Radha Ashtami is celebrated to commemorate the birth anniversary of Goddess Radha, the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi and the lover of Shri Krishna. This festival is celebrated every year on the eighth day of the bright fortnight of the moon during the Hindu Lunisolar month of Bhadrapada. People worship Shri Radha Ji and honour the selfless bond of love between Radha and Krishna.
Significance of Radha Ashtami
Radha Ashtami holds great significance for the devotees of Lord Krishna and Devi Radha. They worship Radha Rani along with Lord Krishna to honour and celebrate their eternal self-less love. On this day Goddess Lakshmi incarnated on earth as Radha at Barsana near Mathura, the birthplace of Krishna. Radha Ashtami falls eight days after Krishan Janmashtami, the birthday of Lord Krishna. Radha Rani has a special place in the Hindu religion as she is considered to be the spiritual energy of Lord Krishna. She is the one who expresses herself as not only the lover of Lord Krishna but also as the power that runs this universe and without whom a leaf of the tree cannot move. Radha Rani is the way of reaching the heart of Shri Krishna for his devotees. Reaching Shri Krishna through his energy Shri Radha is the easiest way to get the service of the Lord and his Energy. The transcendental vibration originating from worshipping Shri Radha can completely liberate a conditioned soul and directly engage him in the devotional service of the Lord. Radha Ji is the internal and eternal potency of Sri Krishna, So worshipping Krishna without Radha is incomplete. Devotees fast on this day to get the blessings of Shri Radha and Shri Krishan.
Legends Associated with Radha Ashtami
Radha Ashtami is the day on which Goddess Lakshami manifested herself as Shri Radha near a pond at Barsana village of Mathura. She was not born directly to her parents. According to legends on this day the parents of Shri Radha, Vrishbhanu and Kamlavati were passing by a pond in the village. They suddenly heard the cries of a baby. When they went near the pond, they saw a baby lying on the petals of a lotus flower and was crying. They were a childless couple, so they adopted the baby girl found there and named her Radha Rani. They met sage Narad on their way back, who told them that they had been blessed by the Goddess Lakshmi as the baby they were carrying was the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi only. They took good care of Radha and later she fell in love with Krishna and their love is still known to be eternal though they were not married to each other as their love was spiritual and it never was a physical bond. It is said that once Shri Radha asked Shri Krishna, why could they not marry. He replied that to be married to each other, there should be two different souls and bodies, but as they were one body and one soul, so how could they marry each other. This reply of Shri Krishna tells the form of love they shared.
Rituals performed on Radha Ashtami
People wake up early in the morning and have their holy bath. Some people fast on this day and complete their fast on the next day. They clean their puja place and place the idols of Lord Krishna and Radha Rani. Women give a bath to the idol of Shri Radha with Panchamrit which consists of curd, Ganga Jal, jaggery, milk, and ghee. They offer new and beautiful clothes to the idols of Shri Krishna and Shri Radha. They perform special puja of Shri Radha and Shri Krishna with complete devotion. They do Aarti and then offer prasad to Shri Radha Krishna. They too take the Prasad and wish for happiness, peace and prosperity for their family.
Special devotional programmes are arranged in temples, where people sing songs in praise of Radha Rani and Shri Krishna. Most of the times puja of Shri Radha is performed during Mid-day with incense sticks, dhoop, Chandan, roli and Mauli.