Beginnings are an epitome of hopes, happiness and immense enthusiasm. The Hindu New Year or Gudi Padwa or also called as Ugadi is widely celebrated to inaugurate the Hindu year. This is the first day of the Indian month of Chaita according to the lunar calendar. This day also marks the beginning of new season and end of the Rabi crops. People from all around India perform special rituals on this day and welcome the New Year with immense joy.
The preparations for this special day include proper cleansing of the house and decorating the home at its best. The family members install the Gudi at the entrance of their residence by taking a long stick, a sacred cloth which is mainly red or yellow in colour and a Kalash. After placing the kalash it is adorned with mango leaves and flowers. This ceremony is highly sacred and considered to bring happiness, prosperity and success for the family.
The festival is celebrated in honour of Maratha Shivaji Maharaj, a great king who had a kingdom that spread across the entire part of western India. This is the reason people worship the Gudi which is a cloth which flies like a flag that is usually a sign of victory in an army.
This day also represents love and devotion between the wife and husband. On this day newly married daughters with their husbands are invited for special meals and resents. Thus this is the festival where families and relatives get together to celebrate the joy. Special delicacies are also prepared like Shrikhand and Poori or Puran Poli in Maharashtra and a mixture of six tastes called Ugadi Pachhadi or Bevu Bella in South India.
This year Gudi Padwa is on 8th April 2016 and we wish that it brings new ray of hope in everyone’s life.
The fourth day of the five day long festivals, followed by Diwali is Govardhan Puja. This festival is another day of celebration holding special tribute to Lord Krishna by his devotees. There is a tradition of building cow dung hillocks, which symbolize the Mount Govardhan, the mountain which was once lifted by Lord Krishna. After making such hillocks people decorate them with flowers and then worship them. They move in a circle around the cow dung hillocks and offer prayers to Lord Govardhan.
This day is also observed as Anna-Koot, which literally means ‘mountain of food’. On this auspicious day the people prepare fifty-six or one hundred and eight different varieties of delicious dishes to offer Lord Krishna as ‘Bhog’. In the temples the deities are given milk bath, dressed in new shining attires and decorated with ornaments. Then they are worshipped, offered prayers and bhajans and also offered delicious sweets, fruits and eatables that are ceremoniously raised in the form of a mountain before the idols.
Legend of the festival:
This festival signifies the victory of humility and nobleness of Lord Krishna over the ego of Lord Indra. Due to the strong pride of Lord Indra, he felt insulted when the devotees of Mathura adored Govardhan hill and the cows and bulls. He expressed his rage through heavy and violent rains. Soon lord Krishna came to rescue and he protected the villagers as well as the animals by lifting up the hill on his little finger. The love and faith of the people for Lord Krishna, made lord Indra realize his worth and he had to surrender his ego in the feet of Supreme God.
This festival is a celebration of the love between the being and his supreme creation. Human beings express their gratitude by performing different rituals and also pray for their safety and blessings. It also express our love for the natural habitat and inspires the being to value and conserve the natural resources.
This day is also celebrated as Bali Pratipada or Bali Padva. It is celebrated in regards of the victory of Vamana (incarnation of the Lord Vishnu) over demon King Bali. It also marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya as ‘Vikaram-Samvat’ was started from this Padwa day.
Navratras are celebrated to worship different avatars and forms of Goddess Durga. To please Goddess Durga, a 9 day fast period is observed. During Navratri puja, the Durga Sapshati puja and havan with proper procedures and rituals is conducted where each family member gives ahuti and takes blessings from Durga mata. The last 3 days of Navratre are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of education, art and creativity). The Saraswati puja vidhi and processes need to be properly understood and applied.
- After getting ready and cleaning the puja room, sit facing towards east direction.
- Place a white cloth one platform and place the idol of Ma Sarawsati on it. Decorate the idol with turmeric, kumkum, rice, garlands and flowers. Books and musical instruments can also be placed near the deity.
- Place a green coconut on an earthen pot with a red coloured cotton cloth. Light the diya and remember lord Ganesha first and pray for the successful completion of the puja.
- Chant the following mantra and remain in meditation for a while.
||Yaa kundendu tushaaradhawala, yaa shubhra vastravrutha
Yaa veena varadanda manditakara yaa shweta padmasanaa
Yaa brahmachyuta shankara prabhrutibhi devai sadaa vandita,
Saa maam pathu saraswati bhagavati nishshesha,jadyapaha.
Aum saraswathyae namah, dhyanartham, pushpam samarpayami||
- Then offer the prasadam that you have made on the banana or betel leaf. Keep elaichi and lavanga on it.
- Perform the arti with camphor and diya and ring the bell or conch simultaneously.
