With the Grace of Sri Sharadamba and with the Blessings of our Jagadguru, Sri Sri Bharati Teertha Mahaswamigal, the Shankaracharya of Sringeri, the events of January stared off in a grand manner. The temple was open till midnight on New Year's Eve and the priests had done a special alankaram that was both unique and magnificent to see. The large number of devotees visiting the temple on January 1, 2011 enjoyed it so much that they were reluctant to leave the sanctum. They wanted to continue to savor the beauty! The priest had created with flowers a pattern of an "Ashwattha leaf" with Sri Sharadamba on it. See the January 1 alankaram depicted below.
Devotees can enjoy various alankarams presented by our priests every week and the special ones for specific events by visiting the temple regularly.
We apologize for the delay in the 2011 religious calendar reaching our devotees on time. Several factors contributed to the delay with many of them beyond our control.
Vasanta Panchami is a Hindu festival of the spring season. "Vasanta" means spring and "Panchami" refers to the fifth day of the month per our lunar calendar. Vasanta Panchami is the Hindu Spring festival that falls on the fifth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Magha. Vasanta Panchmi is also referred to as Lalita Panchami. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm as it is said to be the birthday of Goddess Saraswati. Goddess Saraswati, the embodiment of purity and spiritual knowledge, associated with the creation of the Universe is worshipped on this day. Spring time signifies renewal and by extension creation!
This festival falls on the seventh day of the bright half of Magha Masa. It is celebrated as Surya Jayanti or Surya's birthday. This is also regarded as the day when sun's chariot turns northward. Sun's chariot is said to be drawn by seven white horses. The seven horses and the seventh day of the month are perhaps a reference to the seven colors of the rainbow and the seven suns - Aroga, Bhraja, Patara, Patanga, Svarnara, Jyotisiman and Vibhasa. In Hindu numerology, seven is a significant number as there are seven rishis, seven oceans, seven islands, etc. Ratha Saptami is dedicated to Surya Bhagawan and the Lord is worshipped for better health and well being. This day is marked by the recitation of Aruna Prashnam with namaskarams at the end of each canto or each anuvaka (section.)
Madhwa Navami is observed, on the 9th day of the bright half of Magha, as the day Sri Madhvacharya disappeared from the gaze of humankind. Madhvacharya is the exponent of the Dwaita School of philosophy. He was a 13th century philosopher, and a religious reformer. He wrote commentaries on the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, the Gita as well as other works.
Bheeshma Ekadashi, is observed on the 11th day of the bright half of Magha masam. It is observed mainly in South India, especially in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. The Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram (the thousand names of Lord Vishnu) is believed to have been revealed to Yudhistira of the Pandavas on this day by Bheeshma, the grandsire of the epic Mahabharata. Bheeshma was lying on a bed of arrows after the Great Mahabharata war, awaiting Uttarayanam to shed his mortal coils, when he narrated the famous Stotram.
"Pradosha" occurs twice a month. It falls on the 13th day of each fortnight of the waxing and waning moons. "Pradosha" puja is dedicated to Lord Shiva and the puja is done in the evening. This puja will be performed at the Sri Sharada temple for Lord Chandramouleeswara at 6:30 PM. The priests chant the Rudram while doing the abhishekam for Lord Shiva and Nandi. The Lord will be taken in procession on his vahana around the sanctum with devotees following singing bhajans.
As per Shiva Purana, anyone who undertakes a fast on Pradosha day and participates in the puja will be bestowed with all good things in life (wealth, children, happiness, good health) and will be freed of sins.
The story behind the Satyanarayana puja is an interesting one. This puja can be performed any time but it is most efficacious when conducted on the day or evening of the full moon. It is typically performed by families to commemorate a significant event in the family and for general welfare.
This puja is typically performed by the devotees with a priest officiating. It will be held on Thursday, February 17 at 6:30 PM at Stroudsburg with many families participating as a group. Devotees can sponsor and participate in the puja. If one cannot attend due to personal factors the devotee can still sponsor the event, call the temple office and provide all relevant details (Gotram, names, Naksatram and relationship to the sponsor.) The temple will duly mail the prasadam after the puja.
The story behind the puja as narrated in the Skanda Purana follows:
The puja itself is from the Skanda Purana. Sutha, a rishi, narrates the story to a group of rishis who were performing a 1,000 year yajna for the general benefit of mankind. They went to Sutha and asked him how an individual having an ethical life affirming desire, could have that desire fulfilled.
Sutha explained that the same question was asked by Narada, who was a great rishi and son of Brahma the creator. Narada is a great character who pops up all throughout the Vedic mythology mostly as an instigator who sets events in motion. He has a fine sense of cosmic mischief.
In this story it is said that Narada had been traveling all over the universe and its many worlds and finally came to Earth (Bhuloka). Here he found that so many people were suffering as they lived through their own karmas from past actions. He was filled with compassion for their suffering and went to find Lord Vishnu to ask him what could be done.
Lord Vishna explained that there is a special puja called Satyanarayana that can be performed by anyone. It can be done any time and in any place. The results of which are material comfort and spiritual success. Usually the children take turns reading thefive Satyanarayana stories chapter by chapter. It is fun and adds to the family celebration feeling of the puja.
Devotees are requested to visit the SVBF web site www.svbf.org to get more detailed and timings for the events in February.