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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Sravana Masam Festivals & Vratas

 Sravana Masam:-

- On the eve of 'Sravana Sudda Vidiya' we celebrate 'Mangala Gouri Vratam'
- On the eve of 'Sravana Purnima' with 'Sravana Nakshatram' is the 'Haigreeva Jayanti', also is the ending of 'Krutayugam' and 'Jandhyala purnima' or 'Rakhi Purnima'
- On the eve of 'Sravana Bahula Astami' we celebrate 'Sri Krishna Janmastami' or 'Sri Krishnastami'
- On the eve of 'Sravana amavasya' is the ending of 'Rudrasaavarnika Manvantaram'.

 Shravan Masam  Importance for Hindus:-
 Shravana Masam is the fifth month according to the lunar calendar or Hindu calendar. This is one of the most important and holiest months along with Karthika Month. It is dedicated to lord Shiva. This month has many Hindu festivals becuase there are many auspicious times or Muhurats in this month. Shravan Mondays are completely dedicated to Lord Shiva. Many Hindus and staunch devotees of lord Shiva fast on this and pray the whole day with devotion. This year’s Shravan month is from 7 August 2013 to 6sep 2013. Shravana Masam or also called Shravan in north is equally important for North Indians and South Indians.
Shravan month also marks the beginning of the auspicious Chaturmas (4 months). All the spiritual leaders start their austere journey by following Chaturmasya Deeksha in these 4 months. Many religious leaders of all the regions like Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu follow this Deekhsa. It is considered as a next level in their spiritual journey.

Some of the parayanas that will be done include Aruna  prashna prayana, Rudra parayana, Veda parayana and taittreya upanishad.
These will be during the day. In addition every evening there will be a group chanting of vishnu sahasranama.

In Shravana Masam every monday dedicated to lord shiva. Every tuesday dedicated to Mangala gowri, every friday dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and every satarday dedicated to shani and balaji. In Shravana Masam every second friday will be varalakshmi vratam. Weddings are more in Shravana Masam.


About a Legend:-
Legend has it that Goddess Parvati has once asked Lord Siva about a vratam, performing which would render the women on the earth blessed with all kinds of wealth. Then did Lord Siva preach of "Vara Laksmi Vratam" to be performed on a Friday that comes just before the full moon day in the month of Sravanam. Illustrating the sanctity of the vratam, Lord Siva narrated the story of Charumati of Maratha desa, which runs like this -

Once upon a time, there lived a gracious and wise Brahmin lady called Charumati in the Maratha Desa, a town that had golden houses and golden walls. Charumathi was a Maha Pativrata, indulged in a whole-hearted worship of her husband and looked after her in laws with utmost respect. Pleased with her good nature, Goddess Lakshmi happens to appear in her dream and advises her to perform the Varalakshmi vratam on Sravana sukla sukravaram preceding the full moon day. Charumathi prostrates in devotion to the Goddess in the dream itself and the next morning illustrates the dream to her husband and in-laws. With their consent, she tells the same to a few more women folk of the town and they together wait the day.

The much-awaited day finally comes and they set stage to worship the Goddess Vara Lakshmi at one corner of the house, which is cleaned up with cow dung. All of them perform the puja to the Kalasam with all devotion and piety, tie the toram to their wrists and offer prasadam to the Goddess. Then does the miracle start as they go about to take the Pradakshinas after the puja. They see themselves bedecked with various ornaments one at a time as - anklets on feet for the first, bracelets for the second and various other ornaments for the final pradakshina. Excited about the blessing of Vara Lakshmi, they once again prostrate to the Goddess and honour the Pundit with due Dakshina and conclude the vratam by taking the prasadam.

As the women folk stepped out of the house do they see their houses decked with all riches and golden chariots awaiting them outside Charumati’s house. Extremely happy about what all had happened, the women thank Charumati for having shared her luck with them. Ever since then is the Vara Lakshmi Vratam performed in every household on this auspicious day.

