03-05-2011 ALAMANAC

It is a well-known fact that the positioning of stars and planets brings about significant effects on our mind and psyche. In all ancient religions and cultures this is accepted in some way or other. It is very relevant in the spiritual context also. There are certain dates in the Hindu panchang (almanac), which are very important for certain, types of esoteric spiritual practices (Sadhna).Here we will provide a month-wise description of the main dates having spiritual importance according to the Indian Solar Calendar. If you are interested in the rituals meant to be observed on any particular date, please post your queries in our QUEST section. For your convenience, daily online panchang is also provided for ready reference according to the Hindu panchang.

 

Important dates in the Hindu Panchang

There are few dates or tithies in every month, which have utmost spiritual importance. Here you can have a brief introduction to the three most important dates of the month according to the Hindu panchang.

SANKRANTI

Sankranti is a Sanskrit word that means transition or movement from one phase to another phase. Here, Sankranti indicates the Sun’s transition from one zodiac sign to another zodiac sign. There are twelve Sankrantis, each known by the name of the upcoming zodiac sign that refers to the sun’s transition to that particular zodiac sign’. This is a described in scriptures as very auspicious day for pilgrimage (Teerth), charity (dan), and austerity (tapas).


PURNIMA

The Sanskrit word Purnima refers to the night of the full moon. The effect of the full moon on the human mind is a well-known and medically proven fact. Meditating on full moon nights gives the practitioner exceptional growth and tremendous joy in his spiritual practice (sadhna).As the light of the moon diminishes the darkness of the night similarly,the light of knowledge takes him away from ignorance. By fasting on this day, it is believed that one learns to control on his or her senses (indriyas), which is the only way to achieve enlightenment.


AMAVASYA

This is the Sanskrit name for last night of the waning phase of moon. The night of amavasya has great spiritual value and is extremely auspicious for esoteric tantrik spiritual practices.

 

MAKARSANKRANTI

The Sun’s transition from Sagittarius (Dhanu) to Capricorn (Makar) is called Makarsankranti.

. There are 12 Sankrantis in a year but the most auspicious is Makar Sankranti which falls on the 14th of January (Magh) every year according to the solar calendar. This day is considered eminently suitable for taking a dip in the holy rivers, charity, and other spiritual observances. It is said that spiritual practices performed on this day give manifold results.

Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious Hindu festivals. The term ‘sankranti’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Sankraman’ that means ‘transition’. It is the day when the sun begins to move northwards (Uttrayan) and enters Capricorn (Makar). It is believed that the time span during which the sun moves northwards, is God’s day and the time span of the southward movement is God’s night.

This festival is celebrated all over India and is known by different names, such as ‘Pongal’ in south India, ‘Lohri’ in Punjab, ‘Khichari’ in U.P. and so on.

 

MAUNI AMAVASYA

This is the last day in the month of Paush. According to the Kurm Purana, this day is dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Mauni Amavasya is a day of tremendous spiritual importance. The word Mauni is derived from the word maun which means silence. On the day of Mauni amavasya people take a vow of silence for the day. Silence is a very important tool of self-control. Control over speech enhances one’s will power and is helpful in the practice of stillness at all levels.

External silence gradually leads to internal silence. When the chattering of the mind starts to cease, it is easier for the sadhak to deepen the meditation.

Meditation on this day at the confluence of the three rivers at ‘Prayag’ or Allahabad is considered to be spiritually beneficial. Rigorous month-long practice of austerities or ceremonies known as ‘Kalp Vasa’ ends with the observance of Mauni Amavasya. A Holy dip on the Mauni Amavasya during ‘Kumbha Mela’ is considered to be most auspicious .

 

VASANT PANCHAMI

This day is celebrated as the formal announcement of spring. People in India celebrate this colourful and joyous festival on the twentieth day of Magh. Although this is a day for celebrations and merriment, it has a spiritual significance too. On this day, devotees worship goddess Saraswati – a form of the Divine Mother and an embodiment of knowledge. The Divine Mother, in the form of Saraswati, endows her devotees with the knowledge of their true self.

 

Saraswati, the consort of Lord Brahma represents power, creativity, and inspiration. She presents herself when the nature is in its full grandeur. ‘Saraswati’ means ‘the flowing one’. Other names of goddess Saraswati are ‘Veena Vadini’ (Veena Player), ‘Vaani Dayini’ (bestower of speech), ‘Veena Pani’ (one who is holding Veena), ‘Sharada’ (giver of essence), ‘Vageeshvari’ (goddess of speech), ‘Brahmi’ (the counterpart of Brahma), ‘Mahavidaya’ (the supreme knowledge), Vani, Gira, Bhasha and so on. Saraswati puja is observed in almost all parts of the country especially in Bengal. It is said that at the time of creation (sristikal) the primordial energy (Aadya Shakti) divides herself into five parts and takes form of Radha, Padma, Savitri, Durga and Saraswati.. According to Srimad Devibhagvat and Sri Durgasaptshati, Adi Shakti (primordial energy) divides herself into three forms: Maha Kali, Maha Laxmi and Maha Saraswati.

 

Goddess Saraswati is depicted in pure white, which symbolizes knowledge, the antithesis of the darkness of ignorance. Yellow or Basanti, which symbolizes spirituality, is the color of this festival. Goddess Saraswati is offered the yellow marigold flower that represents the arrival of spring along with spirituality.

