Monthly Archives: August 2014

Shradh or Tarpan

Shradh an important ritual of Tarpan performed by Hindus for their departed ancestors or forefathers. Performing Tarpan in

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Shradh is a way of remembering, thanksgiving and honouring the ancestors for whatever they have given to the present generations. Period of Shradh is also known as Pitru Paksha. Pitru Paksha is considered the best period for performing Tarpan rituals. Pitru Dosha arises if one does not perform the rituals of Tarpan in Shraddh.

Every year, an important period of 16 days (Pitru Paksha or Shradh) is dedicated to the ancestors or forefathers. It is believed that the rituals performed during Shraddh produces best results for pleasing the ancestors. Shradh comes right before the Sharada Navaratri in autumn. Shradh or Tarpan ritual is also performed on the death anniversary of the departed family member. Different Tarpan rituals are performed for different departed members of the family or a particular day during Pitru Paksha is dedicated to that departed member. His or her favourite food items and clothes are offered to Brahmins or Pandits. Brahmins consume the food items and accept the offerings and it is believed that in this way it reaches our ancestors or forefathers.

Pitru Paksha or Shradh is considered as an inauspicious period for starting of any new venture and shopping of new clothes or any household item.

The last day of Pitru Paksha is known as Sarva Pitru Amavasya Shradh because on this day Shradh or Tarpan can be done for any departed members.

 

Paryushan: The Festival of Introspection and Forgiveness

Paryushan Parv is the king of all festivals and hence known as Parvadhiraj. This festival has the highest power of doing auspicious to the worshipers. This festival takes the soul to the upper condition, also shows the path of salvation and also makes the sinful persons pious and virtues. The souls which are aware about the merits and sins can do their duties, but those people who are still passionate towards worldly pleasures become aware of new motivation. Hence Paryushan is celebrated.

Meaning:

Paryushan means, “abiding” or “coming together”. It is also a time when the laity take on vows of study and fasting with a spiritual intensity similar to the temporary monasticism. It concludes with a time of confession and forgiveness for the transgressions of the previous year.

Paryushan word has different meanings:

1. Pari + ushan = all kinds + to burn = to burn (shed) all types of karmas. We do twelve different types of austerities including fasting.

2. “Ushan” also means stay closer to our own soul, be absorbed in our own-self by doing meditation, austerity, self-study etc.

3. Pari + upashamana = upashamana means to suppress our passions (anger, ego, deceit and greed) from all directions.

Hence the real purpose of Paryushan is to purify our soul by staying closer to our own soul, to look at our

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own faults, to seek forgiveness for the mistakes we have done, and vow to minimize our faults.

Ritual:

Paryushan lasts for eighth days. Jain festivals are generally not meant for eating, drinking and to make merry but are celebrated by penance, Jap ( Mantra recitation), prayer, worship and friendship. The most important factor of this festival is daily meditation and prayers which provides an opportunity for looking within. From the fourth day it is customary to read Kalpa Sutra (scripture which recounts life of Mahavira the 14 dreams of his mother before his birth, life and liberation after his birth). It also recounts the lives of other Tirthankaras and the rules of Paryushan. The final day of Paryushan is known as Samvastsari Pratikraman, the annual confession. The ritual of asking forgiveness from all living beings. The culmination of confession is receiving forgiveness and granting forgiveness to all living beings. At times this ritual is called the rite of “universal friendship”. The spirit of the day is contained in this verse: “ I grant forgiveness to all living beings, My enmity is totally non-existent. Let there be harmony, peace and prosperity for all”.

To ask forgiveness is the toughest thing to do. Hence our Acharyas have said:

“Kshama Viram Bhushanamm, Kshamavani Michchha Mi Dukkadam”

There are several Sutras to ask forgiveness with the unity of the body, speech and mind:

Khamemi Savve Jiva, Savve Jiva Khamantu Mi

Mitti Me Savva Bhuesu, Veram Majjham Na Kenai.

