Vinayaka Chaturthi

August 30, 2009

“Vakratunda Mahaakaaya Suryakotee Sama Prabha
Nirvighnam kuru mey Deva, Sarva kaaryeshu Sarvadaa”

Ganesha Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi is a great festival of Lord Ganesha which is celebrated by Hindus all over the world especially in the western India state of Maharashtra, the celebration of this festival last 10 days and ends on the day of ‘Ananta Chaturdashi’

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This day is celebrated as the Birthday calibration of Lord Ganesha, it’s also said that Ganesha Chaturthi Festival is a day on which Lord Ganesha, the son f Shiva and Parvati, is believed to bestow his presence on earth for all his devotees. This festival is observed in the lunar month of bhadrapada shukla paksha chathurthi madhyahana vyapini purvaviddha.

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According to the legend, Lord Shiva, the Hindu God of resolution, was away at a war. His wife Parvati, wanted to bathe and having no-one to guard the door to her house, conceived of the idea of creating a son who could guard her. Parvati created Ganesha and She then set him to stand guard at her door and instructed him not to let anyone enter.

In the meantime, Lord Shiva returned from the battle but as Ganesha did not know him, stopped Shiva from entering Parvati’s chamber. Shiva, enraged by Ganesh’s impudence, drew his trident and cut off Ganesha’s head. Parvati emerged to find Ganesha decapitated and flew into a rage. She took on the form of the Goddess Kali and threatened destruction to the three worlds of Heaven, Earth and Subterranean earth.

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Seeing Parvati in a dangerous mood. The other Gods were afraid and Shiva, in an attempt to pacify Parvati, sent out his ganas, or hordes, to find a child whose mother is facing another direction in negligence, cut off his head and bring it quickly. The first living thing they came across was an elephant. That elephant was facing north (the auspicious direction associated with wisdom). So they brought the head of this elephant and Shiva placed it on the trunk of Parvati’s son and breathed life into him. Parvati was overjoyed and embraced her son, the elephant-headed boy whom Shiva named Ganesha, the lord of his ganas. Parvati was still upset so Lord Shiva announced that everyone who worships Ganesha before any other form of God is favoured. So Ganesh is worshipped first in all Hindu occasions and festivals.

Lord Ganesha is worshipped, as the God of wisdom and Ganesha Chaturthi is a festival celebrated in the honor of Lord Ganesha.

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Krishna Janmashtami

August 18, 2009
Krishna Janmashtami , is also known as “Krishnashtami  “,”Saatam Aatham” ,”Gokulashtami”, “Ashtami Rohini”, “Srikrishna Jayanti”, “Sree Jayanthi” or sometimes merely as “Janmashtami”, is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna, an avatar of hindu deity Vishnu.
Krishna Janmashtami is observed on the eighth day, Ashtami. tithi  of the dark half or Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhaadra in the Hindu calendar, when the Rohini Nakshatra (called Aldebaran in the West) is ascendant. Rasa lila or dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna are a special feature in regions of Mathura   and  Vrindavan and regions following  Vaishnavism in Manipur.
Krishna Janmashtami always falls between August mid and September mid months of the Gregorian calendarand in 2009 for example the festival was held on the 14th of August.
The ritual is to fast the previous day (Saptami, sevnth day), which is followed by a night-long vigil commemorating the birth of Krishna at night, and his immediate removal by his father Vsudeva to a foster-home for safe-keeping.
At midnight, the deity of the infant Krishna is bated placed in a cradle and worshipped.The fast is completed after aarti, a special prayer.

Krishna Janmashtami , is also known as “Krishnashtami “,”Saatam Aatham” ,”Gokulashtami”, “Ashtami Rohini”, “Srikrishna Jayanti”, “Sree Jayanthi” or sometimes merely as “Janmashtami”, is a Hindu festival celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna, an avatar of hindu deity Vishnu.

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Krishna Janmashtami is observed on the eighth day, Ashtami. tithi  of the dark half or Krishna Paksha of the month of Bhaadra in the Hindu calendar, when the Rohini Nakshatra (called Aldebaran in the West) is ascendant. Rasa lila or dramatic enactments of the life of Krishna are a special feature in regions of Mathura   and  Vrindavan and regions following  Vaishnavism in Manipur.

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Krishna Janmashtami always falls between August mid and September mid months of the Gregorian calendarand in 2009 for example the festival was held on the 14th of August.

krishna 4

The ritual is to fast the previous day (Saptami, sevnth day), which is followed by a night-long vigil commemorating the birth of Krishna at night, and his immediate removal by his father Vsudeva to a foster-home for safe-keeping.

