Guru Purnima

The word Guru has its origin in the Sanskrit language. The syllable ‘Gu’ taken individually refers to darkness and subsequently ‘ru’ refers to the removal of darkness.

Guru is given the highest place in an individual’s life even above that of parents and God. According to Hindu religion for mortals who have not seen God, Guru is the creator, protector and destroyer.

The first full moon day during the fourth month- Ashadha as per the Hindu calendar is celebrated as Guru Purnima. Also known as Vyasa Purnima the day is significant to Hindu’s as it is commemorated as the birth anniversary of Veda Vyasa. According to Mythological gospel Veda Vyasa was the one to dictate the entire Mahabharata to Lord Ganesha in one go.

This day is also celebrated by the Buddhist in honour of Gautam Buddha marking the day he gave his first discourse at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India.

Guru Purnima is thus celebrated by disciples to acknowledge the selfless act of their Gurus for inducting wisdom and knowledge unto them. Guru or teacher holds a spiritually as well as academical importance for Hindus. The teachings of ancient Gurus like Adi Shankara, Sri Ramanuja Acharya and Sri Madhvacharya have sculpted the virtues of Indian society since the inception of civilization.

Also Read: Cheti Chand – Celebration of the First New Moon

According to Indian tradition the Purnima (full moon) is celebrated by paying homage and worshipping Veda Vyasa the first Guru and performing puja of their respective Gurus.

The day is also significant to Indian farmers as it marks the setting-in of the much-needed monsoon. As most farmers in India even today depend on rains for their crop.

This period of the year is considered as the ushering in of life and therefore is a good time for one to start his spiritual sadhana (practice/learning).   It is also considered best for spiritual seekers for accepting the grace of their Guru. This grace has enormous significance for a disciple with regards to his ascension and growth.

Also, astrologically the planetary placement after the solstice and during the first full moon is the time when life on earth is most receptive to the cosmic energies and possibilities.

Guru Purnima

The best time for worshipping the Gurus is early in the morning. Beginning with cleansing oneself and praying to the Guru’s Padukas (shoes), followed by Puja, Meditation and chanting the Brahmananda Swaroopa- as paying tribute to the ecstasy of the creator.

Also Read: Gudi Padwa – The Hindu New year

Defying the limitations of existence and spiritually ascending to the possibilities beyond is only possible with the help of a Guru.

Cheti Chand – Celebration of the First New Moon

The moon has been earth’s darling from the beginning of time. It has been tirelessly revolving around its favourite planet since inception without a break. Even after being more than three hundred thousand kilometers away from earth it still has its own effect on the blue planet. We have seen the seashores go dry, and the oceans roar to destruction due to uneven lunar effects. The, roughly, 29.5-day lunar cycle can influence the behavior and instigate physiological changes in living beings on Earth, including humans.

Cheti Chand is the most prominent festival of the Sindhi clans both in India and Pakistan. Though it is a Sindhi festival the date of the festival is decided as per the Hindu Calendar.

It is celebrated when the New Moon first appears in the Cheti month, therefore, the name ‘Cheti Chand’. This is also celebrated as a tribute to the birth anniversary of the patron saint of the Sindhi’s- Ishtadeva Uderolal, more fondly known as Julelal, as the exact date of his birth is unknown. Though it is certain that he was born in the 10th century in Sindh during which time Sindh was ruled by the Sumras.

ALSO READ: GudhiPadva – The Hindu New year

Jhulelal photoA tyrant name Mirk Shah was threatening Sindhi Hindu’s to convert to Islam. To be rescued from this forced conversion the Sindhi’s prayed to the ‘Water God’. The God answered their prayers with a prophecy that a divine child born in Nasarpur would deliver them from their predicament. This child was the great saint Julelal.

Today in the honour of the water god a 40-day period of worship is followed. This is known as the Chailho Saheb. At the end of the fortieth day a ‘Thanks giving day’ is celebrated.

Water holds a lot of significance and is worshipped with great zeal and enthusiasm.  

This festival is celebrated with much fan and fare. A procession of ‘Baharana Sahib’ is taken to a nearby lake. The procession consists of an idol of Julelal, Oil lamp, sugar crystals, cardamom, fruits, a water jar and a coconut. These are decorated with flowers, leaves and traditional cloth. After performing the necessary pooja and rituals the Baharana Sahib is submerged in the water body.

Due to his miracles and pacification of Mirk Shah Julelal is worship by both Hindu and Muslims alike. The name Julelal signifies the rocking of his cradle on its own Jule (cradle), lal (child).  

Gudi Padwa – The Hindu New year

We all know, and some of us have been chanting the line ‘India is a diverse country. It is a multilingual country and is home for almost all possible religions found in the whole wide world. It is a melting pot of various cultures and beliefs that form the beautiful country of India.’ Speaking of diverse religions, these have their own version and variation of festivals, including the new year festive. These new year days are based on different types of calendars – Lunar, Solar, and the Lunisolar. One such auspicious new year day celebrated by each and every Maharashtrian household is Gudi Padwa.

Gudi Padwa is the first day of the Chaitra month and therefore the first day of the year as per the lunisolar calendar of the Hindu’s.

India is a predominant agricultural economy and even culturally the Agro-industry has great importance in the country. Gudi Padwa is also associated with the harvest festival as it marks the end of one season and beginning of another.

