Friday, May 16, 2014


Kaushambi is one of the districts of Uttar Pradesh state of India, and Manjhanpur town is the district headquarters, that attracts a lots of Buddhist pilgrims each year, and considered to be the place where Lord Buddha passed his sixth and Ninth year after attaining enlightenment. Thus the place is special, and linked to many sermons that were delivered by Lord Buddha. The city finds distinct place as the centre of Kuru's Dynasty in Mahabharata and later as a wealthy city during Buddha's time.

During Buddha’s time Kaushambi was one of the six most important and prosperous towns of India. It was a nerve center of ancient Indian communications as the principal routes from north to south and east to west met at the city. It was a terminus of river traffic and an important emporium of Madhyadesa. The city retained its importance at least up to the sixth century A.D.,as it was visited by the Chinese pilgrims Fa-Hien and Yuan-Chwang.

The ruins of the well-known site of Kaushambi (25o20’ 30”N., 81o23’12”E.) are situated on the left blank of the river Yamuna at a distance of 51.2 km from Allahabad in a south-westerly direction. The remains of the ancient city viewed from a distance give the impression of an imposing hillock, which, when approached nearer, reveals itself as a chain of rolling mounds, standing high above the surrounding plains, girdled on the south by the Yamuna. The Vindhyan range across the horizon at not a great distance beyond the river Yamuna provides the southern frame of the Panorama.

Places to see in Kaushambi :

Udyan Fort:- Built in 6th Century BC, the Fort is situated in the south-west corner of the ancient walled city. The fort was discovered during excavations, conducted by Cunningham & Archaeological Department of India in 1861. According to Cunningham the boundary wall of the fort was about four mile long & about 30.35 feet high & for security reasons trenches were dug all along the boundary wall of the fort. The layout of the fort is barrel shaped & having thick walls made up of exceptionally long & wide bricks.

Ashoka Pillar:- The Pillar, located on the eastern entrance of the Kaushambi city and was built by Emperor Ashoka in 232 BC, is also the main attraction of this archaeological site. Excavation of the area reveals that there was a Vihar around the pillar.

Ghositram Vihar:-
The Vihar has got special mention in Buddhist literature and was one of the four major Buddhist Vihars of Kaushambi. Ghositram, a businessman of Kaushambi, built the Vihar to provide lodging to Buddha & his disciples and hence the name Ghositram Vihar. At the entrance of the Vihar there are remains of the shrine of Hariti, which was renovated later and existed till Gupta period. The area was under the reign of terror of Hariti, who was supposed to have been a man eater but had a complete change of heart through the sermons of Lord Buddha. A temple in her name exists here.

Digamber Jain Temple:- (Temple timings: 6am-8pm) This temple was built in 1834 by late Prabhudas & later renovated in 1919. This is the birth place of 6th Jain Thirthankar Padam Prabhu, who received his education, practiced meditation and got enlightenment here. The temple houses his idol made of white marble & foot marks, which are worth watching.

Sheetla Temple
:- The Sheetla is a goddes associated with power and the worshipping of the goddess is said to impart powers to the devotees. The temple, by river Ganga, is a famous Shktipeeth well revered by all Hindu Devotees. The ruins of the fort of Hindu King Jai Chand are still lying near the temple.

The Durga Devi temple
:- The Navaratri is the special festival of this temple in which lots of people gather during the festival. The temple houses a black stone idol of Goddess Durga and Lord Shiva, which is quite beautiful.

:- Prabhosha or Prabhashgiri, Famous as the place where Lord Krishna died of an arrow, is considered as a holy place. The other important aspects of this place includes the Jain temple and the cave, which are both ancient and worth a visit.

Besides these attractions, there is the Kamasin Devi Temple, Kaushambi, and Shri Ram Temple of Bajha, The Ashoka pillar (in ruins) and the Ghositaram monastery, which are also good places to visit.

How to reach Kaushambi  :
Air : There is an airport in the Allahabad region, called Bamrauli. However this could be a hectic journey. Better option could be the Varanasi airport.