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At midnight, the deity of the infant Krishna is bated placed in a cradle and worshipped.The fast is completed after aarti, a special prayer.

Easter

April 26, 2009

Easter is the day when Jesus Christ was crucified and the Christians offer prayers and services in the Churches. Easter is another important festival for Christians. On this day Jesus Christ rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. Easter eggs and Easter bunnies are a major attraction during Easter, the festival of rejuvenation of life and living.

In the days of the early Christian church, only Easter Sunday was celebrated as a holy day. By the fourth century, each day of the week preceding Easter was established as holy days including Good Friday.
To most Christians, Good Friday is really a misnomer in that it was a “bad” Friday—the crucifixion day of Jesus. Some believe the term “Good” evolved from “God” or God’s Friday. Others believe “good” represents the good gift of salvation brought forth by the martyrdom. Regardless, it is a holy day throughout the Christian world.


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Ceremonial worship of the holiday follows closely to the events described in the scriptures. Some congregations still hold a three-hour service on Friday representing the three hours He hanged on the cross. A typical service includes seven distinct elements representative of Christ’s seven utterances while on the cross.

Good Friday is a day of sincere reverence among Goan Catholics. It is the culmination of Lent, an important observance in the lives of devout Catholics. Lent is observed for 40 days from February to March, beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Good Friday followed by Easter Sunday.


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Originally known as ‘God’s Friday’, the present expression is believed to have emerged in the 10th or 11th century. According to Christian legend, Jesus Christ was from Nazareth, a town in modern Israel. A well-loved and respected citizen, he was considered by many to be the Son of God.

Some high officials and Jewish priests, however, felt that he was trying to usurp their authority and mislead the people. They hatched a plot against Christ with the help of one of his 12 apostles, named Judas. On charges of misleading the people, of instigating them not to pay taxes to the emperor, and of claiming to be the messenger of God, they arrested Christ. The following day, he was produced before a council comprising priests, teachers of law and elders, and questioned about the charges against him.
Finding him guilty on all counts, they presented him before the Roman Governor, who saw no reason to condemn him. But the priests were adamant. They insisted that it was his teachings, which were responsible for all the riots in the city of Judea. At the same time, they pleaded for the release of one of their men, who had been imprisoned for the crime. The Governor appealed to them, reiterating that Christ had done no wrong. When the clergy did not agree, he handed Jesus Christ to them to do as they wished. The crowd asked for his crucifixion.

As he was led away by the soldiers, he was made to wear a crown of thorns and mockingly addressed as ‘King of the Jews’ by the jeering crowd. A huge wooden cross was placed on his shoulders, and he carried it to the place assigned for his crucifixion. In a show of solidarity, a group of his followers marched in a procession behind him. Two criminals were also led to the same place to be put to death with Jesus. At the assigned place, the three men were nailed to the crosses and left to die. Before he breathed his last, Jesus asked God, his father, to forgive those who were responsible for his death, as they were unaware of the magnitude of their sin. Jesus is believed to have died at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, three hours after being nailed to the cross.

On Good Friday, a cross, symbolic of the one on which Jesus was crucified, is unveiled in many churches. It is believed that Jesus rose from his grave on the following Sunday, which is celebrated as Easter. The rituals for Good Friday begin on the preceding Thursday. A feast symbolising the last supper of Christ is held on Thursday night. The end of this meal marks the beginning of the fast for Easter.

GOOD FRIDAY

April 20, 2009

Good Friday is the day on which Jesus Christ was crucified. Jesus Christ was born to Marry in Nezareth – a small town in Israel. He was the founder of Christianity, one of the world’s largest religions. Christ is believed to be an incarnation of God and his teachings are described in the New Testament.


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It is believed that on Good Friday, Christ was arrested by clergymen. Hence, Good Friday is believed to be the time when Christians keep fast and celebrate the day over the birth of Christ.

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Some people believe that ‘Good’ in GOOD FRIDAY is referred to as ‘GOD’ and it is also a common belief that ‘GOOD’ is referred to the gift brought by martyrdom. And according to one of the views, on this day, it is Jesus who went to heaven. It is also celebrated as a festival of life and spirit. Some believe the term “Good” evolved from “God” or God’s Friday.

Hanuman Jayanti

April 14, 2009

Shri Hanuman is regarded as the God of power of strength and knowledge in Hindu mythology. He is known as the ‘Pavan Putra’ of lord Rama and is the incarnation of Lord Shiva.

