Monday, March 7, 2016

Maha Shivratri

Maha Shivratri or Maha Sivaratri or Shivratri or Sivaratri (Night of Shiva or "Great Night of Shiva") is a festival celebrated every year on the 13th night/14th day in the Krishna Paksha (waning moon) of the month of Phalguna, As per as  English calendar it occurs in the month of February-March . Shivratri festival is celebrated on a moonless night.
According to Hindu mythology, Shivratri or 'Shiva's Great Night' symbolizes the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Many however, believe, Shivratri is the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya - the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction


To mark the Shivratri festival, devotees wake up early and take a ritual bath, preferably in river Ganga. After wearing fresh new clothes devotees visit the nearest Shiva temple to give ritual bath to the Shiva Lingum with milk, honey, water and offerings of Bael (Bilva) leave to the Lord Shiva, all day fasting and an all night long vigil.Some of them chant the "Om Namoh Shivaya" mantra through the night.
Devotees strongly believe that ritual worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivratri absolves them of past sins and they are blessed with Moksha.
Worship of Lord Shiva continues all through the night on Shivratri Festival. Devotees stay awake all night and spend the night in Shiva temples in worship of Lord Shiva. Singing of hymns and verses in praise and devotion of Lord Shiva besides the intense chanting of Om Namah Shivay, the mantra that is said free people from all their sins, continue through the night on Shivratri.
Festival of MahaShivratri is the most important festival for the millions of devotees of Lord Shiva. The festival has been accorded lot of significance in Hindu mythology. It says that a devotee who performs sincere worship of Lord Shiva on the auspicious day of Shivratri is absolved of sins and attains moksha.
Hence the day is considered to be extremely auspicious by Shiva devotees and they celebrate it as MahaShivratri - the grand night of Shiva.
Significance of Shivratri for Women
Mahashivratri Festival is also considered to be an extremely significant festival by women. Married and unmarried women observe fast and perform Shiva Puja with sincerity to appease Goddess Parvati who is also regarded as ‘Gaura’ - one who bestows marital bliss and long and prosperous married life. Unmarried women also pray for a husband like Lord Shiva who is regarded as the ideal husband.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ahoi Ashtami

                                                Ahoi Ashtami
विक्रम सम्वत् 2072                                                                 03rd November 2015
कार्तिक कृष्ण अष्टमी

Ahoi Ashtami vrat is a fasting ritual performed by all Indian mothers for well being of their sons. This vrat falls on the eighth day of dark fortnight in Kartik month as per Hindu calendar. On this day mothers keep fast for the whole day and in the evening they offer sacred water to stars and pray for well being of their sons. Especially people from different parts of North India celebrate this vrat with a few variations,But broadly the following method is followed to observe the fasting and prayer.
All mothers wake up before sunrise, to have some refreshments and proceed to the temple to offer prayers for their children. The fast ends in the evening when the moon appears. Some families also break their fast once they see the stars in the sky.
The picture of Ahoi Mata is painted on a wall and a bowl of water is placed on it. Printed calendars, posters and pictures of Ahoi Mata are now available and can be used in place of the wall painting. An untwisted red colored thread is wrapped around the bowl of water and the edges are smeared with turmeric powder and placed on the left of the picture. Then the story of Ahoi Mata is read out by an elderly lady in the household. All the other women sit down to listen to the story.

The other essentials required for the prayer include grains that are placed in a plate and positioned in the center of the picture. The food offerings include puris, halwa, boiled channa and jowar, etc. Money offerings are also placed before the Mata's picture. Once the reading of the story is done, the sweets and money are distributed among children and elders of the family. Some families also have the tradition of making a garland with silver coins or keepsakes. They keep adding to this garland when a child is born in the family or a son gets married. Every year the Ahoi Mata picture is adorned with this garland and this tradition is passed on to future generations.
Legend :
Once upon a time, there lived a woman in a village. She had seven sons. One day she went to the forest to bring soil for the renovation and painting of her home (this was in the month of kartik just before the Hindu festival Deepawali). She started digging soil with axe nearby a den. Suddenly the woman's axe fell on the cub in the den and the cub died. The woman felt very sorry and sympathetic. She took soil from the forest and came back.
Few days later, all her seven sons died within a year. She was very sad. One day she narrated her woes to old ladies in her village . she was crying and told them that she didn't commit the sin and it happened unintentionally. She narrated to the ladies that once when she was digging for the soil in the forest her axe fell on the cub and thereafter within a year all my seven sons died. The ladies appreciated for confessing her guilt and then these ladies told that by confessing the sin she has atoned her half of the sin. They suggested the woman to pray the goddess Ashtami Bhagwati by sketching the face of the cub. By the grace of god your sin will cast off. The woman kept fast on the Kartik Krishna Ashtami and then onwards she started praying and keeping fast regularly. By the power of her prayer the God's grace showered and she could get back her all seven son. Since then, it became a ritual to worship the goddess Ahoi Ashtami Bhagwati religiously every year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Karwa Chauth