Rail : Allahabad is a well-linked station in U.P railway map. There is no railhead at Kaushambi, probably due to sustenance of Buses.

Road : Regular buses run to Kaushambi from Allahabad. This is the most reliable source of travel, however, private taxis are also available.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hanuman Jayanthi

Hanuman Jayanthi falls on the full moon day of Chaitra maasa. It is the day on which Lord Hanuman was born. Lord Hanuman, who surrendered completely to Lord Rama, is a perfect example for a great devotee. The qualities that make Lord Hanuman great are: Pure heart, obedience to his master, courage, enthusiasms to serve his lord, self control, intelligence, Vedic qualifications, ability to speak in an articulate manner, etc. Several stories are there to say who the Lord Hanuman is. One among them is that Lord Hanuman was born with the amsha(power) of Lord Shiva. He is the son of Vayu, the wind god. Lord Hanuman was instrumental in finding out Lanka, the place where Sitha Devi was hidden by Ravana. Lord Hanuman was a humble devotee who never claimed that it was him who did great things like crossing the great ocean, defeating Ravanas demon warriors, located Sitha Devi, etc. but he always admitted sincerely that it is Lord Ramas grace that enabled him to do all great activities.

Lord Hanuman is such a great devotee that Lord Rama, Sitha Devi, and Lakshmana are in his heart all the time. After the coronation ceremony Lord Hanuman tears his heart and shows to everyone how Lord Rama, Sitha Devi and Lakshmana are in his heart. For his devotion and service to Lord Rama, he was given the boon of living until the name of Rama exists in this universe. Since the name of Lord Rama can never disappear from this universe, Lord Hanuman will live eternally. It is strongly believed that lord Hanuman still lives in the Himalayas chanting the name of Lord Rama.
In Kali Yuga chanting the name of Lord Rama just like lord hanuman will help us to overcome day to day challenges and pave the way towards Sri Vaikuntam, the abode of Lord Rama who is the incarnation of Lord Vishnu Himself.

Chant the following manthra everyday to overcome day to day challenges, receive spiritual wealth and peace in your life. Important of all Lord Ramas blessings will be with you. Also, lord Hanuman will continue to protect those who chant the sacred name of Lord Rama, because he will be with those who chant the name of Lord Rama.
ApadaamapHartharam Daathaaram Sarva Sampadaam|
LokabhiRamama SreeRamam Bhuyo Bhuyo Namamyaham||

Hanuman Jayanthi Date: 15 April , 2014

Ram Navami

Ram Navami
Lord Shri Ram
Rama Navami is the day on which Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, incarnated in human form in the land of Ayodhya. He is the ardha ansh of Vishnu or has half the divinitive qualities of Lord Vishnu. The word “Rama” literally means one who is divinely blissful and who gives joy to others, and one in whom the sages rejoice.

Ram Navami falls on the ninth day of the bright fortnight in the month of Chaitra (April/May) and coincides with Vasant Navratri or Chait Durga Puja. Therefore in some regions, the festival is spread over nine days. This day, marking the birthday of Lord Rama, is also observed as the marriage day of Rama and Sita and thus also referred to as Kalyanotsavam.

Four storeys - even the original Ravana may not have been so tall. But this is the Kali Yuga, when evil is supposed to assume an even more terrifying form. Ravana has his moments of glory, and that too, on Rama Navami, the birthday of Rama.

The effigy of the ten-headed Ravana swaggers through the town, wearing a gaudy crown and exaggerated moustache, with shouting hordes following. But once Ravana reaches the open ground that is his final destination, he is suddenly deserted by most of his "followers" - because the noble Rama has made his appearance.

In the end, righteousness does triumph, even in Kali Yuga. Rama engages him in battle, and finally pierces him with a potent arrow. And the huge effigy of Ravana, filled to bursting with firecrackers, is set alight, and explodes into a thousand bits amid loud cheers from the crowd and shouts of Jai Shri Ram. This ritual is an important part of the Rama Navami celebrations in most parts of North India.