 

MAGHI PURNIMA


Maghi Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day of Magh. Buddhist consider this day to be very auspicious, as Gautam Buddha announced his impending death on this day. Religious rituals are performed at the Buddhist Viharas, prayers are offered to Buddha and offerings are made to the monks. On this day, people go for a dip in the holy rivers, fast and perform charity. A large number of people go to the sacred mount, Govardhan, for a twenty two km. circumambulation.

 

MAHA SHIVRATRI

Mahashivratri is the fourteenth night of Falgun. In Indian mythology, Mahashivratri is the night of the marriage of Lord Shiva. Shiva and his primal force or Shakti, Parvati, symbolize the supreme force and atman .Thus Mahashivratri is the night of the union of the atman with that supreme divine force. It is said in the ancient scripture that the person who worships Shiva on this night gets liberation or Moksha and unite with Shiva. Mahashivratri rituals are performed whole night. The night and the darkness are symbols of ignorance and base tendencies of human mind. These rituals purify the human mind and tear the veil of ignorance.


There are numerous stories extolling the glory of Shivaratri in Shiva Puran, Kurma Purana etc.Many believe that Shivaratri is the night when lord Shiva performed the ‘Tandava Nirtya’, the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. According to Shivapurana, it is believed that fasting and worship of Lord Shiva wash off all sins, liberate people from the cycle of birth and death and bless them with Moksha or salvation.


This festival is celebrated everywhere across India with minor variations due to regional differences. Abhishek is performed with milk, yogurt, honey, ghee, water, sugar and Bel (Agele Mannelos)leaves.Sometimes grand havens are performed for the peace and welfare of all. The whole day and the entire duration of the night is spent in chanting Om Namah Shivaya and meditating. Sanyas Diksha is also given on this day to sincere seekers on the path. According to the Shivapurana, it is believed that fasting and worship of Lord Shiva wash off all sins and liberate people from the cycle of birth and death and bless them with Moksha or salvation.

 

HOLI

The colourful festival of Holi is one of the most popular festivals in India. It is celebrated on the full moon in the month of Phalgun. Phalgun is the month of spring. The celebration of Holi is completely in sync with the joyful and colourful spirit of spring. In north India, it is harvest time. The festival of Holi lasts for several days. On the night of Holi, people gather around a huge bonfire and newly harvested grain is roasted in it. The morning is celebrated with splashes of colours. People smear and sprinkle colour on each other without any inhibition related to class, caste, or creed.
There are many myths related to Holi. The most popular of them is the story of the Demon king Hiranyakashyapu, his son Prahlad and his sister Holika, narrated in the Narad Puran. Prahlad was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, the prime enemy of his father. To punish Prahlad, on the day of Phalgun Purnima, Holika put him in her lap and sat in the fire. She was blessed not to be harmed by fire. But by the grace of God, Prahlad came out of the fire unharmed while Holika was burnt to death.
In Sanskrit, the roasted grain is called Hola. Fire, lit on the night of Holi is also the symbol of the fire of Yajna (fire offering). The grain roasted in that fire signifies the offering put in the Yajna.

 

 

VASANTIC NAVARATRI

Navaratri falls during the first nine days of the lunar month of Chaitra. There are four Navaratris in a year, and this one is called the Vasantic Navaratri. It is a time of atmospheric transition. It is believed that at this time of the year, spiritual vibrations are exceptionally strong. Hence, any spiritual practice taken up during this period yields manifold results.
During these nine days, the Divine power is worshipped in the form of Mother Goddess. In this form, she represents the infinite power of the universe. According to Rudrayamaltantra -‘Navshaktisamanyukta Navratram taducchyate’-due to the collectivism of nine divine powers or Shaktis, this festival is called Navratri. Nine different forms of the mother goddess are worshipped on nine different days. In the Markandey Purana, it has been said that the first incarnation of Shakti was known as Shailputri. Other incarnations of the Divine Mother are: Brahmcharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalratri, Mahagauri and Siddhidatri in that order. These nine manifestations of Shakti are worshipped as "Nava-Durga".
Spiritually, the worship of the mother goddess is of utmost importance. According to the Devi Purana, ‘Durga’ means ‘Daityanashak’ (The Slayer of demons), ‘Vighnanashaka’ (One who eliminates hurdles), ‘Rognashak’ (One who cures disease), ‘Papnashak’ (One who eradicates sins) and ‘Bhayashatrunashak’ (One who removes fears and foes).
Rituals observed in these days are as many as the sects of Shakti Sadhana. Spiritual seekers (Sadhakas) take up different Purashcharan and anushtans according to their tradition and direction of their master. Seventh, eighth and ninth nights are considered especially auspicious for Tantrasadhna.
Meditation and fasting over these nine days bestows freedom from worldly attachment, cycle of birth & death, sins and paves the way to final liberation (Moksha). Unless the devotee renounces his vices such as lust, anger, avarice, indiscretion, pride, hypocrisy, sloth, grief, and jealousy, he cannot attain Moksha. By practicing, one acquires mastery over his senses and mind, which purifies one’s inner self and enables one to attain abiding peace.

