Thiruvathira

 

Thiruvathira (Tamil: திருவாதிரை, Malayalam: തിരുവാതിര) is a Hindu festival celebrated in the South Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Thiruvathirai(Arudhra) in Tamil means "sacred big wave", using which this universe was created by Lord Shiva about 132 trillion years ago. Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu, the Sri Natarajar temple's annual Festival, is celebrated on this date.

It is essentially a Shaivite festival and celebrates the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, which is represented by the Nataraja form. Arudhra (Thiruvathirai in Tamil) signifies the golden red flame and Shiva performs the dance in the form this red-flamed light. Lord Shiva is supposed to be incarnated in the form of Lord Nataraja during the Arudra Darshan day.

Most of the temples around the world with Lord Nataraja and Shiva as deity perform the Arudhra Darshan. Neivedhyam (food for God) made for Lord Nataraja on that day is Thiruvathirai Kali.

In Kerala, the festival is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Shiva. Thiruvathira is the nakshatra or "star" as per the Malayalam calendar of Lord Shiva. Another belief is that the festival commemorates the death of Kamadeva, the Hindu god of erotic desire. It is believed that on this day, the Goddess Parvathi finally met Lord Shiva after her long penance and Lord Shiva took her as a saha-dharma chaarini (equal partner). Both Parvathi and Shiva present this ideal to devotees in the form of Ardha-Nareeshawara (half male, half female form).

Pongal

 

Pongal is a Hindu festival which is observed by people of Tamil Nadu. Pongal is a four days festival and the most important day of Pongal is known as Thai Pongal. Thai Pongal which is the second day of the four days festivity is also celebrated as Sankranti. The same day is observed as Makar Sankranti in North Indian states when people take holy dip in river Ganges.

The day before Thai Pongal is known as Bogi Pandigai. On this day people clean their homes and light bonfire to discard unused items. In Punjab the same day is celebrated as Lohri by Sikh community.

Thai Pongal day is celebrated by boiling freshly harvested rice with fresh milk and jaggery in a new clay pot. While boiling the concoction, people let the milk spill over the pot as an auspicious sign of material abundance and prosperity. Later the concoction of rice, milk and jaggery, known as Pongal, is topped with brown sugar, Ghee, cashew nuts and raisins. Freshly cooked Pongal is first offered to the Sun God as a gratitude for good harvesting and later served on banana leaves to the people present in the home for the ceremony. Traditionally Pongal is cooked at sunrise at an open place.

Thai Pongal is the first day of Thai month according to Tamil Solar Calendar. Thai is the tenth solar month in Tamil Calendar. Thai Masam is known as Makar in other Hindu calendars.

Next day of Thai Pongal is known as Mattu Pongal. Cattles are decorated and worshipped on Mattu Pongal day.

The last and final day of Pongal is known as Kaanum Pongal. It is time for family reunions in Tamil Nadu.

Swami Vivekanandan

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902 C.E.) was a Hindu monk and a patriotic saint of India. According to English calendar he was born on 12th January 1863 into an aristocratic Bengali family of Calcutta. However his birthday is celebrated according to Hindu calendar and this day is known as Swami Vivekananda Jayanti. Vivekananda was born on Krishna Paksha Saptami after seven days of Paush Purnima. As Jayanti day is decided based on Hindu calendar, it is not fixed on Gregorian calendar like Rabindranath Tagore Jayanti and Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti which are celebrated on fixed day on Gregorian calendar.

However Indian government has decided to observe Swami Vivekananda's Gregorian date of birth as National Youth Day. Hence National Youth Day of India is celebrated each year on 12thJanuary since 1985.

Swami Vivekananda was modern Hindu saint and follower of Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism. He was disciple of Ramakrishna. He founded Belur Math, Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission.

 

Indian Republic Day 

India commemorates the day of 26th January as Republic Day. In 1950, on the very same day Constitution of India came into force. It is the same day when Declaration of Independencewas promulgated by the Indian National Congress and this day were chosen to honor that event.

It is one of the three national holidays of India, including Independence Day and Gandhi Jayanti. Being a gazetted holiday all government offices and most businesses are closed on Republic Day.

The main parade takes place in the national capital New Delhi, at the Rajpath before the President who unfurls the national flag. Celebrations are also held in state capitals, where the Governor of the state unfurls the national flag.