30th October 2015
विक्रम सम्वत् 2071     
कार्तिक कृष्ण तीज

Karwa Chauth fasting is done during Krishna Paksha Chaturthi in the Hindu month of Kartik and according to Amanta calendar followed in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Southern India it is Ashwin month which is current during Karwa Chauth. However, it is just the name of the month which differs and in all states Karwa Chauth is observed on the same day.

Karwa Chauth coincides with Sankashti Chaturthi a fasting day observed for Lord Ganesha. The fasting of Karwa Chauth and its rituals are observed by married women for the long life of their husband. Married women worship Lord Shiva and His family including Lord Ganesha and break the fast only after sighting and making the offerings to the moon. The fasting of Karwa Chauth is strict and observed without taking any food or even a drop of water after sunrise till the sighting of the moon in the night.

Karwa chauth is a day of fasting and prayer by married women for the long life of their Husband. The auspicious occasion is celebrated mostly in the northern part of India. Women celebrating Karwa Chauth fasting from sunrise to moon rise without eating a bit or drinking a drop. They do the most difficult fast for the long life and prosperity of their husbands.

On the festive day married women wear special clothes usually red or pink saree suit, adorn themselves with colorful bangles, bindi, jewelry, and vermilion on the forehead and apply Heena (Mehendi) on both hands. Then they worship Lord Shiv , Parvati,Ganesha and Kartikeya. They also worship a Kalash or Karwa (earthen pot made of clay) filled with sweets. In some communities women begin their fast by consuming food called ‘Sargi’ given by their mother-in-law to eat before sunrise. In the evening women receive a basket (Bayana) containing sweets, fruits and saree from mother in laws. Then women from neighbourhood assemble to worship Goddess Gauri and an elderly woman of family narrates the story of Karwa Chauth. After that, the rising of the moon is awaited and as it happens, women worship it and seethe moon and their husband through sieve. Then they receive a bit of food from their husband and end the day long fast.

Puja Process
The pooja preparations start a day in advance. Married women buy the shringar or the traditional adornments and the other pooja items the karwa, matthi, heena etc.

Early in the morning they prepare food and have it before sunrise. The morning passes by in other festive activities like decorating hand and feet with heena decorating the pooja thali and meeting friends and relatives. In evening a karwa chauth puja is held by neighboring women, the essentials of this gathering is a special mud pot, which is considered a symbol of Lord Ganesha, a metal urn filled with water, flowers, idols of Ambika Gauri Mata, Goddess Parwati and some fruits, mathi and food grains. A part of this is offered to the deities and the storyteller. They sit in a circle, and many such circles are made depending on the number of devotees attending the function as it is easy that the thalis are passed in a circle (fera) amongst themselves. Here is the puja song sung by women, while they exchange thalis seven times.

The Story of Karwa Chauth 

"A long long time ago, there lived a beautiful princess by the name of Veeravati. When she was of the marriageable age, Veeravati was married to a king. On the occasion of the first Karva Chauth after her marriage, she went to her parents’ house."

"After sunrise, she observed a strict fast. However, the queen was too delicate and couldn’t stand the rigours of fasting. By evening, Veeravati was too weak, and fainted. Now, the queen had seven brothers who loved her dearly. They couldn’t stand the plight of their sister and decided to end her fast by deceiving her. They made a fire at the nearby hill and asked their sister to see the glow. They assured her that it was the moonlight and since the moon had risen, she could break her fast."

