Narasimha Jayanti is a Hindu festival celebrating the glory of Lord Vishnu and seeking his blessings. It is celebrated on the Vaisakh Shukla Paksha Chaturdashi according to traditional Hindu calendar and on the month of May according to the prevalent Gregorian calendar.
Narasimha Jayanti, which is a juxtaposition of Vaisakh Shukla Paksha Chaturdashi , swati Nakshatra and if on a Saturday; then the day becomes auspicious many times over. It is believed that Lord Narasimha defeats the demons and protects his disciples from obstacles.
He is called Vakta-batsala, or one who is fond of his devotees; and is known to remove obstacles from their paths of progress. According to Brahma Samhita, Lord Ganesha holds the lotus feet of Lord Narasimha Deva, and thus gains the supreme power of being the Bighna Harta or the remover of all obstacles.
Legend about Lord Narasimha
Lord Narasimha Deva is considered to be the fourth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, who donned the guise of a half human and half lion. Nara means human and Simha means Lion. He took on this avatar to stop the tyranny of the demon Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu to avenge the death of His brother Hiranyakshan, who was killed by Lord Vishnu, had prayed to Brahma for his blessings. Having pleased Brahma, he got a boon from him, which made him indomitable, and thus also captured the heaven. The Gods all knew not what to do to stop his terror. No normal living being could defeat him. The boon that he got from Lord Brahma was that he should not be killed by any human being, animal or demi-god, he should not be killed in any place, and he should not be killed in daytime, not at night and neither by any weapons. This nearly made him invincible. However, his son, Prahlada, grew up to be one of the greatest devotees of Lord Vishnu and the chasm between father and son on their faith grew. On a fit of rage, Hiranyakashipu asked Prahlada since he believed in his God; would his God come to help him? Prahlada with complete stoic faith maintained that the great Lord indeed will. Hiranyakashipu, enraged struck a pillar asking if Prahlad’s God was in there. Immediately Lord Narasimha, in answer to his devotee’s faith emerged from the pillar and killed Hiranyakashipu with his sharp nails, keeping him on his lap, sitting on the threshold during dusk. Thus neither was he killed by man nor animal, no weapons were used, neither was he killed in a place nor during day or night. This is the situation in which Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of half man and half lion to defeat the demon and to restore order and peace in the world.
The Puja Process
One should wake up in the brahma muhurta, or one and a half hours before the sunrise, which is considered to be an extremely auspicious time to complete one’s ablutions. After cleansing oneself and cleanse the altar where the puja is going to be held. Throw away the stale flowers and prepare the altar with fresh flowers .chant the narasimha mantra, which is as follows-
namas te narasiṁhāya prahlādāhlāda
dāyinehiraṇyakaśipor vakṣaḥśilā ṭaṅka nakhālaye
Take sankalpa during the Madhyanna or the mid day and perform the puja of Lord Narasimha during the sanhyakala, or evening before the sunset. One should do the puja before sunset as it is believed that Lord Narasimha had appeared during sunset while Chaturdashu was still there. Pray for his protection by uttering the Narasimha Kavacha Stotra which was spoken by Prahlada Maharaja and which finds mention in Brahmanda Purana. Prepare fruits, sweets and delicacies and offer them as naivedyam or offering to the Lord Narasimha Deva. It is advisable to be alert and stay awake the whole night and perform the Visarjan Puja the very next morning. Once the Visarjana Puja is completed then only the fast should be broken by pertaking Prasad from the Naivedyam offered at the lotus feet of Lord Narasimha Deva. One should also do charity to the brahmanas on this auspicious day.
It is believed that the puja of Lord Narasimha Deva reaps rich dividends for the devotees and they receive eternal protection from him.