Category Archives: Festivals of India

Vasanth Panchami – The Day to worship Goddess Saraswati – The Goddess of Knowledge

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‘Vasanth’ in Hindi means ‘Spring Season’ and Spring is considered to be the best of all seasons, specially in India. ‘Panchami’ means the fifth day. In Hinduism, it is beleived that Goddess Saraswati was born on this day. Goddess Saraswati is considered to be the Goddess of Knowledge, Wisdom, Music, Fine Arts and all the related fields.

Idol of Goddess Saraswati

Idol of Goddess Saraswati

The day is celebrated in Bengal and by Bengali speaking people residing, all over the world. People offer their prayers to Goddess Saraswati. Special rituals are held since early morning. Idols of Goddess Saraswati is worshiped with flowers, garlands, lamps, incense sticks amidst holy chants in Sanskrit.

Fruits, sweets  of different kinds and Khichari (traditional dish made with rice, pulses, vegetables and spices) are offered to Goddess as Naivedya or Bhoga. It is a very special day for students and educational institutions. As the season is spring, there is a tradition of wearing clothes of yellow colour. Students pray with devotion and one of the most ommon prayers in Sanskrit language is:

Saraswati Namasthubhyam

Varade Kamarupini

Vidhyarambam Karishyami

Siddhir Bavathume Sadha

May Goddess Saraswati bless us all with wisdom, knowledge, positive thoughts, and also the ability to differentiate between God and bad.

HAPPY DIWALI

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Diwali or Deepawali is the festival of lights, celebrated in India and by all India with grandeur and jubilation. The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil. People celebrate by offering prayers to Almighty God and by lighting lamps all around the house. Lamps are believed to bring Divine Energy and auspiciousness home driving negative energy. People greet each other, share gifts and sweets.

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It was a moment of joy for me, when I found a hand-made Diwali greeting card in my daughter’s School Bag where she returned from School. I thank her Teacher for this initiative. This made me so happy and feel so special. Happy Diwali Everyone.

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Do also my post on the Importance of lighting lamps in Bubblews:

http://www.bubblews.com/news/8958161-light-a-lamp-and-bring-home-the-divine-energy

Makar Sankranti : The Day to Worship Sun

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January 14th or 15th every year is celebrated as Makar Sankranti in India. ‘Makar’ means Capricorn and ‘Sankranti’ means transition. The day is a highly auspicious day as it is on this day, the transition takes place in the form of Solar Energy on Earth which brings with it joy, warmth and hope. It is about the transition to auspiciousness. It is believed that on this day, the Sun moves towards the Tropic of Cancer from the Tropic of Capricorn, which is said to be a Journey towards the North and hence this day is also known as ‘Uttarayan’ in India. Makar Sankranti is celebrated all over India on 14th or 15th of January every year with great enthusiasm. People usually wake up early in the morning and take bath. Many pious and devoted people believe in taking a dip in the holy ganges river. The day is dedicated in the worship of Sun God. The Day is to Worship Sun, the only visible God on Earth. The day has special significance in India as it is considered to be a harvest festival. People celebrate Nature’s bounty. It can also be called as the Indian Thanks-giving day. The day to thank Almighty God in the form of Sun for all the blessings in the form of light, energy and warmth. People pray for a better and brighter future. It is a major festival in Indian states of Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, West Bengal and Assam. In Punjab, the previous day of Makar Sankranti is known as Lohri. On the evening of Lohri, a huge bonfire is arranged and people make various offerings to ignite the fire. It is believed that the fire will burn all that is evil. People gather, sing and dance around the bonfire with enthusiasm, zeal and happiness. In Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, it is 3 days festival. In Tamil Nadu, a special dish is prepared which is known as ‘Pongal’ and is offered to Sun. Makar Sankranti is also known as ‘Pongal’ in Tamil Nadu. The dish which is made with freshly harvested rice, signifies nature’s bounty, prosperity and abundance. In Andhra Pradesh, the courtyards of every house is decorated with beautiful designs and patterns known as ‘Muggu’. People prepare several special dishes made with freshly harvested rice. In West Bengal, the day is known as ‘Paush Sankranti’. Every month, there is one Sankranti when the transit of the Sun takes place from one zodiac to another. Hindus of some states of India follow a Solar Calender where as some follow a Lunar Calender. ‘Paush’ is the month from mid-December to mid-January and is considered to be highly inauspicious for starting any new work. It is on ‘Paush Sankranti’ that the inauspicious phase comes to an end and a phase of auspicious, prosperity and enlightenment begins. On this day, the month of ‘Magh’ begins which is looked forward to for starting any kind of new venture. The two months of ‘Magh’ and ‘Phalgun’ are considered to be highly auspicious for wedding ceremonies. On this day, many kind of sweet dishes are made with jaggery, coconut, rice/wheat flour, milk and ghee. The date-palm jaggery is mostly preferred. There is a tradition of kite-flying in many places, specially in Gujarat. Many Kite-flying competitions are held on this day. It is good to embrace the warm sunlight on this day for good health and overall well-being.