"However, the moment the gullible queen ate her dinner, she received the news that her husband, the king, was dead. The queen was heartbroken and rushed to her husband’s palace. On the way, she met Lord Shiva and his consort, Goddess Parvati. Parvati informed her that the king had died because the queen had broken her fast by watching a false moon. However, when the queen asked her for forgiveness, the goddess granted her the boon that the king would be revived but would be ill."

"When the queen reached the palace, she found the king lying unconscious with hundreds of needles inserted in his body. Each day, the queen managed to remove one needle from the king’s body. Next year, on the day of Karva Chauth, only one needle remained embedded in the body of the unconscious king."

"The queen observed a strict fast that day and when she went to the market to buy the karva for the puja , her maid removed the remaining needle from the king’s body. The king regained consciousness, and mistook the maid for his queen. When the real queen returned to the palace, she was made to serve as a maid."

"However, Veeravati was true to her faith and religiously observed the Karva Chauth vrat . Once when the king was going to some other kingdom, he asked the real queen (now turned maid) if she wanted anything. The queen asked for a pair of identical dolls. The king obliged and the queen kept singing a song " Roli ki Goli ho gayi... Goli ki Roli ho gayi " (the queen has turned into a maid and the maid has turned into a queen)."

"On being asked by the king as to why did she keep repeating that song, Veeravati narrated the entire story. The king repented and restored the queen to her royal status. It was only the queen’s devotion and her faith that won her husband’s affection and the blessings of Goddess Parvati."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dhanteras Puja, Dhantrayodashi Puja

Dhanteras Puja, Dhantrayodashi Puja

8th November 2015 (Sunday)
Dhanteras Puja Muhurta = 17:06 to 18:50
Duration = 1 Hour 44 Mins
Pradosh Kaal = 16:43 to 19:35
Vrishabha Kaal = 17:06 to 18:50

Dhantrayodashi which is also known as Dhanteras is the first day of five days long Diwali festivities. On the day of Dhantrayodashi, Goddess Lakshmi came out of the ocean during the churning of the Milky Sea. Hence, Goddess Lakshmi, along with Lord Kubera who is the God of wealth, is worshipped on the auspicious day of Trayodashi. However, Lakshmi Puja on Amavasya after two days of Dhantrayodashi is considered more significant. 

Lakshmi Puja on Dhanteras or Dhantrayodashi should be done during Pradosh Kaal which starts after sunset and approximately lasts for 2 hours and 24 minutes. 

We don’t advise to choose Choghadiya Muhurat to perform Dhanteras Puja as those Muhurtas are good only for travelling. The best time for Lakshmi Puja on Dhanteras is during Pradosh Kaal when Sthir Lagna prevails. Sthir means fixed i.e. not moveable. If Dhanteras Puja is done during Sthir Lagna, Lakshmiji will stay in your home; hence this time is the best for Dhanteras Pujan. Vrishabha Lagna is considered as Sthir and mostly overlaps with Pradosh Kaal during Diwali festivity. 

We provide exact window for Dhanteras Puja. Our Muhurat times contain Pradosh Kaal and Sthir Lagna while Trayodashi is prevailing. We provide Muhurat based on location, hence you should select your city first before noting down Shubh Dhanteras Puja timings. 

Dhanteras Puja is also known as Dhantrayodashi. The day of Dhanteras is also observed as Dhanwantari Triodasi or Dhanvantri Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the God of Ayurveda. Yamadeep is another ritual on the same Trayodashi Tithi when the lamp for the God of death is lit outside home to ward off any untimely death of any family members. 

The festival of Dhanteras marks  the beginning of the five-day long Diwali celebrations all  over India.  The word Dhanteras is constituent of the terms 'dhan' which means  wealth and 'teras' which means thirteenth,  hence it is a festival  observed on the thirteenth lunar day of Krishna Paksha, of the Hindu  month of Kartik (October- November), which falls just two days  before Diwali, wherein people oblate to be blessed with prosperity  and good health.  Dhanteras is also known as 'Dhantrayodashi' and 'Dhanvantari Trayodashi'.

According to ancient legends, the celebration of Dhanteras is attributed to the story of the sixteen year old son of king Hima.  Predictions were made that he would die of a snake bite on the  fourth day of his marriage.

