Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bhai Dooj

Fifth Day of Diwali:
       Bhai Dooj / Bhai Duj / Bhaiya Duj

      ‘Bhai Dooj’ is also known as ‘Bhai Tij’, ‘Bhai’ or ‘Bhaiya Phota’, ‘Bhau-Beej’, ‘Bhatri Ditya’, ‘Bhathru Dwithiya’ or ‘Yamadwitheya’. It is mostly celebrated in West Bengal, Bihar and Maharashtra. It is celebrated two days after Diwali in the month of ‘Kartik’ as per the Hindu calendar; that is, on 'Shukla Paksha Dwitiya'. Thus, ‘Bhaiyya Duj’ is the festival that marks the end of Diwali celebrations. Bhai Dooj is observed as a symbol of love and affection between brothers and sisters.



According to the legends, Lord 'Yamraj’ (god of death), visited his sister ‘Yamuna’ on the 'Shukla Paksha Dwitiya' day in the month of 'Kartik'. He was given a hearty welcome by his sister, when he visited her home. On his arrival, she performed aarti, applied tilak on his forehead and adorned his neck with a beautiful garland. She cooked delicious dishes and prepared sweets for him. Touched by her heartfelt welcome, Yamraj bestowed presents upon her and showered blessings on her. He gave her a boon that every time a brother visits his sister on this day, he would be prospered with health and wealth. This is why ‘Bhaiyya Duj’ is also known as 'Yam-Dwitiya'.

One more story is associated with the celebrations of ‘Bhai Duj’. According to the story, after ‘Bhagwaan Mahavir’ attained 'Nirvana', his brother ‘Raja Nandi – Vardhan’ became very sad. He missed Bhagwaan Mahavir very badly. At that moment, his sister ‘Sudarshana’ comforted him. Since then, the women have been revered during this festival, by their brothers. Therefore, Bhai Duj is not only significant for the people following Hinduism, but also important for the Buddhists of India. By celebrating Bhai Duj, they put an end to the celebration of the Nirvana of Lord ‘Mahavir’.
On the auspicious day of 'Yam-Dwitiya', the people of 'Kayastha' community of Hindus celebrate the holy function of worshipping Lord ‘Chitragupta’, the God who maintains the records of life and death of the living beings. The Kayastha community also worships the pen, paper and ink on this day, in the honor of Lord Chitragupta. Chitragupta Puja process is performed by the Kayastha cast people who believe in four primary virtues (world peace, justice, knowledge and literacy). 

According to Hindu mythology, after killing ‘Narakasura’, Lord ‘Krishna’ visited his sister ‘Subhadra’ who gave him a warm welcome in the traditional way by showing him a light and putting on his forehead a tilak.

On this day at sunset, evening bath is must. I offered a diya and Prasad to 'Yamraj' near a ‘Tulsi’ tree. I prayed lord of death, Yamraj for protection from untimely death. I performed puja for my brother’s safety, well being and for long life. As a custom, usually brothers visit their sister’s place. After my brother came by, I performed 'aarti' and applied a beautiful 'Tilak' or 'Teeka' on his forehead and took his blessings. He gifted me a beautiful present, which is quite handful. Later at night, we all had a nice dinner with all festive viands.

It’s an awesome feeling celebrating Diwali gala for five days, with my husband, brother, parents, in-laws and with my other family members. Friends and relatives stopped by and we had food together, had fun and bursted crackers. When I try to recall all the five days of festive, a feeling of elation brings a priceless smile on my face. A feeling of pride like I achieved something big!! Hoping the feeling stays as fresh as it is today until next Diwali. Let all the smiles on all our faces; lighten up everyone’s life we come across.

Thanks, to all my readers who spent their precious time to read my blog. 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Govardhan-puja and Padwa

Fourth Day of Diwali:

        Govardhan-puja, Padwa and Varshaprathipada.

Varshaprathipada marks the coronation of king ‘Vikramaditya’ and the starting of the ‘Vikaram – Samvat’.
The day following the Amavasya is ‘Karthik Shuddh Padwa’.

King ‘Bali’ was a generous ruler but he was also very ambitious. Some of the gods pleaded ‘Vishnu’ to check king Bali’s power.

Vishnu came to earth in the form of a ‘Vamana’ (dwarf) dressed as pundit.

