Narasimha Jayanti is celebrated on 13th May, 2014, this year.
Observed every year on Vaishaka Shukla Chaturdashi, of the Hindu calendar, it invokes the blessings of Lord Vishnu, who had appeared in his fourth avatar as Lord Narasimha. One of the Dashavatar (ten avatars), the Lord had come to the rescue of his devotees when they sought deliverance from evil.
On this day devotees undertake to observe fast with observance of fasting similar to that done on Ekadashi. Offerings are made at temples and rituals are performed even at home, for obtaining the blessings of Lord Vishnu. Grains and Cereals are forbidden for the day and on the day prior to Narasimha Jayanti, only a single meal is partaken.
On the day itself, the whole time is spent in fasting and chanting of mantras with special Pujas peformed in the evening time with some devout people even staying awake or keep vigil throughout the night.
ॐ उग्रं वीरं महाविष्णुं ज्वलन्तं सर्वतोमुखम् I
नृसिंहं भीषणं भद्रं मृत्यु मृत्युं नमाम्यहम् II
ॐ नृम नृम नृम नर सिंहाय नमः ।
This Mantra (hymn) is mainly chanted to invoke the Lord Narasimha and seek his divine blessings to rid one of all evils.
The fast is broken next day after performing the Visarjan Puja and feeding a Brahmin.
It is believed that the event, if further coinciding with Swati the constellation of the Hindu calendar and falling on a Saturday, would have heightened benefits of the good effects.
Going by the Vishnu Puran, there was a sage named Kashyap who had two sons Harinyaksha and Hiranyakashupu. Initially Harinyaksha was killed by Lord Vishnu when he oppressed the human race with his evil misdeeds.
Enraged, Hiranyakashupu in order to take revenge of his brother’s death, did austere penances that pleased Lord Brahma. Granted a boon that gave him protection from death through mortals and gods in such a manner that he could defy death, the emboldened Hiranyakashupu continued with his atrocities on his subjects till it became unbearable.
In contrast his son Prahlad who was a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu was always found praising him and singing hymns devoted to him. Enraged by his son’s attitude, he did his best to dissuade him from uttering praises of the Lord, but when he persisted, he decided to kill him.
Once when Prahlad was praying to Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashupu undertook to kill him and as he was about to kill his son, Lord Narasimha appeared in the form of half man and half lion at twilight and keeping the evil demon king on his lap, sitting in the verandah, proceeded to kill him with his sharp nails. Thus keeping within the conditions of the boon that the demon king had asked of Brahma that had made him almost invincible, the Lord rid the world of his evil.
So too as belief goes, devotees who pray to Lord Narasimha on this day, seeking his divine intervention in their lives from all sorts of troubles, would by all means have their prayers answered very soon.