Four days hence his marriage, his newly wedded wife, being aware of this prediction laid out all her ornaments along with  coins made of precious metals of gold and silver in a heap at the entrance of her husband's sleeping chamber and furbished the  whole place with lamps.

Then, all night long she narrated stories and sang songs to keep her husband from falling asleep. It is believed, that when  Yama, the God of death, arrived under the guise of a snake, he found himself unable to enter the prince's chamber as he was  dazzled and blinded by the light of the lamps and jewellery, and so he climbed the heap of ornaments and coins and listened to  the melodious songs of the wife.

In the morning, he quietly went away sparing the life of the prince. In this manner, the young wife saved her husband from the  clasp of death itself. Hence, this day also came to be known as 'Yamadeepdaan'.

Another popular legend also associates itself with this festival. It believes in the appearance of Dhanvantari (physician of the  Gods and an incarnation of Vishnu), with a jar of elixir on the day of Dhanteras during the cosmic battle fought between the  gods and demons, who had churned the ocean for Amrita or nectar.

Dhanteras Celebration

The festival of Dhanteras is celebrated with great zeal and joy. On this festival, people worship the Goddess of wealth and  God of death, Lord Yama for receiving blessings in the form of good health and prosperity. People decorate their houses and  offices.

Colorful, traditional rangolis adorn the entrance of all such premises; this is done to welcome the goddess of wealth and  prosperity into our homes and work places. Small footprints are drawn out with rice flour and vermilion powder to indicate  the long-awaited arrival of Goddess Lakshmi.

Buying new utensils or coins made of precious metals such as gold or silver on Dhanteras has become very popular as it is  considered auspicious and considered to bring good luck.

Dhanteras Puja

Dhanteras is marked with the performance of 'Lakshmi Puja' in the evenings. People sing devotional songs in praise of  goddess Lakshmi. They light up tiny diyas to drive all evil spirits away. On the night of Dhanteras, people light the lamps for  entire length of the night. Traditional sweets are cooked and offered to the goddess.

Dhanteras is celebrated differently, in different parts of India. This is a very important festival for the mercantile community  of western India. In the state of Maharashtra, people follow the custom of lightly pounding dry coriander seeds with jaggery  and offering it as 'Naivedya'. In rural areas, farmers adorn and worship their cattle, as they act as their main source of income.  In south India, people consider cows as incarnations of goddess Lakshmi, and hence treat them with them particular  reverence.

Maharishi Valmiki Jayanti

27th October 2015
विक्रम सम्वत् 2071
अश्विन शुक्ल पूर्णिमा

Maharishi Valmiki Jayanti celebrates the birthday of famous poet Valmiki, Who is also known as Adi kavi or first poet as he discovered the first Sloka and the first Verse which set the base of Sanskrit poetry. It falls on the full moon day (Purnima) in the month of Ashwin.Valmiki Jayanti is celebrated with great enthusiasm. Maharishi Valmiki is worshipped and prayed on this day. Shobha yatras, meetings and distribution of free food is arranged in many places. Many devotees also take out processions in honor of Maharishi Valmiki, and offer prayers to his portrait.There are many Valmiki temples in India, Which are beautifully decorated with flowers and prayers are offered in them, number of incense being lighted fill the atmosphere with purity and happiness. Many devotees go to Lord Rama temples and recite verses from Ramayana in memory of Maharishi Valmiki.Maharishi Valmiki's Birthday is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm. It provides the people of Rajasthan a respite from the monotony of daily life. The festival is not all about fun and frolic. This festival also has a great religious significance as well. Valmiki holds a significant position in Hindu mythology. He is Pracheta's tenth baby. Moreover, he is believed to the author of Ramayana, the famous epic. This religious significance lends even more importance to the celebration of Maharishi Valmiki's birthday.

Story of Maharishi Valmiki
Maharishi Valmiki is the author of the original story of Lord Ramachandra, known as the Valmiki Ramayana. He lived during the Treta Yuga and through guidance from his spiritual master, he wrote the epic Ramayana prior to Lord Rama’s advent.

