Radhastami is the day we celebrate the appearance of Srimati Radharani, Lord Krishna's eternal consort. Radharani’s appearance occurred on the eighth day of the bright moon in the month of Bhadra. Although generally not full on that day, the moon appeared full to celebrate Radharani’s appearance in this world, because of this Radhashtami is celebrated on the eighth day of the bright fortnight (shukla paksha ashtami) in the month of Bhadra (August/September).
In Caitanya Caritamrta Adi Lila 1.5 it is said "The loving affairs of Sri Radha and Krishna are transcendental manifestations of the Lord's internal pleasure-giving potency. Although Radha and Krishna are one in Their identity, They separated Themselves eternally". Srimati Radharani, as the highest devotee of Sri Krishna, derives the greatest pleasure in serving Him. She is the origin of all the Gopis and of all the Goddesses of Fortune (Lakshmi devi) who are engaged in the service of the Lord. She is the mainstay, the ideal, and the ultimate refuge of all devotees embarking on the path of devotional service.
The following is from a lecture by His Holiness Varshana Swami and adapted from krishna.com
“On a half-moon night in the month of Bhadra, King Vrishabhanu came to the Jamuna to bathe and found himself engulfed in a golden aura, the golden aura of pure love. It was emanating from a lotus, which had a baby girl standing on its whorl. When the king returned to the palace with the baby, Queen Kirtida was delighted. She was also shocked that the girl was blind.
“Lord Krishna’s mother, Yashoda, heard that her best friend Kirtida had a baby, so she came to visit along with her husband and her son. Krishna crawled up to the cradle and pulled Himself up and looked in. At that moment, Srimati Radharani’s eyes fluttered and opened wide and blossomed like lotuses. It seems that she did not want to see anything of this world, only the form of Sri Krishna.
Srimati Radharani opening Her eyes for the first time to see Lord Krishna
The Hare Krishna maha-mantra is in fact a prayer to Srimati Radharani. The word 'Hare' is derived from 'Hara' which denotes the internal energy or Hladini Sakti of Krishna, this Hladini Sakti is none other than Srimati Radharani Herself. The word Hare is a form of addressing the energy of the Lord, and the words Krishna and Rama are forms of directly addressing the Lord Himself. Both Krishna and Rama mean “the highest pleasure.” Hara is the supreme pleasure potency of the Lord. This potency helps us in reaching the Supreme Lord. When one is chanting the maha-mantra, one is saying: "Oh Radha, Oh Krishna, please engage me in your devotional service". The mood of a devotee is to invoke the compassion of Srimati Radharani first, who then recommends the devotee to Sri Krishna. Since Krishna is easily pleased by Srimati Radharani, He then readily accepts the devotee in His service.
“‘Hare’ means ‘Radhe.’ It is a plaintive, desperate cry for the mother. ‘Radhe! Please wake us up from this nightmare of mortal life! Remind us of the father we have forgotten and take us home!’” -His Holiness Varshana Swami from krishna.com
In the Krishna consciousness movement, devotees carefully worship Srimati Radharani as the bestower of devotional service to Krishna, by attentively chanting Her name in the maha-mantra, and by worshiping Her deity form.
“(Therefore) Radha is parama-devata, the supreme goddess, and She is worshipable for everyone. She is the protectress of all, and She is the mother of the entire universe.” -Caitanya Caritamrita, Adi 4.89
In temples on Radhashtami, a new outfit is offered to Srimati Radharani and the temple is lavishly decorated with flowers and garlands. Srimati Radharani’s glories are narrated during a class. A maha-abhisheka is performed at noon with a variety of ingredients and many colorful flowers. Devotees in the Deity kitchen will prepare a feast with many preparations along with many sweet dishes, pastries, and cakes. After the abhisheka, the bhoga is offered and maha-arati is performed. Festivities and cultural programs are presented throughout the evening.
Radhastami Abhisheka from Mayapur.com
* Decorating your home for Srimati Radharani can be fun, particularly for children. Encourage them in helping to make garlands, hanging balloons, and generally making the house beautiful for Srimati Radharani.
* Reading and reciting the 25 qualities of Srimati Radharani: You can read them yourself and meditate on them, you and your friends and family can go around sharing one each, or you can even decorate your home with these qualities (example: draw or cut out flowers from construction paper and have each quality written on a different flower).
* Reading all the names of Srimati Radharani: Again, you can read them yourself and meditate on them, read them allowed with family and friends, or use different names to decorate your home (example: each name of Radharani can be placed on a balloon around the home).
* Read through our scriptures about Srimati Radharani, Her glories are written about in Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta and you can read about her past times with Krishna in Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Free digital copies can be found on Vedabase and free audiobook narrations from Bhaktivedanta Vedic Library.
* If you are able to fast from food, fasting until 12 PM noon is recommended. If fasting is too difficult, then try to eat only light foods during the day. By putting our own needs aside and concentrating more on our spiritual pursuits, we show our devotion. Radha and Krishna see your efforts.
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