Basant Panchami

Basant Panchami also known as Vasant Panchami marks the beginning of spring season. It falls on the fifth day of Maagh (the Indian month). In Hindi language the word ‘Basant/Vasant’ means spring and ‘Panchami’ means the fifth day.

During Basant Panchami the description of ‘ten thousand golden daffodils’ by William Wordsworth will strike a chord in ones memory and one will be enthralled by this visual treat of nature that surrounds the whole country. The fields are loaded with yellow mustard and the whole country is delightfully decorated in different shades of yellow flowers and ribbons.

Basant Panchami is also known as the birthday of Goddess Saraswati, Lord Brahma’s wife. According to the Hindu mythology Goddess Saraswati symbolizes constant flow of knowledge, wisdom and learning. Therefore, the festival is especially celebrated in all institutions of learning. Students observe the blessings from Maa Saraswati on this day.

Basant Panchami Celebrations
This festival of spring is celebrated with great fervour and joy amongst Hindus. Basant Panchami tradition includes wearing traditional yellow colour clothes, cooking sweet saffron rice and visiting friends and relatives to distribute sweets and gifts.
You will see the pure, bright and sunny yellow colour dominating the whole country on this particular day. The celebrations also comprise an elaborate puja of Goddess Saraswati who is worshipped with full dedication.
People also feed Brahmans on Vasant Panchami believing that their ancestors are accepting the food. The occasion is also celebrated by flying kites and merrymaking.

Thaipusam

Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated mostly by the Tamil community on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai (January/February). It is mainly observed in countries where there is a significant presence of Tamil community such as India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Thailand and Myanmar

IMG_5976

The word Thaipusam is a combination of the name of the month, Thai, and the name of a star, Pusam. This particular star is at its highest point during the festival. The festival commemorates the occasion when Parvati gave Murugan a Vel “spear” so he could vanquish the evil demon Soorapadman. Thaipusam is a celebration of the victory of good over evil.

Koodaravalli

Andal is the only woman among the Azhwars. Her devotion to Lord Ranganathar gave rise to many pasurams. This bhakthi endeared her to the Lord, who accepted her as his bride.

 

andal

Sri Andal sang the Thiruppavai containing 30 verses – one verse for each day of Margazhi (December – January) – in praise of Lord Narayana. On the 27th day, while singing “Koodaarai vellum seer Govinda…”, the Lord blessed her with the boon of marriage. This day every year is celebrated at Koodaravalli to commemorate this event.
In the second pasuram, “Vaiyathu vaazhvirgal”, Andal details the procedures involved in observing the fast during the month. Sri Andal exhorts us to chant the name of the Lord for the whole day, avoid ghee, milk, have a bath early in the morning (brahmamuhurtham), avoid any adornments like kohl or flowers, avoid all negative emotions and words, do acts of charity, and do one’s duties while singing praises of the Lord.
Sri Andal and her friends complete their fast on the 27th day, and prepare to enjoy themselves for the last three days of the month.
The 27th pasuram, “koodarai vellum” signifies the conclusion of the fast.
koodaarai vellum seer gOvindhaa undhannai(p)
paadi(p) paRai kondu yaam peRum sammaanam
naadu pugazhum parisinaal nanRaaga(ch)
choodagamE thOL vaLaiyE thOdE sevip poovE
paadagamE enRanaiya palagalanum yaam aNivOm
aadai uduppOm adhan pinnE paaR chORu
mooda ney peydhu muzhangai vazhi vaara(k)
koodi irundhu kuLirndhElOr embaavaay
The friends wear good clothes and ornaments and visit the temple, where they continue to sing praises of Lord Narayana. Akkaravadisal soaked in ghee and milk is offered to the Lord and shared amongst them.
Today, devotees go to the temple, offer Ghee filled Akaravadisal to Lord Govinda and end their fast on this day. Many perform Annadanam on this day

How Kali became the Neivedyam for Thiruvadirai?

Tomorrow is the festival of Thiruvadirai or Arudra Darshinam.

Did you know How the Sweet offering of Kali became the neivedyam for Lord Shiva??

kali

 

A devotee called Sendanar had the habit of eating only whatever was left of the food offered to the Lord and then distributed among other devotees. On Thiruvadirai day in a Marghazhi, he could offer to the Almighty only some pittu and kali. With much regret that he could get nothing better, he offered these to the Lord. As he stood a little later in Nataraja’s sanctorum, the Lord effected a shower of pittu and kali on Sendanar, in recognition of his deep devotion. Since the day of that miracle, kali is the special offering to Lord Nataraja on Marghazhi Thiruvadirai.

Avani Avittam

Avani Avittam is an important ritual associated with the Brahmin community in the world. The day is of great significance to Rig, Yajur, Sama Vedic Brahmins. On the next day, Gayatri Japa Sankalmpam is observed. In other parts of South India, the observance is known as Upakarma.