 

Maha Shivaratri 

Shivaratri is great festival of convergence of Shiva and Shakti. Chaturdashi Tithi during Krishna Paksha in month of Magha is known as Maha Shivaratri according to South Indian calendar. However according to North Indian calendar Masik Shivaratri in month of Phalguna is known as Maha Shivaratri. In both calendars it is naming convention of lunar month which differs. However both, North Indians and South Indians, celebrate Maha Shivaratri on same day.

Vrat Vidhi

One day before Shivaratri Vratam, most likely on Trayodashi, devotees should eat only one time. On Shivaratri day, after finishing morning rituals devotees should take Sankalp (संकल्प) to observe full day fast on Shivaratri and to take food next day. During Sankalp devotees pledge for self-determination throughout the fasting period and seek blessing of Lord Shiva to finish the fast without any interference. Hindu fasts are strict and people pledge for self-determination and seek God blessing before starting them to finish them successfully.

On Shivaratri day devotees should take second bath in the evening before doing Shiva Puja or visiting temple. Shiva Puja should be done during night and devotees should break the fast next day after taking bath. Devotees should break the fast between sunrise and before the end of Chaturdashi Tithi to get maximum benefit of the Vrat. According to one contradictory opinion devotees should break the fast only when Chaturdashi Tithi gets over. But it is believed that both Shiva Puja and Parana (पारण) i.e. breaking the fast should be done within Chaturdashi Tithi.

Shivaratri puja can be performed one time or four times during the night. The whole night duration can be divided into four to get four Prahar (प्रहर) to perform Shiva Puja four times. Drikpanchang.com lists all four Prahar durations for staunch Shiva devotees who perform Shiva Pujan four times in the night. We also list Nishita time when Lord Shiva appeared on the Earth in the form of Linga and the time window to break the fast on next day.

Shivaratri is also spelled as Shivratri, Shivarathri and Sivaratri.

 
 

Sri Ramakrishna Jayanti 

Ramakrishna (1836-1886 C.E.) was a famous Saint in the 19th century India. He was born on 18 February 1836 into a very poor but devoutly religious Brahmin family in the village of Kamarpukur, Hooghly district of West Bengal, India. He became a priest of the Dakshineswar Kali Temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali. He is famously known as Ramakrishna Paramahansa among his devotees. His full name was Gadadhar Chattopadhyay.

He was married to Sarada Devi who later became his spiritual counterpart. Swami Vivekananda was one of his famous disciples. In honor of his Guru, Swami Vivekananda founded Ramakrishna Math which works for the welfare of others and spread the spiritual movement known as Ramakrishna Movement worldwide. Belur Math is the headquarters of Ramakrishna Math and Mission.

According to Hindu lunar calendar it was Dwitiya, Phalguna, Shukla Paksha, Vikram Samvat 1892 when Shri Ramakrishna was born. Each year the birth anniversary of Ramakrishna is celebrated as per Hindu lunar calendar across all Ramakrishna Maths.

 

 Rangwali Holi | Dhulandi

Holi is a religious festival celebrated by Hindus all over the world. Holi is considered as second biggest festival on Hindu calendar after Diwali. Holi is also known as festival of Colors.

Places related to life of Lord Krishna are known as Braj regions. Holi rituals in Braj regions - Mathura, Vrindavan, Gowardhan, Gokul, Nandagaon and Barsana - are the most famous one. The Lathmar Holi - the traditional Holi festivity in Barsana is world famous.

In most regions Holi festival is celebrated for two days. The first day is known as Jalanewali Holi- the day when Holi bonfire is done. This day is also known as Chhoti Holi and Holika Dahan. Holika Dahan is referred to Kama Dahanam in South India. The second day is known as Rangwali Holi - the day when people play with colored powder and colored water. Rangwali Holi which is main Holi day is also known as Dhulandi or Dhulendi (धुलण्डी). The other less popular pronunciations of Dhulandi are Dhuleti, Dhulheti.

On first day bonfires are lit after sunset at Right Holika Dahan Muhurat. Main Holi day when people play with colors is always next day of Holika Dahan or Holi bonfire. Next day in the morning people play Holi with dry and wet colors. People are more willing and comfortable to play Holi with dry colored powders which are known as Gulal. However many people feel that Holi celebrations are incomplete without wet colors. Wet color is applied on the face and is made on the spot by mixing little amount of water with dry colored powder. More enthusiastic Holi folk mix dry colored powder in full bucket of water to drench complete body in wet color.

Whole team of Sanatana Ireland wishes you Happy and Colorful Holi!