Legend also say that the vratam was later also preached by sage Suta to Sounaka and other sages. Another legend is that Chitranemi who was one cursed by Parvati for having made a partial judgement in favour of Shiva when asked to play the referee for their game, got relieved from the curse by having watched this vratam performed by some pious women. Such is the sanctity of the Vrata.

Vara Lakshmi Vratam: -
It is the worship of goddess of wealth. It is celebrated on the last Friday of the bright fortnight in the month of Ashada, corresponding to the English month of July-August. The worship of Maha Lakshmi is performed by married ladies to obtain good progeny, and for the long life of the husband.




Sri Lakshmi or Mahalaxmi :-
Goddess of Wealth, Light, Wisdom, the lotus.flower and fortune, and secondarily of luck, beauty, courage and fertility. Due to Her Motherly feelings and being the consort of Narayan (Supreme Being), She is believed as the Mother of the Universe. She is the consort of Vishnu and married Him in His incarnations Rama (in her incarnation as Sita), Krishna (as Rukmini) and Venkateshwara (as Alamelu). In Vaishnava traditions, She is believed to be the Mother Goddess and the Shakti of Narayan

Primarily eight kinds of wealth are established, associated with Goddess Sri Mahalakshmi. They are:

) Ādi Lakṣmī
[The main goddess]
2) Dhānya Lakṣmī
[Granary wealth]
3) Dhairya Lakṣmī
[Wealth of courage]
4) Gaja Lakṣmī
[Elephants, symbols of wealth]
5) Santāna Lakṣmī
[Wealth of progeny]
 6) Vijaya Lakṣmī
[Wealth of victory]
7) Vidyā Lakṣmī
[Wealth of knowledge]
8) Dhana Lakṣmī
[Monetary wealth]


Goddess Sri Mahalakshmi is worshipped by those who wish to acquire or to preserve wealth. It is believed that Sri Mahalakshmi (wealth) dwells in those houses which are clean and where the people are hardworking.

Story of Vara Lakshmi Vratam:-
In a town called Kundina, there lived a humble and kind natured Brahmin woman named Charumathi. She loved her husband and family very much. Impressed by her sincere devotion towards her family, Laxmi Devi came into her dreams one night. She asked her to perform the Vara Laxmi pooja and also explained her the details, procedure and when to do the pooja. She told her that the Friday just befor ethe Shravana Purnima is a completely apt day for the puja.

Charumati woke up and told about the dream to her family, who took the news in a supportive manner and enchoraged her to proceed with the pooja.Charumati told about the pooja to her friends and neighborhood and the word spread out in the town. Thus on that year, all the women from the town worshiped varalakshmi devi with their sincere dedication. They all chanted
"Padmaasane Padmakare sarva lokaika poojithe
Narayana priyadevi supreethaa bhava sarvada"

The story says that impressed by their dedicated pooja Laksmi Devi appeared in front of them and blessed them with everything they ever wanted in life. Their houses did not have any lack of food ,lack of jewellery. The families in the town lived happily ever after doing this pooja every year. Since then the new spread and now the whole South India performs this pooja.

 Samkalpam   of   Vara Lakshmi Vratam :-

Mama upaatha durithakshaya dwara sri parameswara preethyartham aadya Brahmanaha dwithiyaparardhe swethavaraha kalpe vyvaswatha manvantharae kaliyuge prathama paadey Krouncha dveepe Ramanaka varshe Indra khande, Meroh Paschima Paarswa digbhage, Uttara Amerikaayaam, Mississippi, Missouri, Ilinee Maha nadiyormadhye, Raachini, Maachini parvathayormadhye, Your City Pattane,Your Place graame, asmin varthamana vyvaharika chandramaanena Vikruthi naama samvatsarae Dakshinayane Varsha rhuthau Sravana maasey, Shukla Pakshey, Ekadashi thithau Brugu vaasarey Varalakshmi Vaasarey subha nakshatrae subha yogae subha karana yevam guna visheshana visishtaayaam subha thithau….. sri matyaha Your Name Gotravathyaha ……… sabhatrukayah asmaakam saha kutumbaanaam kshema, sthairya vijaya ayurarogya aishwaryabhi vrudhyardham dharmartha kaama moksha chaturvidha phala purushartha sidhyartham satsanthaana sowbhaghya phala vyapthardhyam srivaralakshmee devatha muddhisyae sri varalakshmi devatha preetyardham karpoktha vidhanena yavathshakti dhyanaavahanaadhi shodashopachaara poojaam karishye thadanga sri mahaaganapati poojam karishye thadanga kalasa poojaam karishye.


