Monthly Archives: April 2012

Akshaya Tritiya

Akshaya Tritiya also referred as Akha Teej is considered the most auspicious days of all by Hindus in India. The pious day of Akshay Trithiya falls on the third day (Tithi) of Bright phase of moon (Shukla Paksha) of Hindu month of Vaishakha. The name Akshay Trithiya describes the special planetary positions of Moon, Sun and Jupiter, as on this day all three unanimously come under Mrigshira Nakshatra. Moon and Sun both glow at their brightest level, indicating the auspiciousness of the day.
The day of Akshay Trithiya is considered highly auspicious by Hindus as the day is thought to bring good fortune and prosperity for every one. The literal meaning of Akshay in Sanskrit means imperishable or “never diminishing” and thus the day is believed to be the best time for beginning new ventures or investing money in precious metals and land.

Legend of Akshaya Tritiya

Several legends have been associated with the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya. According to Hindu mythology, the day of Akshaya Tritiya marks the commencement of ‘Satya Yug’ or ‘Golden Age’. Another story suggests that on Akshaya Tritiya, both Veda Vyasa and Lord Ganesha started writing the epic ‘Mahabharata’. Mother Ganges, the sacred river imagined as the holy Goddess also descended on earth on the day of Akshaya Tritiya. According to the scriptures of Mahabharata, Lord Krishna presented the Pandavas with an ‘Akshaya Patra’, a container that supplies unlimited food on this propitious occasion. Krishna’s poor friend Sudama received his boon on Akshaya Tritiya. It is also considered the birth date of Lord Parashurama who happens to be one of the ten ‘Avatars’ of Lord Vishnu.

Celebrations and Rituals of Akshaya Tritiya

Akshaya Tritiya is considered one of the most momentous days in Hindu calendar. The day is chosen as the best time to perform religious activities like ‘Yagya’ and ‘Puja’. People start new ventures and businesses on the day of Akshaya Tritiya hoping that this will bring in sheer fortune and opulence to their lives. Hindus take sacred dip in the river Ganges and worship Devi Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu. In Bengal, shop owners perform Puja on Akshaya Tritiya and start their new account book or ‘Haal Khata’ as they call it. All their customers are invited to the shop on this day and are treated with sweetmeats. People purchase Gold coins, lands and jewelry on Akshaya Tritiya to retain fortune and wealth forever.

Significance of Akshaya Tritiya

Akshaya Tritiya is the festival that initiates good luck and prosperity. Every year, the sacred day sparks rays of new hope in Hindus from all over India and thus the day is celebrated by people irrespective of caste, creed and cultural diversities. The word Akshaya means that which never diminishes – hence beginnings made or valuables bought on this day are considered certain to bring luck and success

Tamil New Year

The Tamil New Year/Puthandu  also known as “Varusha Pirappu” is celebrated in Chitterai, which is the first month of Tamil calendar(April 12th 2012) and the name of the year is “Nandana”.

The panchangam (new almanac) is published at this time and begins from  this day in April. The important ritual on this day is reading of new almanac. (Puthu Panchangam vaasiththal).Traditionally, this is done by the family pundit.

This festival is celebrated with traditional gaiety and enthusiasm all over Tamil Nadu. On the New Year the court yard of houses are decorated with colourful Kolam. Special pujas will be held in temples on the New Year. Visiting temples and worshipping deities are the most important features of the New Year celebration. Panchaga Padanam will be held in the Temples. According to the Hindu mythology, it is believed that on this day the Creation of the world was started by Lord Brahma.

Puthandu/ Tamil New Year is also a day of feasting. There will be a traditional feast with vadai, paayasam and poli.  April is the season for raw mangoes and neem flowers.  A special dish called”Mango pachchadi “is served for lunch. It is made of new jaggery, raw mango pieces and neem flowers and new tamarind. The neem, bitter in taste, and jaggery sweet and delicious, signify the two conflicting aspects of human life – joy and sorrow, success and failure, ecstasy and agony. The scientific fact is that neem flowers and raw mangoes cleanse the body of toxins. Puthandu also marks the beginning of the agricultural season in the region and the first tilling of land is done on this day.

Astronomical significance of the Tamil New Year

It is a well known fact that the Earth travels in an elliptical orbit around the Sun through 360 degrees and the time period for one such travel around the Sun is called a YEAR. The circumference of the eliptical path traced by the Earth having the Sun as the central point – is divided into twelve arcs, and the angular segments traced by each arc measuring 30 degress is called a House (Veedu in Tamil or Rasi in Sanskrit). The period of traversal of the Sun through each Veedu or Raasi is known as a Month.  The names of these houses are as follows:

Meda Veedu
Idapa Veedu
Mithuna Veedu
Kataka Veedu
Singa Veedu
Kanni Veedu
Thula Veedu
Virutchika Veedu
Thanu Veedu
Makara Veedu
Kumba Veedu and Meena Veedu

The time the Sun enters the “Meda or Mesha Veedu” or Raasi was traditionally taken as the starting point of the New Year by the Tamils.

Malayalam New Year 2012 (Vishu)

In India, the Tamil New Year and Vishu are celebrated on the same day respectively in the Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. In some parts of Southern Tamil Nadu, it is also called Chithrai Vishu. Vishu is not traditionally celebrated as New Year in the Malayalam Calendar. In the Malayalam Calendar, the New Year starts on the first day of Chingam. However people in the Malabar area consider Vishu as the astrological New Year.

Vishu is celebrated with much fanfare and vigour in all parts of Kerala. The most important event in Vishu is the Vishukkani. Vishukkani means sighting the most auspicious things at dawn on the Vishu day for luck throughout the year. Lord Krishna’s idol is decorated and new clothes, coins, gold ornaments, silver, fruits, vegetables, dhaanyam (cereals), konna flower, coconut, mirror, kumkum, Nilavilakku etc are placed in the puja room and people wake up to this sight on Vishu and seek the blessings of God.

Another famous ritual on Vishu is the Vishukkaineetam. Vishukkaineetam means gifting money  by elders to the members of the household.

Chithirai Festival in Madurai

The two week long Chithirai Festival is one of the biggest celebrations in Madurai. It re-enacts the wedding of Lord Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva) and Goddess Meenakshi (Lord Vishnu’s sister).

Every year in the month of Chithrai, in the temple city of Madurai, the Chithrai Thiruvizha is celebrated. Thousands of devotees gather at Meenakshi Temple of Madurai to offer puja to their worshipping Goddess Chithirai Festival is a great opportunity to experience  life in Madurai. It attracts crowds of people, who flock to Madurai from surrounding areas. The festival is celebrated with a great deal of excitement and hype -with the enthusiasm of a real wedding. A huge exhibition is also held, called Chithrai Porutkaatchi.