New Years Day
This is the 1st day of the Hindu Calendar after the name of King Vikram. This day is commonly celebrated the day after Diwali.
It was on this day that Lord Waman ( the 5th incarnation of Lord Vishnu) liberated the "Prithvi Mata" from the reign of the all powerful King Bali. In reality, the King had made the other three classes of society very weak and dependant. Lord Waman brought in revolutionary consciousness thereby restoring the fragmented weak society up to its self respect and dutifulness.
On the same day Lord Krishna also challenged the peoples' acceptance of worshipping the proud autocratic leaders and he gave leadership to a deserving personality. He started Govardhan Pooja in Vrindavan by stopping Indira pooja, who had become proud and at times threatened the welfare of the people.
It is also a day for us to take new fruitful oaths getting rid of old dogmas. It is a day of establishing new relationships and fresh starts in life developing and strengthening bonds of brotherhood and love.
Which Hindu wouldn't like to remember this holy book, the nectar of all our four Vedas, hundred and eighteen Upanishads and everything there is to know about way of life and day to day practices for an individual as well as mass spiritual upliftment and realisation of "Parmatman". Volumes have been written by many seekers and pundits on this little holy book.
This is another festival rejoicing after taking the crops out of the fields. This is mainly celebrated in the North of India. Bortherhood feelings and cooperative sentiments are at the heart of this festival. Families come closer leaving out their sorrows and differences.
Maha Shiv Ratri
It is a day to ponder over qualities like selflessness, simplicity of living, meditation, generosity and richness of thoughts, contentment and indifference (vairagya). Lord Shiva truly represents all these qualities. If only humans were to truly realise that everything around us is destructable, most of the unhappiness emerging from materialistic race would come to an end. Structure of society would be totally different.
Lord Vishnu the protector of the Universe himself has worshipped Lord Shiva on this day with lotuses in the tranquility of midnight. It is a tradition to observe a fast and worship Lord Shiva with "Abhishek" while contemplating on his qualities.
The seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu took birth on the ninth day of the first lunar fortnight of the Charitra (6th lunar month according to the Hindu calendar). This incarnation was known as Lord Rama. He was born to King Dasharath and Queen Kayshalya. He was the ideal son, ideal pupil, ideal brother, ideal husband, ideal warrior, ideal King and besides all, an ideal master and friend.
The society in which he was alive had deteriorated to its lowest. Everybody was taking life for granted. Lord Rama therefore set standards for people and showed by his own behaviour the right code of conduct. We therefore know him as "Maryada Purshotam Ram" today.
Lord Rama conquered the demon King Ravana who had exiled him to the jungle for 14 years. Once Lord Rama had conquered the demon he returned to take his place on his throne and kingdom that he had to give up for 14 years. This homecoming is commonly known as Diwali.
This is another but one of the more commonly known ones where the sister ties a thread on her brothers wrist. The thread acts like a shield of protection against any evil coming to her brother. In return the brother gives a small token of a gift to his sister indicating that he is prepared to sacrifice anything for the sake of her protection. All the sisters are thus protected by the brotherly sentiments in the society, by this event.
Lord Krishna was born on this day to Vasudev and Devki as the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, but Nandaba and Yashodaji of Vrindavan were his foster parents. Kansa (the tyrant King of Mathura) had made life very difficult, so did other Kings such as Jarasangh and Kalayavan to name but a few. To re-establish law and order, confidence and peace and Dharma in the society, Lord Krishna right from his childhood started his mission. Even though he was constantly surrounded by mortal danger he emerged unscathed and triumphant.
There have been many inacarnations but Lord Krishna's was unique and total in all respects. There was not a single aspect of human life where he did not provide a stirring and thought provoking solution to a problem. He was a staunch reformer, very able politician, liberal democrat, messenger of Peace, protector of harassed, sincere impartial friend, selfless leader and above all, top most preacher of the spiritual knowledge.
So far no-one has placed before the world a concise, unambiguous yet the cream of nectar of all spiritual knowledge as the "Bhagavad Gita" easy intelligible for a commoner. He has promised that the highest goal of god realisation can be achieved through any one of the divine paths:
- Bhakti (Devotion)
- Karama (Actions)
- Gnana (Knowledge)
These nine days are celebrated for the worship of supreme power (Shakti) Amba maa or Durga maa. Folk dances and sticks dances are arranged during these days. Mythological story narrates, that there was a powerful demon King Mahishashur who terrorised everyone including deities like Indra, Agni, Varuna and hermits. It wasn't possible for any one God or Lord Vishnu to punish that demon.
All these gods - Brahma, Vishnu, Makesh, Indra, Varuna etc put all their powers together to make a supreme power. This was then used to fight and conquer this demon. Fierce form of this Shakti known as Durga maa killed the demon after nine days of terrible fighting. Peaceful form of Shakti was known as Amba maa. The tenth day is known as Vijya Dashami . It also shows the importance of the woman in the history of our cultural heriatge.