 

Ugadi 

Ugadi or Yugadi is celebrated as the first day of the year by people of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka. On this day new Samvatsara, which is cycle of sixty years, starts. All sixty Samvatsara are identified by unique name.

Ugadi is celebrated as Gudi Padwa by the people of Maharashtra. Both Ugadi and Gudi Padwa are celebrated on the same day.

Ugadi is new year according to Luni-Solar calendar. Luni-Solar calendars consider the position of the Moon and the position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. The counter-part of Luni-Solar calendar is Solar calendar which considers only position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. Because of that Hindu new year is celebrated twice in the year with different names and at two different times of the year. The Hindu new year based on Solar calendar is known as Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Vaisakhi in Punjab, Pana Sankranti in Orissa and Naba Barsha in West Bengal.

The day begins with ritual oil-bath followed by prayers. Oil bath and eating Neem leaves are must rituals suggested by scriptures. North Indians don't celebrate Ugadi but start nine days Chaitra Navratri Puja on the same day and also eat Neem with Mishri on the very first day of Navratri.

 

Gudi Padwa 

Gudi Padwa or Samvatsar Padvo is celebrated as the first day of the year by Maharashtrians and Konkanis. On this day new Samvatsara, which is cycle of sixty years, starts. All sixty Samvatsara are identified by unique name.

Gudi Padwa is celebrated as Ugadi by the people of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Both Gudi Padwa and Ugadi are celebrated on the same day.

Gudi Padwa is Marathi New Year according to Luni-Solar calendar. Luni-Solar calendars consider the position of the Moon and the position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. The counter-part of Luni-Solar calendar is Solar calendar which considers only position of the Sun to divide the year into months and days. Because of that Hindu New Year is celebrated twice in the year with different names and at two different times of the year. The Hindu New Year based on Solar calendar is known as Puthandu in Tamil Nadu, Bihu in Assam, Vaisakhi in Punjab, Pana Sankranti in Orissa and Naba Barsha in West Bengal.

The day begins with ritual oil-bath followed by prayers. Oil bath and eating Neem leaves are must rituals suggested by scriptures. North Indians do not celebrate Gudi Padwa but start nine days Chaitra Navratri Puja on the same day and also eat Neem with Mishri on the very first day of Navratri.

 

 Rama Navami

Lord Rama was born on Navami Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Chaitra month. Each year this day is celebrated as birthday of Lord Rama. Lord Rama was born during Madhyahna period which is middle of Hindu day. Madhyahna which prevails for six Ghatis (approximately 2 hours and 24 minutes) is the most auspicious time to perform Rama Navami Puja rituals. The mid-point of Madhyahna marks the moment when Shri Rama was born and temples symbolize this moment as birth moment of Lord Rama. The chanting of Shri Rama and celebration reaches its peak during this time.

Ayodhya is birthplace of Lord Rama and Rama Navami celebrations in Ayodhya are remarkable. Devotees come to Ayodhya from far-flung places. After taking holy dip into river Sarayu Devotees visit Rama temple to participate in birthday celebrations.

Eight Prahar fasting is suggested during Rama Navami. Which means devotes should observe the fast from sunrise to sunrise. Rama Navami Vrat can be observed in three different ways, casual (नैमित्तिक) -which can be observed without any cause, continual (नित्य) - which can be observed throughout life without any desire and desirable (काम्य) - which can be observed to fulfill any desire.

 

Mahavir Jayanti 

Mahavir Jayanti is observed by Jains as birth anniversary of sage Mahavir. Mahavir, also known as Vardhamana, established core tenets of Jainism. Mahavir was the 24th and the last Jain sage.

Mahavir was born on thirteenth day of the rising moon of Chaitra month (which was Trayodashi Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Chaitra month). Mahavir was born during 599 B.C. and disappeared in 527 B.C. at the age of 72. Mahavir was born at Kundalagrama which is situated under Vaishali district in Bihar.

 

Hanuman Jayanti

Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated on full moon day during Chaitra month. Hanuman, who is also known as Vanara God, was born on this day and Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman.

Devotees observe Hanuman Jayanti during different time of the year according to their regional beliefs and the type of calendar being followed. Hanuman Jayanti during Chaitra Purnima is the most popular one in North Indian states.

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Hanuman Jayanthi is celebrated for 41-days which starts on Chaitra Purnima and ends on the tenth day during Krishna Paksha in Vaishakha month. In Andhra Pradesh devotees begin 41-days Deeksha on Chaitra Purnima and conclude it on Hanuman Jayanthi day.