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He was born to Kesari and Anjani on the Chaitra Shukla Purnima (Chaitra Shukla Purnima is the Full Moon Day on the Hindu Calendar Month of Chaitra) that is why, he is known as ‘KESERI NANDAN’ and ‘ANJANEYA’. The philosophy of epic Ramayana is incomplete without the understanding of the unfathomable devotion of Lord Hanuman for Shri Rama. As Hindu Mythology says, He was the incarnation of Lord Shiva the God of Destruction, the Third god of Hindu trinity (All this universe is in the glory of God, of Shiva, the God of Love. The heads and faces of men are His own and He is in the hearts of all – Yajur Veda).

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Lord Hanuman is regarded to be the son of Hindu deity ‘VAYU’ (the wind). He was taken by ‘Vayu’ to Lord Sun to gain Vedic, shastra’s and moral knowledge. He gained his whole knowledge from Lord Sun, as he was considered as omniscient on the planet Earth

As per the mythology, Hanuman Ji is invincible and blessed to be immortal. The supremacy possessed by him is very beautifully described in Ramayana, during the Ramayana war of Lord Rama against the mighty Ravana. The “Sundara Kand”, the fifth book in the Ramayana, focuses mainly on the adventures of Hanuman.

Mahavir Jayanthi

April 8, 2009

The birth anniversary of the 24th and the last Tirthankara, Vardhman Mahavir, the founder of Jainism who Born a prince in 599 BC, Mahavir renounced worldly life at the age of 30 and undertook austere penance until he achieved realization, is celebrated by the Jain community on Mahavir Jayanthi. On this day the Jain temples are decorated with flags.


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In the morning the idol of Mahavira is given a ceremonial bath called the ‘abhishek’.
The last Tirthankara, Vardhman Mahavir spread the message of salvation to the world and had many followers. Mahavir preached non-violence, prohibited any kind of killing and taught his followers to seek salvation through penance and abstinence. They are also advised to donate money, clothes and grain to the poor. The Jains are divided into many sects of whom the main ones are Digambaras and Shvetambaras with the latter again divided into Deravasis and Sthanakvasis.


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The devotees make offerings of milk, rice, fruit, incense, lamps and water to the Tirthankar. Lectures are held to preach the path of virtue. People meditate and offer prayers.  Donations are collected to save the cows from slaughter. Pilgrims from all parts of the country visit the ancient Jain Temples at Girnar and Palitana in Gujarat on this day.

Ramnavami

April 3, 2009

The birthday of Lord Rama, the celebrated hero of the famous epic, ‘Ramayana’, is enthusiastically celebrated on the ninth day of the waxing moon in the month of Chiatra, all over India. Lord Vishnu is worshipped in his human incarnation as Rama, the divine ruler of Ayodhya. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed. People sing devotional songs in praise of Rama and rock, images of him in a cradle to celebrate his birth. Rathyatras or chariot processions of Ram, his wife Seeta, brother Lakshman and devotee Hanuman are held from many temples. People gather in thousands on the banks of the sacred river Sarayu for a dip. Some observe a strict fast on this day.


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Ramnavami occurs in the month of March. Celebrations begin with a prayer to the Sun early in the morning. At midday, when Lord Rama is supposed to have been born, a special prayer is performed. In northern India especially, an event that draws popular participation is the Ramnavami procession.


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The main attraction in this procession is a gaily-decorated chariot in which four persons are dressed up as Rama, his brother Laxman, his queen Sita and his disciple Hanuman. Several other persons dressed up in ancient costumes as work by Rama’s solders accompany the chariot. The procession is a gusty affair with the participants shouting praises echoing the happy days of Rama’s reign.

On the face of it Sri-Ramnavmi appears to be just a festival commemorating the reign of a king who was later deified. But even behind present-day traditions there are clues, which unmistakably point to the origin of Ramnavmi as lying beyond the Ramayana story.

Navratri

March 30, 2009

Navratri is a Hindu festival of worship of Goddess Durga the  form of  Shakti . The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi i.e. female divinity are worshipped.
Significance.


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Nine forms of Shakti are worshipped during the Navaratris. The Devis worshipped depend on the tradition of the region.

  • Durga, the inaccessible one
  • Bhadrakali
  • Amba or Jagadamba, Mother of the universe
  • Annapurna, The one who bestows grains (an) in plenty (purna)
  • Sarvamangala, The one who gives joy (mangal) to all (sarva)
  • Bhairavi
  • Chandika or Chandi
  • Lalita
  • Bhavani
  • Mookambika


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The beginning of spring and the beginning of autumn are two very important junctions of climatic and solar influence. These two periods are taken as sacred opportunities for the worship of the Divine Mother. The dates of the festival are determined according to the lunar calendar.