RAMNAVAMI

The joyous occasion of Ram Navami occurs on the navami of Chaitra month. The festival commemorates the birth of Sri Ram who is remembered for his righteous reign. Lord Ram is considered the eigth Avatar of Lord Vishnu. According to the Agastyasamhita, this day is ideal for people to fast and meditate. Public satsangs are organized, the Ramayana is read and Vedic mantras are recited.
Ram Navami falls at the beginning of summer when the sun has started moving closer to the Northern hemisphere. Ram’s dynasty is considered to have descended from the Sun. In some Hindu sects, the prayers of Ram Navami start not with the association to Ram but to the Sun. The word ‘Ra’ is used to connote light. This could have led to the tagging of Ram’s birthday to a festival devoted to the sun.

MAHAVIR JAYANTI

Mahavira Jayanti is celebrated on the 13th day of the shukla paksha of the Chaitra month.It marks the birth anniversary of the revered Jain saint, Mahavira. He was son of King Siddhartha and Queen Trishala Devi, who were deeply permeated with the philosophy of Jainism preached by Parswanatha, the 23rd Teerthankara. Mahavira, also known as Vardhamana, was the last one in the lineage of twenty-four Teerthankaras (Jain prophets).He was a prince, but left home at the age of 30 to become an ascetic. He renounced the pleasures and luxuries of the palace, plucked out his hair, discarded his clothes, and wandered for more than 12 years, fasting and performing severe penances in the search for truth. He finally attained enlightenment. But not content with just his own salvation, he chose to become a great redeemer of the human race. He is the founder of Jainism, the religion, as practiced till date.
Mahavira Jayanti is not commemorated with pomp and festivities, but with silent prayers and worship, in accordance with Saint Mahavira's teachings of austerity and renunciation. Jain temples are decorated with flags. On the morning of the festival, Mahavira’s idol is given a ceremonial bath called 'abhishek'. It is then placed in a cradle and carried in a procession around the neighborhood. Lectures are held to preach the path of virtue. People meditate and offer prayers.
The Jain religion takes its name from the word Jina (meaning victor or conqueror), a title given to the Teerthankaras. These teachers demonstrated and taught the Jain path of purity and peace which leads to the highest spiritual liberation. Mahavira was a staunch believer of an extreme form of asceticism. Jainism is regarded as the most rigorous ascetic faith in the world. It teaches the practitioners to take complete responsibility for their action. It teaches the followers to live a very austere life, in an attempt to clear their debt to mankind and also to attain the highest form of salvation.
Mahavira rejected the two traditional notions of the society-- caste system and the rituals of sacrifice. He looked around and found the society corrupted by distortions of the true concept of Dharma. Violence in the form of animal sacrifice had overshadowed the true spirit of sacrifice. Spiritual values had been supplanted by superstitions and lifeless rituals and dogmas. Propitiating various Gods and Goddesses was considered to be a means of acquiring religious merit (Punya). Mahavira, with his penetrating insight born out of self-realization, struck mercilessly at these perversions. He simplified the religious procedures and concentrated on righteous conduct. To attain the perfect peace and purity of soul one must pursue the ‘three Jewels’ of Right Faith, Right Knowledge and Right Conduct. At the heart of Right Conduct for all lie five vows: Ahimsa (non-injury or non-violence), Satya (speaking the truth), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (chastity), and Aparigraha (non-acquisition of property).

Mahavira Jayanti has tremendous spiritual significance. Jains believe that deeds of violence, greed, selfishness, dishonesty, sexual misconduct and covetousness obscure the soul. Acts of gentleness and penance lighten and liberate it. Mahavira’s teachings of abstinence from every kind of physical comfort and material possessions and absolute dedication to the highest ethical and spiritual discipline are the way by which one can attain the highest spiritual liberation.

HANUMAN JAYANTI

Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birthday of Sri Hanuman, which falls on the Chaitra Shukla Purnima. It is an important festival for Hindus. On this day people worship Sri Hanuman. People fast on this day, recite the Hanuman Chalisa, and spend the entire day worshipping Hanuman and Sri Ram. It is believed that Sri Hanuman was an incarnation of lord Shiva. He is the son of the God of Wind and Anjani Devi. He has many names such as Pavansuta, Marutisuta, Mahavira, Bajarangabali and Anjanisuta.

Sri Hanuman is the embodiment of selfless service, humility and karmyoga. A celibate for life, Hnuman was a great devotee of Sri Ram. He possessed all the divine virtues.

 

 

AKSHAYA TRITIYA

Akshaya Tritiya falls on the third day of the bright half of the lunar month of Vaishakh. On this day, the sun and the moon are simultaneously at their peak of brightness. Akshaya Tritiya is one of the four most auspicious days of the Vedic calendar, the other three being Chaitra Shukla Pratipada, Vijayadashami and Pradosh Tithi before Deepawali. Akshaya Tritiya marks the beginning of the Treta Yug so this day is known as beginning of the Yug –‘Yugaditithi’. The birthday of Parashuram, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu falls on this day so the day is also called ‘Parashuram Tithi’. Parshuram is regarded as the one of the immortal saints. So this day is also known as ‘Chirnjeevi Tithi’. Another name for Akshya Tritiya is “IshwariyaTtithi. According to the Vedas, Ved Vyas, along with Lord Ganesha started writing the epic Mahabharata on the day of AkshyaTritiya.

This is one of the most auspicious days according to the Hindu calendar. Akshya Tritiya is considered as one of the most auspicious timings or ‘’ Subh Muhurats" to begin a new venture, wedding, making some important purchase or even planning long journeys. It is considered to be a very lucky day to start new business or ventures as activity started on the day is fruitful. The word "Akshay" means imperishable or eternal – that never diminishes, hence any new beginning made or valuables bought on this day are considered to bring luck and success. It represents eternal prosperity.