Ceremonially it is believed that Lord Brahma created the Universe on this day. Therefore, this day is principally scared to the Hindu’s. In a traditional Hindu family, the day begins before sunrise with a bath and then the front door is decorated with a ‘Toran’ (a garland made of mango leaves and marigold flowers). Thereafter, the ritual of erecting a ‘Gudi’ is performed.

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creative_ways_to_celebrate_The Gudi is a symbol of prosperity and a sign of all that is good. The Gudi is usually a copper vessel hoisted upside down on a stick decorated with a traditional red cloth and beads. It is hoisted in such a place in the house where there is enough sun light and is clearly visible from far away.

The women in the house also follow the tradition of decorating the front yard of the house with beautiful rangolies. They are pattern designs drawn on the ground using rice flour or limestone powder, turmeric, vermillion powder and other artificial colours. Now-a-days even flowers are used to make rangolies. These patterns are said to ward off evil and bring in good omen inside the house.

gudi-padwaThe name Gudi Padwa is more akin to the Maharashtrian sect of the society. The Sindhi’s call this day ‘Cheti Chand’ while in Karnataka it is called ‘Ugadi’.

The holy Prasad i.e. the sweet preparation made during this day is unique as it made from neem and jaggery. It symbolizes the bitter and sweet that comprises life.

Lalbaugcha Raja – Ganesh festival

For those who are not quite familiar with the royal Ganpati festival that makes the state of Maharashtra and its state-men mad in the months of August-September (festival calendar dependent), here’s a quick recap.

During the freedom struggle of India, the great freedom fighter – Bal Gangadhar Tilak, also known as Lokmanya Tilak came up with an idea to get all of his fellow countrymen together to fight the unruly rule of the British in India. The festival was taken up (too) seriously and the as years passed by, its magnitude increased. Well, here is a little story of Mumbai’s favourite place to be at when the festival of Ganesha arrives.

It is said that Lord Vishnu the protector and one of the divine Hindu trinity bestowed upon Lord Ganesha the honour that his name would be called before Vishnu himself. Therefore, today before any new beginning the name of Lord Ganesh ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’ is taken with great faith and spirit.

Likewise, during the auspicious Ganesh festival, the level of pomp and show cannot be rivalled by any other. The festival goes on for 11 days. The festivities include offerings of durva (kind of grass), hibiscus flowers and his favourite sweetmeat modak to statues of Lord Ganesh. On the 11th day, the statues are immersed in the water as a farewell. Immersions can happen on 2nd and 5th day also.

The most predominant of all the statue of Lord Ganesh that is erected during the time of the festival is that of the ‘Lalbaugcha Raja’ in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The spiritual and sentimental values of the devotees associated with this structure are the greatest. People gather in thousands each day to just get a glimpse of this mammoth construction.

Artists take a lot of effort to craft the beautiful statue of Ganesh Raja each year. Last year the statue was opened for public worship on 2nd September 2016, sitting on a huge owl thrown. The owl is the vehicle of Goddess Laxmi (Goddess of wealth and prosperity). A huge pandal (stage and tented auditorium) is constructed for housing the Ganesha statue. The stage on which the Raja sits is set dramatically with bright lights illuminating the entire girth of the statue. Looking at the statue itself gives devotees the feeling that they are under the protection of the Lord.

There is also a lore attached to this unflinching devotion. It is said that Raja fulfils all your good wishes and delivers you away from all your problems.

Holi – bura na mano Holi hai!

When it comes to festivals and celebration, India and its countrymen are second to none. The uniqueness is not in just the festivals, but also in the way they are celebrated. Every festival of India, I repeat, each and every festival of India swathes the country in beautiful lights our vivid colours. Every light and colour have its own significance for every festival. And one such amazing and interesting festival is the very special, festival of Holi.

Holi is the Indian spring festival of colours. As per the Hindu Calendar, it is celebrated on the Phalgun Poornima (Full Moon) which as per the English calendar may come in the month of February or March. As most Indian festivals Holi is celebrated as a triumph of good over bad.

The main theme of the festival is to apply bright radiant colours to one and other symbolizing elimination of social inequality.

Legend:

There are numerous legends and stories surrounding this festival but one that stands out is the burning of the demoness Holika. She was the sister of King Hiranyakashipu and aunt of Prahlad. Prahlad was a true devotee of Lord Vishnu and his devotion was not appreciated by his father. In a feat of anger, he decided to end Prahlad’s life and instructed Holika to take little Prahlad on her lap and sit on a stack of wood. Thereafter the King instructed his men to set fire to the stack. Holika would not be burnt as she had a special garment that protected her against fire. But owing to his devotion, Prahlad was least affected by the fire and it was Holika who perished.

Hence at the eve of Holi there is bonfire which signifies the scorching of all that is evil.

Rang Panchami- Day of colours:

Holi - Indian Festival

The next day is celebrated with colours and water being applied and thrown at each other as a way of celebrating the victory of the virtuous. Gulaal (pink coloured powder) being the predominant colour while the primary colours follow suit.

No Indian festival is complete without a special treat. Thandai a kind of milk smoothie mixed with bhang leaves is the main attraction for adults as it is said to give you a kick.

Holi is one festival where a little mischief is forgiven as the tagline itself says ‘bura na mano Holi hai!’. Having said that, every individual needs to take care that every celebration is for enjoyment and not for exploiting someone’s peace of mind.