This is one of the greatest months as this is one of the only times when one can perform almost any manoraths one wants. Ofcourse, in my view, each moment is as precious as Adhik-mas and one should perform the manoraths on ones mind during each and every waking moment. To wait for a month that comes around only once every two and a half years, is to presume that one will be spared the ravages of time, and will be fit and healthy to be able to perform the manorath during the next Adhik-mas. Unless we know for absolute certainty that this will happen, I would say, celebrate each moment as if it was your last, and spend it in loving association with the Lord.
Having said this, let us consider what manoraths are celebrated during this holy month.
Nandottsava :- Celebrating the birth of the Lord by the denziens of Vraj.
Khel :- One of the most colourful manoraths of all times, it celebrates the festival of colour - holy/ dhuleti.
Dana :- Lord demanding the buttermilk from the milk-maids of Vraj.
Lagna Mahotsava :- Celebrating the wedding of the Lord. As this is not the formal wedding of Prabodhini Akadashi, the wedding need not be accompanied by panchamrit snana etc.
Ratha Yatra :- The Lord's journey in the chariot.
Snana Yatra :- The Lord is bathed in various cool and fragrant liquids.
Nava Mahotsava :- The Lord's boating expedition with the milk maids of Vraj.
Kunj :- flower bowers and gardens of Vraj.
Bangala :- Pavillions made of various woods, silver, gilt, gold, flowers, khas, various scented spices, pearls, mirrors, embroided cloth etc.
Hindola :- Swings made out of similar materials as above and set in halls, courtyards or gardens.
Chappan Bhog :- Various food stuffs offered to the Lord as a great feast.
Chak / Vanbhogan etc :- Picnic of the Lord in the woods of Vraj with his friends.
Shada-rutu-ka-uttsava :- Celebrating all the six seasons in one day. Progressing through the seasons and celebrating the best of each during the darshans through the day.
The above is a finite list of infinite festivals one can celebrate with the Lord. The only thing to remember is to celebrate these by keeping in mind the comfort and pleasure of the Lord. One should make sure the Lord's comfort is at the forefront of one's mind. After all, the Lord is a real entity and feels just like you and me, only more keenly !
It is imperative to remember one should not celebrate manoraths to show-off one's talent or wealth, or indeed to compete with others. Manorath should spring from one's own heart and should be celebrated to express one's oneness with the Lord.
In my view, no rules or regulations can stop a vaishnav from celebrating any uttsava with the Lord - "Sevakrutir Gurur Agna, Badhanamcha Harichaya" (Navratnam) - To say that Pushti Marg's rules and regulations would stop one from fully expressing one's bhava is to go against the very basic foundations of the sect. Shri Vallabh encouraged his disciples to get in touch with their inner feelings and express their love for the Lord in the way that would be most natural and instinctive to them. To bind these feelings in any bureaucratic way and say that there is only a specific way to express one's devotion, would be very much against Shri Vallabha's precepts.
Derived in parts from Vallabh Parivar magazine and edited and added to by Bhagwat at Vijuben Hathi's request.
© Bhagwat Shah
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