In Tamil Nadu, Hanuman Jayanti is known as Hanumath Jayanthi and observed during Margashirsha Amavasya. In Gregorian calendar Tamil Hanuman Jayanti falls in January or December.

In Karnataka, Hanuman Jayanti is observed on Shukla Paksha Trayodashi during Margashirsha month. The day is popularly known as Hanuman Vratam.

It is believed that Hanuman was born at Sunrise. On Hanuman Jayanti day temples start spiritual discourses at dawn before Sunrise and stop it after Sunrise.

Hanuman, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama and Sita himself, is also known as Anjaneya.

 

Chaitra Purnima

All Purnima Tithis are considered auspicious among Hindus. Chaitra Purnima is the first Purnima in the year according to Hindu lunar calendar and it comes after Yugadi and Gudi Padwa.

All Purnima days have something special to celebrate for. Hanuman Jayanti falls on Chaitra Purnima day and this day is celebrated as birth anniversary of Hanuman.

People worship Lord Satyanarayana, an extremely benevolent form of Lord Vishnu, and observe Satyanarayana fasting on Purnima day.

Many communities observe one day fast on Purnima Tithi according to their Kul Parampara. Kul Paramparas are family traditions passed from generation to generation.

Chaitra Purnima should not be confused with Chitra Purnima which is fixed based on Tamil Solar calendar. Chaitra Purnima and Chitra Purnima might fall in two different months.

 

Vishu 

Mesha Sankranthi is celebrated as Vishu in the Indian state of Kerala. Vishu is not traditionally celebrated as New Year in the Malayalam Calendar. In the Malayalam Calendar, the New Year starts on the first day of Chingam. However people in the Malabar area consider Vishu as the astrological New Year.

Vishu is celebrated with much fanfare and vigour in all parts of Kerala. The most important event in Vishu is the Vishukkani. Vishukkani means sighting the most auspicious thing at dawn on the Vishu day for being lucky throughout the year.

Another famous ritual on Vishu is the Vishukkaineetam. Vishukkaineetam means gifting money to children, servants and tenants by elders of the family.

Vishu is also a day of feasting. The foods consist of equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items. Feast items include Veppampoorasam (a bitter preparation of neem) and Mampazhapachadi (a sour mango soup).

In some regions Vishu is also known as Malayalam New Year.

 

Akshaya Tritiya

Akshaya Tritiya which is also known as Akha Teej is highly auspicious and holy day for Hindu communities. It falls during Shukla Paksha Tritiya in the month of Vaishakha. Akshaya Tritiya falling on a Rohini Nakshatra day with Wednesday is considered very auspicious. The word Akshaya (अक्षय) means never diminishing. Hence the benefits of doing any Japa, Yajna, Pitra-Tarpan, Dan-Punya on this day never diminish and remain with the person forever.

Akshaya Tritiya is believed to bring good luck and success. Most people purchase Gold on this day as it is believed that buying Gold on Akshaya Tritiya brings prosperity and more wealth in coming future. Being Akshaya day it is believed that Gold, bought on this day, will never diminish and would continue to grow or appreciate.

Akshaya Tritiya day is ruled by God Vishnu who is the preserver God in the Hindu Trinity. According to Hindu mythology Treta Yuga began on Akshaya Tritiya day. Usually Akshaya Tritiya and Parashurama Jayanti, birthday anniversary of 6th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, falls on the same day but depending on staring time of Tritiya Tithi Parashurama Jayanti might fall one day before Akshaya Tritiya day.

Vedic astrologers also consider Askshay Tritiya an auspicious day free from all malefic effects. As per Hindu Electional Astrology three lunar days, Yugadi, Akshaya Tritiya and Vijay Dashami don't need any Muhurta to start or perform any auspicious work as these three days are free from all malefic effects.

 

Adiguru Shankaracharya 

Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti is observed as birth anniversary of Indian Guru and philosopher Adi Shankara. Adi Shankara was born in Kalady which is situated in Kerala during 788 C.E. and he was disappeared at young age of 32 in year 820 C.E.

Adi Shankaracharya Jayanti is observed on Panchami Tithi during Shukla Paksha of Vaishakha month and currently falls between April and May. Shankaracharya consolidated the doctrine of Advaita Vedanata (अद्वैत वेदान्त) and revived it at a time when Hindu culture was on decline.

Adi Shankara, along with Madhava and Ramanuja, was instrumental in the revival of Hinduism. These three teachers formed the doctrines that are followed by their respective sects even today. They have been the most important figures in the recent history of Hindu philosophy.

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