You might be surprised to know that according to the only available authentic scriptural reference today (sravana sukla ek) is the actual day of Lalita-sakhi’s avirbhava tithi or appearance day. Now let’s discuss why today is Lalita-sakhi’s actual appearance day.
In Radha-Krishna Ganoddesa Dipika (v. 79 or 80 sapta vimshati-vaasarih) Srila Rupa Goswamipada says Lalita sakhi’s appearance day is 27 days before Radhastami, which means EVERY YEAR the app. day of Lalita is today Sravana sukla ekadasi. And this date has been acknowledged by many Gaudiya Vaisnava acharyas whom I inquired from. There are no other sastric references mentioning any other day. However, it is also a fact that ISKCON, Gaudiya Math and the Radha Kunda Babaji’s Panchangam say it’s on saptami, one day before Radhastami, and Vrajavasis say it’s on sashti, the 6th day.
Either way, Lalita’s app. day is not really celebrated much by any Vaiṣṇava group with fasting, feasting, a specific lecture about Lalita, or even a mentioning of Lalita-sakhi during a lecture. During my 12 years in U.S. Iskcon, before moving to Vrindavana, we never observed this day.
Srila Prabhupada did not give one lecture on Lalita-sakhi, nor did His Divine Grace give any instructions on observing her birthday. Hence the contradiction of dates is not so important. Of course, in Vraja I think it is observed in Unchagoan (Lalita’s temple) and maybe Iskcon Vrindavana.
The conclusion is that in principle, based on the authority of Srila Rupa Goswamipada, one could according to their personal wish celebrate Lalita’s avirbhava today, sravana sukla ekadasi, which is the actual day. But how to properly celebrate it since there are no sastric descriptions or historical examples to guide its observance?
As a suggestion, today you could pray to Lalita-sakhi for her for mercy, and chant Srila Rupa Goswamipada’s beautiful Lalita-ashtakam. Certainly this will bring gain and no loss.
Srimati Lalita Sakhi ki jai! Jai Jai Sri Radhe!
Srila Rupa Goswamipada (sing like Brahma-samhita)
devim gunaih sulalitam lalitam namami (1)
I offer praëäma unto the haughty Sri Lalita-devi who is charmingly endowed with
many beautiful, sweet qualities (sulalitä). She has natural expertise in all arts (lalitä),
thus her sevä self-manifests. She wipes away the glittering drops of perspiration which appear upon the lotus feet of Sri Radha and Mädhava when They meet; and she is perpetually immersed in the most elevated mellow of sauhåda-rasa, or undivided absorption in fulfilling the heart’s desire of her intimate friend Srimati Radhika.
devim gunaih sulalitam lalitam namami (2)
I offer praëäma unto Sri Lalita-devi whose beautiful face mocks the brilliance of the full moon, whose eyes are ever-restless like those of a startled doe, who is famous for her extraordinary expertise in the art of dressing Srimati Radhika, and who is the treasure-house of unlimited feminine qualities.
devim gunaih sulalitam lalitam namami (3)
I offer praëäma unto Sri Lalita-devi whose body is adorned with a splendid säré as brilliant as the multi-coloured tail-feathers of an ecstatically dancing peacock, whose breast is covered with an exceedingly attractive blouse (kaïculi), whose hair part is decorated with shimmering red vermilion, and who wears various necklaces and other jeweled ornaments. Her golden complexion defeats that of even gorocanä bright golden pigment that comes when rain-water from svati-nakçatra hits the head of a qualified cow and she possesses innumerable good qualities.
dhürte vrajendra-tanaye tanu suñöhu-vämyaà
mä dakñiëä bhava kalaìkini läghaväya
rädhe giraà çåëu hitäm iti çikñayantéà
devim gunaih sulalitam lalitam namami (4)
I offer praëäma unto Sri Lalita-devi, the charming treasure-house of all good qualities, who instructs Srimati Radhika in this way: “O Kalaìkini (unchaste one)! Rädhe! Listen to my good instructions which are favorable for you! Vrajendra-nandana is very crafty (dhürta). Don’t display Your mood of gentle submission (dakñiëä bhäva) to Him; instead, in all circumstances be contrary.”
Radham abhi vraja-pateù kåtam ätmajena
küöaà manäg api vilokya vilohitäkñém
väg-bhaìgibhis tam acireëa vilajjayantéà
devim gunaih sulalitam lalitam namami (5)
I offer praëäma unto the abode of all good qualities, the supremely charming Sri Lalita-devi, who, upon hearing Sri Krishna speak even a few sly words to Srimati Radhika, immediately becomes furious and shames Krishna with her biting, sarcastic remarks, “You are so truthful and simple-hearted, and such a chaste lover!”
sakhyänuçikñaëa-kaläsu guruà sakhénäm
devim gunaih sulalitam lalitam namami (6)
I offer praëäma unto the supremely charming Sri Lalita-devi, who possesses all divine qualities; who is also the recipient of Yaçodä-devé’s parental affection; the guru of all the sakhés, instructing them in the art of friendship; and the very life of both Srimati Radhika and the younger brother of Baladeva.
yäà käm api vraja-kule våñabhänu-jäyäù
prekñya sva-pakña-padavém anurudhyamänäm
sadyas tad-iñöa-ghaöanena kåtärthayantéà
devim gunaih sulalitam lalitam namami (7)
I offer praëäma unto the supremely charming Sri Lalita-devi, the treasure-house of all good qualities. Upon seeing any young maiden anywhere in Vraja and discerning that she is inclined towards her priya-sakhé Srimati Radhika, Lalitä immediately tells Radha that She must accept this person in Her own party (sva-pakña). Radha obeys Lalitä, who thus fulfills that maiden’s desires.
varyäà viniçcitavatém akhilotsavebhyaù
devim gunaih sulalitam lalitam namami (8)
I offer praëäma unto Sri Lalita-devi, the embodiment of all divine virtues and the foremost of all the favorite sakhés of Gokula. Her primary task is providing pleasure for Sri Radha-Govinda by arranging Their meetings – this delightful sevä surpasses the enjoyment of all the best festivals combined together.
nandann amüni lalitä-guëa-lälitäni
padyäni yaù paöhati nirmala-dåñöir añöau
prétyä vikarñati janaà nija-vånda-madhye
taà kértidä-pati-kulojjvala-kalpa-vallé (9)
If a person with a cheerful and pure heart recites this añöaka in praise of Lalita-devi, he will be affectionately brought into Srimati Radhika’s own group of sakhés. Lalitädevé is superbly ornamented with beauty, grace and charm, and, along with Srimati Radhika, is the effulgent wish-fulfilling creeper (kalpa-vallé) of Våñabhänu Mahäräja’s family that winds around the kalpa-våkña of Krishna.