Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spiritual Calendar: October 2012

30th September to 15th October: Shradh


Shradh is a ceremony held in honour and for the benefit of deceased relatives, observed at fixed periods,and on occasions of rejoicing as well as of mourning. The ritual is performed every year on the anniversary of the death of a person as per the Hindu Calendar during the dark fortnight called Pitru Paksha in the month of Ashwin. A ritualistic custom unique to Hindu religion, the Mahalaya Shradh Pitru Paksh fortnight begins with Purnima in the Ashwin month. It is believed that the Shradh performed during this period is highly auspicious as it reaches the deceased relatives instantly, making their souls rest in peace. Expiating all sins of our ancestors it helps them attain moksha or salvation.

3rd October, 2012: Ganesh Chaturthi Vrata

Lord Ganesha

Ganesha, the foremost god of the Hindu pantheon is beheld as the most auspicious God of new beginnings and widely worshipped as the supreme god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. Devotees of Lord Ganesha, who intend to observe a fast on Ganesha Chaturthi, wake up early in the morning and take a bath. After wearing laundered clothes, they head towards the nearest temple or perform a small puja at their home, to offer prayers to the deity.

When people fast on Ganesh Chaturthi, they either opt for the nirjal vrat (a stringent, waterless fast) or phalahar vrat (a diet). Devotees are allowed to have sweets including til ke ladoo , gajak and rewari along with tea and coffee. In order to concentrate, the devotees chant mantras invoking Lord Ganesha and sing bhajans in his praise. It is believed that if one observes a fast on Ganesha Chaturthi with sincerity, he is blessed with health, wealth and prosperity.

11th October, 2012: Indira Ekadashi Vrata

Lord Vishnu

The Ekadashi of Ashwin Krishna Paksha is called the Indira Ekadashi. On, this day, Shaligram is worshipped and a fast is kept which expiates all sin. It is believed that this fast grants salvation to soul of ancestors who received hell, after death. Just by hearing the story of this Vrata, a person gets the same fruits as performing a Yagya.

The Tale of Indira Ekadashi Fast
In the golden age, there lived a glorious ruler Indrasen in the city of Mahishmati. He was blessed with a son, grandson, wealth and he used to easily destroy his enemies. When Maharishi Narad came there,the king stood up immediately and welcomed him with ardhya.
Narad said “ Once I went to Yamlok and saw your father who was a wise, generous and religious person but he gave up the fast of Ekadashi in between.

Your father has sent a message, “My son’s name is Indrasen and he rules over Mahishamti. If he observes the fast of Indra Ekadashi of Krishna Paksha, Ashvin Masa, then I shall get salvation. By the fruits of this Ekadashi, I will leave this place and reach heaven.” Hearing this, Indrasen was upset and asked the methos of Indira Ekadasi fast from Maharishi Narad.

13th October, 2012: Pradosh Vrata

Lord Shiva

Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept for propitiating Lord Shiva. With his blessings all desires are fulfilled and one attains spiritual enlightenment.Generally people observe Pradosha Vrata on every trayodashi tithi (13th lunar day falling in Krishna and Shukla Pakshas) in the evening.

15th October, 2012:  Sarvapitra Shradh / Pitra Visarjan

Pitra Visarjan

Sarva Pitra Shradh is commemorated on the Amavasya (new moon) of Ashwin Krishna. If Shradh has been missed on that particular day or someone’s Shradh Tithi (date) is unknown, Shradh can be done on the same day. In the evening, poori (fried bread) and special kheer or halwa are kept at the entrance door.

It signifies that ancestors should not go hungry. In the same way lighting signifies brightening the path of ancestors.

Ashwini Amawasya is also called Pitra Visarjan. By a feast and donating to the brahmans, ancestors are being satisfied on this day. It is a belief that at the time of Visarjan ancestors blessed their sons.

15th October, 2012:   Somvati Amavasya

Devotees Bathe in the Ganges at Haridwar

The day of conjunction of the sun and moon, on the fifteenth day of the dark half of a lunar month. Amavasya or the new moon, is the last day of the waning moon. Though Amavasya occurs every month, Hindus believe it to be the most auspicious when it falls on a Monday. Amavasya is important for performing rituals for departed ancestors. Somvati Amavasya is associated with the new moon which occurs on a Monday.

The significance of Somvati Amavasya was narrated to Yudhishtra by Bhisma in the Mahabharata . It is said who ever takes a bath in the sacred rivers on this day becomes prosperous, free of diseases and grief. There is a belief that the souls of ancestors will rest in peace if the children and relatives take a dip in the sacred river Ganges at Haridwar, Triveni and other places.

Women worship the peepul tree and tie a thread around the trunk of this tree 108 times. Peepul is the most sacred tree in India and is regarded as the dwelling site of the Hindu Trinity-Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The women circumambulate around the tree,108 times, with their hands folded. They pour water and milk on its roots and offer sandal paste, vermillion, wet rice and flowers.

16th October, 2012: The Shardiya Navratris Begin

Goddess Durga

In Hindu mythology Durga is Shakti, the divine feminine energy. The Goddess’s triump over Mahishasur, the buffalo demon symbolizes the victory of good over evil. These nine days are solely devoted to propitiation of the Mother Goddess or Shakti Incarnate.

17th October, 2012: Tula Sankranti

Tula Sankranti

Sun enters Libra.Sankranti means transition.When the sun transits from one rashi (zodiac sign) to Tula (Libra) that day is known as Sinh Sankranti.Since the sun passes through twelve rashis there is one sankranti every month.

