Vrindavan, 2018.01.17: Yesterday, Banke Bihari temple was as crowded as on any festival day, but, the usual random cries of “Banke Bihari Lal ki jai!” were more scarce than usual, as many of the visitors were keeping a mourn vrat (vow of silence). Many people keep a vow of silence for the entire day on Mourn Amavasya, instead spending the day quietly chanting mantras to themselves.
Many of the visitors arrived at the temple after taking snan (bath) or darshan of the Yamuna because Mourn Amavasya is considered a particularly auspicious day for bathing in the Yamuna and Ganga. It is believed that, on this day, the pantheon of gods and goddesses descend to take a holy dip at the confluence of Ganga, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati. It is said that taking snan during this period is particularly effective for washing away the harmful effects of sins, which hamper our progress in devotional life.
Mourn Amavasya is celebrated on the new moon of the lunar calendar month of Magh. The month of Magh is considered a particularly auspicious month for religious activities, giving charity and fasting. Makar Sankranti and Basant Panchmi also fall in the month of Magh.
Basant Panchmi will be celebrated on 22nd January. On this day, Saraswati pooja is held in almost every home in Braj and thousands of students will offer their pens to Saraswati Devi at the Saraswati Temple (next to Katyayani Temple), which opens only once per year for the festival of Basant Panchmi/Saraswati pooja.