 The dwarf approached king Bali and said “You are the ruler of the worlds: Earth, World above the Skies and the underworld. Would you give me the space that I could cover with three strides?”  King Bali chuckled. Surely a dwarf could not cover much ground, thought the king, who agreed to dwarf’s request. At this point, the dwarf changed into Vishnu and his three strides covered the Earth, the skies and the whole Universe. King Bali was sent to the underworld. It is only on this day that the king Bali would come out of ‘Pathal Loka’ and rule ‘Bhulok’ as per the boon given by Lord Vishnu, Hence, it is also known as ‘Bali Padyami’.

Govardhan Puja, as per ‘Vishnu-Puran’, the people in the village of ‘Gokul’ used to celebrate a festival in honor of Lord ‘Indra’ and worshiped him after the end of every monsoon season. They believed that Indra sent the rains, which made their crops grow. But one particular year, the young ‘Krishna’ stopped them from offering prayers to Lord Indra and persuaded the people to worship the mountain ‘Govardhan’, because the mountain and the land around it were fertile. This did not please Indra. He sent thunder and torrential rain down on the village. People were afraid that the downpour was a result of their neglect of Indra. But Krishna assured them that no harm would befall them. He lifted mountain Govardhan with his little finger and sheltered men and animals from deluge. This gave him the epithet ‘Govardhandhari’. After this, Indra accepted the supremacy of Krishna.

Govardhan Puja is also performed in the north on this day. Govardhan is a small hillock in ‘Braj’, near ‘Mathura’ and on this day of Diwali, people of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar build cowdung hillock, decorate them with flowers and then worship them.

This day is also observed as ‘Annakoot’ meaning ‘mountain of food’. Pious people keep awake the whole night and cook fifty six or 108 different types of food for the ‘Bhog’ (the offering of food) to Krishna. In temples especially in Mathura and Nathadwara, the deities are given milk bath, dressed in shining attires with ornaments of dazzling Diamonds, Pearls, Rubies and other precious stones. After the prayers and traditional worship, innumerable varieties of delicious sweets are ceremoniously raised in the form of a mountain before the deities as ‘Bhog’ and then the devotees approach the mountain of food and take Prasad from it.

Gudi Padwa is Symbolic of love and devotion between the wife and Husband. On this day, newly married daughters with their husbands are invited for special meals and given presents. In Olden days, brothers went to fetch their sisters from their in-laws home for this important day.

On this day, I made a beautiful and colorful rangoli in the centre of our hall and placed Lord Krishna idol in middle and decorated with variety of flowers and with rose petals and I placed diyas around the rangoli. I prepared various sweets and delicious dishes to offer as Prasad. After, I’m done with my cooking. I worshiped Lord Vishnu and Krishna by performing puja and offered Prasad. Later I served the Prasad to all my near and dear ones.

Naraka Chaturdashi

Third day of Diwali:
Naraka Chaturdashi (29 Ashvin or 14 Krishna Paksha Ashvin).
         Chaturdashi means 14th day. In Gujarat, they call ‘Kali Chaudas’. In Rajasthan, as ‘Roop Chaudas’.

         This day holds many legends.

Narakasura was a demon king of ‘Pradyoshapuram’. Amongst his other wicked deeds, he kidnapped beautiful women and forced them to live with him. To prove his power, Narakasura stole some earrings belonging to Aditi, mother of all gods. The gods were not happy and asked Lord Krishna for help. A animosity had been put on Narakasura. The animosity is one day he would be killed by his mother.

Lord Krishna knew that his wife, Satyabhama was a reincarnation of Narakasura’s mother. So he asked her to drive the chariot as he went to battle with the demon. Narakasura shot an arrow at Lord Krishna, who pretended to be hit. In Animosity, Satyabhama grabbed Lord Krishna’s bow and arrow and killed the demon instantly.

Narakasura’s mother declared that her son’s death should not be a day of gloom. So Hindus celebrate this event. It is said, after the battle with the demon, Lord Krishna bathed in oil to clean the splattered blood from his body. In some regions, rubbing oil into the body or having a special oil bath is part of a Deepavali Celebrations. It’s called as ‘Abhyangasnan’.

In South, People celebrate this day as ‘Deepavali’. I offered prayers to Lord Krishna and Vishnu. The time has come for carnival, our family and friends gathered at one place, made a huge Narakasura dummy idol made up of firecrackers. For fun one person got dressed as Lord Krishna and lit the idol. I bet you should watch the lightening thing. It’s like looking at sun at a closer distance. It’s a warm feeling in that cold, chilled weather. The joy I had at this gala is immense. It’s a blast!!  Always god wins over demon. Evil will perish once for all.