Matsyapuran, Nardiyapuran and Bhavisyapuran etcetra contain many myths regarding Akshya Tritiya.

Akshya Tritiya is a very important day for spiritual aspirants. Any auspicious activity that we perform on this day brings manifold benefits. Those who have been performing sadhana ardently may even get blessed with Perfection on this auspicious day. It is believed that those who are performing mantra japas should capitalize on this wonderful day and energize their mantras. The day is generally observed by fasting, worshipping, meditating, charity. A dip in the Ganges on this day is considered to be very auspicious. Laxminarayan is worshipped on this day.

The day is spiritually very important for self observation, self knowledge, self investigation and self analysis. Our determination, faith, allegiance must be as strong as akshyatithi. Material things are perishable. Involvement in worldly activities creates a vicious circle of karma and karmafal and generates anger, lust, greed, attachment, selfishness, ego, and jealousy.

 

BUDDHA PURNIMA

Buddha Jayanti falls on the full moon night in the month of Vaishakh. On this auspicious day people, celebrate the birth anniversary of Lord Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, which is one of the oldest religions in the world. He is considered as the ninth incarnation or avatar of Vishnu. The three most significant events in the life of Gautam Buddha occurred on the same day -his birth, his enlightenment or attainment of supreme wisdom and death (parinirvana).

 

On this day meditation, procession, prayers and sermons, recitation of Buddhist scriptures take place in monasteries, religious halls and homes. The image of Buddha and the Banyan tree or Bodhi tree, under which Lord Buddha was enlightened receive especial attention.

 

Gautama Buddha was born as Siddhartha in the Kshatriya caste in 566 B.C. in Kapilvastu. He was the son of a great king and enjoyed all the luxuries of the palace in his youth. However, at the age of thirty, he renounced all his privileges as a prince and became an ascetic. He was saddened by the sufferings of the world such as old age, disease, and death. This led him to renounce his kingdom as well. After years of study, meditation, and sacrifice, he attained nirvana and became completely enlightened.

 

The teachings of Buddha are meant to liberate human beings from the miseries and sufferings of life. He preached five principles (panchsheel), and the path of the eight-fold truth. The word ‘Buddha’ literally means the ‘awakened one’. It refers to someone who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and sees things as they actually are.

 

Buddha Purnima is of great spiritual importance. Sorrows and desires are the main cause of all evils and sufferings of the world. One should realize that all the sorrows and miseries of the world are caused due to ignorance. Worldly endowments cannot lead people towards enlightenment. All the teachings of Buddha such as right conduct, right speech, right livelihood and right attention are essentially geared towards facilitating inner realization.


VAT SAVITRI VRATA


Vat Savitri falls on the Full moon day (Purnima) in the month of Jyestha. On this day, married Hindu women fast and perform certain rituals for the long life and well-being of their husband.

This festival is meant to honor Savitri and her husband Satyawan, the exiled prince. Satyawan was destined to die within one year of his marriage. Savitri knew this fact but even then, she decided to marry Satyawan. When that last fateful day came, Satyawan was lying under a banyan tree, Savitri saw Yama (The God of the death) taking away her husband’s soul. She followed him, pleading to return her husband’s life. She defeated Yama by her strength, love and faith .Yama had to surrender to Savitri’s sincere love and devotion for her husband. Due to sheer determination and devotion to her husband, Savitri won back his life. Subsequently, the exiled prince Satyawan also regained his lost kingdom.

The spiritual and philosophical meaning of this festival is also very deep. Yama is the lord of death hence he represents the mortal nature of the world. Defeating him is the symbol of going beyond the cycle of life and death. Getting the boon from lord Yama is the symbol of gaining the knowledge that leads us upto that stage.

On this day, the banyan tree is worshiped and other rituals are performed under its shade. In Hindu mythology, Banyan is considered most sacred tree. Banyan is also known for its long life.

The spiritual significance of the festival is that true love, sincerity and devotion can even conquer death. People should be faithful and loyal in their relationships. Through strong determination and devotion, one can even conquer death. If one is determined, nothing is impossible; one would inevitably achieve one’s desired goal.

 

GANGA DUSSEHRA

Ganga Dussehara is held on the 10th day of the month of Jyestha. Throughout India, this festival lasts for ten days beginning on the Amavasya and ends on Dashmi (tenth phase of moon).This festival is celebrated as the birthday of the holy river Ganga. Ganga descended onto the earth on this day. India’s largest and most sacred river Ganga is worshipped as a mother who washes away all the sins.

 

Initially, the river Ganga flowed in the heavens. She was brought down to earth by the severe penances of the sage Bhagirtha and that’s why she is also called Bhagirthi. Ganga has come down to earth from Vishnu’s toe and Lord Shiva has controlled the force of Ganga on his matted hair. Thus, river Ganga has descended to Himalayas from where she flowed to the plains.

 

The first nine days of the month of Jyestha are known as Gupta Navaratri and the tenth day is known as Dussehara. Dussehara is derived from ‘dus’ which connotes ten and ‘hara’ means defeat. It is believed that one, who offers prayers on this day, attains salvation from ten sins.

 

On this auspicious day, people worship the Holy River Ganga. Devotees flock to Rishikesh, Haridwar, Pryag, Varanasi and Sagar to take holy dips. A bath in the holy river on this day is said to purify one of all sins. People celebrate the special significance of this day by means of devotional songs and chants. People meditate on these days.