Rama Navami falls on the ninth day of the shukla paksha, or bright phase of the moon, in the lunar month of Chaitra (April-May). The first day of Chaitra , or Ugadi, also marks the beginning of the Indian year.

Rama is one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu, and one of the two most popular, along with Krishna. Consequently, Rama Navami is widely celebrated, though not on the scale of festivals like Diwali or Dussehra.

According to legend, Rama was born at noon. Rama is the epitome of perfection, the uttama purusha, fulfilling all his duties towards both family and subjects.

Rama was the first of the four sons of King Dasharatha of Ayodhya. When it was time for Rama to be made crown-prince, his stepmother, Kaikeyi, got Dasharatha to send him to the forest for 14 years. His wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana also accompanied him. In the forest, Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, the demon king of Lanka. Rama, together with Hanuman and the monkey army, built a bridge to Lanka, killed Ravana, and brought Sita back.

It is believed that listening to the story of Rama cleanses the soul. Meditating on the noble Rama and chanting his name is believed to ease the pains of life and lead one to moksha, or liberation. It is also common practice to chant the name of Rama while rocking babies to sleep.

Though Rama Navami is a major festival for Vaishnavites, it is widely celebrated by worshippers of Shiva, too. It is considered auspicious to undertake a fast on the day in the name of Rama. The more devout fast for nine days, from Ugadi to Rama Navami. The objective of the fast is not to ask for special favours of the deity but to seek perfection as a human being. Devotees perform elaborate pujas and chant the name of Rama. Temples of Rama have special services and bhajan sessions through the day.

One significant and popular element of the celebration is the Ramayana parayana, a discourse on the Ramayana, by a pundit or a professional story-teller. It usually lasts nine days, beginning on Ugadi and ending on Rama Navami. A skilled story-teller who can liven up the event by weaving in contemporary events attracts massive crowds.

Since Rama is also one of the most sung-about deities in Indian classical music and literature, week-long (and sometimes, month-long) musical programmes are organised.

Sacred places associated with Rama, like Ayodhya, Ujjain and Rameshwaram, draw tens of thousands of devotees. In Rameshwaram, thousands take a ritual bath in the sea before worshipping at the Ramanathaswamy temple.

Many places in North India host fairs in connection with the festival, culminating in spectacular fireworks on Rama Navami.

 Rama Navami in North India:
This day is dedicated to worshipping Lord Rama. All houses are cleaned and decorated nicely with colors and flowers. People go to the temple to celebrate the life of Lord Rama. Plays on the life of Lord Rama are enacted in the temples and other places of gathering. Importantly plays cover the most important aspects of Lord Ramas life: birth, life in guru kulam(school), marriage with Sitha Devi, life in the forest, friendship with Sugreeva and Hanuman, the war with Ravana, and coronation at Ayodhya. In Ayodhya (the birth place of Lord Rama) Lord Rama, Sith Devi, Lakshmana, and Hanuman are paraded in the streets with devotees singing bhajans, dances and songs. Special food is prepared at homes and in the temples. People wear new clothes, arrange feasts at their places, invite families and friends and share food with them, distribute food and clothes to the poor people.

Rama Navami in South India:

During his 14 years of time in forests Lord Rama travelled all the way from Ayodhya to the south tip of India, Kanyakumari. In His journey Lord Rama spent time at different places in South India. One famous place is called Bhadrachalam. It is in Andhra Pradesh state and the thatch hut called Panchavati was built here. It is in the Panchavati that Lord Rama and Sitha Devi spent their time during the vanavasa. This is the place where Lord Rama went after the golden deer that Sitha Devi wanted, and it is from here that Sitha Devi was abducted by the demon Ravana. Sri Sitha Rama Kalyanam is performed in a grand scale at Bhadrachalam every year on Sri Rama Navami day. Millions of people turn up to witness the Sri Sitha Rama Kalyanam at Bhadrachalam, and also take a dip in the sacred river Godavari. In South India devotees celebrate Rama Navami by performing the marriage ceremony of Lord Rama and Sith Devi. On this day people decorate their homes with colors, especially door entrances with mango leaves which signify the prosperity. People wear new clothes and perform special prayers to Lord Rama at home. Then they go to the temple to witness the marriage ceremony of Lord Rama and Sitha Devi. The special food of jaggery water(paanakam) and soaked lentles(Kosambri) are served along with mago rice. Since this is the very hot time of the summer season, drinking paanakam and eating kosambri gives cooling effect to the body, and they also have a very important medicinal value.

Fasting During the Navarathri and Recitation of Ramayana:

The day of fasting begins nine days before the Rama Navami(Lord Ramas birth), and in most places this day is the New Year. People start fasting from the New Year day by abstaining from the staple food of rice and bread. They eat only fruits and milk for ten days, and spend time reciting a few thousand verses from Ramayana everyday. The entire Ramayana containing over one hundred thousand verses will be finished during the nine days of Navarathri. Another reason why people observe Navarathri is because a divine girl called Vaishno Devi also performed Navarathri vrath(penance) for Lord Ramas victory over Ravana. Vaishno Devi was a divine girl who started meditating upon Lord Rama at the age of 9 years and when she expressed an interest to marry Lord Rama, he says that He vowed to be married only to Sitha Devi in that incarnation, and would marry her in the tenth incarnation of Kalki at the end of Kali Yuga. By observing Navarathri, devotees of Lord Rama follow the footsteps of Vaishno Devi. Another significance of observing Navarathri is to perform penance and meditate upon Lord Rama, so that they also lead a life like Lord Rama, who is an example for a perfect human being.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bhimashankar Jyothirlingam

Bhimashankar Temple
Bhimashankar Temple
Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga is situated in the north of Pune, on the Sahayadri, by the banks of the river Bhima and 50-km north west of Khed, near Pune in Maharashtra. Bhima Shankar Temple lies on the banks of the river Bhima. Bhimashankar is also the source of the river Bhima, which flows southeast and merges with the Krishna River near Raichur. The other Jyotirling shrines in Maharashtra are Tryambakeshwar and Grishneshwar.
It is from here that the Bhima River flows. It is believed that Lord Shiva was pleased by the devotion of a king named Bhimak of the sun Dynasty and is called the Jyotirlinga in the place. But according to the Shiv Purana the Bhimashankar Jyotirlinga is situated on the Mountain Brahmapur, district Kamrup of Assam. Lord Shiva had incarnated so that he could destroy the demons and protect his devotees and for the welfare of one and all.

The Temple
The Bhimashankara temple is a composite of old and the new structures and is built in the Nagara style of architecture. It is a modest temple yet graceful temple and it dates back to mid 18th century. The shikhara of the temple was built by Nana Phadnavis. The great Maratha ruler Shivaji is also said to have made endowments to this temple to facilitate the carrying out, of worship services. As with other Shiva temples in this area, the sanctum is at a lower level.

Although the structure here is fairly new, the shrine Bhimashankaram (and the Bhimarathi river) have been referred to in literature dating back to the 13th century CE. Saint Jnaneshwar is said to have visited Tryambakeshwar and Bhimashankar.

Other temples and shrines: There is a shrine to Kamalaja near the Bhimashankara temple. Kamalaja is an incarnation of Parvati, who aided Shiva in his battle against Tripuraasura. Kamalajaa was worshipped with offerings of lotus flowers by Bhrama. Shaakini and Daakini the Shivaganas who helped Shiva in the battle against the demon are also honored and worshipped here.

The Mokshakund thirtha is located behind the Bhimashankara temple, and it is associated with the rishi Kaushika. There are also the Sarvathirtha, the Kusharanya thirtha where the Bhima river begins to flow eastward, and the Jyanakund.

There was a demon Tripurasura who did penance in the jungle of Bhimashankar very long ago i.e. in Tretayug, to please Lord Shiva in order to achieve the gift of immortality. Lord shiva, who is specially known for his kindness towards his devotees, was pleased with Tripurasura's commitment towards him. So as usual, he blessed him with the power of immortality with a condition that, "He should strive in the best interest of people, or he may be sued permanently for violating the condition."

With the flow of time, Tripurasura forgot the condition to which he was abided, and eventually started harassing people as well as other deities. There was a chaos for which all the deities approached Lord Shiva for remedy.

Thus in order to sue Tripurasura, Lord Shiv prayed to Goddess Parvati (Kamalaja Mata) in order to help him to accomplish this task. Accordingly Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati underwent a new form which is popularly known as "Ardha-Narya-Nateshwar" and killed Tripurasura on Kartik Pournima which is known as "Tripurari Pornima".

After the death of Tripurasura his wives (Dakini and Shakini) went to Lord Shiva with a question of their existence without Tripurasura. Thus Lord Shiva blessed both of them, with the power of immortality which he did to Tripurasura. Henceforth the realm Bhimashankar is known as "Dakinyam Bhimashankaram". 

How to reach Bhimashankar Temple
  • By Road :Bhimashankar is situated around 260 kms from Mumbai via Pune.From Pune You have to take the road that goes to Wada to reach Bhimashankar.
  • By Rail :The nearest Railhead is the Pune which is at a distance of 95 kilometres from Bhimashankar.
  • By Air :The nearest airport is the Pune Airport which is at a distance of 95 kilometres from Bhimashankar.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Nageswar jyotirling

Nageshwar Jyotirlinga
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga
Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is located on the route - from Dwarka to the Bet Dwarka (island), on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat. This holy place is also known as Nagnath.
Gulshan Kumar Charitable Trust has constructed a huge and attractive statue of Lord Shiva outside the temple. This 125 feet high and 25 feet broad statue is visible from a distance of 2 km.
Nageshwar Temple has simple but beautiful structure. It more or less looks like a new replica of Somanth Temple. After the main entrance gate there is a spacious hall or sabha mandap. On the right side of hall, you will find some stalls from where puja material, Prasad and silver model of Nag available for Offering. Main Jyotirlinga is placed in a beautiful and clean sanctum a little below the sabhamandap floor.

Legend Behind Nageshwar Temple
According to Shiv Purana, a Shiva devotee by name Supriya was attacked by a demon Daaruka while in a boat. The demon imprisoned him along with several others at his capital Daarukaavana where he resided with his wife Daaruki. Supriya advised all prisoners to recite the mantra ‘Aum Namaha Shivaya’. When Daruk came to know about this he ran to kill Supriya. Instantly Lord Shiva appeared in the form of a Jyotirlingam and vanquished the demon with the Paasupata Astram.

This Jyotirlinga manifestation of Shiva is worshipped as Nageswara. Two other sites in India, one near Audhgram near Purna in Andhra Pradesh and another near Almora in Uttar Pradesh also enshrine temples to Nageswara Jyotirlingam. According to the Shiv Purana, any one who ever with devotion reads the birth and greatness of this Jyotirlinga shall beget all material happiness and divine status in the end.

Significance of Jyotirlinga:
All jyotirlingas are symbol of immense faith and devotion and hold great mythological importance.According to The Puranas, by reciting the name of these; one can eliminate all the sins. The devotee becomes enlightened, calm, faithful and pure.
Saurashtra Somnatham Cha Shrishaile Mallikarjunam ||
Ujjainyam Mahakalomkare Mammaleshwaram ||
Parlyam Vaijnatham Cha Dakinyam Bheem Shankaram ||
Setu Bandhe Tu Ramesham Nagesham Daruka Vane ||
Varanasya Tu Vishwesham Tribakam Gautamitate ||
Himalaye Tu Kedaram Ghurmesham Cha Shivalaye ||
Aetani Jyotirlingani Sayam Prataha Pathennaraha ||
Sapta Janma Kritam Papam Smaranen Vinashyati ||
It is said that one who recites these 12 names regularly in the morning and evening he washes all the sins committed in the previous 7 births as well as attains power.

