In India, Sravana masa is the first full month of the rainy, monsoon season (varsha-ritu). In Vraja, for the pleasure of Priya-Priyatama, many wonderful festivals are celebrated to rejoice in the refreshing cool air and life nourishing rains.
In Hari-bhakti vilasa 15.166, Sri Sanatana Goswami encourages us to increase our Thakuraji seva this month by especially offering camphor, sandalwood paste, musk (kasturi) and mogra (jasmine) flowers. Satisfy Krishna’s transcendental taste buds with varieties of fruits; and also cook with cloves (long) and cardamom (elaichi).
This month’s dates and descriptions are given to enable everyone outside of the Holy Dhama to celebrate these amazing Vraja festivals with their personal Thakurajis. Jai Radhe-Shyama!
1. July 30 HARIYALI TEEJ
In Vraja, teej means three, the third day of the waxing moon (suklatritiya), and hariyali means green—rich and soothing forest green. On this day Radha-Krishna sit on a swing, which is completely decorated with lots and lots of fresh from the forest (or your garden) green leaves, sweet-smelling flowers and vines (latas of fragrant madhavi and malati); all placed by the fragrant loving hands of devotees.
2. July 30-August 10 JHULANA YATRA
Throughout Vraja Mandala, Hariyali Teej marks the first day of Radha-GovindaYugala’s blissful 12 day swing festival, Jhulana Utsava. Most temples in Vrindavana, Radha-kunda and elsewhere decorate the jhulana most beautifully on Hariyali Teej. So don’t miss the wonderful darsanas in Vrndavana on that day, Wednesday July 30; especially Radha-Damodara, BankeBihari, RadhaRamanji, Govindaji, RadhaVallabhaji, Radha-MadanaMohanaji and Radha-Gopinathaji. Now and forever let’s follow the Vrajavasis, and swing your hearts and your Thakurajis for 12 happy monsoon days until Sravana Purnima, August 10.
3. August 7 LALITA-SAKHI APPEARANCE DAY & PAVITRA EKADASI (sravana sukla ek)
You might be surprised to know that according to the only available authentic scriptural reference today is the actual day of Lalita-sakhi’s avirbhava tithi or appearance day. Now let’s discuss exactly when is Lalita-sakhi’s appearance day?
In Radha-Krishna Ganoddesa Dipika (v. 79 or 80 sapta vimshati-vaasarih) SrilaRupaGoswamipada says Lalitasakhi’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 most all Gaudiya Vaisnavas for the last 500 years. There are no other sastric references mentioning any other day. Some say it’s on saptami before Radhastami and Vrajavasis say it’s on sashti, the 6th.
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 in 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 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!
4. August 8 SRILA RUPA GOSWAMIPADA TIROBHAVA MAHOTSAVA
In Radha-Krishna’s divine Vraja lilas, Lalita-sakhi is the leader of all Radha’s sakhis, and Sri Rupa-manjari (RupaGoswami) is the leader of all the manjari maidservants of Radhika. It is interesting to note the proximity of their days of appearance and disappearance. By prayer and meditation, one might realize the internal reasons for the disappearance of Srila Rupa Goswamipada falling the day after the appearance day of Lalita-sakhi.
Srila Rupa Goswamipada ki jai!
5. August 10 BALADEVA APPEARANCE DAY &RAKHI PURNIMA, Last Day Jhulana-yatra
Jaya Radhe, Jaya Krishna, Jaya Vrindavana
Sri Govinda, Gopinatha, Madana-Mohana!
2014 Karttika Classes (Oct. 3- Nov. 5) Mahanidhi Swami
3 pm Mahaprabhu’s Amazing Pastimes.
4 pm The Glorious Sweet Seva of Sri Radha
Jai Jai Sri Radhe!