The birth anniversary of Radharani who is an avatar of Goddess Mahalakshmi is celebrated as Radha Ashtami among the devotees of Lord Krishna. This auspicious festival of Radha Ashtami, also known as Radha Jayanti is commemorated on the Ashtami (8th day) of the Shukla Paksha, the bright fortnight of the moon, during the Hindu month of Bhadrapada of Bhadon.
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Radha was the lover-consort of Lord Krishna. Devotees of Lord Krishna celebrate the birth anniversary of Radharani, who is the greatest devotee of Lord Krishna, the feminine aspect of the absolute truth, and Krishna's love personified. Different scriptures describe that observing the Radha Ashtami fast and worshiping Lord Krishna helps to get rid of all the past sins and to overcome hurdles. The devotee develops a spiritual mind and lives a peaceful life.
Who is Radha?: According to Hindu mythology, Radha Rani is the primordial deity of Krishna’s very life, the first of all persons, and the energy of Lord Vishnu. She is the lover of Lord Krishna and resides in the heart center of the Lord. The beautiful Radharani is the queen and the leader of the Gopis as well as the originator of the Rasa dance. Prayers to Goddess Radha are the simplest way to please Lord Vishnu and to receive His divine blessings.
Significance of Radha Ashtami: Radha Ashtami is a famous Hindu festival that is celebrated with much grandeur to commemorate the birth anniversary of Shri Radha Rani. The auspicious occasion of Radha Ashtami falls 15 days after the festival of Janmashtami, the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna who is the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Every year, this much-awaited festival takes place in August or September according to the English calendar.
According to seers of India, Lord Krishna was very fond of Radhaji and Lord Krishna’s worship is incomplete without worshipping Goddess Radha. Devotees who listen to the story of Radha Ashtami and observe fast on this day, get rid of all their problems by the blessings of RadhaKrishna.
Rituals on the day of Radha Ashtami: India celebrates Radha Ashtami with a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. Barsana, the birthplace of Radha Rani, and cities of Mathura, Vrindavan, and surrounding areas celebrates this auspicious day with grand ceremonies. On this day, devotees wake up before sunrise and spend the entire day worshiping Radha Rani and reciting the glories of Lord Krishna and Shri Radha. Some of them observe a fast for full day & some even without water.
On Radha Ashtami day, all the temples of Radhakrishna are lavishly decorated with flowers and garlands. The idols are adorned with beautiful new clothes and fresh flowers after giving a bath with holy water and panchamrit (mixture of milk, yogurt, ghee, jaggery, and honey). Then, devotees offer shringar items to the deity along with Diyas, incense sticks, and varieties of fruits and sweets as a bhog. Devotees perform aarti while chanting prayers and Radha Gayatri mantra.
Experts and eminent speakers narrate the glories of Goddess Radharani in the ancient temples of Vrindavan, Mathura, and Braj Bhumi. Maha-abhisheka is performed at noon with a variety of ingredients as prasad and many colorful flowers. Temples prepare an elaborate bhog with more than 100 varieties of dishes along with many sweets, pastries, and pancakes. After completion of the Maha-abhisheka, bhog is offered along with the Maha-Aarti. Most of the devotees perform fast until noon while singing devotional songs in praise of the divine couple and then enjoy a transcendental feast in the afternoon. Devotees return to their home after offering the evening aarti and watching some cultural programs presented in the evening hours.
Mantras for Radha Ashtami: Regular chanting of following mantras can be highly beneficial for your brain. When you chant these popular mantras, your mind releases the positive energy that reduces the stress. Chanting of mantras to praise Radha Rani is an ancient practice that calms the mind as well as the soul.
Radha Gayatri mantra: “Aum Vrashbhanujaye Vidmahe Krishnapriyaye Dhiimahii Tanno Raadha Prachodayaat”
Radha Aarti Mantra: “Tapta-Kanchana-Gaurangi Vrindavaneshvari Pranamami Hari-Priye”
Radha Beej Mantra: “Om Hrim Shri Radhikaye Namaha”
Legend of Radha Ashtami: According to the Hindu scriptures, when Lord Vishnu took ‘avatar’ of Krishna, Goddess Laxmi incarnated herself as ‘Radharani’, and this auspicious day marks the birthday of Goddess Radha. The legend says that King Vrishbhanu found a baby girl floating on a lotus flower in a pond near Barsana. Since he and his wife Kamlavati did not have any child of their own, they adopted that girl child happily and started taking good care of her. According to scriptures, Goddess Radha appeared on the earth exactly two weeks after Lord Krishna’s incarnation and did not open her majestic eyes till Shri Krishna appeared before her.
At a later date, the celestial sage ‘Narada’ told King Vrishbhanu and his wife that Radha is the incarnation of Goddess Laxmi and they have been blessed by Her grace. The bond between Radha and Krishna is considered the most pious and soulful love that has ever occurred between lovers. They are considered as one and thus Krishna combines in Radha. Hindu scriptures also explain Radha as Lord Krishna's spiritual energy and those who worship Radha are said to be blessed with graceful blessings of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi.
Summary: Radhaji is also known as Krishna Vallabh, an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. Hindus celebrate the appearance day of Radha Rani as Radha Ashtami or Radha Jayanti. Every year, all the temples of Lord Radhakrishna celebrate this auspicious festival with great devotion. Hindu scriptures describe Radha as the soul of Lord Krishna and worshipping Goddess Radha on this day helps a devotee to receive the divine blessings of Lord Vishnu and His consort Goddess Lakshmi. In India, the birthplace of Radharani, Barsana, and the birthplace of Lord Krishna, Mathura celebrate the auspicious festival with grand ceremonial events. Millions of devotees visit these places to worship Goddess Radha and to participate in this colourful festival.