Varalakshmi Vratam in Andhra Pradesh:-

In Andhra Pradesh women perform Varalakshmi Vratam to please Goddess Lakshmi. This puja is performed in the month of Sravana.   The second Friday in the month of Sravana is the day on which Varalakshmi Vratam is performed.

->For the Varalakshmi Vratam, houses are cleaned and the door frames are decorated with turmeric and Kumkum.   Mango leaves are tied to the entrance.
->Fruits, flowers, coconuts, betel leaves, jaggery, new clothes for the Goddess are kept ready.
->In few families the tradition of arranging a Kalasam for Varalakshmi vratam is not followed.   Women should ask their elders about it and arrange Kalasam only when the family follows this tradition.

Nine types of naivedyams are offered for Goddess Varalakshmi.
->Toralu which are to be tied to the hands should be prepared with nine lines of threads making nine knots and tying flowers.
->Pulihora, Purnam Boore, Paramannam and Pulagam are the compulsory offerings that should be prepared for Goddess Varalakshmi.
->Vaayanam is given to a married woman after completing Varalakshmi Vratam which contains nine boorelu, tambulam, dakshina, toram, kumkum, turmeric, fruits, flowers and blouse piece.
->After completing the puja in the morning, in the evening neighboring women and young girls are invited home and offered tambulam.
->If a woman could not perform Varalakshmi vratam on second Friday of Sravana month, the same can be performed on 4th Friday.



The Mangala Gowri Vratha (Gauri Devi):-

The Mangala Gowri Vratha  is performaned as Mangala Gour in Maharashtra & Mangala Gowri Vratha in Karnataka. It is the worship of Devi Parvatiji (Gauri Devi).

The Vrath is done on Tuesdays in the month of Shravana masa also known as Shravana Masa Mangalvar. The Vrath is starts from the first Tuesdays to last Tuesdays of Shravana maasa.
Before starting the puja clean the puja room and take make rangoli. Keep a flat wooden platform/ plate spread a blouse piece over it. Over the blouse piece spread a cup of rice . Place a cloth and spread some raw rice on it and place kalash on it.


The Kalash is half-filled with water and decorated with betelleaves, usually five in number.The Kalash tray can be filled with turmeric, kumkum, sandalwood and other Pooja items.Now close it with with coconut with red cloth folded like pyramid.

Keep either a silver Mangala Gowri or a Turmeric Gowri.  Keep a mirror behind the Mangala Gowri and two blouse pieces, which are folded in a triangle shape on either side of the mirror.  Keep 16 betel leaves and 32 betel nuts over it, and a whole dry coconut in a tray, some people halve the dry coconut and fill with rice and keep it on either side of the Gowri.

Decorate the Idol with flowers. Keep fruits , cocnut, or offer payasam made payasam( dhal+rice payasam) and rice+dhal along with fruits/dry fruits as prasadam.

Invite women (Sumangali) to hom offer Mangala drowya, betal leaves, fruits, kumkum and Haldi(Turmeric), sandalwood paste and do namaskara / obeisance to god and all the elders in the house.  By observing this vrata, women believe that they will be blessed with long lasting  and successful married life.


Puja of Mangala Gowri :-

Chant the Guari Ashtottarams with kunkuma and turmeric. Perform the pooja by offering Sandal paste, Manthrakshathe, Red Flowers, Incense sticks and deepa /lights.

Special pujas dedicated to Goddess Gowri is performed on the day and women dress up like a traditional married woman with all bangles, flowers and mangalsutra – symbolically indicating to Goddess Gowri that they want to be like this on all days.