22nd October, 2012: Shri Durga Ashtami

Ma Durga

Durgashtami, is the eighth day of Durga Navratris. Goddess Bhadrakali, the powerful form of the mother goddess, incarnated on Ashvin Krishna Ashtami day along with the yogini ganas to annihilate demon Mahishasur. Durga means indefatigable in Sanskrit.

On the 8th day of this colourful festival, yagna or religious sacrifice and homa or fire rituals are performed. Pure ghee, kheer and sesame seeds are offered to Goddess Durga.The main rituals related to Durga Navratris are performed on Durga Ashtami. Many people in north India celebrate the 8th day as ashtami when nine young girls representing the Navdurge are fed with halwa, puri and kale chane.

23rd October, 2012: Shri Durga Navami

Mahishasura Mardhini

On Mahanavami, the Mother Goddess became Mahishasura Mardhini by slaying demon Mahishasura.

Ayudha Puja

The ninth day is also celebrated as Ayudha Puja. After the slaying Mahishasura by Goddess Durga there was no need of her weapons and they were thus kept aside and worshipped.

Goddess Saraswati

On Navami, Goddess Saraswati is honoured by worshipping the books and records of accounts at home.

24th October, 2012: Vijaya Dashamior Dussehra

Lord Rama Killing Ravana

On this day in the Treta Yuga, Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, killed the demon king,Ravana who had abducted Sita. Ramayana, a great epic, records how Rama, his brother Lakshman, Hanuman and their troops of monkeys battled to rescue Sita from Ravana's Lanka.

Lord Rama Invokes the Blessings of Durga

Rama had performed Chandi Homa and invoked the blessings of goddess Durga. She blessed Rama with knowledge of the secret means of killing Ravana.

Effigies of Ravana, Kumbhkaran and Meghnath being Burnt

On Dussehra, effigies of Ravana, his brother Kumbhakaran and son Meghnath are erected and burnt with joyous abandon at sunset, marking the victory of good over evil.This event gets rid of a household's ten vices represented by ten heads of Ravana namely,lust, anger, delusion, greed, arrogance, jealousy, mind, intellect, will and ego.

On Vijayadashami, Arjuna took back his weapons which he had hidden in a Vani tree so that he could live in disguise during the promised exile.It is said that one who begins his learning to work on Vijayadashami will be a grand success as Arjuna was in the war of Kurukshetra.

As Dusshera is considered to be a festive occasion, special cuisine is made on the day. Since in most of the Hindu communities, people keep a fast and eat only one meal a day at sunset. Also the diet is strictly vegetarian. Even onion and garlic are not allowed as they are not considered a part of the ‘Satvik food’.

25th October, 2012:Papankusha Ekadashi


Fasting on Ekadashi (comes twice a month). One should not consume any grains or meat on this day. Lord Krishna says that if a person fasts on Ekadashi, “I will burn up all his sins. Indeed this day is the most meritorious day for destroying all kinds of sins.” In the katha of Papankusha Ekadashi from the Brahma Vaivarta Purana,Yudhishthira Maharaj says, “ Oh Madhusudana, what is the name of the Ekadashi that comes during the light fortnight of the month of Ashvina? Please be merciful and disclose this truth to me." Lord Krishna goes on to reveal the glories of the Papankusha Ekadashi which expiates all sins.

27th October, 2012:  Lord Shiva's Pradosh

 Lord Shiva

Pradosh means dusk and this fast is kept for propitiating Lord Shiva. With his blessings all desires are fulfilled and one attains spiritual enlightenment.Generally people observe Pradosha Vrata on every trayodashi tithi (13th lunar day falling in Krishna and Shukla Pakshas) in the evening.

29th October, 2012: Sharad Poornima

The Raas Lila

On Sharad-Poornima, Vrindavan devotees celebrate the divine union of the ascending soul with the descending God. The miracle of the Raas Lila: that supreme moment of Krishna’s manifestation as human lover and divine incarnate dancing with the gopis in the forest of Madhuvana

Lord Krishna Bathing with Gopis in the Yamuna

and bathing with them in the flowing waters of the Yamuna on the radiant night of Sharad Poornima, the autumnal full moon, enchants us.

Shri Banke Bihari ji

In celestial Vrindavan the most popular deity Shri Bihari ji is majestically decked with mormukut, katikachini and vanshi on Raas Poornima. Millions of devotees from all over Punjab, Delhi, UP and the entire world throng to have his radiant darshan which is possible only once a year!

29th October, 2012: Maharishi Valmiki Jayanti 

 Maharishi Valmiki

He is celebrated as the poet harbinger in Sanskrit literature. Maharishi Valmiki is the author of the epic Ramayana, based on the attribution in the text of the epic itself and is revered as the Adi Kavi or First Poet because he discovered the first śloka or verse, which set the base and defined the form to Sanskrit poetry. The Yoga Vasistha is attributed to him. A religious movement called Valmikism is based on Valmiki's teachings as presented in the Ramayana and the Yoga Vasistha.

29th October, 2012: Kartik Snan Begins

Kartik Snan at Har Ki Pauri

Kartik Maas, the eighth lunar month of the traditional Hindu calendar followed in North India, is considered highly auspicious. Taking a holy dip in the river Ganges at Prayag and Badarikashrama located in the Himalayas in the month of Kartik is considered a means of attaining salvation and is known as Kartik Snan.

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