To book the Saraswati puja package or order Saraswati puja samagri, contact Shubhpuja- http://shubhpuja.com/saraswatipuja-id-344757.html
Many of us believe in the philosophy of quitting their favourite edible or avoiding materialistic luxuries to please the God and receiving blessings in return for fulfilment of the desired wish. This concept is prevalent during the seven or eight days of fasting of Navratras. Yet if you are not one of those who can fast, still you have to abide by the rituals of food pattern in the house.
Remember- Strict NO to Non-Vegetarian food!
All of us are aware about the prohibition of non-veg food items and even onion and garlic during Navratri festival; so let’s explore the cause behind it.
*NAVRATRI occurs during the two major changes of season i.e. fall into winters and then winters into spring. This period has the highest probability of affecting our immune system; and such changes in the nature and environment around us also brings alterations within us. Thus it is better to go for easily digestible edibles which are healthy and nourishing and also activates the positivity within you.*
Other reasons for avoiding non-veg:
- Non vegetarian food is high in Tamasic content that consumes a much longer time for digestion and creates an aura of irritation and negativity.
- The animals are slaughtered inhumanely which leads to a cover of pain and distressing energy around the meat; which keep on growing as we consume them.
- Certain issues like respiratory diseases, heart diseases, indigestion and even cancer can be caused due to excess of proteins.
- The Sattva-guna begins to decline within one, over powered by the violent and ferocious
- Lack of positivity disturbs the spiritual experience of an individual and he deviates from his motive of life.
Though all these points mentioned above will compel you to think about it at least once, but there is no law against it and it is not a sin to eat meat. Yet those of us who prefer Sattvik over Rajasic or Tamasic are able to reach the spiritual destination, much quicker and easily.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja
The era of adopting westernized techniques to ideology to dressing style and so on; the air of western culture is widely dominant in India, since more than a decade. As we are saying that our Indian culture is being modified by western views, here I contradict my own statement by highlighting the Indian traditional and cultural norms still being valued in the form of our enthusiastic and bright Indian festivals.
Have you ever wondered that may be these Indian festivals have some connection with the Western world festivals; or rather few of the festivals hold the same significance and motive for celebrating them. If you say yes, then yea you are absolutely correct because here we have unusual similarities between the ‘horror festival of Halloween’ and ‘Indian festival of Kali Chaudas’.
Eerie essence of Halloween:
The Celtic tribe celebrated Samhain, at the beginning of winter season to please the evil ghostly powers, which are said to dominate over the Sun God on this day. The Druid circle performs their own ceremonies on this day along with offering thanks to the dead for the rich harvest of the season. So the entire kingdom is kindled with fire before the new moon day to welcome the wandering dead spirits and offer them with the grand feast to pacify their hungry souls.
Celebration of good over evil of Kali Chaudas:
The Indian festival of Kali Chaudas falls on the fourteenth day of the moon cycle or one day before the new moon day, marked by the bright festival of Diwali. This festival is associated with the period to celebrate the harvest of this season and offer auspicious homage to their ‘Kul-devta or kul-devi’. Before this festival, Indians pay special reverence to their ancestors by organizing Shradh puja and honouring their Pitras or manes. During this shradh period, families prepare great feasts to pacify the hungry souls of their ancestors and receive blessings from them. The also feed the birds as they are considered to be the spirits of dead and messengers of Lord Yama (God of Death).
Rare mystery of ‘Pumpkins’:
The Halloween gives special importance to ‘Pumpkin’ and devilish faces are painted on it and placed outside the house, to prevent the entrance of evil spirits and wandering souls inside the house. In the same way, Pumpkin was also used by Indians to restrict the wanderers to a particular way and it was also used in magical ceremonies of keeping away the evil spirits.
Opportunity for tiny toddlers:
Both the western and Indian world gives opportunity to the kids to enjoy on this festival and celebrate it with zest. In west, children dress up as evil and devilish characters and go from one house to another to collect funds and similarly the Indian kids dress up in their best attire during the festive season of Deepawali.
Devil form of women:
As the evil ‘witch’ is widely prominent in Halloween and people dress up like them to scare them away, and not let them enter their house or destroy their harvest. The story of Adam’s wife Lilith, turning into a succubus is widely known and since then the demon role of women was evident. In Indian context, the furious and devilish form of Goddess Kali is revered on this day for ending Naraksura (demon). This shows that how a beautiful, elegant lady can transform into devilish form when she has been exploited and failed to get the respect as women.
So the two festivals are almost similar as the idea of feeding the ghosts or ancestors for pacifying their soul and celebrating the pious day of Diwali and All Saints Day and All Souls Day respectively; truly signify the connectivity among humanity and one world as a whole.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja