May 5, 2010
Akshaya Tritiya is one of the most significant day in the year. In 2010, this day falls on 16th May. There are numerous instances in our Hindu texts that mark this day as auspicious.
It is said that every minute of this day is positive and provides blessings and abundance. Hence this day is the best day to get married.
Marrying on Akshaya Tritiya brings good fortune, prosperity and longevity to the couple. Most Indian Hindu customs requires the right muhurat or a significantly positive time of the day.
This is based on the constellations and the planetary positioning of the bride and groom’s birth chart. It is deducted on the science of astrology. But Akshaya Tritiya nullifies all the negativity, Graha dosh or ill effects of the planets.
It is also the best day to buy gold, silver and platinum. The reason for this is explained in the Mahabharata. Our previous post “Buying Gold?” will give you a detailed understanding behind this reason.
©Nayna 2007-2010. All Rights Reserved.
April 7, 2010
With the advent of spring, comes the harvest season. The hardwork of the whole year and the wait through the tough times pays rich dividends now.
The month of Baisakah or Vaishak (April) in the Hindu calendar marks the beginning of the crop cycle. This is the time of rejoice and widely celebrated among numerious communities in India.
The first day of the month of Baisakah or Vaishaka is celebrated as Bengali New Year, popularly known as Poila Baisakah or Pohela Boishakh. The Sikh communities celebrate this event as well and call it Vaishakhi.
Families get together to celebrate the New Year with a lot of excitement. Everyone is dressed in their best with new clothes and accessories. The household entrance is decorated with “Alpona” which is similar to Rangoli but in the Bengali community, the designs are drawn with rice paste instead of dry coloured powder. These remain longer and do not get easily smudged unline Rangoli. Flower garlands are hung at the entrance of the house which creates a jovial mood for every visitor.
Bengalis are knows for their sweets and this is the best occasion to put this to the test. Unlimited varieties of sweets and savouries are made at home or purchased from leading sweets shops. Members of the family all come together to celebrate this day.
“Probhat Pheri” is a procession organized early in the morning to welcome the New Year. Most business establishments have Lord Ganesh and Goddess Laxmi Puja/ Pooja at their offices, so that they can start the first day of business with blessings.
The account books or “Halkhata” are marked with red vermilion with signs of Swastika to bring them good business for the whole year. People throng in large numbers to Kalighat to seek the blessings of Goddess Kali. (Read our previous post on Kalighat to understand the significance of the Divine Mother.)
Rabindranath Tagore’s songs and poems resonate through the streets of Kolkata. Cultural programmes are organized in every street corner to spread cheer. There are fairs organized to add to the extravaganza like Bangla Sangit Mela.
Poila Boishakh has a way of uniting all Bengali across the globe together. It makes us understand our roots although we maybe global citizens. The rich Bengali culture brims with knowledge, arts and music waiting to be experienced by one and all.
We wish our readers Shubho Noboborsho.
©Nayna 2007-2010. All Rights Reserved.
January 15, 2010
Vasant Panchami or Basant Panchami or Shree Panchami is celebrated every year on the fifth day (which represents the word Panchami) of the Hindu month of Magh (January- February). It is the first day of spring or Vasant Ritu or Bosonto Kal/Ritu in Bengali.
Spring season is the glorious time of the year when the sun has a new shade of yellow and the blooming flowers and flauna brings life back from the dreary, chilly winters. This day is very auspicious as Goddess Saraswati is worshipped. This festival is widely popular in the state of West Bengal and Orissa.
Goddess Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, music and fine arts. She is the serene mother who bestows the power and strength to the mind to comprehend all forms of gyaan or knowledge. The knowledge can be in any form-acadamic, music, singing or spiritual.
The idol of goddess Saraswati is white as the milk and her magnetic eyes draw the worshippers to her lotus feet. She is the divine consort of Lord Brahma. She is dressed in white or light yellow coloured saree. Her four hands hold different objects depicting its sacred values. One hand she holds sacred scriptures, on the other a lotus, while the other two show her playing the string instrument, Veena. She is sometimes depicted as standing or seated on a white lotus. Her vahan or vehicle is the white swan and stands close to her feet.
The elegant, white swan is symbolical as well. It represents the Sattva Guna (pure and untainted quality). Only a swan can separate milk from water so the swan is trying to imbibe this quality to her devotees as well that we should all have the power to distinguish between goodness from the negative sources.
On this day, women wear yellow sarees representing the Vasant ritu or season. Students throng to the feet of the Goddess to seek her blessings so that they perform well in their examinations. They keep their textbooks and notebooks that they have difficulty in studying like mathematics, science at her feet. Some even keep writing instruments like pens, pencil, geometry sets so that it get blessed and brings them success.
Parents earnestly wait for this auspicious day because they make their little ones write their first alphabet in the presence of the divine Mother. The priest, who performs the rituals and invokes the goddess on this day, holds the hand of the little ones and helps them write an alphabet on slate with a chalk. This is an ancient tradition and still earnestly followed in the Bengali community.
Vasant / Basant Pachami is also celebrated on a large scale by Vaishnavs or Vaishnavas. Both Gaudiya Vaishnavs and Pushtimargi Vaishnavs celebrate this festival with a lot of gaiety and devotion.
These photographs taken are from the Saraswati Puja held at Bengal Club, Shivaji Park, Mumbai.
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