Friday, January 24, 2020

Holy dip in Yamuna on Mauni Amavasya

The auspicious occasion of Mauni Amavasya was observed with full devotion in the entire Braj region which includes ancient cities of Mathura and Vrindavan. Devotees took bath in holy River Yamuna and performed charity on the auspicious day. Mauni Amavasya also known as Maghi Amavasya takes its name from ancient times when saints and sages would observe Maun or silence for the entire day on Magha Krishna Paksha Amavasya to attain Siddhi and powers. The observance of Maun is still prevalent in modern times. After the Snan, devotees take a vow of silence and dedicate the entire day in devotion of Lord Krishna and Lord Vishnu.

Devotees started flocking the various Ghats of Yamuna River early in the morning to take the Holy dip before the sunrise. Vishram Ghat, Prayag Ghat, Askunda Ghat, Dauji Ghat of River Yamuna in Mathura and Cheer Ghat and Keshi Ghat in Vrindavan witnessed huge turnout of devotees from across Braj region on Mauni Amavasya.

Vishram Ghat of River Yamuna on Mauni Amavasya, Mathura

As per Padma Purana, Daan, Japa and other religious sacrifices performed in other months don’t please Lord Vishnu as much as Snan in the month of Magha does. Snan in Magha destroys every minor and major sin performed by a person and makes him or her worthy to attain the abode of Lord Vishnu. Thus, a person can attain Moksha by just bathing in Holy Rivers in the month of Magha.

After the Snan, devotees performed charity and visited Dwarikadhish temple, Krishna Janmabhumi temple, Banke Bihari Ji temple, ISKCON temple, Radharamana temple, Radhavallabha temple, Gopinath temple amongst others in Vrindavan and Mathura.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Shattila Ekadashi observed at ISKCON, Vrindavan

Donation of Sesame on Shattila Ekadashi leads to Moksha

ISKCON Temple, Vrindavan
Devotees of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna observe the fasting of Ekadashi with utmost devotion every fortnight. Lord Krishna followers at the renowned ISKCON Temple, Vrindavan start their day early on the day of Ekadashi. Drik Panchang correspondent visited the Temple to capture the ambience on the auspicious day of Shattila Ekadashi. This year, Shattila Ekadashi was observed on 20th January.

Lord Krishna and Radharani at ISKCON, Vrindavan

As shared by the Communication Officer of the temple, Tirtheshwari Radhika Devidasi, devotees on the day of Ekadashi wake up in the Brahma Muhurat and gather at the temple to attend Mangal Aarti and Tulsi Aarti which are conducted at 4:30 am and 5:00 am respectively. The day of Ekadashi is dear to Lord Vishnu and one must completely devote himself or herself in Hari-Bhakti on the day of Ekadashi. ISKCON followers who perform Japa of 16-Mala every day increase their Japa and perform at least 25 Mala on Ekadashi. Consumption of Anna or grain is completely forbidden on Ekadashi, so one must only include fresh fruits, dry fruits, milk and buttermilk in their diet. Devotees then perform Parikrama of Vrindavan and pay their homage to every temple that comes in the course of Parikrama. The entire day is spent in worship of Lord Krishna. Followers immerse themselves in Hari-Bhakti by performing intense Japa, Bhajan-Kirtan, reciting Srimad Bhagavatam and Srimad Gita at the Temple on the day of Ekadashi as shared by Rakhal Raja Das, Director Braj Sevanam of ISKCON.

Significance of Shattila Ekadashi

The Mahatamya of Shattila Ekadashi was narrated to sage Narad by the Lord Vishnu Himself. Lord Vishnu shared the great Mahatamya of Shattila Ekadashi by recounting an incident He witnessed -

A long-time back, there lived a pious Brahman woman in mortal world. She devoted her life to the observance of various Vrat and fasting. Once, she observed a month-long fast which weakened her body. That woman was highly intelligent, but she never made a donation of Anna in her life. Lord Vishnu contemplated that despite the fact that this woman has purified her body by observing every kind of Vrat, and she would surely attain Vaikuntha, but she has never made a donation of food grain in her life and without grains the sustenance of life is impossible. Reflecting on this very fact, Lord Vishnu appeared in the guise of a Bhikshuk at the doorstep of that Brahman woman and asked for alms from her. In return to his request, she hurled a lump of clay towards Lord Vishnu refusing to give any food to Him. Lord Vishnu returned to Vaikuntha with that clay lump. After living her full life, that Brahman woman attained her rightful place in the abode of Lord Vishnu. As a result of her donation of clay to Lord Vishnu, she received a hut with a mango trees in Vaikuntha. But that hut was empty and devoid of any article needed for the sustenance of life. Upon seeing such a place, she approached Lord Vishnu in a restless state of mind and expressed her displeasure in the following way –

“Oh Lord Vishnu, I have worshipped you with all my devotion and observed all kind of Vrat dedicated to you. Then why my house is devoid of everything”.  
Lord Vishnu thus replied with the following words –
Return to your hut O pious woman, and when wives of Gods come to see you don’t open the door unless they recited the Mahatamya and procedure of Shattila Ekadashi to you.

