thousand kilograms. Along with Laddu(s), eleven hundred liters of Panchamrita (पञ्चामृत) would be prepared and distributed along with Prasad. Panchamrita which is also known as Charnamrit is a mixture of five food items namely honey, Ghee, yogurt, milk and sugar. Often Basil leaves and dry fruits are also added to it.

Such a huge preparation of Prasad needs cow milk in great quantity which is arranged with the help of Veterinary University Mathura, Janmabhoomi trust Goshala and Gokul-Mahavan Goshalas.

Devotees throng the temple from far-flung places throughout the day and feel blessed by getting Prasad and Panchamrita. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rakhi on August 20 or August 21?

As per religious books, the best time to tie Rakhi on Raksha Bandhan is during Aparahan which is late afternoon according to Hindu division of the day. If Aparahan time is not available then Pradosh time is also suitable to perform rituals related to Raksha Bandhan. Pradosh starts after sunset and lasts for 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Raksha Bandhan rituals should not be done during Bhadra. Bhadra is malicious time which should be avoided for all auspicious work. Most Hindu religious texts, including Vratraj, advise to avoid Bhadra time to tie Rakhi during Raksha Bandhan festival.

In 2013, on August 20, Bhadra is getting over at 20:48 which is about 20-30 minutes before Pradosh is getting over. Hence most cities in India have Pradosh Muhurta as per religious books on August 20. Hence the team of Drik Panchang has preferred August 20 over August 21 to observe Raksha Bandhan.

However, those who would observe Raksha Bandhan on August 21, it should be noted that Purnima is getting over early morning at 07:15 a.m. Hence those who are not able to tie Rakhi on previous day can do it after Sunrise on August 21 but before 07:15 a.m.

Tying Rakhi after 07:15 a.m. on August 21, would be as good as tying it on any day in the year as Rakhi significance is due to Shravana Purnima. Rakhi should be tied during Purnima when Bhadra is over.

However Pradosh Muhurta on August 20, although available for just 20-30 minutes, is as per religious book Dharmashindhu and should be preferred. 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Swarna Hindola at Banke Bihari

Swarna Hindola at Banke Bihari on Hariyali Teej
Bihari Ji temple at Vrindavan arranges special Darshan of Lord Krishna on Hariyali Teej. In Bihari Ji temple Hariyali Teej was celebrated on August 9th. On Hariyali Teej Lord Krishna is mounted on golden swing. Golden Swing, which is popularly known as Swarna Hindola, is taken out once in a year during the month of Sawan.

Swarna Hindola at Banke Bihari on Hariyali Teej

Devotees throng to temple on Hariyali Teej to get a glimpse of Banke Bihari on golden swing. Banke Bihari is one of the names of Lord Krishna. Banke means bent at three places and Bihari means supreme enjoyer. In the form of Banke Bihari, Lord Krishna stands in Tribhangi Mudra. Tribhangi Mudra is the most popular pose of Lord Krishna in which He stands with one leg bent in front of the other and raises a flute to His lip in a relaxed pose.

Swarna Hindola Darshan at Dwarkadheesh temple in Mathura is also popular and is arranged on the first day of Sawan. Apart from Swarna Hindola, Phul Hindola Darshan is also quite popular among devotees.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Hariyali Teej on August 9 or 10?

Hariyali Teej on August 9 or August 10? 

The short answer would be that it depends on the sunrise timings for the city.

It is rare phenomenon that any festival is getting celebrated on two different days within Indian cities. This year Hariyali Teej has fallen on two days depending on the sunrise time for the city.

E.g. on, for Bangalore location Hariyali Teej has been calculated on 9th August, however the same rules give Hariyali Teej on 10th August for Delhi and most North Indian cities. 

As per religious books all festivals which are dedicated to Goddess Parvati should be observed on Udaya Vyapini  Tritiya Tithi i.e.  when Tritiya Tithi is prevailing at Sunrise. For most North Indian cities on 9th August, it is Dwitiya Tithi which is prevailing at Sunrise hence the better day to observe Hariyali Teej should be on 10th August. 

To know if you should celebrate Hariyali Teej on August 9 or August 10, please visit Hariyali Teej in 2013 and set your city.

Monday, July 29, 2013

First Somwar of Sawan

In North India, the first Somwar of Sawan was observed with religious fervor. The July 29, was the first Monday of Shravana month. Devotees, especially women, observe fasting on all Mondays during Sawan month.