Meaning of the above Sutra:

I forgive all the living beings of the universe and may all living beings forgive me for my faults. I do not have any enmity towards anyone and have friendship for all living beings. The process of shedding our karmas really begins by asking for forgiveness with true feelings and to vow never to repeat mistakes. Most important quality of forgiveness is vinay and suppression of anger.

Ganesh Chaturthi

Lord Ganesha is also known as ‘Vignaharta’ or “Vinayaka”, meaning the Lord of obstacles. Lord Ganesha is also considered as the God of knowledge and wisdom. It is believed that one can get great wisdom and become wise enough to know good from bad by remembering and praying to Lord Ganesha. On Ganesh Chaturthi think of Vinayaka and pray to him so that he showers his blessings on all of us. In the Hindu mythology, it is a belief and ritual to start any work or task by chanting Ganesha Mantra and remembering Vighna Vinashak.

The Mantra:

||Vakratunda Mahakay Suryakoti Samaprabha

NirVighnam Kuru Me Deva SarvaKarye shu Sarvada||

Translation:

· Vakratunda – Curved trunk

· Mahakaya – Huge form

· Surya – Sun

· Koti – Billion

· Sama – Equal

· Prabha – Splendor

· Nirvighnam – No obstacles

· Kurume – Give me

· Deva – God

· Sarva – All

· Kaaryeshu – Endeavours

· Sarvada – Always

Meaning:

Meaning:

||O Lord Ganesha of the curved trunk and massive body, the one whose splendor is equal to millions of Suns, please bless me so that I do not face any obstacles in my endeavors.||

Legendary Tales:

Our Hindu mythology has numerous stories related with the birth of Lord Ganesha.

We all very well know Lord Ganesha, the son of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, was crafted by Goddess Parvati from the sandalwood paste, which she used for bathing. After the formation of a child like idol, Goddess Parvati respired life in the structure. Goddess Parvati, went to take bath and instructed Ganesha to guard the door. As advised, Ganesha guarded the door. When Lord Shiva returned and asked the child to let him go inside and open the door, Vinayak refused as he was not aware who Lord Shiva was.

Various other gods requested Ganesha to allow Lord Shiva inside, but Ganesha denied. This resulted in the battle between gods and Ganesha. With this, Lord Shiva became angry and cut off the head of Ganesha. Hearing this, Goddess Parvati became very annoyed and asked Lord Shiva to restore the life of her son Vinayaka. On this, Lord Shiva with the help of other Gods replaced the head of Lord Ganesha with an elephant’s

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head. Since then, we all know and remember Lord Ganesha as an Elephant Headed God.

Goddess Parvati was not happy with the elephant head so to calm her anger Lord Brahma along with other Gods blessed Vinayak by telling him he will be the first God to be worshiped before every good work begins. Hence, even today Vinayaka or the Elephant Headed God is worshiped with a lot of devotion, enthusiasm and dedication before any good work begins to ward of all obstacles by his devotees.

Historical Legend:

The Ganesh Utsav has been an event of celebration since the time of the Marathas & the Peshwas. During the rule of Chhatrapati Shivaji, Ganesh Chaturthi was celebrated as a public event but slowly it turned into a family affair. Social reformer Lokmanya Tilak once again changed the festival celebration from family affair to a festival of masses. The reason behind the celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi as signified in the history was to bridge the gap between “Brahmins” and “Non Brahmins”, as Vinayak or Lord Ganesha was considered to be the God of Everybody. Since then, the festival became a 10 day affair where large Pandals were organised and the idol of Lord Ganesha was established. Various musical events, songs, dance and prayers were offered to Lord Ganesha. Post the celebration, the idol of Lord Ganesha was submerged in water.

Thus, the Elephant Headed God Ganesha, who loves Modaks, Laddu and whose Vaahan (vehicle) is Mooshak (rat), is being worshiped since ages.