Hearing such words from Lord Vishnu,
that woman returned to her hut. When the wives of Gods came to see her, she asked them to narrate the procedure and Mahatamya of Shattila Ekadashi otherwise she wouldn’t open the door. One of them then stepped forward and recited the procedure and Mahatamya of Shattila Ekadashi as follows.

After the God woman had narrated the Mahatamya of Shattila Ekadashi the Brahman woman opened the door. All those God women were mesmerized to see such women of divine grace and beauty that has never been seen before. After hearing the detailed procedure and Mahatamya of Shattila Ekadashi, that Brahman woman observed the fast of Shattila Ekadashi with full devotion. Her devotion earned her the fruits of her fast and her little hut was immediately filled with various articles of food grain and wealth.
Lord Vishnu thus said that one must abstain from every kind of ignorance and observe the fast of Shattila Ekadashi. The one who observes this fast will receive eternal wellbeing and health and destroy all their sins.    

Shattila Ekadashi Mahatamya -

When the auspicious month of Magha has arrived, one must purify one’s body and mind by taking holy bath early morning and practice abstinence. A person must stay away from immoral feelings of lust, anger, greed, attachment, envy and pride.

On the auspicious occasion of Pushya Nakshatra in Magha, one must collect cow dung, mix it with sesame and cotton to make Upala and perform Homa 108 times using those Upala.

On the day of Ekadashi Tithi, a person should practice pious deeds throughout the day. After completing the routine activities of cleaning and washing, he should dedicate himself in the Bhakti of Shree Hari. He should do Puja of the Lord and do Kirtan all day with utmost devotion. He must observe fasting on Ekadashi Tithi and keep awake all night and do Homa in dedication of Lord Vishnu. On the next day, that is, on Dwadashi Tithi, the person must worship Shree Hari with Dhup, Deep and Naivedya and offer Him the Bhog of Khichdi. It his highly auspicious to offer Arghya with Petha, coconut, Sitaphal and betel nut to Lord Vishnu on the day of Ekadashi. After giving the Arghya, the person must sing a Stuti in the praise of Lord Vishnu.

“O Lord of the world! You give refuge to destitute in your heart. You salvage those who have drowned in the depths of this mortal world. O Lord with beautiful Lotus eyes! Destroyer of demon Madhu! O Lord of the universe! O lotus-eyed Vishnu! Accept along with your divine consort Shree Lakshmi this Arghya of petty value offered by this servant of yours”.

After singing the Stuti, he must donate a water-filled pitcher and sesame seeds to a Brahman. If possible make a donation of a cow and sesame seeds. Thus, a person will become worthy of living in Heaven for the number of thousand years equal to the total number of sesame seeds he donates.    

·         Bathing with sesame
·         Using sesame Ubtan
·         Offering of sesame
·         Homa/Havan with sesame
·         Consuming food made with sesame
·         Donation of sesame

Thus, using sesame in the aforementioned six ways is called Shattila. By observing Shattila, all kinds of sins are destroyed.


Observing Shattila Ekadashi fast grants a person eternal health and wellbeing and donating food grains and sesame on Ekadashi day bestows the person with great wealth and every kind of material pleasure. The story of that pious Brahman woman also suggests that a person after leaving his body will receive the fruits as per the donations and charity he or she makes in this mortal world.  Therefore, one must make donations as per their financial situation to earn the complete fruit of fasting and Vrat. It is also stated in religious scripture of Hinduism that no ritual or religious activity is complete without donation and charity.

ISKCON Temple Vrindavan Darshan-Aarti Time Table

Presiding Deity Lord Krishna and Radharani at ISKCON Temple, Vrindavan

Summer Time Table

Samadhi Aarti- 04:10 AM
Mangal Aarti- 04:30 AM
Tulsi Aarti- 05:00 AM
Sringar Darshan- 07:15 AM
Guru Puja- 07:25 AM
Bhagwat Class- 08:00 AM
Dhoop Aarti- 08:30 AM
Rajbhog Aarti- 12:00 NOON
Temple Close- 12:45 PM
Utthapana Aarti- 04:30 PM
Sandhya Aarti- 07:00 PM
Sayan Aarti- 08:30 PM
Temple Close- 08:45 PM

Winter Time Table

Half an hour earlier during winter only in Utthapana Aarti, Sandhya Aarti, Sayan Aarti and Temple closing timings.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Lord Ranganatha passes through Vaikuntha Dwar on Vaikuntha Ekadashi

Vaikuntha Dwar opens once a year only on Vaikuntha Ekadashi

10-day Vaikuntha Utsava at Rang Ji Temple begins on Vaikuntha Ekadashi

The presiding deity of the famous and one of the biggest Temples of North India Rang Ji Temple in Vrindavan, Lord Ranganatha and Goda Amma started their journey to the Vaikuntha Dwar early in the morning on the auspicious day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi. Vaikuntha Ekadashi also marks the beginning of the 10-day Vaikuntha Utsava that is celebrated only at a few temples throughout India. In South India Vaikuntha Utsava is celebrated with much pomp at temples belong to Sri Sampradaya, especially, at the famous Ranganathaswamy Temple of Srirangam, but in North India, the festival is celebrated only at the Rang Ji Temple in Vrindavan. Vaikuntha Utsava is one of the biggest events that Rang Ji Temple conducts in a calendar year. Other important events at Rang Ji Temple are Vivahotsava and Brahmotsava.

Vaikuntha Dwar

On the day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi, Lord Goda-Rangamannar leaves the Garbhagriha in a golden Rath to reach the Vaikuntha Dwar. Here, with Vedic Mantrochhara priests conduct Puja of Lord Ranganatha, Goda Amma, Ramanuja Swami, Shathkopa Swami, Nath Muni Swami, Madhur Kavi Swami and other Alwar saints. After resting for half an hour at the Vaikuntha Dwar, Lord Ranganatha passes through the Vaikuntha Dwar seated in a gold chariot with his divine consort Goda Amma. Thousands of devotees while chanting the name of Lord Ranganatha follow the golden chariot through the Vaikuntha Dwar and reach Vaikuntha Mandapam situated at the Paundanatha Temple where Lord Ranganatha is rested for Darshan. At the Vaikuntha Mandapam, thousands of devotees who arrived at the temple early morning in the chilling winter of January get benefitted from the Darshan of their beloved Lord Ranganatha.

The legend behind the celebration of Vaikuntha Utsava is associated with Saint Shathkopa and Lord Vishnu. Shathkopa also known as Nammazhvar in South India was the greatest devotee of Lord Vishnu and one of the 12 Alwars. Lord Vishnu seeing Shathkopa’s devotion wanted to take him to Vaikuntha Dham. But, other saints such as Madhur Kavi and Nath Muni Swami wanted Shathkopa to stay in the mortal world for the benefit of humanity. Shathkopa Swami also wanted to hear various Rama Leela and Krishna Leela from Lord Vishnu Himself. Thus, Lord Vishnu granted him 10 more days to live on Earth and then took him to Vaikuntha. Following this, the tradition of celebrating Vaikuntha Utsava began in the temples of Sri Sampradaya.

Idols of Shathkopa Swami, Nath Muni Swami and Madhur Kavi Swami during the Vaikuntha Utsava

Vaikuntha Ekadashi falls during Dhanur solar month in Hindu calendar. Dhanur month or Dhanurmasa is known as Margazhi month in Tamil Calendar. Vaikuntha Ekadashi is Shukla Paksha Ekadashi out of two Krishna Paksha and Shukla Paksha Ekadashis in a month. Vaikuntha Ekadashi is observed according to Solar Calendar and because of that it might fall either in Margashirsha or in Pausha month in Hindu Lunar calendar. In Gregorian calendar there might be none, one or two Vaikuntha Ekadashis in a year.
Benefits - Vaikuntha Ekadashi is also known as Mukkoti Ekadashi. It is believed that Vaikuntha Dwaram or the gate of Lord's inner sanctum is opened on this day and devotees who observe fast on Vaikuntha Ekadashi attain salvation by going to Heaven.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi is very important day for Tirumala Venkateswara Temple at Tirupati and Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple at Srirangam. Vaikuntha Ekadashi is known as Swarga Vathil Ekadashi in Malayalam Calendar followed by people of Kerala.