Image: By Saloni Desai [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image: By Saloni Desai [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

People enjoy the warmth of Sunlight and welcome the transition from Winter Season to Spring Season. People celebrate this day with special home-made sweets with Jaggery, sesame, rice flour,coconut, milk and many other ingredients. Sesame seeds have special significance on this day. People share sweets with friends and neighbours and spread the message of positive thoughts, love and cooperation. Image: By Saloni Desai [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Vaikuntha Ekadashi – A very significant day for the devotees of Lord Vishnu

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Today is Vaikuntha Ekadashi.

Ekadashi means the eleventh day. In Hindu Calender, the eleventh day from the either the full moon or the no moon night, is known as Ekadashi.  This eleventh day is considered to be an auspicious day in Hinduism.

The day has special significance for the Vaishnavas or the devotees of Lord Vishnu. It is believed to be very auspicious to observe fast on an Ekadashi day. Many devotees eat fruits and drink milk and spend the entire day in worshiping Lord Vishnu.

Of all the Ekadashi days, some has special significance.

Vaikuntha Ekadashi is one such special day.  ‘Vaikuntha’ is a sanskrit word which means’ the abode of Lord Vishnu’ or where the Lord dwells. It is believed that on this day, the gates of ‘Vaikuntha’ opens for the pious devotees.

Special arrangements are made in famous temples like Balaji Temple at Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, India and in ISKCON Temple located in Bangalore, Karnataka, India. People queue up in huge numbers to have a glimpse of the Lord during the mid-night and wait until the main door of sanctum sanatorium is opened during dawn which can be anywhere between 3.30 am to 4.30 am.

Pious devotees fast on this day and chant the holy name of God. It is considered to be highly beneficial to read or chant sacred texts like the Bhagwad Gita and the Vishnu Sahasranama.

A sincere prayer and remembrance of the holy name of God is all that the Lord wants from us, Human Beings.

Glory to Lord Venkateshwara. Glory to Lord Vishnu.

Happy ‘Ugadi’ and ‘Gudi Padwa’

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The festival ‘Ugadi’  has a very special place in my mind. It reminds me of the culture, traditions, beliefs and cuisine of Andhra Pradesh. A good amount of my life, I have lived there and this day makes me feel nostalgic. People have deep love and respect towards their traditions, rituals and beliefs.

‘Ugadi’ is the New Year festival celebrated every Year in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra. The name  of this day or festival is ‘Ugadi’  in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, and the name in Maharashtra is ‘Gudi Padva’.

The festival of Ugadi also represents the celebration of Nature’s bounty during Spring Season.  Spring season brings with it fresh green leaves, fruits and flowers of different colours. Spring represents new life, new beginnings, new aspirations and a fresh new approach towards living with hope and happiness. Fresh raw green Mangoes have a special significance in India. Mangoes are always worshipped and offered to God before consumed. Leaves of Mango tree are used to decorate the entrance of every house as it symbolizes prosperity. Raw Mangoes,leaves, flowers  signify fertility,  growth, prosperity and overall well-being of the family.

The the day and date of this day depends on the Lunar Calender. Among Hindus, there are two different calenders. One which is followed by the orbit of Moon [Lunar Calender] and the other follows the orbit of Sun [Solar Calender].

In Andhra Pradesh, the first day of the Hindu Lunar Calender begins with a bath early in the morning followed by worship of deities and prayers at home. People usually wear new clothes. I remember, wearing new clothes myself. The atmosphere used to be filled with the aroma of raw mangoes and an excitement of festivity.
People also visit the Temples to seek blessings for a prosperous New Year. There is a tradition of reading Astrological predictions for all Moon signs by Temple priests.

The first thing to be consumed in the morning on the day of ‘Ugadi’ is the ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ which is a syrup made with raw mangoes, neem leaves, green chilli, jaggery and tamarind. This syrup has all the five tastes:  sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. It signifies all the sweet and bitter experiences of life. Life offers experiences of different tastes. All the ingredients in the ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ is added in equal quantities so that the New Year offers experiences in equal proportion. I too have always tasted the ‘Ugadi Pachadi’ every year on ‘Ugadi’ as long as, I was there.