In North India, devotees, who observe Sawan Somwar fasting, eat only single Satvika meal in the evening. As most of the Shiva temples arrange special Darshan in the evening, Shiva Abhishekam is performed in the morning before noon. Devotees perform Milk and Jal Abhishekam in the morning and worship Lord Shiva, including Parvati, Ganesha, Kartikeya and Nandi with full devotion. Various items like Bel Patra, Dhatura, Aak flowers which are beloved by Lord Shiva are offered to Him during Puja.

Devotees worshiping Lord Shiva and His family on first Sawan Somwar
Most people perform Shiva Abhishekam with the milk or water. However Abhishekam can be done with various liquid items depending on the purpose. The item for Abhishekam for various purposes is listed below.

1. For rainfall – water Abhishekam
2. For car, elephant, horse – Abhishekam with curd
3. For wealth – Abhishekam with sugarcane juice
4. For liberation of soul – Abhishekam with water from Holy place
5. To get blessed with a son – Abhishekam with cow milk
6. To destroy enemy – Abhishekam with mustard oil
7. To alleviate fever – Abhishekam from water stream
8. For Students – Abhishekam with mixture of milk and sugar
9. To get rid of any disease - Abhishekam with honey

Devotee performing Milk Abhishekam
The list of all Sawan Somwar can be checked at Sawan Somwar Days for any location in the world. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sawan at Dwarkadheesh, Mathura

During Sawan month, various events are organized at Thakur Dwarkadheesh temple, Mathura. July 23 was the first day of Sawan month. Traditionally on the first day of Sawan month, special Darshan of Lord Dwarkadheesh on the golden and silver swings is arranged. 

Devotees throng the temple premises to get one glimpse of Lord Dwarkadheesh on the golden swing which is popularly known as Hindola (हिंडोला). Radha Rani, the consort of Lord Dwarkadheesh, accompanies Him on the Hindola. On this day, the whole temple echoes in the acclamation of Lord Dwarkadheesh.

First day of Sawan at Dwarkadheesh, Mathura - 2013

The festivity which starts on the first day continues throughout the Sawan month. Another worth watching event during the month is “Sawan Ki Ghata”. When the whole temple premises and atmosphere is immersed and decorated in a single color motif, it is known as Ghata which is very popular during Sawan month. 

Sawan Calendar for Dwarkadheesh Temple

• July 23 – Golden and Silver Hindola – the first day of Sawan
• August 2 – Flower Hindola – on Kamika Ekadashi 
• August 4 – Kesari (Orange) Ghata – on Trayodashi Krishna 
• August 6 – Hari (Green) Ghata – on Amavasya 
• August 8 – Asamani (Sky blue) Ghata – on Dwitiya Shukla 
• August 9 – Fruits and Flower Hindola – on Tritiya Shukla 
• August 11 – Sasani Ghata
• August 13 – Gulabi (Pink) Ghata
• August 14 – Lal (Red) Ghata
• August 16 – Shyam (Black) Ghata
• August 18 – Lahriya (with water waves) Ghata
• August 20 – Sapheda (White) Ghata

Once Sawan is over, it is time to prepare for Krishna Janmashtami

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sawan Begins on July 23, Tuesday

In North India Sawan month begins on July 23, Tuesday. The first Sawan Somwar Upavas would be observed on July 29, Monday. In many Indian states Shravan month begins 15 days later than that of North India. Please visit Sawan Somwars for the complete list of fasting days during Sawan month for both North and South Indian states.

Sawan, which is common name for Shravan month, is holy month to please and seek blessing of Lord Shiva. Although whole Sawan month is good to observe fasting for Lord Shiva but all Mondays during Sawan month are considered very significant to observe it.

Sawan begins on July 23, in North India

Apart from Sawan Somwars, Sawan Mangalwars (Tuesdays) are also significant to seek conjugal blessings from Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Married women, especially newly wedded, observe Mangal Gauri fasting on each Tuesday of Sawan month. The complete list of Mangal Gauri fasting days in 2013 is available at Mangala Gauri Vrat Dates.