On the day of Avani Avittam, the sacred thread worn is changed and it is usually a community observance and takes place on the banks of a pond or river. Avani is the name of the Tamil month and Avittam is one of the 27 nakshatras or stars. On this day, a Mahasankalpam or a vow is taken for atonement of all our sins in the past year. The Brahmins take a holy dip and wear a new holy thread called Yajnopavit or Janeyu.

avani avittam

The first step is a ‘prayashchita’ A prayer to atone the sins. It says, “For the removal of all my sins and thereby to secure a divine blessing and for qualifing myself to perform the essential duties of Brahmanas as prescribed in the vedas and smritis and adopted by the really good in their conduct I put on this Yagnopavita”.

When the thread is worn another mantra is recited which means -”I put on the sacred thread which is highly pure, is inseparable from God, is capable of prolonging life and is the foremost in the accomplishment of a Brahmana. May such pure Yagnopavita bring strength and dignity.

While removing the old thread, the mantra means -”I throw away the broken dirty old thread, may the new one bring on long life and Brahmana’s brilliance.

Avani Avittam Significance

Upakarmam means the beginning. On this day the Yajurvedis begin to read Yajur Veda for next six months. The day is auspicious because as per Indian mythology Lord Vishnu was incarnated as Lord Hayagriva,the lord of knowledge, the one who restored the Vedas to Brahma.

Varalakshmi Pooja

 “Padmaasane Padmakare sarva lokaika poojithe Narayana priyadevi supreethaa bhava sarvada”

Today is Varalakshmi Pooja – The worship of Goddess lakshmi

4 main

 

The Friday before the Full Moon, or Pournami day, of Tamil Month Aadi is chosen to perform Varalakshmi Puja. The corresponding month in the Kannada, Marathi and Telugu Calendar is the Shravan month. Worshipping Goddess Lakshmi on Varalakshmi Vrata day is equivalent to worshipping Ashtalaksmi – the eight goddesses of Wealth, Earth, Learning, Love, Fame, Peace, Pleasure, and Strength. The importance of Varalakshmi Puja is mentioned in the Skanda Purana. It is believed that importance of Varalakshmi Puja was narrated to Goddess Parvati by Lord Shiva. Goddess Parvati wanted to know about a Vrata that is highly beneficial to a woman, which will help her lead a happy and prosperous life on earth. Lord Shiva then mentioned about the Varamahalakshmi Vratam

 

3    1   2

Draupadi’s Akshaya Patram

 Another legend associated with Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) is set in the epic of the Mahabharata. Mahabharata is the story of the epic battle between the Pandava princes, who stand for Good and their cousins, the Kauravas, who stand for Evil. The five princes were robbed of their royal inheritance which they gambled and lost in an unfair game of something very like the modern chess.

When the Pandava princes were exiled into the forest along with their young bride and their aging mother, they could not find enough food to feed themselves, as they were unaccustomed to living off the forest. Lord Krishna, taking pity on their sorry plight, presented Draupadi, who was wife to all the Pandavas, with a magical bowl that would always stay full.

draupadi-akshay-new
This magical bowl carrying an unlimited quantity of food was known as the Akshaya Patram and it is believed that Krishna presented this gift on a Tritiya day. Like the food in the Akshaya Patram, it is believed that all investments made on this day will have an unlimited increase in value.

It was also on an Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) day that the Pandava princes unearthed weapons that would guarantee their victory in battle with the Kauravas.

Adi Shankaracharya and Kanakadhara Stotram

Adi Shankaracharya and Kanakadhara Stotram

Shankara-Kanakadhara


Another legend which people relate to Akshaya Tritiya is about the Kanakadhaara Stotram. Once Adi Shankaracharya went to a lhouse for alms. There was a poor lady all alone in the house and with no food in the house to be given to him in alms. She frantically searched the house and found a Gooseberry(Amla/Nellika). and she gave it to him. Adi Shankaracharya was very pleased at the ladys willingness to donate the only piece of food she had. Adi Shankaracharya immediately recited the KanakaDhara Stotram and invoked Devi Mahalakshmi. Devi Mahalakshmi was pleased and she showered the lady’s house with Golden Gooseberries. This incident is supposed to have happened on Akshaya Tritiya Day.

It is thus said that little acts of charity/donation done on this day with bring in manifold returns.

Akshaya Tritiya

Akshaya Tritiya which falls on May 13th is one such momentous occasion, which is considered one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu Calendar. It is believed, any meaningful activity started on this day would be fruitful.

Legends on Akshaya Tritiya

Lord Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu, the God who carries out the work of sustaining the universe, figures prominently in most stories about the origin of Akshaya Tritiya. Of these, the most famous one is, perhaps, that of Kuchela, also known as Sudama, and Krishna.

Kuchela was a poor Brahmin and a childhood friend of Krishna. A time came when he was in dire straits and could not earn enough for his family. So he decided to go and meet his former school mate who was now king of Dwaraka and ask for some financial help to tide him over. Before setting out on his journey, he packed a handful of poha or aval (beaten rice) as a humble gift for his friend, the king.