Friday, January 17, 2020

Sri Rang Ji Mandir, Vrindavan

Sri Rang Ji Mandir of Vrindavan is one of the biggest temple premises in North India. The temple is dedicated to the divine couple Sri Goda-Rangamannar. Sri Goda, known popularly as Andal was an 8th century Vaishnava saint of South India and a great devotee of Lord Krishna. She composed Tiruppuvai, a 30-stanza long poem in which she proclaims her love for Lord Krishna. Andal dedicated her life in the devotion of Lord Krishna and wanted to marry Him. Lord Krishna in his Ranganatha form answered her prayers by marrying her. In the main sanctum of the temple, Lord Ranganatha is seated in the middle while Goda accompanies him on the right and the vehicle of Lord Krishna, Garuda on the left.

Rang Ji temple also known as Ranganatha Ji temple is the biggest amongst the few South Indian styled temples in Northern part of the country. Its architectural style is inspired by Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam in the state of Tamil Nadu. The temple was built in 1851. Great Vaishnav scholar Sri Rangadeshik Swamiji was the main force behind the construction of Sri Rang Ji temple. Ragadeshik Swamiji’s wealthy disciples Seth Govind Dasji and Seth Radhakrishna Dasji contributed financially for the construction of the temple.

Sri Rang Ji Mandir boasts a rare amalgamation of South Indian and North Indian religious customs. It hosts a 10-day Sri Brahmotasav, a South Indian event along with Holi, the festival of colour played in North India. Additionally, the temple organized various Vaishnava events throughout the year. The 10-day Vaikuntha Utsava is amongst them, during which Vaikuntha Dwara of the temple is opened on the day of Vaikuntha Ekadashi. This is once in a year event.

The temple comprises five concentric rectangular courtyards around the main sanctum and two gigantic gates carved in Jaipur style on the eastern and western side of the temple. The temple also hosts a 50-feet high wooden chariot which is taken out only once a year during Brahmotsav and a 50-feet high gilded Dhwaja-Sthambha.    

Five-day Vivahotsava of Godamma at Ranganatha Ji Temple, Vrindavan

Sri Rang Ji Mandir hosts 5-day Vivahotsava of Goda Amma every year in the month of Magha. The Utsava, during which various South Indian wedding rituals are conducted for five days concluded with the wedding ceremony of Sri Goda and Lord Rangamannar on the day of Makar Sankranti. This year, the Utsava started on 10th January. During the one month of Dhanurmas, Godamma kept fast to attain Lord Krishna as her husband. As a result of her devotion to the Lord, He married her on the last day of the Dhanurmas which is Makar Sankranti.

On the first day of the Vivahotsava, Godamma left her abode to extend the wedding invitation to her friends. Her wedding invitation contains a fresh tuber of turmeric, turmeric leaves, betel leaf, areca nut, fresh flowers, flower garland and other auspicious articles. During her visit, Godamma practice the North Indian tradition and carries a Ghunghat around her head. On each day of the Vivahotsava, Godamma is donned in a Mala of Lord Ranganatha as special wedding jewellery.

On the second day and third day, Haldi ceremony is performed. During the Haldi ceremony, a paste of turmeric and saffron is put on Godamma which is followed by Abhishek with milk and curd. Then her hair is treated with aromatic oil and done in a beautiful hairstyle. After every ritual, Godamma checks her reflection in the mirror held by the temple priest. Women devotees sing Suhag songs on the occasion. During wedding rituals, Godamma reflects the blissful blush of a bride which mesmerize old and young equally.

On the fourth day, Godamma receives the gifts of saree, shawl, fruits, flowers, dry fruits and utensils from Sri Rangadeshik Swamiji. The gifts reflect the fatherly love of Swamiji for Godamma.

Sri Godamma adorned as a bride on her wedding day

Devotees carrying Sri Goda-Rangamannar in Palanquin on their wedding day
The last day of the Vivahotsava is the wedding day. The wedding rituals take place at the Barahdwari Mandap near the eastern gate. On her wedding day, Godamma is adorned in a beautiful red saree which she carries with the elegance of a new bride. She also draws Ghunghat on her head. She is then carried in a palanquin in front of Lord Ranganatha. Here, Godamma is put a Mala of Lord Ranganatha as a special adornment. Following this, the procession reaches the banks of River Yamuna. After Godamma receives the blessings of Yamuna, Aarti is done and the procession returns to the temple.

