(Vikas Verma): Yamuna Chhath or ‘Yamuna Jayanti’ is a Hindu festival which is devoted to Goddess Yamuna. The festival is observed with great pomp and fervor in the town of Mathura and Vrindavan. The festival of Yamuna Chhath commemorates the descent of Goddess Yamuna on Earth. Hence, it is also celebrated as the birth anniversary of Goddess Yamuna. It is observed on the ‘Sixth day of the Shukla Paksha during the month of ‘Chaitra.’
In the scriptures, Goddess Yamuna is the consort of Lord Krishna. Hence, she is highly revered in Braj. Hence, Yamuna Chhath is celebrated with immense fervor and enthusiasm in Vrindavan and Mathura. River Yamuna is considered to be a sacred river along with Ganga, Godavari, Brahmaputra and Saraswati. As per Scriptures, it is believed that Yamuna Ji descended on the Earth on the Sixth day of the Chaitra month. Since then this day is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Yamuna Ji. Goddess Yamuna is the consort of Lord Krishna and daughter of Surya Dev (Sun). Hence, Goddess Yamuna is highly revered by the people of Braj and Mathura and is celebrated with immense enthusiasm by the people of Vrindavan and Mathura.
On the auspicious day of Yamuna Chhath, devotees get up before dawn and take bath in the Yamuna River. It is believed that taking a dip in the Yamuna River can purify the soul and one can also attain eternal joy and love.
Special puja is offered to Goddess Yamuna on auspicious ‘muhurat’ according to the Vedic Panchang. As Goddess Yamuna is known to be the companion of Lord Krishna, the devotees also worship Lord Krishna. Special food offerings are prepared for the Goddess Yamuna. After the puja, food is donated
to the Brahmins, and the Prasad is distributed among friends and relatives. Devotees observe a strict fast on Yamuna Chhath. Devotees refrain from drinking or eating anything for the period of 24-hours. The fast is broken on the next day after the morning puja rituals.
Yamuna Ji, also known as Kalindi, along with the Ganga is the most holy and famous river of India. She begins her course high up in the Himalayas at Yamunotri and flows down the plains, specifically, to come to Vrindavan. It is often said that rivers are the lifelines of any civilization. This situation is a
perverted reflection arising from Yamuna being the lifeline of Lord Shri Krishna’s pastimes in the land of Braj.
We see that in all the pastimes of Lord Krishna, Yamuna ji is always there enhancing the mood and sweetness of the pastime. Krishna would take His cows for grazing the sweet juicy grasses that grew along the banks of the Yamuna. Yamuna would supply water to Krishna’s calves and cows. Yamuna’s
water was sweeter than the sweetest of all nectar, always at perfect temperature.Within these waters of Yamuna, He would have swimming and splashing and all different kinds of sportive games with the Gopas in Sakhya Rasa (mellow of friendly relationships).
Yamuna Ji also served as the playground for Nauka Vihar (playful boating pastimes of Shri Shri Radha and Krishna) and many other Madhurya Rasa (mellow of conjugal love) pastimes for Krishna and the Gopis in the enchanting moonlit nights of Vrindavan, when Krishna requested Sri Radhika to descend with Him to Earth, She replied, “I do not feel happiness anywhere where river Yamuna, the forests of Vrindavan and Goverdhan are not there. So, I won’t come down there without them.” So Yamuna is descending from the spiritual world, and she is coming to this world through Yamunotri and flowing to meet mother Ganga at Prayag.
Yamuna Ji is actually an expansion of Vishakha Ji ~
vizaakhorasi yaa vishnor yasyaam vishnur-jalaatamani
nityam nimajjati prItyaataam shaureem yamunaam stumaha
Lord Vishnu daily immerses Himself and plays with great pleasure and affection in the water of the
Yamuna, the liquid form of Vishakhadevi. I offer prayers to Yamunadevi, the daughter of the sun god
Commentary of Sri Baladeva Vidyabhushan:
Vishakha yamuna-vapur iti vichaarena
yamuna-stutyaa tat stutir iti vidybhushanah
Sri Vishakha is considered as the vapu (embodiment) of Yamuna. Therefore, by offering prayers to Yamuna one is also offering prayers to Vishakha dev
In fact, Vishaka Devi is an expansion of Sri Radhika Herself. To enhance the pleasure of Krishna’s pastimes, Sri Radhika thus expands Herself as river Yamuna. Yamunaji appeared in this world as the daughter of Surya, and the sister of Yamaraja. And Yamaraja being very affectionate to his sister does
not disturb any person who is blessed by Yamuna Devi as stated by Rupa Goswami in Yamunashtakam.
Jiva Goswami quotes from the Shastras that how Ganges is the charanamrit of the Lord. But if we multiply the power of purification of bathing in the Ganges by hundred times, that is the effect of bathing in Yamuna. The Yamuna is eternally participating in the Lord’s lila. The Yamuna is the eternal charanamrit of Shri Shri Radha Krishna, the Gopas and the Gopis. And when we bathe in Yamuna, we are bathing in that nectar. And most of all it is Yamuna Ji’s love in the form of that water. Therefore, bathing in Yamuna is one of the most important aspects of worshiping the holy land of Vrindavan.