Bhimana Amavasya or Gandana pooja:-
Bhimana Amavasya or Gandana pooja, is an important pooje performed in Hindu/Madhwa houses by unmarried women and newly married women for 9 years after their marriage. It is performed on the new moon day or amavase in the month of Aashada masa. This year it is on August 6th 2013
This pooje is also called Bheemeshwarana pooje. This pooje is dedicated to God Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
Mud models of Shiva and Parvathi in the form of a cone with a flat base are made, kept in the sun to dry and decorated with white dots made out of limestone paste, or sometimes with akki hittu(rice flour) mixed with milk. A thread immersed in turmeric paste, a flower and sometimes turmeric root are tied around the model for Parvathi. After the pooja, usually either the girls Mom or Mother-in-Law ties this thread to the girls wrists.
Those who have brothers, later in the evening worship the hosthilu or threshold of their house. They call it “Bhandara vadiyodu“. The girls brother brakes the bhandara and gives money to his sister.

 Story for Bhimana Amavasya:-

In a city there was a king called Vajrabahu. He had one and only son called Vijayashekara, who dies suddenly while still young. The king and queen decide to perform his marriage; even though he is dead. But, who would marry a corpse, right? No one comes forward to marry him. A Brahmin couple, named Madhava and his wife Sushila have five daughters and nine sons. They are extremely poor and they decide to marry one of their daughters in marriage to the dead prince; in return they would get lot of money and can use it to feed their family.
This girl is left with her dead husband and than she prays to God Shiva and Goddess Parvathi with great devotion. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi ask her to perform this pooja; since she is in the forest and doesn’t have any money she uses clay or mud and performs the pooje. The dead prince comes back to life. The king, queen and everyone is now happy to see their son come back to life.
Now that you know why and how to do the pooja, tell the significance of this story to your daughter, perform the pooje, tie the thread across her wrist and bless her with all your heart.


Rakhi Purnima:-
 It is the most sublime and sentimental festival and falls on Purnima day. A Rakhi or amulet is tied round the wrist of brothers by their sisters as a charm protecting them from evil or harm and, consequently in return seeking their help when in trouble. The Rakhi name derives from the word 'raksha' that is to protect.

History of Rakhi bandhan:-
 The history of Raksha Bandhan goes back to the early days of the arrival of the Aryans in India. The Aryans performed Yajnas before going to wars. This was done to invoke blessings of the God. Before the men departed for the battlefield, their womenfolk tied sacred threads or amulets to protect them and also to
remind them of their duties to uphold the honor of their tribe. This is how the custom of Raksha Bandhan seems to have originated.

It is said that when Alexander invaded India in 326 B.C., his wife tied a Rakhi to the king Porus. In return Porus is believed to have promised to protect her and her husband. In the medieval period, we have numerous examples of the practice of tying knots or threads. The history of Rajputana is full of several such examples of Rakhi like traditions. The most famous of them is the story of the Queen karnavati of Chittor, who sent a Rakhi to the Mughal emperor, Humayun to save her kingdom from the invasion of Bahadur Shah of Gujarat. That particular day of Purnima was celebrated as Raksha Bandhan in Marwar and then all over Rajasthan and, finally, throughout India.

Slowly and gradually the concept of tying knots or threads spread to other parts of India and assumed broader significance. The most recent historical example of Raksha Bandhan comes from India's struggle for
freedom. To oppose the partition of Bengal, the great poet Ravindranath Tagore organized Raksha Bandhan to promote brotherhood and solidarity between Hindus and Muslims. Besides, there are numerous legends related to Raksha Bandhan in the Hindu mythology.

Rakhi in odisha:-
The practice of tying rakhis on the wrists of brothers this day is only a recent phenomenon  in the Odia community  as imitated from the north Indian communities. Originally in Orissa this day marks the worship of Lord Balabhadra. Bullocks and cows are also worshipped by smearing sindur marks on their head. The youngsters gather in the streets and demonstrate a traditional high jumping skill called  Gamha Dian.

Sravana Purnima: -
On this day all Brahmins who have been initiated renew their sacred thread which they wear. The old thread is cast off in the sacrificial fire and a new thread with a three-fold twist is worn after reciting the Gayatri Mantra.