Apart from two Pradosh fasting days during Sawan month, Sawan Shivaratri and Sawan Amavasya are also significant days in North India. Sawan Amavasya is more popularly known as Hariyali Amavasya. During Hariyali Amavasya special Darshan are arranged in most Shiva temples.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Rath Yatra in Mathura and Vrindavan

The City of Kanhaiya gets coloured in the shades of Lord Jagannath: Crowds throng to pull the Lord’s Chariot.
Lord Krishna’s Braj Bhoomi got a new shade of devotional fervor as different Rath Yatras (Lord Jagannath’s Chariot pulling ceremonies) were started from different Temples of Mathura and Brij.
The Rath Yatras were showered with flowers and worshipped (by performing Arti) at various places. At the commencement and conclusion of Rath Yatras in Vrindavan even mangoes were distributed to the public as Prasaad (edible articles to be consumed by the devotees – mainly of sweet taste which are blessed by the presiding Deity for good luck). Where in Mathura the Rath Yatra was started from Lord Krishna’s Janmabhoomi (birth-place) amongst the chanting of Vedic Mantras and Praise of Lord Jagannath, in Vrindavan the Rath Yatra was started from the three Temples at different times.
According to mythology this Rath Yatra symbolizes the Suryanarayana (The Sun God) nature of Lord Jagannath. During the Rath Yatra it is believed that Lord Shri Jagannath, Devi (Goddess) Subhadra and Lord Thakur Shri Balaram visit their devotees and bless them as they tour through the city seated in their Chariots. Just as Lord Rama had returned to his city Ayodhya after completing his exile and his return was celebrated with the festival of Deepawali; Lord Krishna’s arrival in Braj is celebrated by this Rath Yatra.

Rath Yatra procession from Janmabhoomi, Mathura - 2013
Before the start of Rath Yatra, the Sudarshan Chakra of Lord Shri Krishna arrives from Lord Jagannath Temple situated in Bhagwad Bhawan of the Lord’s Janma-Bhoomi; then arrives Lord Balbhadra, Goddess Subhadra and Lord Shri Krishna (in this order) in all their festive costumes, jewellery and glory and take their respective thrones in the Chariot. Typically there are three separate Chariots in the Rath Yatra but in the Rath Yatra from Lord Krishna’s Janmasthan (birth place) these three Chariots were symbolically included in one Chariot itself. After this, began the chanting of Vedic mantras to invoke the Gods and worship was performed according to predestined rituals and just as the time to pull the Chariot came, the devotees went into a mutual competition to be a part of this sacred tradition. Right from the Rath Yatra start from the Lord’s Janmasthan to Deeg Gate, Mandi Ramdas, Chowk Bazar, Swami Ghat, Chatta Bazar, Holi Gate, Kotwali Gate, Bharatpur Gate and back to the Lord’s Janma Sthan till the Yatra’s conclusion, ladies and children showered flowers on the Chariot from the roofs of the buildings. All along the rath yatra route offerings of rice as Prasad was distributed to the devotees. When the procession arrived back to the birthplace of Lord Krishna late at night, the Janmasthan hall once again echoed with the praises of Lord Jagannath. After this Lord Shri Jagannath was enthroned in the Gundicha Temple near the Vigraha of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and a public feast (i.e. Bhandara) was organized for the devotees.
In this series, the Rath Yatra from the three temples of Vrindavan i.e. Madan Mohan Temple, Govind Dev Temple and Gopinath Temple was started at different times. In the Madan Mohan Temple raw offerings were made to the Lord as Bhog (offerings made by devotees to the Lord along with prayers to request the Gods to accept their offerings). Pulled by the devotees, as the Lord’s Chariot moved forward, it was lead by a band playing devotional music and the atmosphere of Vrindavan was filled with reverence and devotion. Listening to the band’s tunes on devotional music, some devotees started dancing spontaneously. Starting from Jagannath Ghat, the Rath Yatra went through Banke Bihari, Atkhamba, Vankhandi, Anaj Mandi, Rang Ji, Gopinath Bazar, Gyan Gudari, Goda Vihar and from near Lala Babu Mandir Temple returned back to the Temple and ended late in the evening. Along the Rath Yatra route there was a constant rush of devotees, all of whom wanted to pull the Lord’s Chariot. Children as well as elders could be seen rushing and busy gathering the mangoes which were being distributed as Prasaad from the Lord’s Chariot. It is said that this tradition is 300 years old. Today there was a special Bhog of Amaras (refreshing drink made from Mango pulp) to the Lord in the temple. Before the commencement of Rath Yatra from Govind Dev, the Thakur Ji (i.e. Lord Jagannath) was adorned with a new attire. All the three Rath Yatras gathered at Gyan Gudari and after the Parikramaa (i.e. the ritual of offering prayers with full dedication and devotion to the Lord while walking around to encircle the Deity or Temple or Chariot), the Rath Yatras returned to their respective Temples.