After a little rest, Godamma is adorned with turmeric, Kumkum and other Suhag items and transformed into a beautiful bride. An event of Jai-Mala is also conducted as part of wedding rituals. During the Jai-Mala, flower garlands are exchanged between Godamma and Lord Ranganatha three times. All through the wedding rituals, devotees and priests sing Mangal Geet or wedding songs. From here, the procession is taken to Barahdwari Mandap, where Lord Ranganatha put Mangal-Sutra around the neck of Godamma. The five-day festivities end with the fulfilment of first amongst the three wishes of Godamma which she expressed in Nachiyar Tirumozhi, a set of 143 verses composed by Godamma in praise of Lord Krishna.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Makar Sankranti on January 14 or 15

Makar Sankranti Deity Surya Dev

Makar Sankranti on January 14 or 15?

There has been a lot of confusion about the date of Makar Sankranti festival over the years. Some astrologers suggest it to be 14 January and others 15 January. So, let’s look into the answer to this question in detail. First, it must be clear to everyone that Indian festivals are calculated as per the lunar calculations. So their dates in Gregorian calendar vary. Second, the time period between sunrise and sunset is also considered for the observance of any particular festival. Makar Sankranti occurs when Sun begins its transit in Makar Rashi.

The Makar Sankranti Moment for 2020 will be - 02:22 AM, 15 January

The time between Makar Sankranti and 40 Ghatis (roughly 16 hours for Indian locations if we consider 1 Ghati duration as 24 minutes) from the time of Makar Sankranti is considered good for auspicious work. This duration of forty Ghatis is known as Punya Kaal. Sankranti activities, like taking bath, offering Naivedhya (food offered to deity) to Lord Surya, offering charity or Dakshina, performing Shraddha rituals and breaking fast or Parana, should be done during Punya Kaal.

If Makar Sankranti happens after Sunset then all Punya Kaal activities are postponed till next day Sunrise. Hence all Punya Kaal activities should be done in day time.

Drik Panchang suggests Sankranti Muhurta which falls between Makar Sankranti moment and 40 Ghatis from it. We list this time as Punya Kaal Muhurta. Our holy scriptures suggest that 5 Ghatis duration after Sunrise (if Sankranti happens after Sunset on the previous day) and 1 Ghati duration after Sankranti moment (if Sankranti happens in day time) are highly auspicious. If this Muhurta is available we list it as Mahapunya Kaal Muhurta. Mahapunya Kaal Muhurta, if available, should be preferred over Punya Kaal Muhurta.

Hence, this year Makar Sankranti is going to be celebrated on 15 January.

Makar Sankranti Festival in Mathura

Gajak, a delicacy made from jaggery and sesame seeds especially eaten and donated on Makar Sankranti  

In Mathura, devotees will take the holy dip in the River Yamuna early morning on Makar Sankranti, which will be celebrated on 15 January this year. Charity and donation of sesame seeds and Khichdi hold high significance on Makar Sankranti. It is believed that donations made on this day will increase the Punya multiple times. Devotees will begin to flock the temples of Dwarikadhish, Krishna Janmabhumi, Dhirgh Vishnu Mandir in Mathura; Banke Bihari Ji, Radha Raman, Gopinath temple, Radhavallabha temple, Prem Mandir, ISKCON in Vrindavan; Ladali Ji temple in Barsana; Nanda Mahal in Nandagaon; Daan Ghati, Manasi Ganga, Mukut Mukharvinda in Govardhan early morning for Darshan and making donations of jaggery, sesame and Khichdi on this auspicious festival of Makar Sankranti. Special Bhog of Khichdi will be offered in temples across Mathura and Vrindavan. Pandit Ajay Kumar Tailang shared that offering Arghya to Sun and donating to poor and needy people on Makar Sankranti is considered highly auspicious. Also, Malmaas ends on Makar Sankranti and auspicious ceremonies like weddings, Mundan, Grah Pravesh, Yagyopavit will start again after the one-month hiatus.  

Monday, January 13, 2020

Khichdi Utsava at Radhavallabha Temple, Vrindavan

Lord Krishna at Radhavallabha Temple appears in various Vesha to mesmerize thousands of devotees every day

Thousands of devotees visit the Temple to catch a glimpse of Thakur Radhavallabha Lal in various Chhadma-Vesha

