Archive for March, 2009

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”.