When he reached the palace, Kuchela was mesmerized by all the wondrous things that he saw and felt ashamed to offer his gift that he felt was definitely unfit for a king. Krishna was very happy to see his childhood friend. He welcomed Kuchela with open arms and treated him like a god, following the age-old Indian dictum that ‘The guest is god’. He happened to see the packet of beaten rice that Kuchela was hiding and playfully grabbed it, opened it and began to eat the poha with obvious enjoyment. When he saw this, Kuchela was so overcome with emotion that he forgot why he came to see Krishna.

kuchela-and-krishna
After spending some joyous days with Krishna at the palace, Kuchela began his long walk back home. During the journey, he suddenly remembered that he had failed in his mission and walked home with a heavy heart wondering how to console his waiting wife and children. On reaching his village, Kuchela found a palace where his hut stood, and inside the palace, his wife and children clothed in the finest of clothes. Food fit for royalty was also laid out on the dining table.

Kuchela realized that this was a miracle performed by the divine Krishna, who had many fantastic powers that he wielded to help each and every person who approached him with a problem of any sort. From that day on, the day that Kuchela met Sri Krishna was observed as Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) day.

Kuchela’s humble gift and the prosperity that came his way as a reward for the gift of love that he offered from the midst of his poverty stands as a true symbol of Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej)– the prosperity that comes to one through sharing and giving

Ram Navami

The festival of Ram Navami is celebrated as the birthday of the Hindu God Rama, who is believed to be one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. According to the Hindu calendar, it falls on the ninth day of the Chaitra month, which is the spring season. Though Rama Navami is a major festival which celebrates birth of Lord Rama, it is widely celebrated by the worshippers of Shiva, too.


Legend:


The Ramayana is a story of Lord Rama, written by the sage Valmiki in the 4th century B.C.  As the legend goes, Lord Rama, eldest son of King Dashratha, was banished to the forest for 14 long years. He was dethroned due to his stepmother’s plans who wanted to see her son Bharata ascend the throne in place of the elder brother Rama. Rama willingly gave away the throne and his wife Sita and brother Lakshman followed Rama to the forest, leaving the throne for Bharata.

In these 14 years of banishment, Rama waged and won a war against the evil Ravana, the King of Lanka, who had kidnapped his wife Sita. He was aided by a band of monkeys, the most loyal of whom is worshipped today as Lord Hanuman. Rama ascended the Ayodhya throne after the triumph over Ravana. Even as he started ruling, he was forced to banish his wife from the kingdom, following a villager’s adverse comment about her association with Ravana. The legend is cited to prove how Lord Rama always lived a life of righteousness (dharma). He was born to destroy the evil and protect the weak. As he embodies the highest ideals of man, he is called the Maryada Pushottam, which means the perfect and best man, someone who follows the path of righteousness against all odds.

Rama is one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, and one of the two most popular, along with Krishna. Consequently, Rama Navami is widely celebrated, though not on the scale of festivals like Diwali or Dussehra.

According to legend, Rama was born at noon. Rama is the epitome of perfection, the uttama purusha, fulfilling all his duties towards both family and subjects.

It is believed that listening to the story of Rama cleanses the soul. Meditating on the noble Rama and chanting his name is believed to ease the pains of life and lead one to moksha, or liberation. It is also common practice to chant the name of Rama while rocking babies to sleep.

Significance:


Though Rama Navami is a major festival for Vaishnavites, it is widely celebrated by worshippers of Shiva, too. It is considered auspicious to undertake a fast on the day in the name of Rama. The more devout fast for nine days, from Ugadi to Rama Navami. The objective of the fast is not to ask for special favours of the deity but to seek perfection as a human being. Devotees perform elaborate pujas and chant the name of Rama. Temples of Rama have special services and bhajan sessions through the day.

One significant and popular element of the celebration is the Ramayana parayana, a discourse on the Ramayana, by a pundit or a professional story-teller. It usually lasts nine days, beginning on Ugadi and ending on Rama Navami. A skilled story-teller who can liven up the event by weaving in contemporary events attracts massive crowds.

Since Rama is also one of the most sung-about deities in Indian classical music and literature, week-long (and sometimes, month-long) musical programmes are organised.

Sacred places associated with Rama, like Ayodhya, Ujjain and Rameshwaram, draw tens of thousands of devotees. In Rameshwaram, thousands take a ritual bath in the sea before worshipping at the Ramanathaswamy temple.

Many places in North India host fairs in connection with the festival, culminating in spectacular fireworks on Rama Navami.

At some places they also perform Sita Rama Kalyanam (marriage of Lord SriRama and Goddess Sita). One such place where Sita Rama Kalyanam is performed on a grand scale on this day is at Bhadrachalam in Andhra Pradeshon the banks of river Godavari. It is also a tradition in some areas where people offer sweet drink (water mixedwith jaggery, cloves, pepper and lemon juice) called Panakam and Moong Dal(soaked) called Kosambari as Naivedya to Lord Sri Rama and distribute the same to the devotees at temples.