 

Spiritually, this festival is of great importance. The water of the Ganga is kept in most of the houses/temples in India. It always remains pure and its purifying power intact. It teaches us to be not affected from outer impurities in any case. People meditate on this day, which increases their self-control and concentration. This is the path through which one can prepare himself to achieve the ultimate reality.

 

VAT SAVITRI VRATA

 

Vat Savitri falls on the Full moon day (Purnima) in the month of Jyestha. On this day, married Hindu women fast and perform certain rituals for the long life and well-being of their husband.

This festival is meant to honor Savitri and her husband Satyawan, the exiled prince. Satyawan was destined to die within one year of his marriage. Savitri knew this fact but even then, she decided to marry Satyawan. When that last fateful day came, Satyawan was lying under a banyan tree, Savitri saw Yama (The God of the death) taking away her husband’s soul. She followed him, pleading to return her husband’s life. She defeated Yama by her strength, love and faith .Yama had to surrender to Savitri’s sincere love and devotion for her husband. Due to sheer determination and devotion to her husband, Savitri won back his life. Subsequently, the exiled prince Satyawan also regained his lost kingdom.

The spiritual and philosophical meaning of this festival is also very deep. Yama is the lord of death hence he represents the mortal nature of the world. Defeating him is the symbol of going beyond the cycle of life and death. Getting the boon from lord Yama is the symbol of gaining the knowledge that leads us upto that stage.

On this day, the banyan tree is worshiped and other rituals are performed under its shade. In Hindu mythology, Banyan is considered most sacred tree. Banyan is also known for its long life.

The spiritual significance of the festival is that true love, sincerity and devotion can even conquer death. People should be faithful and loyal in their relationships. Through strong determination and devotion, one can even conquer death. If one is determined, nothing is impossible; one would inevitably achieve one’s desired goal.

 

BHIMSENI OR NIRJALA EKADESHI

Bhimseni Ekadashi falls on the eleventh day of the second fortnight of Jyestha month. This day is also popularly known as Nirjala Ekadashi.

There is a legend associated with this festival. It says that once Pandavas decided to observe the fast of Ekadashi as per the direction of sage Vyas. But for Bhimsen, it was nearly impossible to keep fast twice every month. Then Vyas advised Bhim to observe the fast on Nirjala Ekadashi only. But it had to be very difficult fast, because while observing this fast one is not supposed to drink water apart from other edible items.

This festival is spiritually of utmost importance. On the day of Ekadashi, one remains aloof from all kinds of worldly activities and sense gratification. Liberation or bonding of a person depends on his mind. Observing Ekadashi facilitates the deliverance of the soul. By fasting and meditating one learns to control the indriyas, detaching them from worldly things.

 

KABIR JAYANTI

Kabir Jayanti is celebrated on the full moon night (Purnima) in the month of Jyestha. This occasion is celebrated with an air of gravity and seriousness.

Kabir was a religious reformer and saint who refused to label himself as a Hindu or Muslim as he believed that God does not belong to any religion. A childless couple, Neeru and Neema, found him abandoned under a tree and adopted and raised him as their own son. Kabir grew up in Muslim family, but his spiritual master was a Hindu saint Sri Ramanand.

The teachings of Saint Kabir are of great spiritual significance. Kabir was unique in his straightforward approach. His philosophy was somewhat similar to the Vedanta philosophy. He takes this material world as non-existent (Maya). To reach the real substance, he insists on detachment with this Maya. However, it is not an easy task. He emphasizes on internal or mental detachment. Overt efforts usually do not help and are even regressive. He takes the mind as the basic tool. Everything depends on its proper use. A well-controlled mind leads to reality and liberation while the wild mind leads to the bondage of Karma (karma bandhan) and mortality. According to Kabir, a state of liberation may be achieved only through the help and blessings of Guru. The Guru is greater than God. The Utmost devotion to Guru leaves nothing else to do for spiritual attainment.

 

HARISHAYANI EKADASHI


Harishayni Ekadashi is celebrated on the 11th day of the second half of the month of Aashadha. According to the Puranas; it is believed that on this day Lord Vishnu goes to sleep in his abode that is the cosmic Milky Ocean (Ksheer Sagar) for four months. These four months are also known as ‘Chaturmas’. People consider this period very auspicious for practicing austerity and rituals. They try to control all their Tamasic forces.

Hari means Vishnu but here he symbolizes the sun, moon and wind. In these four months wile e sleeps, we can feel the weakened digestive fire. People feel sloth, sleep, anger and lust. The power of Rajasic and Tamasic forces increases.

Spiritually this festival is of great importance. It gives the message that even if God is not present in his visible manifestation, one must not stray from the ordained path.

 

GURU PURNIMA

Guru Purnima also known as Vyas Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Aashadha. On this day, Lord Vishnu was incarnated as

Sage Vyas.

In Guru Purnima ‘Poornima’ refers to ‘effulgent full moon’ and ‘Guru’ refers to one who removes darkness and delusion from the heart and illuminates it with the higher wisdom. The true guru or teacher is one who removes the fundamental ignorance of the seeker and imparts true knowledge. He exemplifies wisdom, peacefulness, self- control, piety, tolerance and strong faith in god. This day is dedicated to pay respect to ones Guru for his selfless love and grace.

