GAURA PURNIMA – 25 March 2024

Gaura Purnima – Monday 25 March 2024

Dr Pundit Roshan Singh

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s Life Story

Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu was a divine form of Lord Krishna who was born in Mayapur, India in 1486. His birth was celebrated with joy because it was considered very spiritually important for the world. As a child, Chaitanya had a charming presence and lighthearted nature. He also showed signs that he had a sacred mission through the miracles he performed at a young age. 

Chaitanya was raised with a strong education in academic and spiritual subjects. He was exceptionally intelligent and had an amazing understanding of spiritual truths from an early age, which impressed scholars and regular people alike. A major turning point in his life came when he got married at age 16 and then decided to give up material possessions to live as a wandering monk.

As Mahaprabhu traveled across India, his holy presence and teachings about Krishna’s divine love brought thousands to tears of joy and devotion. At age 31, he settled in Puri, where his radiant spiritual energy continued to deeply impact his devoted followers. He embodied pure love by spending his time absorbed in joyful kirtan singing and profound spiritual discussions.  

Gaura Purnima honors Mahaprabhu’s birth and lasting spiritual legacy, encouraging people to seek enlightenment and devotion like he did. His life example of selfless love, compassion, and devotion to Krishna left a permanent mark on humanity’s spiritual path.  

How Gaura Purnima Is Celebrated  

The festivities for Gaura Purnima begin with a special parade called the Pallakki Utsava. This involves carrying the deity forms of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Lord Nityananda on decorated palanquins while devotees sing kirtan songs loudly. The parade leads to a lavish bathing ceremony for the deities. 

After the parade, the devotees give an elaborate abhisheka bath to the Nitai Gauranga deities. They bathe the deities with a mixture of panchamrita (five sacred substances), panchagavya (five cow products), and different fruit juices. While bathing the Lord’s forms, the devotees recite prayers from the Brahma Samhita scripture. 

Next, there is a big arati ceremony where the famous Gaura arati song by Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura is sung while waving lit lamps before the deities. After the arati, the devotees chant verses from the Purusha Sukta while bathing the deities with holy water brought in 108 kalasha pots. 

Following the bathing, there is a pushpa vrishti where the deity forms are showered with fragrant flowers. An offering of 56 different food preparations called the chappan bhog is then presented to the Lords. 

In the evening, there is another arati called the Shayana arati where a song describing Chaitanya’s transcendental form and pastimes, the Sri Sachi Tanayashtakam, is sung. This commemorates Chaitanya “resting” for the night after the day’s festivities. 

So in summary, the main Gaura Purnima celebrations include a parade with the deities, an elaborate bathing ritual with sacred substances, chanting of prayers, arati ceremonies with singing, a pushpa vrushti flower shower, a 56-dish offering, and songs glorifying Chaitanya’s transcendental form.

The Importance Of Gaura Purnima 

Gaura Purnima is a very important festival that celebrates the appearance of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, who is considered an incarnation of Lord Krishna. After Janmashtami (Krishna’s birthday), it is one of the biggest festivals for followers of Gaudiya Vaishnavism. Gaudiya Vaishnavas believe that the Supreme Lord Krishna appeared in this world as Sri Chaitanya to start the Sankirtan movement of joyfully chanting God’s holy names. 

Sri Chaitanya first appeared in this world in 1486 AD on the night of the full moon in the month of Phalguna. His birthplace was the holy village of Mayapur, and his parents were Jagannath Mishra and Sachi Devi. Wonderful sights and celebrations surrounded his divine birth, signaling his supreme spiritual importance. 

The sacred scriptures had foretold that Lord Krishna would appear on earth again during the current yuga (age) as Sri Chaitanya in a golden avatar (incarnation). His purpose was to widely propagate the congregational chanting of God’s holy names as the means to achieve spiritual perfection. This was seen as the ideal spiritual practice to counteract the negative effects of the current age of quarrel and hypocrisy.

The Vedic texts glorify Lord Chaitanya as the most munificent and kind hearted incarnation of the Lord. With no discrimination, he freely distributed to everyone the simple process of chanting the holy names to become free from the illusory grip of maya (material existence). Whereas previous incarnations had maintained some rules about who could receive spiritual knowledge, Chaitanya made this sublime process available to all.

So in essence, Gaura Purnima commemorates the birth of this uniquely merciful golden incarnation, who descended to freely share the highest spiritual knowledge and practice for the benefit of all suffering souls in the modern age.  

Gaura Purnima 2024-Fasting Benefits

Gaura Purnima is celebrated by observers fasting and performing various worship rituals. The main Vrat or fasting is done on the day of Gaura Purnima itself.  

Devotees keep a strict fast by not consuming any grains, vegetables, or food made from these items. Only milk, fruits, nuts, and root vegetables like potatoes are allowed during the Gaura Purnima fasting day. The fast begins before sunrise on Purnima day and continues until after seeing the full moon rise at night.  

In addition to fasting from foods, devotees also avoid sleeping during daytime hours as part of the Vrat observances. The day is spent in devotional activities like chanting mantras, singing devotional songs, studying scriptures, and serving at the temple.  

The dates of Gaura Purnima change yearly based on the lunar calendar. It falls on the full moon day (Purnima) of the Phalguna month according to the Hindu calendar. This typically corresponds to March/April in the Western Gregorian calendar. In 2024, Gaura Purnima was celebrated on March 25th.  

Keeping the Gaura Purnima Vrat and its associated practices are considered highly meritorious and beneficial for spiritual progress. Fasting on this day helps purify the body and mind. The restriction on grains is meant to induce a mode of humility and simplicity.   

Chanting God’s names, meditating, and avoiding sleep during Gaura festivals are believed to enhance one’s spiritual consciousness. There is a powerful spiritual atmosphere created by thousands observing the Vrat together in devotion. 

Overall, it is believed that properly observing Gaura Purnima Vrat destroys sins, removes obstacles from one’s life, grants spiritual advancement and devotion to God. For Gaudiya Vaishnavas, it is an opportunity to reawaken their love for Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu’s teachings on divine love and surrender to the Lord.  

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