Gayatri Pratipat:-
 The first day of the Krishna Paksha of Sravana Masam is celebrated as the festival of Gayatri Pratipat. There is no connection between Upakarma and Gayatri festival. However, according to the directions given in the sastras, a person must fast on the previous day and on the day of the Gayatri festival. He must perform an yajna offering a 1,000 samits to the fire or meditate on the Gayatri a thousand times.

Krishna Astami:-
 Mahavishnu took various avatars to protect the mortal world from the evil-doers and sinners. The eighth incarnation was his birth as the child of king Vasudeva & Devaki. The birthday of Lord Krishna falls on the eight day of Shravan Krishna i.e. the dark half.Due to his immeasurable roles played in this world, he is regarded as a complete manifestation of God.

Krishna’s birth and Ascent: It has been calculated that Sri Krishna was born on  Wednesday, the eighth day of second fortnight in Sravana month in the year of Visvavasu (on  July 19th 3228 BC (BCE)).  He lived for 125 years and discarded his mortal coils on February 18th 3102 BC on the new moon night of Phalguna. His death was the onset of the current age known as Kaliyuga.

Pot Breaking:-

This is an important item followed in many states. This is a program to be performed by groups mainly young male members. Here in a common place a mud pot (madka, handi) with curd is hung at a very high place in such a way that there will be no support around the place to hold on. Along with the pot there will be a bag with money depending on the locality and the contribution of members tied. There will be different groups of people who will in turns one by one try to break the pot to claim the money bag. Depending on the height at which the pot some members will form a ring of people holding each other for support. They will be sitting, Then another set of people form a slightly smaller ring and climb on t the shoulders of the first ring. A third
ring smaller than the 2nd will be formed and climb on the 2nd ad so on in a pyramidal form till the height may be enough to hit the pot. It may look easy, but not so. The festival falls during heavy rainy time usually. The weight of the people above will be very high for the first and 2nd tier of the rings and these rings may crumble. In addition when the rings of people star climbing those who watch from the balconies and terraces of the nearby buildings will be pouring water on the climbers. Each team will make several attempts. Ultimately one team may break the pot and take the money. Once they break the on lookers may pay separately in addition to the bag tied with the madka. That is like bonus for the team.

In some cases there may be a slight variation in the sense that the madka will not be tied fixedly. Instead it may in such a way that the same can be raised or lowered by means of a rope/thread so that when the top ring people try to break the pot the same will be raised and lowered so that those who try miss the mudka. The dahi handi plays are to depict the playful and mischievous nature of the boyhood of Srikrishna. This program is mostly in the daytime. The madka breaking game is known as Uriadi (meaning is the same – hitting the pot) in Tamilnadu. This game is a very important one in Maharashtra. Here the people who try to break the pots are called as Govindas.

Krishna Astami Naivedhyam:-

Main items will be made of (or with one of the ingredients) milk, curd, butter or ghee as these are supposed to be favorite items of Srikrishna during childhood. Let us see some of the popular ones.

Kheer or payasa:-
This is one common item throughout the country and is comparatively a simple dish. This is prepared by cooking rice or vermicelli in mil with sugar.

ShriKhand:-
This is an item prepared from thick curd and sugar with option of fruit pulp of the seasonal fruit for flavor.

Gopalkala:-
This is not a sweet item, but prepared with beaten rice (Avalakki, avil, Poha), coconut grates, cucumber, green chillies, curd, bit of ghee, jeera, finely chopped ginger, bit of sugar ad salt.

Kalakand :-
The ingredients for this item are milk, sugar, nuts chopped, bit of citric acid, water and optionally silver foil.

Murukku (Chakkali, muchole, cheeda etc) :-
These are made from different fours of rice, besan and udid etc. They will be very crisp ad very tasty.

There are several other items special to each region. Since they are very many they are not mentioned.