 

NAG PANCHAMI

Nag Panchmi is the festival celebrated on the fifth day of the second fortnight of the month of shravan (July /August). Nag is the Sanskrit word for king cobra, one of the most poisonous snakes. On this day people worship ‘nag’, so the festival is known as ‘Nag Panchmi’.

 

In Indian mythology, naga is the name of a race too. There are so many myths regarding the origin of Nag Panchmi. One of them is concerned with the story of King Janmejaya, the great grandson of the Padavas who undertook a large scale expedition to destroy nags. On the day of nag panchmi, he understood its futility and abandoned his expedition.

On this day people worship nag or cobras for good will or prosperity. One who cannot get cobras, worships idol or pictures of cobras? People keep bowls of milk at the haunts of cobras.

Apart from the rituals, this is a day of great spiritual importance.

Kundalini, the latent spiritual force inside every person is in the shape of a sleeping serpent. Nag panchmi is the day devoted to the worship of that force. Offering milk to the snake symbolizes the awakening of the Kundalini . Meditation and other spiritual practices bear manifold fruit, if practised on this day.

 

RAKSHA BANDHAN


Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on the Purnima of the month of Shravana. ‘Raksha Bandhan’ means ‘a bond of protection’. A thread called the Raksha is tied on the wrist of the person who is supposed to take care of the person tying the thread. Rishis tied Rakhis onto the wrists of the people who came seeking their blessings and protection. During the middle Ages, if a woman tied Rakhi on the hand a man, then it used to become his religious duty to protect her. There are various legends regarding Raksha Bandhan.


Nowadays, this festival is the celebration of the bond of affection between brothers and sisters. Sisters tie the thread called Rakhi on their brother’s wrist. It is a symbol of the protection and affection a brother gives to his sister.
Raksha Bandhan signifies universal unity. It creates a feeling of affection and unity amongst family members. It promotes cultural and moral values, perpetuates the sentiments of harmony, and binds the family in emotional bonds. This festival signifies the peaceful co-existence of every individual, and a commitment to all members of society to protect each other and lead a harmonious social life.

 

JANMASHTAMI

Janmashtami, the day on which lord Vishnu incarnated as Krishna falls on the eighth day of the first fortnight of Bhadrapad. This day is also known as Srikkrishna Janmashtami. Krishna, the ultimate charismatic persona that history ever known, lived a life that was the story of adversity, struggle and privation and at the same time of glory, love and success. People started worshipping him as God in his lifetime. Krishna is embodiment of selfless action (nishkam karma) and love, both. Gita is his biggest gift to mankind.

 

Hindus celebrate his birth day with great reverence and gaiety. They decorate temples and houses beautifully, display models of the scenes from his life so that people can emulate him, prepare a great feast, and fast for the whole day. At midnight, the birth of Krishna is commemorated and the sound of conches and drums fills the silence of midnight. The whole atmosphere reverberates with chants and songs praising Krishna and prasad is distributed.

 

The night of Janmashtami is considered as mahanisha or the great night. Its spiritual importance is great too. Any spiritual practice done in the middle of this night bears manifold fruits. Spiritual seekers should do their practice at time when birth of Krishna is celebrated. They can do any special esoteric practices prescribed in their tradition or otherwise they can do their daily practices. Simply chanting the guru mantra also gives the tremendous benefit.

 

GANESHA CHATURTHI

The ten-day long festival of Ganesha Chaturthi is celebrated on the 4th day of the Shukla Paksha in the month of Bhadrapad to mark the birth of Lord Ganesha, who is the son of Lord Shiva and Parvati. The last day of this annual festival is Anant Chaturdashi.

On the auspicious day of Ganesha Chaturthi, devotees bring the idols of Ganesha into their house and worship them with unmatched love and devotion for ten days. After ten days of the rigorous rituals, on the day of Anant chaturdashi, idols are immersed in a river, sea or any other water body. Thus, Lord Ganesha departs, and returns the next year to be welcomed with the same excitement and fervor.

Although the Ganapati festival is celebrated across the country, Ganesha being the most revered deity in Maharashtra and surrounding regions, Maharashtrians celebrate it with most grandeur.

 

ANANT CHATURDASHI

Anant Chaturdashi is celebrated on the 14th day of the bright half, or Shukla Paksha, of Bhadrapada. Stories about Lord Vishnu are told on this day. The image of a hooded cobra made out of grass is worshipped with flowers and incense as Anant, the divine snake on which Lord Vishnu lies. A string coated with red kumkum is placed before the idol of Vishnu, and then this consecrated Anant is tied on the wrist.

Legend has it that Lord Krishna told Yudhishthir the importance of Anant Varat with the help of a story at the time when they in the exile and asked them to fast on Anant Chaturdashi. There is a folk lore related to this festival. It says that once, a Brahmin, Kaundinya, and his wife, Sushila, were going somewhere. On the way, they stopped by a river to take a bath. While Kaundinya was away, Sushila saw some women praying. When she enquired, they told her that they were observing the Anant fast. They told her that if she tied a consecrated string around their wrists and maintained the fast for 14 years, they would get great material wealth. Sushila too started observing the fast and other ritual on that day, and soon, they became wealthy. One day Kaundinya noticed the string tied on her arm and asked Sushila about it. She told him the purpose and the story behind tying that thread. Proud and arrogant Kaundinya did not find her explanation very convincing and threw the string away. Very soon, they were stripped off their recently accumulated wealth. Now, a distressed Kaundinya was penitent, and went in search of Anant to get his wealth back. Nobody, however, could tell him where he would find Anant. In the end, an old man, approached a desperate Kaundinya and took him to a cave. Once inside the dark cave, the old man transformed into Lord Vishnu, and told Kaundinya that he would regain his lost happiness and wealth if he observed the Anant Vata for 14 years.

