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.