Radhashtami: Celebrating Devotion
Monday, 17 September
Radhashtami 2018 in India
Who is Radha?
Radha or Radharani is a Hindu Goddess who is revered by the Vaishnavas. She is considered as the eternal companion of Lord Krishna, the Hindu God. She is a milkmaid (gopi) and the beloved of Krishna. Srimati Radharani's longing for Krishna is considered as the pinnacle of devotion. It is symbolic of the longing of a soul for the divine.
- Radha was the daughter of Maharaja Vrishbhanu and Kirtida Devi. Sridama was her elder brother and Ananga manjari was her younger sister.
- She is considered to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Lord Vishnu.
- Radha was five years elder to Krishna.
- She was in love with Krishna since a young age. But their pure love never converted into a real wedding.
- In fact, Radha was later married to Abhimanyu. Her mother-in-law Jatila Devi and sister-in-law Kutila Devi were always eager to find faults with her.
- Radha is considered to be the strength of Krishna. Her place is always depicted alongside Krishna. She has been in main centre within the theology of Vaishnava traditions.
- Radha is inarguably the most important Gopi in Raasleela (sacred dance) with Lord Krishna.
- Lalita, Visakha, Campakalata, Sucitra, Sudevi, Ranga-devi, Indulekha and Tungavidya were the eight dearest friends of Radharani.
- When Lord Krishna brought all his wives to meet Radha, they all together declared her to be the most beautiful and sacred woman in the whole universe.
Radhashtami or Radha Jayanti is a Hindu festival which commemorates the birth anniversary of Srimati Radharani who is considered as the life energy of Krishna. She is also considered as Krishna's greatest devotee. On this day, she emerged from a lotus flower as the consort of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. Radhashtami is a day of reverence for Krishna devotees.
The festival of Radhashtami is celebrated with great pomp and show on the eighth day of the bright fortnight (shukla paksha ashtami) during the month of Bhadra according to the Hindu Calendar (August – September). It is a very significant and auspicious festival for the Krishna devotees and is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Srimati Radharani. Srimati Radharani is considered as the mother of the entire universe and on the auspicious day of Radhashtami, the devotees pray to Her to bless them with Krishna-prema (Love for Lord Krishna). It is said that without the mercy of Srimati Radharani, one cannot progress on the path of devotion.
God became Krishna and Radha —
Love flows in thousands of coils.
Whoso wants, takes it.
Love flows in thousands of coils —
The tide of love and loving past,
And fills the soul with bliss and joy!— Swami Vivekananda
Gaudiya Vaishnavas observe a half-day fast on Radhashtami. Krishna devotees fervently pray to Radharani for her favour to acquire Krishna's grace.
The day is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the Brij area, especially at Barsana which is the birth place of Radharani. Radha Krishna idols are traditionally dressed entirely in flowers. Devotees may receive darshan of Radha's feet on this day which are otherwise covered.
Devotees fast till noon and sing songs of devotion praising Radha-Krishna, the divine couple and their pastimes. Afterwards, a feast is served which most often includes the Radha Red — a spicy, plum chutney.
Celebrations at ISKCON
Radhashtami is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm at ISKCON temples all over the world. Radhastami celebrations begin early in the morning with Mangala Aarti of Radha- Krishna, the most attractive couple in the whole world at 4:30 am. This is followed by Tulsi Aarti and Guru-puja of His Divine Grace Srila Prabhupada, the founder-acharya of ISKCON (The International Society for Krishna Consciousness). Chanting of the Holy names of Krishna with melodious tunes enthrall hundreds of the devotees present. Afterwards, a Prabhat pheri (street procession) is taken out in the nearby areas.
For the devotees, the main attraction of the festival is Charan Darshan (glimpse of the holy feet) of Srimati Radharani. This is the only day in the whole year during which Charan Darshan of Radharani is available.
On the auspicious occasion of Radhashtami, the Deities in the temple are adorned with a new dress. The altar is beautifully and aesthetically decorated with bright, colourful flowers which spread their fragrance everywhere.
In the noon, the utsava Deities of Sri Radha Madhava receive a grand abhisheka. Devotees perform Harinam Sankirtana and glorify Radharani by singing the devotional songs composed by the Vaishnava Acharyas. Hundreds of devotees visit the temples all over the world and witness the elaborate celebrations. The Deities are bathed with Panchamrita (milk, ghee,curd, honey and jaggery water) followed by juices from varieties of fruits like apple, muskmelon, pineapple, orange, pomegranate, sweet lime, grapes, papaya etc.
An elaborate arti is performed while the devotees sing Sri Radhikastava. After the arti, the deities are bathed with sanctified holy water from 108 Tirthas. Different varieties of flower petals are then showered on the deities. After the abhisheka, the deities are offered chappan bhog (56 varieties of delicacies prepared by devotees).
Krishna the beautiful aspect of God. Love crystallises into blueness. Blue colour is expressive of intense love. Solomon saw "Krishna". Here Krishna came to be seen by all. Even now, when you get love, you see Radha. Become Radha and be saved. There is no other way.— Swami Vivekananda
A special Boat festival of Sri Sri Radha Madhava in the evening is the another main attraction of the festival. The boat festival is organised in the temple courtyard in a special water pond with the help of a small boat well decorated with fragrant flowers. Water is sprinkled with rose petals. Hundreds of devotees chant and dance while Their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Madhava enjoy their boat ride.
- Temples & Places to visit in Govardhan
Places to visit when you are at the holy Govardhan.
Radha Krishna Prana Mora (ISKCON Bangalore)
© 2018 Shaloo Walia