How to reach : Nageshwar Jyotirlinga is located near Dwarka, Gujarat. The distance between Dwarka and Nageshwar is merely 16 km. It is very easily accessible by airways, railways and roadways.

 By train : The nearest railways station is Dwarka/ Okha. Being considered as one of the Char Dham Dwarka is easily accessible from Jamnagar, Mumbai (945 km), Rajkot (270 km) and Ahmedabad (453 km).

By air : Jamnagar (146 Kms) and Rajkot (225 Kms) are the nearby Airports.  Regular flights from Mumbai International Airport are offered for Jamnagar from where Taxi cabs and buses are easily available to Dwarka and Nageshwar.

By Road:Gujarat’s superb State Highway connects Nageshwar and Dwarka with other towns of the state. Private Travel agencies offer conducted tour to Nageshwar and Dwarka whereas The State Transport Corporation provides frequent buses and luxury coaches from all over the state.

Vaidyanath jyotirling

Vaidyanath Temple
Vaidyanath Temple
Vaidyanath Temple, also called Vaijnath Temple and Baidyanth Temple is located at Deogarh in the Santal Parganas region of Bihar in the south west of Keeul Station. Baidyanath shrine is revered as one of the twelve Jyotirlingams of Shiva. It may be noted that some schools of thought believe Vaidyanath near Parali in Andhra Pradesh to be the Vaidyanatha Jyotirlingam.

Devotees of Lord Shiva believe that by sincere worship of Vaijnath Jyotirlinga a person is relieved of all worries and miseries in life. It is also said that by worshipping in the shrine a person attains Moksha and all types of happiness. As a tradition, devotees carry ‘Kanwars’ on their shoulders and complete their travel here.

Vaidyanath is also considered to be one of the 52 Shakti Pitha shrines of Sati. It is believed that the heart of Sati fell here, when her half burnt body being carried by Shiva at the end of Daksha's yagna  was chopped to pieces by Vishnu's discus.

Structure of Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga
Vaidyanath Temple at Deogarh houses a spacious courtyard bound by stone walls. In the temple complex are twenty-two other temples. The Baijnath or Vaidyanath temple faces east. The top of the Shiva Lingam is slightly broken, keeping with the legend that it chipped away when Ravana tried to uproot it. Near the temple is the Shivaganga Lake. 

As per Shiv Mahapuran, once Brahma (the Hindu God of creation) and Vishnu (the Hindu God of saving) had an argument in terms of supremacy of creation. To test them, Shiva pierced the three worlds as a huge endless pillar of light, the jyotirlinga. Vishnu and Brahma split their ways to downwards and upwards respectively to find the end of the light in either directions. Brahma lied that he found out the end, while Vishnu conceded his defeat. Shiva appeared as a second pillar of light and cursed Brahma that he would have no place in ceremonies while Vishnu would be worshipped till the end of eternity. The jyotirlinga is the supreme partless reality, out of which Shiva partly appears. The jyothirlinga shrines, thus are places where Shiva appeared as a fiery column of light.  Originally there were believed to be 64 jyothirlingas while 12 of them are considered to be very auspicious and holy. Each of the twelve jyothirlinga sites take the name of the presiding deity – each considered different manifestation of Shiva.  At all these sites, the primary image is lingam representing the beginningless and endless Stambha pillar, symbolizing the infinite nature of Shiva. The twelve jyothirlinga are Somnath in Gujarat, Mallikarjuna at Srisailam in Andra Pradesh, Mahakaleswar at Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh, Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh, Kedarnath in Himalayas, Bhimashankar in Maharastra, Viswanath at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Triambakeshwar in Maharastra, Vaidyanath at Deogarh in Jharkand, Nageswar at Dwarka in Gujarat, Rameshwar at Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Grishneshwar at Aurangabad in Maharastra.

