This year, the Chaturmas season commences on Wednesday 21st July 2010.
The 4 month period between Ashad Sud Ekadashi (usually falls around July) and Kartik Sud Ekadashi (October / November) is referred to as the Chaturmas, literally, 4 months.
This year, the Chaturmas season commences on Wednesday 21st July and concludes on Sunday 17th November 2010.
During this time, all disciples must take extra vows such as fasting, scripture recitals, meditation and other religious observances as described by Lord Swaminarayan in the Shikshapatri, slok 76, slok 77 and slok 78.
The point of these observances is that one performs them routinely each day. At the beginning of the Chaturmas, you make a promise to the Lord that you will perform these additional vows to please Him, throughout the entire Chaturmas. Therefore, you must choose the vows that you will be able to perform. It is better to do a little, every day, rather than a lot on some days and nothing on another; and it is better not to make a promise to God and then break it.
However, Jeevanpran Swamibapa insisted that the vows must include three elements; penances (tap), such as oopvas, dhana-pana, ek tana; scripture recital; and meditation.
Dhana pana - Oopvas on one day and one meal on the next day for 15 days, 1 month, or entire Chaturmas
Ek tana - One meal a day for 15 days, 1 month, or entire Chaturmas
Oopvas - On ekadashi days for the entire Chaturmas
Dhyan - Perform at least 5 minutes dhyan every day during Chaturmas
Scriptual Recital - Choose a scripture, Shikshapatri, Swaminarayan Gadi Granth, Bapashree ni Vato, Vachnamrut, etc and complete the reading of it during Chaturmas
Kirtans - Learn a number of kirtans during Chaturmas
Extra Maara - Perform extra maala during your pooja for the duration of Chaturmas
Extra Pradikshina - Perform extra pradikshina during your pooja for the duration of Chaturmas
To help you present your vows to the Lord, you can download a Chaturmas Niyams Form by clicking on the link at the top of the page.