Rath Yatra celebrations at Shri Dwarkadheesh Temple -2013
Although the Rath Yatra of well-known Shri Dwarkadheesh Temple was organized within the Temple premises, the devotees got the blessings of the Lord by witnessing and taking part in the ceremony there itself.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Muriya Puno Mela in Govardhan

Muriya Puno Mela is a five days long duration which starts on Ashadha Navami (during Shukla Paksha) and culminates on Guru Purnima day. The last day of Mela is famously known as Muriya Purnima. In 2013, Muriya Puno Mela would begin on 17th July and end on 22nd July on Purnima day.

Muriya Puno Mela is held in Govardhan town of Mathura district. During these five days devotees perform Parikrama of Govardhan Hills and Radha Kunda. Thousands of devotees walk barefoot for 12 and 9 kilometers respectively to pay homage to sacred Govardhan Hills and water body revered as Radha Kunda. The other important rituals include holy bath in Manasi Ganga and visit to Dhanghati temple.

The Famous Dhanghati Temple of Govardhan 
Govardhan Hills are sacred because those were used by Lord Krishna to shield people of Braj from the fury of Indra. Radha Kunda is worshipped because it is believed that Lord Krishna dug it with His flute so that His beloved Radha Rani can take bath in it.

Muriya Purnima is also significant day for Vaishnavas and followers of ISKCON. On this day famous Vaishnava Guru Sanatan Goswami disappeared from the Earth. In mourning of the Guru it is customary to shave the head and this ritual is known as Muriya or Muria. It is believed that Mela got its sobriquet from this Muriya ritual.

The event is so huge that it is also known as Mini Kumbha and gets special attention from the state government.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Chandan Shashti on 16th May

Chandan Shashti, which falls three days after Akshaya Tritiya, is a significant day in Orissa and West Bengal. It is observed on Shukla Paksha Shashti of Vaishakha month. In 2013, Chandan Shashti falls on 16th May.

Chandan Shashti falls in the middle of Chandan Yatra. Chandan Yatra is a famous festival which is held at Lord Jagannath temple in Puri, Orissa. Chandan Yatra begins on Akshaya Tritiya and continues for twenty one days. The construction of the chariots for the famous Ratha Yatra also begins on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya.

Chandan Shashti is observed mainly in Orissa and Bengal.

16th May - Guru Pushya Yoga

Guru Pushya Yoga is considered significant in Vedic astrology. When Pushya Nakshatra prevails on Guruwar i.e. on Thursday, then this Yoga is formed. Pushya is one of the twenty-seven Nakshatras in Vedic astrology.

Guru Pushya Yoga is also known as Gurupushyamrut Yoga and it is considered auspicious to buy new articles, to make investment and to start new ventures.

For Indian city Ujjain Gurupushyamrut Yoga would start from sunrise at 05:49 a.m. and would continue throughout the day till late night up to 25:29+. To understand 24+ time format used in Panchangs please visit Reading Panchang Timings.

To check exact timings for Gurupushyamrut Yoga for your city, please visit Guru Pushya Yoga in May.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Yamuna Chhath at Vishram Ghat

Yamuna Chhath was celebrated on Vishram Ghat, Mathura on April 16, 2013.

Yamuna Chhath is mainly celebrated in Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna. It marks the day when Goddess Yamuna descended on the Earth. Hence this day is also known as Yamuna Jayanti or birth anniversary of Goddess Yamuna. It falls during Chaitra Navratri in the month of March or April.

Chhappan Bhog offered to Goddess Yamuna - 2013
Vishram Ghat is the most pious Ghat at the bank of river Yamuna. Various events are organized to mark the day of Yamuna Chhath.

Image of Goddess Yamuna on the water at Vishram Ghat - 2013
People offer Chunari to Goddess Yamuna during day time, arrange Chhappan Bhog and perform special Aarti in the evening in honour of Goddess Yamuna.