Celebrations:

It is celebrated with great zeal, enthusiasm, love and devotion all over the world especially in Mumbai and Southern part of India specially in Pune. The Ganesha Utsav witnesses the idols of Lord Ganesha in various forms. Vinayaka or Lord Ganesha will be taken home and devotees will worship him day and night by offering sweets (Modaks, Laddu, etc.), flowers and Durva (grass), just to name a few. The Pandals are set and priests offer special prayers to Vinayak or Lord Ganesh during this 10 days of Ganesh Utsav celebration. On the last day of Ganesh Utsav, Lord Ganesha or Vinayak Visarjan will take place.

The celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi lasts for a period of 10 days and ends on Anant Chaturdashi (the tenth day), where the idol of the Lord is submerged in water. This ritual of immersing the idol in water is known as Ganesh Visarjan. The ritual takes place with a huge procession along with music and dancing take the idol to the nearest water body, for immersion. Ganesh Visarjan and the complete Ganesh Utsav is an eye catching event especially in Mumbai, India. People from all over the country gather to witness this spectacular event.

May Lord Ganesh bless each one of us and remove all the obstacles from our lives.

Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan, a popular festival, which is celebrated across the country. This festival has no barriers of caste and creed; people from all walks of life participate in this festival. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the lunar month Shravana (Shravana Poornima) which also coincides with Upa-karma (changing the sacred thread for the Brahmins, Avani Avittom in South India). The festival is also called as Rakhi Poornima, Nariyal Poornima and Kajari Poornima in different states and is celebrated differently.

Raksha Bandhan is the combination of two words, Raksha and Bandhan. Raksha means ‘protection’ and Bandhan means ‘bond’. On the day of Raksha Bandhan, sisters tie silk thread known as Rakhi, on their brother’s wrists and in return the brother’s assure to protect them from all kinds of trouble. The brother’s take oath of protecting and the same is acknowledged by the sisters, who pray for their well-being.

Celebration of Raksha Bandhan

The family members take bath early in the morning and get ready as the customs proceed. Sister’s prepare the thali which consists of kumkum, rakhi, grains of rice, and sweets. A sister generally applies tilak on the forehead, ties the sacred thread called Rak on the wrist of her brother and prays for his good health & long life.

Mythology Says:

Indra and Sachi Devi : As per Bhavishya Purana, Indra the King of Gods was advised by God Brihaspati to wear a rakhi as a protection

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against demons when he was facing defeat at the hands of Vritra Asura. So, Sachi Devi tied a rakhi on Indra’s wrist.

According to one more mythological story, rakhi was intended to be the worship of the sea-god Varuna. Hence, offerings of coconut to Varuna, ceremonial bathing and fairs at water front’s accompany this festival. Usually fishermen offer coconut and rakhi to the Sea God Varuna – hence this festival is also known as Nariyal Poornima.

Historical Stories

It is said that when Alexander was defeated at the hands of the great Hindu King Purushottam of Punjab, Alexander’s wife tied a rakhi to Purushottam to protect her husband from being slain.

During the days of Emperor Humayun, it is believed that Rani Karnavati (Queen of Chittor) had sent a rakhi to emperor Humayun in order to get protection from Bahadur Shah who was invading her kingdom inspite of being of a different religion, he rushed to her help. Although Humayun was not able to defend Karnavati, his acceptance to the Queen’s offer showcases his respect for the relationship. This incident holds great significance that represents the act of responsibility attached to the thread of Rakhi.

The Message of Rakhi

Raksha Bandhan symbolizes the unmatched bond of love, care and respect. But in a broader perspective the festival of Rakhi (Raksha Bandhan) conveys an intrinsic message of universal brotherhood and sisterhood. Thus the festival of Rakhi conveys a message that has socio spiritual significance underscoring the need for nurturing of positive qualities, purity in thought, word and deed.

 

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