Lord Narasimha - the 4th incarnation of Lord Vishnu appeared during the sunset on Chaturdashi of Vaisakha Shukla Paksha. So this day is observed as Narasimha Jayanti. Lord Narasimha is the most fierce incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He had come down to earth in this avatar to destroy the evil and bring in the good by destructing Demon Hiranyakashyap.
Lord Vishnu on this day appeared as Narasimha, in the form of half lion and half man, and killed demon Hiranyakashyap. In 2021 Narasimha Jayanti falls on a Tuesday, 25 May.Narasimha Jayanti Madhyahna Sankalp Time - 10:56 AM to 01:41 PM
On Narasimha Jayanti people observa a fast. The guidelines to observing the fast are similar to Ekadashi fasting. Before the day, devotees eat only one meal that should not include any kind of grains and cereals. After the day of Jayanti is over, Parana is done the next day at the appropriate time.
During Madhyahna, the Hindu afternoon period, on Narasimha Jayanti day, before sunset, devotees take Sankalp and perform Lord Narasimha Puja during Sanyakalp. As it is believed that Lord Narasimha appeared during sunset while Chaturdashi was prevailing, it is best to keep night vigil. The Visarjan Puja is performed the next morning and so is the fast break after the puja and dana is given to the Brahmin.
Narasimha Jayanti Parana is done the next day when Chaturdashi Tithi is over after sunrise. The fast is broken any time after sunrise after finishing Jayanti rituals if Chaturdashi Tithi gets over before sunrise. If Chaturthi doesn’t get over till late and prevails beyond three-fourth of Dinamana which is the window between sunrise and sunset, then the fast is to be broken during the first half of Dinamana.
The most fearsome of them all the avatars was Narasimha Avatar of Vishnu. After killing Hiranyaksha by assuming the form of Varaha, Vishnu assumed the avatar Narasimha to kill Hiranyaksha’s brother, Hiranyakashyap who was also the father of Prahlad. Prahlad was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu.
Hiranyakashyap was determined to avenge his brother’s death. He went on an austere penance and impressed Brahma. Brahma emerged and offered him a boon. Without thinking twice, Hiranyakshipu asked Brahma for immortality. Brahma was put on a spot and he said that he can’t really give him a boon of immortality but can surely bind his death with conditions.
Hiranyakashyap thus asked Brahma to bless him with certain conditions which are listed under:
Brahma thus blessed him and vanished. Hiranyakshipu believed that he had won over death.
Worshipping the enemy of Daitya-Kul, i.e Vishnu made Prahlad a traitor and thus he invited his death. Holika, his sister, and Prahlad’s aunt were given a boon by Shiva. The boon let Holika be unaffected by fire(Agni). In order to kill little Prahlad, Holika took him on her lap and sat on a pyre. But things turned out quite unexpectedly and instead of burning Prahlad, the pyre burnt Holika alive and Prahlad remained untouched by the fire.
The killing of his sister enraged Hiranyakashyap and he kept getting more furious by the day. He had reached his threshold and after many failed attempts to kill Prahlad, He asked Prahlad to worship him instead of worshipping Vishnu. Prahlad refused to do so and instead told his father that he would only worship Vishnu, who was the most supreme being and was much above Hiranyakashyap. This infuriated him and he asked Prahlad that if Vishnu was the supreme power and was omnipresent, would he present in the pillar that was in front of him. Prahlad said that the Lord was present everywhere, even in you.
He took his mace and hit hard on the pillar to demolish it. Out emerged from there Lord Vishnu in the avatar of Narasimha which was half-lion, half-man. The lord advanced towards Hiranyakashyap, lifted him and placed him on his thighs, at the courtyard, and ripped his chest apart with his nails. He was thus killed by the Lord in order to protect Prahlad, at twilight which was neither day nor night.
Therefore, in killing Hiranyakashyap, the boon was not excluded and he was killed by not a human or an animal or a demi-god but by a half-human, half-animal, without any real weapon as the avatar used his nails and he was killed not on the ground or in the sky but placed on the thigh of the Lord.
The story of Lord Narasimha signifies the triumph of good over evil. Devotees who worship the deity by observing a fast on Narasimha Jayanti are believed to win over their enemies. Their days of misfortune are believed to come to an end forces keep at bay from their lives. Observing a fast on that day to please Lord Narasimha also promises protection from diseases, abundance, courage, prosperity, and victory.