Goddess Yamuna, being wife of Lord Shri Krishna, is revered by people of Braj which explains Yamuna Chhath being celebrated mainly by people of Mathura and Vrindavan.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Charkula Dance of Brij, Mathura

The famous Charkula dance of village Mukharai was conducted on the late night of 28th March and it was part of Holi Mahotsav. The world famous Charkula dance is conducted every year after two days of Holi.

As per Hindu mythology, Charkula dance was started by the maternal grandmother of Goddess Radha, the consort of Lord Krishna. Radha Rani was the daughter of Maharani Keerti. Maharani Keerti was born in village Mukharai and Mukhara was the name of her mother.

Charkula Dance of Mukharai, Mathura - 2013

When the news of Radha's birth was broken to Mukharai she was so overwhelmed with the joy that she lifted the wheel of the chariot over her head and started dancing. It is believed that this event started the tradition of Charkula dance. Hence this day is also celebrated as the birth anniversary of Goddess Radha.

During Charkula dance, 108 lamps are lit and kept over the pyramid of wheels supported by rounded pots. The dance is done by females who cover their faces in the veil. The weight of the Charkula and the veil makes this ancient dance of Dwapar Yuga challenging to perform.

Thousands of people gather to see this spectacular event every year.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Dauji Huranga in Baldev

In most of the Brij region, Holi festivity was culminated on 27th March, the next day of Holika Dahan. However in Baldev town the most famous Huranga was organized on 28th March. This event is famously known as Dauji Huranga.  According to Hindu calendar followed in North India, it was the first day of Chaitra month.

Baldev is famous for being the birthplace of Lord Balarama. Lord Balarama was the elder brother of Lord Krishna and the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The sacrosanct Holi is played in the premises of Dauji temple.

Dauji Huranga in Baldev - 2013

While Lathmar Holi of Barsana is played with bamboo sticks and leather shields, Dauji Huranga is played with torn clothes. During Holi Huranga women folks tear clothes of men folks and use them as hunter to beat men folks to resist their attempts of smearing women with colors.

The event is organized ritualistically by the temple authorities.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Holi Mahotsav at Janmabhoomi

On 23rd March, the auspicious day of Rang Bharani Ekadashi, Holi Mahotsav was organized at Janmabhoomi, Mathura. After Lathmar Holi of Barsana and Nandgaon it was time to enjoy Holi at the birthplace of Lord Krishna.

Holi Mahotsav at Janmabhoomi  - 2013

The Holi Mahotsav is celebrated every year within the premises of Janmabhoomi in front of the newly constructed Keshava Dev Mandir. Opposite to main building of Keshava Dev Mandir, grand stage was set for Holi Mahotsav activities. Thousands of devotees and visitors watched the mesmerizing Holi celebrations. The space between the Kesava Dev Mandir and the stage was packed with scores of devotees. Many of them were sitting on the stairs to watch the celebrations.

Radha Krishna playing flower Holi at Janmabhoomi – 2013

The celebrations began with the Aarti of Lord Krishna and Radha Rani which was performed by Guru Sharananand Ji Maharaj. The Lathmar Holi between Lord Krishna and Radha Rani and Holi with flowers, in which both Krishna and Radha were flooded with tons of flowers, were worth watching events.

Peacock dance and Charakula dance were the main attractions which were performed by various artists on the stage.

Artist performing Charakula dance during Holi Mahotsav – 2013

Special arrangements were done to throw tons of Gulal on devotees. At the end the whole atmosphere was filled with Gulal and fragrance of Kesar. Lathmar Holi was played along with music and devotional songs which recreated the Holi of Barsana within the Janmabhoomi premises of Mathura.

Gulal and Abeer

Most people prefer Gulal to play Holi as it is less harmful and easily washable as compared to wet colors. Gulal is also used during Holi Puja.

Gulal is used in huge quantities in various temples. It is believed that during Lathmar Holi in Barsana, the temple procured 3 Quintal of Gulal which is equivalent to 300 kilograms. The same quantity of Tesu flowers were also used to color the water by the temple.

The Gulal(s) are made by mixing different colors to Ararot. Ararot is a starch made from Arrowroot and it is very similar to corn starch. As Ararot is easily available in huge quantity it is used to make Gulal during Holi.

