Balarama is the elder brother of Lord Krishna. He is also known as Balabhadra Baladeva or Halayudha and finds mention in Mahabharata and several other Hindu mythological scriptures too.
He is considered to be the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu and an avatar of Adisesha, the serpent on whom Lord Vishnu rests. Balarama Jayanti is thus, the appearance day of the great Balarama on this earth.
Balaram finds mention in the Jain scriptures too, where he is known as Baladeva. His appearance day is considered to be the Krishna paksha shashthi of the Bhdrapada month according to the traditional Hindu calendar.
As per the Gregorian calendar, this day is observed in August, full moon day. In 2019 Balarama Jayanti will be observed on the 21rd of August, Wednesday.
Legend of Balarama
Balarama was born to Vasudeva and was the 7th child of Vasudeva and Devaki. Lord Vishnu impregnated Devaki with a white and a black strand of hair. Krishna was thus born dark complexioned and Balarama was fair. To ensure that both of them were born safe, Lord Vishnu had transferred the essence of these two to Rohini’s womb too, who was desirous of a child. Balarama’s early childhood was spent as a cow herd along with his brother Krishna. While growing up, he killed the demon Dhenuka, who had the manifestation of a donkey and who was sent by Kansa, the evil king and Pralamba and also the wrestlers sent by the king.
Balarama was the instructor for both the Pandavas as well as the Kauravas. This is the reason why he could never fight for any team and was deeply saddened to see numerous people being killed in the war. He was always someone who did not bow down to the pressure of choosing his sides. The Bhagwata Purana opines that seeing the destructive battle of the Mahabharata and following the disappearance of Lord Krishna, Balarama sat down for a deep meditation and a large white snake came out of his mouth; and that is how Balarama left this world.
Appearance of Balarama
Balarama has been depicted as fair skinned with weapons such as the plough and the gada or the mace. He is seen mostly in blue with a forest flowered garland around his neck. He wears his hair tied at the top of his head and wears earrings, bracelets etc and is deeply revered for his strength.
Rituals of Balarama Jayanti
Devotees should wake up early in the morning, have a cleansing bath and decorate the place of puja with various flowers etc and also Lord Krishna idol.
In various temples, housing the deities of Krishna and Balarama will keep a fast for this auspicious day till noon. The idols are also cleaned and given a bath with the Panchamitra. Various kinds of Bhogs are prepared on this auspicious day to be dedicated to the Gods and later to be distributed as prasads.
There are lot of Bhajan sankirtans done eulogizing the childhood stories of Lord Krishna and Balarama.
Various temples like the Baladevjew mandir, the Ananta Vasudeva mandir, the Baliyana mandir are all decorated on this day apart from all the other Krishna temples to celebrate this auspicious day.
The festival and observance of the Balarama Jayanti is also known as Baladeva Chatt, Hal Shasthi and the Lalahi Chatt. In the Braj regions this auspicious day is known as Baladeva Chatt, while in Gujarat this observance is known as the Randhan Chhath.