The Vedas say that the highest benediction in life is to have association with a saint, or a devotee of Krishna. In his early life Valmiki’s name was Ratnakara, and he took to robbing people for a living. Through good fortune, he once met Narada Rishi and tried to attack him. Narada chanted Lord Rama’s name and convinced Ratnakara to give up his life of thievery. Following Narada’s advice, the sage chanted the name of Rama and sat in meditation for many many years, during which time his body became covered by ants. Narada Rishi returned and uncovered the sage from the anthill, informed him that his meditation was successful, and bestowed on him the name Valmiki since he was born from an anthill. Valmiki learned the story of Lord Rama from Narada and was instructed to write the story in poetry form by Lord Brahma.

Valmiki was also present during Lord Ramachandra’s time on earth. He had a hermitage in the forest and was visited by Lord Rama, His wife Sita, and His brother Lakshmana during their fourteen year exile period. Lord Rama asked Valmiki if he knew a good place where they could set up camp. Valmiki in turn gave a beautiful description of a pure devotee of the Lord and told Rama to always dwell in the heart of a devotee. The account is described in detail in Tulsidas’s Ramacharitamanasa. Later on, Valmiki also provided shelter to Sita when she was abandoned by Lord Rama. Sita’s two sons, Lava and Kusha, were born at Valmiki’s hermitage, and the sage acted as their spiritual master during their childhood.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Vijayadashami : Dussehra

22nd October 2015
Vijayadashami : Dussehra 

Vijayadashami is celebrated as victory of Lord Rama over Demon Ravana and also triumph of Goddess Durga over the buffalo Demon Mahishasura. Vijayadashami is also known as Dussehra or Dasara. In Nepal Dasara is celebrated as Dashain.

vijayadashami also known as Dussehra is a festival celebrated by all Indians though it’s a Hindu festival. This occasion signifies as victory of Good over Evil and people celebrate to bring new things their life. It is celebrated on the tenth day of the bright fortnight Shukla Paksha of the Hindu autumn month of Ashvin and is the grand culmination of the 10-day annual Navaratri festival. Few significant Hindu mythological related short stories are mentioned below to bring out the importance of this festival.
Victory of Lord Sri Ramachandra over Demon Ravana
On this day in the Treta Yug, Sri Ram is 7th Avatar of Lord Vishnu, killed the great demon Ravana the Lankesh who had abducted Ram's wife Sita to his kingdom of Lanka. Sri Ram, along, with his brother Lakshman follower Hanuman, and an army of monkeys fought a great battle to rescue his wife Sita. The war against Ravana lasted for ten days.
Sri Rama had performed "Chandi Hom” and invoked the blessings of Durga to kill Ravana. Durga blessed Sri Rama with the secret to kill Ravana. Ravana was defeated in his own kingdom of Lanka by Sri Rama and the Vanarsena. Sri Rama with Sita & Laxman returned victorious to their kingdom of Ayodhya on auspicious day of Ashwin Shukla Dashami as per Hindu calendar. This victory of Rama is since then celebrated as “Vijaya Dashami” which means victory on tenth day.

This event is also celebrated with another Hindu mythological story of Maa Durga victory over Demon Mahishasur Rakshas. Some of the Aasuras (Demons) were very powerful and ambitious, and continually tried to defeat Gods and capture the Heaven. One such Aasura called Mahishasur, who looked like a buffalo, grew very powerful & created havoc on the earth. Under his leadership the Aasuras even defeated the Devas (Gods), all of whom were powerless including Brahma, Vishnu & Mahesh along with other Gods. Finally, when the world was getting crushed under Mahishasura's tyranny, the Devas came together & contributed their individual energy to form “Shakti” a single mass of incandescent energy to fight & kill Demon Mahishasur.
End of Agyatwas of PANDAVAS
In Dwapar Yuga, after Pandavas lost to Kauravas in the game of Dice, they had to proceed to 12 years of “Vanwas” (exile to forest) followed by one year of Agyatwas. Pandavas spent 12 years in forest and hid their weapons in a hole on a “Shami” tree before entering the Kingdom of Virat to complete the last one year of Agyatwas. After the completion of that year on Vijayadashmi they took the weapons from the Shami tree, declared their true identity & defeated Kauravas, who had attacked King Virat to steal his cattle wealth.
Since that day the exchange of Shami leaves on Dussehra day became symbol of goodwill and victory. Hence on Dussehra Shami Tree & the weapons are worshipped on this occasion by all Hindus.