The day is complete with sumptuous meals enjoyed with family and friends. As no festival in India is ever complete without the preparation of traditional home-made sweets, this festival too has its own unique sweet items to be served and shared with all loved ones. Wishing everyone a very Happy and Prosperous ‘Ugadi’. May this New Year bring peace, prosperity and happiness to all.

Also Read: http://expertscolumn.com/content/festival-ugadi-new-year-day-hindu-lunar-calender

 

Vijaya Dashami

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Vijaya Dashami is celebrated on the 10th day of Navratri or Durha Puja.The festival is  dedicated to the worship of Mother Goddess Durga.

Durga Puja is a Hindu festival of Mother Goddess, celebrated with enthusiasm, devotion and passion. The festival is celebrated for 10 days during the season of Autumn with grandeur, gaiety and splendor. The grand celebration of the festival of Durga Puja can be seen in the state of West Bengal and also the rest of India. The festival is also known as Dusshera and Navratri. In Bengal it is known as ‘Durga Puja’. Bengalee speaking people all over the World gather together to celebrate this annual festival where ever in the World, they might be. It is a time of getting emotionally attached with one’s community and traditions.

The festival of Durga Puja in Bengal is not just a religious festival It is more about social gathering shedding off the barriers of caste, creed, religion and colour. All are equal in this festival. The festival belongs to everyone. The most significant aspect of this festival is that it is a community festival where the entire community gathers together to reconnect with each other and spread the message of equality and brotherhood.

The city of Kolkata and also all other parts of India decks up with magnificent  pandals, beautifully and artistically crafted idols of Goddess Durga, chanting of hymns by the priests, loud music, bright lights and ofcourse the wide display of various food talls complete the picture of fanfare. The idols of Goddess Durga, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Sarawati, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikeya are made with clay. It takes nearly 6 months for the artisans to complete the idols giving them the shape and expressions as prescribed in the hindu scriptures.

The season of autumn brings with it, the fragnance of Durga Puja. People forget all their agonies, worries and qualms to surrender themselves completely on the feet of Mother Goddess seeking her blessings.

Also visit:

http://krishna-d.hubpages.com/hub/Durga-Puja-The-Hindu-festival-of-Mother-Goddess

http://expertscolumn.com/content/durga-puja-biggest-festival-bengal

The Hindu festival of Goddess Durga-Navratri

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Navaratri is a hindu festival which is being celebrated in India with devotion and gaiety. The Indian  word, ‘Navaratri’ means 9 nights.  This 9 nights and 10 days festival is known as Navaratri all over India. This festival is  dedicated to the worship of Mother Goddess Durga. The festival Navratri is one of the major festivals of Hindus along with Diwali – the festival of lights.

 

Navratri is celebrated twice a year. Once in the Spring season and the other in the  Autumn season.It is the biggest festival of the state of West Bengal, Gujarat and almost all the states of India. The number 9 denotes worship of 9 form of Goddess Durga known as Nava Durga, for 9 days. Nava-durga or the 9 forms of Goddess Durga are Skandamata, Kusumananda, Shailaputri, Kaalratri, Brahmacharini, Maha Gauri, Katyayini, Channdaghanta and Siddhidhatri.The tenth day is celebrated as Vijaya Dashami.

The first 3 days out of 9 days are dedicated towards the worship of Goddess Durga. Goddess Durga is considered to be the Universal mother by Hindus and is referred to as ‘Shakti’ which means the energy or power of the entire universe. Goddess Durga represents the infinite love and affection of a mother and the limitless energy of Womanhood. Devotees invoke the power and blessings of Goddess Durga to remove all negative thoughts from their mind. The other names of Goddess Durga are Parvati, Uma, Bhavani, Gauri and Mahishasurmardini.

‘Mahishasurmardini’ is the name given to Goddess Durga as she is the one who has destroyed evil demon Mahishasura who was creating havoc on heaven and earth.

The next 3 days, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped. Goddess Lakshmi represents wealth, happiness, peace and prosperity.

The final 3 days are dedicated to worship of Goddess Sarawati. Goddess Sarawati is regarded as the Goddess of Knowledge and Wisdom.

The worship of the 3 Goddesses brings peace of mind, positive thoughts and wisdom to the devotees. Goddess  Durga is also regarded as ‘Durgatinashini’ which means the one who removes all hurdles, obstacles, troubles, difficulties and fear. Worship of Mother Goddess brings peace, prosperity, wisdom, spiritual knowledge and removes all difficulties, pains and fears.

http://expertscolumn.com/content/navratri-9-days-festival-goddess-durga