Lord Krishna adorned as Thakur Baldev Ji at Radhavallabha Temple

In the ancient town of Vrindavan Lord Krishna is worshipped in Baal-Bhava. That is, devotees love and pamper him like a child of their own. Temples in Vrindavan organize various events throughout the year to shower their love to Thakur Ji. Khichdi Utsava of Radhavallabha temple is one of those occasions. During Khichdi Utsava Lord Krishna is pampered with a nutritious Khichdi for 30 days during Shishir Ritu or winter season. The significance behind this tradition is to offer the food of high nutritional value to protect Thakur Ji from harsh winter. During the Utsava, Thakur Radhavallabha Lal appears in various Vesha or appearances like a bookseller, a teacher, Banke Bihari Ji, Lord Shiva, Paan seller in front of his devotees every day.
Thakur Radhavallabha Lal as Lord Shiva during Khichdi Utsava

Khichdi Utsava is organized from Pausha Shukla Paksha Dwitiya till the Pratipada of Magha Shukla Paksha. This year, Khichdi Utsava began on 28 December 2019 and will end on 25 January 2020 as the Sewayata or manager at Radhavallabha Temple Mohit Maral Goswami told Drik Panchang correspondent.  Goswamiji further added that the Khichdi is offered to Thakurji before the Mangala-Aarti every morning. Thakurji is adorned in new Chhadma-Vesha every day before the Khichdi is served.  As per the legends associated with Krishna Leela, Lord Krishna used to adorn himself in various Chhadma-Vesha or guises to meet Radharani. On some occasions, Lord Krishna would become a fruit and vegetable seller and on some, a bangle seller just to get a chance to see his divine lover Shree Radharani.
Devotees waiting for Darshan at Radhavallabha Temple during Khichdi Utsava
Khichdi Utsava is a 300-year-old tradition and was started by Kamal Nayan Maharaj. As per the Goswami Ji at the temple, the Khichdi is made with rice and lentils in Panchameva and Ghee along with various other nutritious and aromatic ingredients in the Temple Kitchen. As per the tradition, only temple Goswamis are allowed in the kitchen which is built in an ancient Indian way with clay. The preparation starts as early as 3 am and Khichdi is served before Mangala Aarti which is conducted at 5:30 am. Furthermore, the Khichdi is made in both variants, that is, spicy and sweet. Thakurji is also served more than 50 delicacies along with Khichdi like Shreekhanda, Rabadi, various recipes of vegetables, pickle, Papadam and fruits.
                               Temple Goswami sharing information about Khichdi Utsava

As part of Khichdi Utsava, the priests at the Temple also sing songs and Chhanda depicting the Krishna Leela. Devotees from across Braj Mandal and nearby regions visit Radhavallabha Temple every day to get a glimpse of their beloved in various Roopa.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

No Effect of January-2020 Lunar Eclipse on Temples

Temples of Vrindavan observe no Sutak on January-2020 Lunar Eclipse

The world-famous temples of Banke Bihari Ji and Radhavallabha in Vrindavan, Mathura did not observe Sutak on the first Lunar Eclipse of the year-2020.  There are certain set of rules prescribed in Hindu scripture which must be followed during the Sutak Kala of an eclipse, either it is Solar or Lunar eclipse. During Sutak Kala, temple gates are closed and entry is strictly prohibited for everyone. Observance of any auspicious activity and rituals are also forbidden during this time. The inside premises of temples and deity idols are protected by Tulsi leaves. After the Sutak Kala gets over, the entire temple premises is first cleaned. Then ritualistic Puja is offered to deities before opening the gates for Darshan.

Devotees visiting Banke Bihari Ji Temple in Vrindavan during the January-2020 Lunar Eclipse

The main Hall of Banke Bihari Ji Temple packed with devotees on the day of Lunar Eclipse

When Drik Panchang correspondent spoke with one of the priests in Vrindavan, Jyotishacharya Jagdish, he explained the reason for the non-observance of Sutak during the January-2020 lunar eclipse. He explicated that because the January-2020 Lunar eclipse was Penumbral, it holds no significance in Hinduism. Temples observe no rules or perform prescribed religious activities to be done during the Sutak Kala if it is a Penumbral Eclipse.

Penumbral Eclipse occurs when the moon passes through Penumbral region of the shadow without touching the Umbral region of the shadow. Penumbral Lunar Eclipses are of less important and often go unnoticed as those are not visible to the naked eye. Hindu calendar does not even list Penumbral Eclipse and ignores it completely.

Unless Lunar Eclipse is visible to the naked eye, it is of no significance to Hindus and Hindus don't consider it for any religious activities. Penumbral Lunar Eclipses are not visible to the naked eye hence no rituals related to Chandra Grahan should be observed. If Lunar Eclipse is visible during Umbral Phase then only it should be considered for religious activities. Most Hindu Panchang don't list Penumbral Eclipses.