Chitalagi Amabasya: -
Also known as Chitau Amabasya. Lord Jagannath is embellished with a golden mark on the forehead called Chitta this day. In homes a special pitha known as Chitau Pitha is prepared and offered to Lord Jagannath in Puja (See recipe on our 'Oriya Foods' page.)
  The practice of tying rakhis on the wrists of brothers this day is only a recent phenomenon  in the Odia community  as imitated from the north Indian communities. Originally in Orissa this day marks the worship of Lord Balabhadra. Bullocks and cows are also worshipped by smearing sindur marks on their head. The youngsters gather in the streets and demonstrate a traditional high jumping skill called  Gamha Dian.

Onam History:-

Records about Onam is available only from A D 800. That does not mean that the Onam celebrations were started during AD 800only. It is quite possible that the festival is in existence much earlier to that time as corroborated by the Mahabali legend. However, records about onam is available only from 800 AD point out to the reign of Kulashekhara Perumal of the Cheran dynasty where there was reference of Onam having celebrated. But onam has been a part of Malayalee culture for centuries.

However, there are some legends about the reasons for celebrating the Onam festival to compensate for the lack of historical evidences. Let us see the legends connected with the Onam festival.

fact number - 1:-

Onam is celebrated at the peak of the best period of the year in Kerala – a State in India. The peak season is during the main harvest period. Naturally in the feudal system based on agriculture as the main activity, the harvest periods will be very important. In the olden days when in many parts of the state the paddy (main grain and the staple food of Kerala) cultivation was only once a year. So the festival falls after the harvest of this cultivation. Subsequently, of course, due to improved irrigation schemes many parts of Kerala started having paddy cultivation first twice a year and then 3 times a year as the necessity arose due to the increasing demands of the increasing population. But the festival time has not changed as this is the main harvest season.

fact number - 2:-

Another reason for selection of this time for the festival time is the fact that the preceding month, the Karkadakam (Karkidaka, karkidakam, Kadaka, Ashada, Aadi) used to be the worst period of the year. Karkidakam is the time when there will be torrential rain; there used to be floods; due to the incessant rains no work will be available to the labourers; Food scarcity will be there; and the life, for majority, used to be a miserable one with near starvations etc. This month is known as the ‘Panja masam’. There was a say that “karkadakam kazhinjal durghtam kazhiyum” (meaning: when karkidakam masam is over troubles will be over). Because of the nature of the season, this used to be the peak season of diseases, sickness and ill health coupled with maximum financial difficulty. Because of the combined effects of poverty condition and sickness, the season is also known as the Kanji (rice gruel – porridge) season. After the miserable period, the abundant period starts. So this season is celebrated as a festival of prosperity.

fact number - 3:-

One more reason may be that the Onam Festival is associated in the minds of the Keralites with Mahabali and Mahavishnu (n the form of Thrivikraman - Vamanan). As per some legends Mahabali agreed to give 3 feet measure of land to Vamanan on the Thiruvonam day and Mahabali’s transfer to Paatala Lokam and his getting the blessings and boon from Vamanan on this day. Mahabali was allowed to visit his erstwhile kingdom of Kerala once a year on this day. The happy people of Kerala wanted to observe this day as thanking giving day to Mahabali for his giving a golden period to the people. Another factor attributed is that Thiruvonam is the Jayanthi of Vamanan. On this day it is believed that Mahabali comes to Kerala to see all his subjects’ well being. There is a temple at Thrikkakara considered to be the abode of Mahabali. This temple will starts it festivity from this day.

Another reason is that the Chinga Masam (Malayalam Era) is the first month of the year and 1st day of that month is New Year day in by gone days. Actually onam used to start from the 1st day of Chingam. The elders in the family will tell that from Chingam first Pookkalam used to be arranged in front of the house till Atham star day, when the festival enters a more formal way celebration.


Note:-

During Sraavana masam, austerities like Eka Bhuktha (taking one time meals), Naktha Vratha (fasting during day time and taking meals at night) are prescribed. Saaka-daana (Vegetables) is prescribed on Sravana sukla Dwadasi day. Worshipping Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva during Sraavana masam is highly meritorious. By observing the prescribed austerities and worshipping Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Goddess Sri Maha Lakshmi and Goddess Gouri during Sraavana masam one will be bestowed with good health, longevity, and prosperity.

2 comments:

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