The married woman observes a fast and keeps awake for the whole night on this day, for the well being and all round welfare of their husbands. They also give presents to their mother-in-laws. This only brings out how clearly devoted the ladies of our society are. Women have always provided examples of self sacrifice, selflessness and total merger of the self as wives and mothers.
The essence of the Bhai dooj festival is that it is celebrated to strengthen the love between brothers and sisters.
Through the means of this festival, sisters commemorate their brothers with an auspicious tilak or a vermilion mark on their foreheads.
So traditionally, all brothers visit their sisters on this day and give them gifts. Sisters too, pray for their brothers' long life and good health, and general well-being.
Geographically the sun starts moving towards the tropic of Capricorn. It is the time when men and women are in tune with nature shifting towards cheerfulness.
It is the 14th January everytime. On this day "Tilgud" (sesame seeds and brown sweet sugar) are distributed among friends and neighbours signifying sweetness of speech and behaviour along with warmth, tenderness and strength through unity.
At a more subtle level, it is a day for our intellectual migration towards a better life of the society shedding the old ideas in favour of progress.
Holi (festival of colours)
Holi is a festival of colours. There is a story behind it. There was a cruel king named Hiranya Kashyapa. He did not believe in God. But his young son Prahalad was most devoted to God. He refused to obey the orders of his father.So his father ordered him to be burnt alive. Hiranya Kashyapa had a sister named Holika.
She had a special boon that the fire could never burn her. So she took the Child prahalad in her lap and sat in the fire. The king thought that the child would be burnt and his sister would remain alive. But strange thing happened. It was Holika who was burnt. The child remained unharmed. Holi is celebrated in honour of child Bhakt Prahlad.
On the night before the Holi, fires are lit everywhere. These fires show the burning of Holika. The next day is the Holi day. It is a day of great fun and frolic. People play with colours and sprinkle coloured water on one another. They visit their friends, apply gulal on their faces and say Holi Mubarak to them.
People forget their old enmity and become friends again. Thus Holi is a great festival.
A full moon day in Ashadh. This is the day for everyone of us who has sought for knowledge to pay respect for our teacher. It is rightly said that "Guru is a gate through whom you must pass to begin your journey in pursuit of any kind of knowledge". Our cultural and religious literature has placed Guru at a par with Parmataman. This day therefore presents a moment of introspection for us to check how far we have progressed on the path we have chosen to march on. Worshipping Guru is worshipping truth, divine knowledge and invaluable experiences.
This day comes sometime in September. According to the Hindu calendar it is the 4th day in pre-full moon days in Bhadrapad the eleventh month. We all know Ganesh is worshipped at the beginning of any religious ceremony.
He is known as the son of Lord Shiva and Maa Parvati. The mythical story about the form of Lord Ganesh in Purana is only to signify:
This is a day to pay respects to all time saints, devotees, Yogi's and hermits who have placed before us and for us, their knowledge and experiences acquired by devotion, penance and meditation exercises. They have demarcated the path to be free from worldly sorrows and pains. They have shown us the path leading to eternal joy, eternal power and eternal knowledge.
This homage is paid to our ancestors, through whom we exist, live and prosper during these 15 days. It is our indebtness towards them who have lived for us through us. We have to pray and pay homage to our elders on the day they left their bodies to live in another world or heaven.
Vijaya Dashami (festival of victory)
The celebration of this day has a special significance as it is related to many events which resulted in brilliant successes in the past:
Diwali (festival of lights)
On the eve of Diwali people decorate their houses with candles and lamps. Rich and Poor, young and old all work hard and save for this night. People buy new clothes, new kitchenware and other things. Special fireworks are displayed. Everything is made clean and shiny.
On Diwali's eve people worship the goddess of knowledge and wealth 'Lakshmi'. They distribute sweets among family, friends and neighbours.
Diwali is the story of victory of goodness over evil. Truth is power, Truth is goodness and truth is beauty, that is what Diwali tells us.
Many thousands of years ago, there was a powerful, kind and generous king in India. His name was King Dashrath. He had three wives and four sons. The eldest son was Lord Rama, Bharat, Lakshmana and Shatrughana.
The King promised his wife 'Kaikeyi' two wishes if she was ever in trouble and the king would fulfill them. The king was growing old and had decided to hand over his kingdom to Lord Rama. When the queen heard this news she got jealous and called in her two wishes. The King did not know what she was going to ask. He asked her for he first wish:
One day whilst Lord Rama and Lakshmana were out searching for food the demon King Ravana disguised himself as a beggar and kidnapped Sitaji to his country. When Ravana, the demon king of Lanka abducted Sita and took her away to his island kingdom of Lanka, Rama fought against and killed Ravana. He rescued Sita and returned to Ayodhya after fourteen years. The people of Ayodhya were very happy to hear of their beloved prince's homecoming. To celebrate Rama's return to Ayodhya, they lit up their houses with diyas, burst crackers and decorated the entire city in the grandest manner. This is believed to have started the tradition of Diwali.