Another Myth is, Lord Rama son of ‘Dasaradha’ king of ‘Ayodhya’ and heir to the throne. Rama’s stepmother was jealous of Rama and wanted him to leave the kingdom; so that, her son could become heir. Under the influence of his wife, the king was forced to send Rama to live in exile in the forest for 14 years. Rama’s wife Sita; and his brother Lakshman accompanied him. In the forest there lived several demons. 

Rama fought with rakshas and drove them away, making Ravana very angry. Ravana king of ‘Lanka’ is a great pundit, highly learned but still evil dominated his wisdom. He captured Rama’s wife Sita, but she cleverly left a trail of jewels so that Rama could follow her to the island of Lanka. With the help of his brother and Hanuman, Rama set off to save her. Hanuman and the army of Vanara’s (monkey) helped to build a huge bridge across to the Island. Rama crossed the bridge and shot an arrow into Ravana. The demon was killed and the Sita was rescued.

Rama, Sita and Lakshman returned to the kingdom after 14 years of living in the forest and Rama became king. People in Ayodhya celebrated Rama’s return by lighting up clay lamps.

On this day, Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped with great devotion. Goddess Lakshmi is also called ‘Shri’; the female of Supreme Being. 

There are legends associated to worship of Lakshmi on this day. First legend, Lakshmi was the daughter of the rushi ‘Bhirgu’ and took refugee in the ocean of milk, when the gods were sent into exile. On this day, Lakshmi emerged (reborn) from ‘Ksheer Sagar’ during the churning of the ocean of milk. As soon as the gods saw Lakshmi, they all fell in love with her charm and beauty. Shiva claimed Lakshmi as his wife, but since he had already taken the moon, her hand was given to Vishnu, whom Lakshmi herself preferred. Second Legend, (more popular in Western India) relates to ‘Vamana’ avatar of the Vishnu, the incarnation to kill the demon king Bali. On this day, Vishnu came back to his adobe, the ‘Vaikuntam’; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.

Lakshmi is the goddess of light, beauty, good fortune and wealth. While Lakshmi is generally worshipped to achieve success, she does not reside along with anyone who is lazy or desire her only as wealth.

‘Safe’ where you keep money and jewelry; worship this safe as a symbol of Lord ‘Kubera’.

As per spiritual references, on this day “Lakshmi – Panchayatan” enters the universe Vishnu, Indra, Kubera, Gajendra and Lakshmi are elements of this “Panchayatan” (a group of five). The tasks of these elements are:

  • Lakshmi: Divine Energy (Shakti) which provides energy to all the above activities.
  • Vishnu: Happiness (satisfaction).
  • Kubera: Wealth (generosity; one who shares wealth)
  • Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
  • Gajendra: Carries the wealth.

I performed Lakshmi puja after sunset. I did ‘Lakshmi Ashtothara Sahasranamavali’ with coins. I try to please Lakshmi by singing ‘Ashta Lakshmi sthothram’.

Always remember that she abhors loud noise. So the ‘harathi’ should be accompanied only by a small bell. Do not clap hands, as it is a practice when performing harathi for other gods. A peaceful atmosphere should be maintained during the puja. Do not light crackers while the puja is on or immediately after it.

Vasu Baras and Dhan Teras

Diwali festive is a spark of sunshine in the moonlight. What each day of Diwali holds, that I'm gonna tell you in brief.

First Day of Diwali:

Vasu Baras (27 Ashvin or 12 Krishna Paksha Ashvin).
             Baras means the 12th day and Vasu means cow.

On this day, I went to my nearby herd to worship the cow and the calf. In my childhood especially on this occasion I use to be at my granny’s place, she use to take me with her, telling along the way, why they worship cow and the calf. She told me, farmers worship them as they are their main source of income. And it is believed that cows are the incarnation of goddess Lakshmi and they are adorned and worshipped with veneration.

Second Day of Diwali: 

Dhanatrayodashi or Dhan Teras or Dhanwantari Triodasi (28 Ashvin or 13 Krishna Paksha Ashvin).
               Dhan means wealth and Thrayodasi means 13th day. 

Indra, the chief of the Deva’s (God of Heaven) was cursed by a rushi thereby made poor. He approached ‘Brahma’ who suggested him to obtain the ‘Nectar of Immortality’ (Amrutham) by churning the Ocean of milk (Ksheer sagara). ‘Ksheer’ means milk, and ‘Sagara’ means ocean. This extremely difficult task couldn’t be undertaken by the Deva’s alone so they took the help of ‘Asura’s’ (rakshas) also. The mountain ‘Mandhara’ was used as the pole and ‘Vasuki’, the chief of serpents was used as the rope. The mountain was supported by Lord Vishnu who took incarnation of ‘Kurma’ means Turtle. Kurma dived to the ocean core and balanced mountain Mandhara on his back.