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1. Sharad Navaratri – This is the most important of the Navratris, and is simply called Navratri or occasionally, Maha Navratri (the Great Navratri). It is celebrated during Sharad (beginning of winter, Sept-Oct). It celebrates the slaying of Mahishasura by the goddess Durga. The festival is observed in most parts of India, particularly in Northern India, Eastern India, and Western India.

2. Vasant Navaratri – This is celebrated during Vasant Ritu (beginning of summer) (March- April). This Navaratri is celebrated in North India. Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu observes Navaratri during this period.

3. Ashada Navaratri – This Navaratri is particularly important for all Upasakas of Varahi- Celebrated in July-August. This is called Guhya Navaratri in Himachal Pradesh. Varahi is one of the seven Matrikas of Devi Mahatmya.

Holi

March 20, 2009

Holi is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalugna or Falguna (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March. It is the festival of colors, this festival has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of ‘good’ over ‘bad’. The colorful festival bridges the social gap and renew sweet relationships. On this day, people hug and wish each other ‘Happy Holi’.

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Holi celebration begins with lighting up of bonfire on the Holi eve. The main emphasis of the festival is on the burning of the holy fire or Holika. The origin of the traditional lighting of Holi is attributed by some to the burning of demonesses like Holika. At the time of Holika people assemble near the fire. The eldest member or a purohit initiates the lighting. He then smears others with colour as a mark of greeting. Next day the festival is celebrated with colours and lot of frolic.

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Numerous legends & stories associated with Holi celebration.
People rub ‘gulal’ and ‘abeer’ on each others’ faces and cheer up saying,. Holi also gives a wonderful chance to send blessings and love to dear ones wrapped in a special Holi gift.
Holi is a festival which is celebrated in all over India with different name but with the sane zeal.

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In Uttar Pradesh Barsana is the place to be at the time of Holi. This place is the famous  Lath mar Holi is played in the sprawling compound of the Radha Rani temple. Thousands gather to witness the Lath Mar Holi when women beat up men with sticks as those on the sidelines become hysterical, sing Holi Songs and shout Sri Radhey or Sri Krishna. The Holi songs of Braj mandal are sung in pure Braj Bhasha. Holi played at Barsana is unique in the sense that here women chase men away with sticks. Males also sing provocative songs in a bid to invite the attention of women. Women then go on the offensive and use long staves called Lathis to beat men folk who protect themselves with shields.

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In Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishan, this day is celebrated with special puja and the traditional custom of worshipping Lord Krishna. All over the Braj region and its nearby places like Hathras, Aligarh, Agra the Holi is celebrated in more or less same way as in Mathure, Vrindavan and Barsana.
In Goarkhpur, the northeast district of Uttar Pradesh, this day is celebrated with special puja in the morning of Holi day. This day is considered to be the happiest and colorful day of the year promoting the brotherhood among the people. This is known as “Holi Milan” in which people visit every house and sing holi song and express their gratitude by applying colored powder (Abeer). Holi is also considerd as the end of the year as it occurs on the last day of last hindu calender month Falgun. People also kickoff for the next year planning with New year Hindu calendar (Panchang) at the evening of Holi.

Natyanjali Festival – Chidambaram – Tamil Nadu

March 2, 2009

The ancient Nataraja temple of Chidambaram pays special tribute to Lord Nataraja – the dancing Shiva. It begins on the auspicious occasion of Maha Shivaratri. The temple has carved pillars depicting Lord Nataraja in 108 poses of Bharathanatyam classical dance in the eastern tower. The Natyanjali festival dedicated to Lord Shiva is celebrated every year for five days in the temple premises. During Maha Shivaratri leading dancers from all parts of India congregate and dance in the temple as an offering to Nataraja.


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Natyanjali festival opens on the auspicious occasion of the Maha Shivaratri day and of course in the right kind of venue – the ‘Prakara’ of the Chidambaram temple. The magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, built a thousand years ago, provides a beautiful backdrop for the event. The setting is truly divine-Chidambaram’s gold-roofed temple, with pillars depicting Lord Nataraja in 108 poses from Bharatanatyam – Tamil Nadu’s classical dance.


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Natyanjali festival is jointly organised by The Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu, The Ministry Of Tourism, Government of India and The Natyanjali Trust, Chidambaram. It is designed to promote a universal message of ‘Unity in Diversity’ conveyed in the universal language of music and dance.
The Natyanjali festival dedicated to the Cosmic Dancer (Lord Shiva) is celebrated every year during February-March. Lord Nataraja, according to Hindu mythology is the cosmic dancer. He is also called “the Lord of Dances”.