According to the stories narrated in the Shiva Purana, it was in the Treta yuga that the demon Ravana, king of Lanka, felt that his capital would not be perfect and free from enemies unless Mahadeva (Shiva) stays there forever. He paid continuous meditation to Mahadeva. Ultimately Shiva got pleased and permitted him to carry his lingam with him to Lanka. Mahadeva advised him not to place or transfer this lingam to anyone. There should not be a break in his journey to Lanka. If he deposits the lingam anywhere on the earth, in the course of his journey, it would remain fixed at that place forever. Ravana was happy as he was taking his return journey to Lanka.

The other gods objected to this plan; if Shiva went to Lanka with Ravana, then Ravana would become invincible and his evil and anti-vedic deeds would threaten the world.

On his way back from Mount Kailash, it was time for Ravana to perform sandya-vandana and he could not carry out sandya-vandha with Shiva linga in his hand and therefore searched for someone who could hold it for him. Ganesh then appeared as a sheperd who was rearing sheeps nearby. Ravana requested Ganesh pretending as shepherd to hold the linga while he completes sandya-vandana and also guided him not to place the linga on ground at any movement. Ganesha warned Ravana about leaving the linga on the bank of the river and walking away if he doesnot return soon. Vishnu, pretending to be vexed by Ravena’s delay, set the linga down on earth. The moment linga was kept down, it got fixed to the ground. When Ravana after returning from sandya-vandana tried to move the linga, but he could not. Ravan failed miserably in his attempt to uproot the linga. The Gods were happy with Shiva linga not reaching Ravana’s place.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Holi - Festival of Color

Holi Celebration
Holi, is a spring festival. It is celebrated in the month of Phalguna, as the lunar month is locally known. It is the month of March that corresponds with this time of celebration. Though originated in the northern part of India, Holi has assumed a national flavor over the ages. Despite being a Hindu festival, it is now regarded as a secular event. For, the entire nation takes the day off, as people, irrespective of race, culture and ethnic background, enjoy the spirit of Holi. Cities and suburbs, towns and villages all come alive to catch the frenzy of March madness with a range of colors.

A Hindu festival, Holi has various legends associated with it. The foremost is the legend of demon King Hiranyakashyap who demanded everybody in his kingdom to worship him but his pious son, Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap wanted his son to be killed. He asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap as Holika had a boon which made he immune to fire. Story goes that Prahlad was saved by lord himself for his extreme devotion and evil minded Holika was burnt to ashes, for her boon worked only when she entered the fire alone.

Since that time, people light a bonfire, called Holika on the eve of Holi festival and celebrate the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion to god. Children take special delight in the tradition and this has another legend attached to it. It says that there was once an ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Prithu. She was chased away by children on the day of Holi. Therefore, children are allowed to play pranks at the time of 'Holika Dahan'.

Some also celebrate the death of evil minded Pootana. The ogress tried to Lord Krishna as an infant by feeding it poisonous milk while executing the plan of Kansa, Krishna's devil uncle. However, Krishna sucked her blood and brought her end. Some who view the origin of festivals from seasonal cycles believe that Pootana represents winter and her death the cessation and end of winter.

The celebration of Holi:
On the day of the festival, people get out in the street early in the morning with colored powder, colored water with sprayers and water filled balloons. They throw colors at each other and shout greetings like 'Holi hai'. The streets, building and people all get painted in gulal (colored powder). In many places processions are held and people sing and dance all the way. The joyous celebration continues till the mid day and in afternoon or evening people visit friends and relatives to distribute sweets and gather for feasts.

The celebration also signifies the onset of spring as the nature starts changing its colors and flowers bloom. It announces the beginning of the agricultural season in this part of the world.

Popular Dishes of Holi:
Like most of the Indian festivals, food plays a very curial role in Holi. Sweet meats as well as snacks are prepared with great care keeping the festive mood of the celebration in mind.
Some of the most popular Holi dishes are gujias, laddoos, mathri, kheer, pedas, dahi vada or dahi bhalla, chaat, and pakoras. Holi would remain incomplete without the intoxicating 'bhang ke sarbaat'. You can now find many interesting Holi recipes online.