Finally they began churning the ocean and a deadly poison known as ‘Halahala’ popped up. Lord Shiva drank the poison then Goddess Parvathi; his wife squeezed his neck to prevent it from going down. The poison settled at his neck coloring it blue. This gave Lord Shiva the name ‘Neelakanta’ meaning one with blue colored neck.

Therafter so many precious objects emerged during churning. Finally ‘Dhanwantari’ appeared with the pot containing ‘Nectar of Immortality’. There began a dispute between the participating parties and finally Asura’s managed to get Amrutham from  the Deva’s but Lord Vishnu camouflaged as a beautiful lady, retrieved it from them and passed it to the Deva’s who attained immortality by drinking it. Asura’s left out.


This day is considered as ‘Dhanwantari Jayanthi’. It is also said Lord Vishnu’s unnoticeable energy flows through Sri Lakshmi Devi’s Surya nadi (right channel of the Kundalini) and the channel is activated. The rays generated from here are full of the ‘Tej Tatva’ or the fire element. These ‘Tej’ rays spread all over the universe and the world universe is illuminated by shiny golden particles.

This day is auspicious for buying silver utensils and gold. So I just rushed to my near by gold shop and got myself a pair of gold earrings. Wishing something good comes by.

Revive moments of Diwali through Camera-eye.

“Jab charon ore aankhon me khushi ke diye jalte hai.
  Har chehre pe jo muskaan jhalakta hain, woh kisi taare ki roushini se kum nahin.
  Chahe chand rooth bhi jaye, andhera fayl jaye.
  Hum apne mann ke diye jalakar aasman me fehlayenge roushini.
 Chand agar aa bhi jaye, humare roushini ki saamne use koyi pehchan bhi na paye.
  Hume andhere se kya darr hain, jab hum hi ek roushini hain”.

I’m just back from my home town after celebrating Diwali.

For this Diwali, I was in Hyderabad, the place where I belong to. In South India, the festival is called “Deepavali”. I feel there aren’t enough words to express what Diwali means to me and to all of us. Diwali comes in the month of October or November, no fixed date. Diwali falls on the day of “Amavasya”. When the moon, comes up with the idea of playing hide and seek and puts us all in darkness.  But you know what moon is fooled by everyone. No one cares for the moon on that night. The night rather seems as “pournami”. You find lights everywhere, every corner.

Darkness represents ignorance and light is a source of life i.e.; knowledge. When darkness is around, we feel like blind. We can’t see things right. Same as that when our mind is filled with evil thoughts, we can’t think what’s good for us. We can’t even think what’s right and what’s wrong. We need light in our life, which awakens our spirit and motivates us to do something right. Then positive energy flows all over like a breeze of fresh air. We think straight, do great things and we make this world a better place to live.

Deepavali festival excitement starts before deepavali comes. It’s important to keep the house very clean and pure on Deepavali. I spent cleaning the house. I decorated doors and gates with mango leaves and marigold garlands hanging down.

I made colorful Rangoli it added beauty to the home. There wouldn't be any home, any ritual without rangoli using riceflour and lining up with haldi and kumkum. Eight petals Lotus resembles goddess Lakshmi, goddess of prosperity and wealth.

Diwali is a five day festival, begins on Aswayuja Bahula chathurdashi and concludes on karthika shudda vijaya. Very few people know about that and very few celebrate all the 5 days.

Lamps are lit after sunset to welcome the goddess Lakshmi. I lit little clay lamps and placed them around the home, in verandahs, near Tulsi Devi, on the wall built around the home. It’s a belief that goddess Lakshmi brings with her enormous wealth. Little clay lamps spread light in the aura to drive away darkness or ignorance in and around. What I like most about this festival is lighting up my entire home with diyas. Our home seemed to me as a divine place. On Diwali, people of all age groups celebrate it with great fervor.
Serial lights hanging down on the walls of buildings look like twinkling stars. We had fun looking up at glittering sky.

It’s a tradition to exchange sweets among neighbors to make each others lives much sweeter. I may not find the best time to express my love and affection to my loved ones. Words are not enough, so I offered gifts to my near and dear ones.

I'm gonna post a  lot more about 5 day festival Diwali,  significance of each day, myths, rituals and legends associated with it. 

Bye for now !