 

SHARDIYA NAVRATRI

This auspicious festival of Shakti is celebrated from the first to the ninth day in the month of Ashwin Shukl Paksha. This is a time of atmospheric transition. It is believed that at this time of the year, spiritual vibrations are unusually strong and powerful. Hence, any spiritual practice taken up on these days gives manifold results.
On these days, divine power is worshipped in the form of the mother goddess. In this form she represents the infinite power of the universe. According to Rudrayamaltantra -‘Navshaktisamanyukta Navratram taducchyate’-due to collectivism of nine divine powers or Shakti this festival is called Navratri. Nine different forms of the mother goddess are worshipped during these nine days.

Spiritually, the worship of the mother goddess over these days is considered very auspicious. According to Devi Purana ‘Durga’ means –Daityanashak (one who kills demon), vighnanashaka(one who evacuates hurdles), Rognashak (one who cures disease), Papnashak (one who lessens the sins) and Bhayashatrunashak (one who removes fear and foe).
Rituals observed on these days are as numerous as the sects of Shakti sadhna. Spiritual seekers take up different purashcharan and anushtana according to their tradition and directions of their masters. The seventh, eighth and ninth nights are considered especially auspicious for Tantrasadhna.

 

The general public follows the instruction given in the Durga Saptshati that is the part of Markandeya Purana. They fast according to their capacity, perform different rituals, recite the Durga Saptshati and perform fire sacrifice (homa).

Meditation and fasting on these days bestow freedom from worldly attachment, cycle of birth - death, sin and paves the way to final liberation (Moksha). Unless devotee leaves his vices such as lust, anger, avarice, indiscretion, pride, hypocrisy, sloth, grief, and jealousy, he cannot attain the Moksha. By practicing, one acquires mastery over his senses and mind, which purifies one’s inner self and enables him to attain abiding peace.

 

 

VIJAYADASHMI OR DUSSEHRA

Dussehara also known as Vijayadashmi is celebrated on the tenth day of the Ashwin month (October).This festival marks the death of the demon king Ravana of Lanka and victory of Ram over Ravana .This festival is also called Vijayadashmi as on this day Vijaya (bhagawati) is worshipped. Kings used to embark on their endeavours of conquest on this day. This is a great festival for the Kshatriya community .They venerate their weapons even as Brahmins worship goddess Saraswati and Vaishyas worship their books of account.

On Dussehara, Ram killed Ravana the king of Lanka and returned with Sita and Lakshman victorious to his kingdom Ayodhya.It celebrates the homecoming of lord Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana.

This festival is celebrated with intense fervor and zest all over the country. Ramlilas are performed during the ten days. Effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran and Meghnada are burnt.

This festival has great spiritual significance. This is the festival of the triumph of good over evil. People are supposed to burn the evils within and follow the path of virtue and goodness, bearing in the mind the instance of Ravana who despite all his strength and majesty was destroyed by his evil deeds. It symbolizes the victory of truth over untruth, dharma over adharma, justice over injustice. We should make an effort to destroy the demons of our ego and radiate peace and love where ever we go.


KOJAAGRATI VRATA

Kojaagrativrata Poonam is celebrated on Ashwin Purnima. On this day devotees keep fast and spend the entire night worshipping goddess Lakshmi. It is said that goddess Lakshmi moves around in the night sky, asking `Ko jaagrati' - that means ' who is awake?' and searching for people on the earth who are vigilant and are spending their night worshipping God. And to those who are awake, she gives whatever their desires are. The spiritual importance of 'Jaagrati' (awaking) is to remain vigilant as to our actions, speech, and thoughts. It is believed that the vigilance in one's heart is the gateway to the Lord's divine abode.


SHARAD PURNIMA

Sharad Purnima is observed on the night of the full moon of Ashwin . On this day, Lord Krishna performed maha raas with Gops and Gopis in Brindavan.This festival is also called ‘Raasotsav’or ‘kaumudi Mahotasav’. Maha raas is symbolic of the union of Atma with Parmatma. Myth says that on the full moon night of the Ashwin month, Srikrishna performed his last raas in Brindavan. ON that night Krishna took as many forms as many Gopis were present there. This is also a symbol of omnipresence of god.

It is believed that on Sharad Purnima, nectar (Amrit) is being showered on the earth by the Moon through its rays. On this auspicious day, Kheer (rice pudding) is especially prepared in the temples and homes, and offered to God amidst ringing of bells and chanting of the hymns. The vessel containing Kheer is kept open throughout the night so that it may absorb the Amrit emanating from the moon. Such Kheer is considered to possess many divine qualities. At night, the Moon is also worshipped. In the morning it is distributed amongst the bhaktas.

Just as the night sky of the Sharad Purnima is clear, the aspirant should endeavor to purify his inner self. For this, he has to eradicate all his mundane desires.


DEEPAWALI

Deepawali, the most famous among all Hindu festivals, is a festival of lights, and is celebrated on Amavasya in the month of Ashwin and the celebration goes on for five days. The word `Deepawali' literally means rows of deeps (earthen lamps). Each of the five days on which it is celebrated has a myth attached to it.

