Narasimha Jayanti celebrates the incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the form of Narasimha (half man – half lion) to save Prahlad from demon Hiranyakasipu. Narasimha is the fourth of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu. In 2013, the date of Narasimha Jayanthi is May 23.
According to Puranas, Lord Vishnu appeared as Narasimha on the Chaturdashi day in the month of Vaishakh.
Demon Hiranyakasipu had obtained a boon from Brahma that he could not be killed by man or beast, by day or by night and from inside or outside. And also he could not be killed by any weapon.
After receiving such a powerful boon, Hiranyakasipu conquered heaven and earth and declared himself as God and asked people to worship him and not Vishnu.
But Hiranyakasipu’s son, Prahlāda, was a staunch Vishnu devotee and disobeyed his father. The whole kingdom worshipped Hiranyakasipu; but in his own house his son worshipped Vishnu. Father tried all means to change his son, but he failed miserably. He then tried to kill but each time the young boy escaped from the clutches of death with the blessings of Vishnu.
Fed up with his son, one day Hiranyakasipu challenged Prahlada and, looking to a stone pillar, asked, ‘If your god is omnipresent, is he in this pillar also?’ Prahlad answered, ‘HE is present in the pillar and even in the rust.’ Hearing this Hiranyakasipu slashed hard on the pillar with a sword.
Suddenly, Lord Vishnu emerged from the pillar in the form of a Narasimha and slew the demon at dusk. Narasimha killed the demon by keeping him in his lap and tearing his heart with bare hands thus overcoming all the boons the demon had attained from Brahma.
Devotees fast on Narasimha Jayanthi day and visit Lord Vishnu temples. People also give alms on the day and perform Annadhanam (donate food to poor). It is believed that those people who observe Narasimha Jayanti vratam will reach the ‘Vaikunta’ – abode of Vishnu.
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