This festival celebrates the appearance of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. It is observed annually (in late February, early March) by people all over the world—especially in the area of Mayapur, India, the place where Mahaprabhu appeared in the year 1486.
Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the incarnation of Radha and Krishna in the mood of devotional love, to teach us that we can gain full enlightenment simply by chanting the holy names in Sanskrit:
Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare/
Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare
Those who witnessed Mahaprabhu’s pastimes saw Him dance and chant with ecstatic love for Radha and Krishna, the likes of which had never been seen before. He encouraged everyone to follow this same process. He taught that anyone—regardless of background or spiritual qualification—could develop their innate love of the Divine and experience great spiritual pleasure by chanting the Hare Krishna mantra.
Gaura Purnima means “golden full moon,” signifying that:
1) Lord Chaitanya was “born” during a full moon, and
2) The Lord blesses everyone with the soothing, moonlike rays of His sublime teachings.
His followers generally observe this festival by fasting and chanting the holy names all day. At moonrise, a vegetarian feast is offered to the Lord and then enjoyed by all.