On Deepawali, people worship Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi. Goddess Lakshmi is a symbol of good fortune and wealth and Lord Ganesha is symbol of the intelligence required for the proper utilization of the wealth that we have.

Stories related to the origin of Deepawali can be found in Skandapuran, Padmapuran, Bhavishyapuran and Sanatkumar Samhita. This festival commemorates Lord Ram’s return to his kingdom Ayodhya after completing his 14-year exile. People illuminate their houses and enjoy fireworks to celebrate this the return of Rama to Ayodhya.

The earthen lamps lit on this occasion seem to defy the darkness of the moonless night on which it is celebrated, just as the radiance of knowledge diminishes the darkness of ignorance. This festival is, therefore of great spiritual importance.
The night of Deepawali is considered very auspicious for the worship of Shakti. The night of Deepawali is considered Mohratri or the night that destroys Moha (worldly attachments).The people, who are practitioners of Tantra; perform special rituals in this night.

 

KARTIK PURNIMA

Kartika Purnima is celebrated on the Purnima day of the Shukla Paksha of the Kartika month. This festival is considered very auspicious. The Kartika Purnima also coincides with Guru Nanak's Birthday. This unique festival is also called Dev Deepawali. In Varanasi on this day, the ghats come alive with thousands of diyas (earthern lamps) brightly –lit.This day is also important, as on this day Vishnu took the Matsya Avatar or the fish incarnation.

The whole month of 'Kartika' is considered to be the most sacred among all the twelve months of the year but kartika Purnima is considered as most sacred day. Most of the devotees take dip in Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati rivers and visit temples. Charity and Jap on this day is beneficial. Devotees fast and meditate on this day.

This festival has tremendous spiritual significance. On this day hoards of people take a dip at the confluence of holy rivers of Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. It symbolizes not only cleaning of body but also the mind to leave all dirty habits and thoughts. It indicates that we should bathe our mind in the spiritual waters even if we do not live near sacred rivers. We should allow the spiritual light to burn away all the undesirable traits within. It is not the show of cleaning the outer selves but to rid of our mind and life of such vices like fear, greed, envy, anger, arrogance and wrong desires and replacing those with forces of love, compassion, generosity, kindness, and light. By practicing, one acquires mastery over his senses and mind, which purifies one’s inner self and enables him to attain abiding peace.

 

GITA JAYANTI


Gita Jayanti is the celebration of the anniversary of the sacred Hindu scripture, Bhagavad-Gita. Bhagavad-Gita is a dialogue between Krishna and Arjun, the Pandav Prince, just before the battle of the Mahabharata. It occurs on the 11th day (Ekadasi) of Shukl Paksha of the month of Maargsheersh. This day is also known as Mokshada Ekadashi.

Gita is not merely a book or just a scripture. It is a living voice carrying an eternally indispensable and vital message to mankind. Its verses embody words of wisdom coming from the infinite ocean of knowledge, the Absolute Itself. Sri Vedvyas, in Mahabharata has written that Gita emanates from the lotus-lips of Bhagvan Vishnu himself- ‘ya swayam Padmnabhasya Mukhpadmadwinihsritah.’ Srimad Bhagavad-Gita is an unmatched book of spiritual lore. It speaks of Karma yog (the yoga of selfless action), Bhakti yog (the yoga of love for the lord), and Jnaan yoga (yoga of knowledge).

The Gita is a wonderful discourse given to Arjun by Sri Krishna in the battle field of Kurukshetra when Arjun was facing the most difficult situation of his life. Arjun was endowed with all the qualities necessary for a man of his position, but when he faced the real challenge of his life, he was unable to meet it on his own. At last he surrendered to Lord Krishna. Krishna taught him the essence of karma yoga and gave him the highest knowledge of spirituality. Arjun came out of the dilemma of whether to or not to fight his kinsmen, and decided that his duty was to fight. At the end the Padavas emerged victorious, symbolizing the victory of dharma (righteousness) over adharma (non-righteousness).In Gita, Lord Krishna teaches Arjun about the immortality of the soul, non-attachment, the nature of the world and the Consciousness illuminating everything.

Gita is the most beautiful and the only truly philosophical song. It contains sublime lessons on wisdom and philosophy. It is the ‘Song Celestial’. It is the universal gospel of truth. It contains the message of life that appeals to all, irrespective of race, creed, age or religion. Its base is Karma yoga.

Gita is a source of power and wisdom. It strengthens you when you are weak, and inspires you when you feel dejected and feeble. It teaches you how to resist unrighteousness and follow the path of virtue and righteousness.

Gita teaches us to be forever conscious of the Divine, and to feel the Divine Presence, to live always in the awareness of the Supreme Being in the chambers of our heart. Such a constant remembrance of God and such an attitude of mind will release us from the clutches of illusion and free us from all fear. To live in unbroken remembrance of the Supreme Truth is to remain always in the region of light, peace and bliss, far beyond the reach of illusion and delusion.

Gita is one of the most beautiful pieces of philosophy ever written. It shines as the beacon light of knowledge, inspiring millions to tread the path of Dharma. About Gita, Mahatma Gandhi said: "Gita has been my mother. I lost my mother when I was young, but I never felt the absence of a mother, because I had the Gita with me."

The eighteen chapters of Gita contain the highest esoteric doctrines. It teaches us the meaning of life and the art of living.

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