Synthetic Gulal is getting prepared for Holi - 2013

The preparation to make Gulal starts four months prior to Holi. The process involves mixing the water and the chemical in the right proportion into the Ararot powder. The mixture is crushed, filtered and spread in the open space to dry. It is the chemical which might cause health issues and due to which herbal Gulal is preferred over synthetic Gulal.

The Gulal has no shine. Abeer is added to the Gulal to make it shiny. Abeer can be made of natural ingredients as well as synthetic materials. The most used synthetic Abeer is made out of Mica. Synthetic Abeer made out of Mica might be harmful to the body. However natural Abeer can also be made out of Tesu tree.

Gulal is always hyphenated with Abeer and mostly heard as Abeer-Gulal in various Holi songs.

In north India, red, yellow, pink and purple Gulal is being sold for Rs. 40 per kilogram. However when it comes to color it is the pink Gulal which is preferred over various other colors.

Lathmar Holi at Barsana

The world famous Lathmar Holi of Barsana was played on 21st March. It was a spectacular and delightful event at Ladli Ji Mandir of Barsana. The whole temple premises were covered with the clouds of Gulal and the showers of wet colors. This event was watched and participated by thousands of visitors and devotees.

Ladli Ji Mandir covered with Gulal during Lathmar Holi - 2013

It is believed that Lord Krishna used to visit Barsana to play Holi with His beloved Radha and other female cowherds. This tradition is still kept alive by the people of Barsana and Nandgaon. This ancient tradition of playing Holi was organized well in advance with all rituals. One day before, the invitation was sent to the men folks of Nandgaon to visit Barsana to play Holi. The invitation was sent along with dry color which was distributed to all households in the town.

In Nandgaon, the invitation was accepted with full fanfare along with music and folk dance. The RSVP or the acceptance from Nandgaon came to Ladli Ji Mandir on the same day by one messenger known as Panda.

Huriyare* visited Barsana with full enthusiasm and preparation to play Holi. Huriyare came along with leather shields to protect themselves from Huriyarine. Huriyarine protested all attempts to smear them with Gulal and colors with the help of bamboo sticks. In defense, Huriyare used leather shields to take impact of bamboo sticks.

Huriyare protecting themselves during Lathmar Holi of Barsana - 2013

As Holi in Barsana is played with bamboo sticks it is known as Lathmar Holi. It is believed that in the ancient time this was made a tradition to hone defense skills of female folks of Barsana.

*Huriyare and Huriyarine are the words which are widespreadly used in Mathura and Vrindavan during Holi to denote men and women folks respectively. Huriyare (हुरियारे) are the men folks who are in full enthusiasm to play Holi and Huriyarine (हुरियारीने) are the women folks who are also in full enthusiasm to protest any attempts by Huriyare to smear them with colors.

Laddu Holi of Barsana

Laddu Holi of Barsana was celebrated on 20th March. During the famous Laddu Holi, Laddu(s) are thrown on devotees. Laddu Holi is celebrated at Ladli temple of Barsana. Ladli temple is also known as Sriji Mandir which is dedicated to Lord Krishna and His beloved consort Radha.

Devotees and visitors gather in huge number to watch this spectacular event. Laddu(s) are captured by devotees as those are considered the holy Prasad of God. Laddu(s) are thrown from the roof top of the temple and collected by devotees waiting eagerly at the ground floor.

Devotees playing Holi during Laddu Holi in Barsana - 2013

Laddu Holi is played with dry colors using only Gulal and Abeer. The whole temple premises are covered with clouds of dry colors and fragrance of Kesar. The Holi with wet colors is played on the next day. With Laddu Holi the whole atmosphere is warmed up for the Lathmar Holi which is scheduled on the next day of Laddu Holi.

On Laddu Holi day, the invitation to play Holi is sent to Nandgaon, the town of Lord Krishna. The invitation is sent by the people of Barsana, the town of Goddess Radha. The invitation to visit Barsana to play Holi with the female cowherds is accepted by the people of Nandgaon.

Laddu and Gulal were thrown on devotees in Ladli Ji Mandir, Barsana - 2013

To confirm the acceptance of the invitation one Panda (पण्डा) or messenger visits from Nandgaon to Ladli Ji Mandir. It is believed that Laddu(s) were offered to welcome the messenger. The messenger was so overwhelmed by the hospitality that he started throwing them. Since then the tradition of Laddu Holi has begun and it is played each year.

The dance of Panda in devotion of Lord Krishna is also popular during Laddu Holi of Barsana.