Friday, 24 June 2011

June 24, 2011

Diwali



Diwali (also spelled Devali in certain regions) or Deepavali, popularly known as the "festival of lights," is a festival celebrated between mid-October and mid-December for different reasons. For Hindus, Diwali is one of the most important festivals of the year and is celebrated in families by performing traditional activities together in their homes. For Jains, Diwali marks the attainment of moksha or nirvana by Mahavira in 527 BCE. Diwali is an official holiday in India,Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Mauritius, Guyana, Trinidad & Tobago, Suriname, Malaysia, Singapore,and Fiji.

The name "Diwali" is a contraction of "Deepavali", which translates into "row of lamps".Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. These lamps are kept on during the night and one's house is cleaned, both done in order to make the goddess Lakshmi feel welcome. Firecrackers are burst in order to drive away evil spirits. During Diwali, all the celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends.

The festival starts with Dhanteras on which most Indian business communities begin their financial year. The second day of the festival, Naraka Chaturdasi, marks the vanquishing of the demon Naraka by Lord Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. Amavasya, the third day of Diwali, marks the worship of Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth in her most benevolent mood, fulfilling the wishes of her devotees. Amavasya also tells the story of Lord Vishnu, who in his dwarf incarnation vanquished the Bali, and banished him to Patala. It is on the fourth day of Diwali, Kartika Shudda Padyami, that Bali went to patala and took the reins of his new kingdom in there. The fifth day is referred to as Yama Dvitiya (also called Bhai Dooj), and on this day sisters invite their brothers to their homes.

It begins in late Ashvin (between September and October) and ends in early Kartika (between October and November). The days in Ashvin are in the Krishna Paksha ("dark fortnight") of that month, while the days in Kartik are in its Shukla Paksha ("bright fortnight"). The first day is Dhan Teras. The last day is Yama Dvitiya, which signifies the second day of the light half of Kartika. Each day of Diwali marks one celebration of the six principal stories associated with the festival.

Hindus have following significant events associated with Deepawali:

The return of Rama after 14 years of Vanvas (banishment). To welcome his return, diyas (ghee lamps) were lit in rows of 20.

The killing of Narakasura: Celebrated as Naraka Chaturdashi, one day before Diwali, it commemorates the killing of the evil demon Narakasura, who wreaked havoc. Krishna's wife Satyabhama killed Narakasura during the Dwapara yuga. In another version of the belief, the demon was killed by Krishna or Krishna provoked his wife Satyabhama to kill Narshna, defeating Indra.

Govardhan Puja is celebrated the day after Diwali and is the day Krishna defeated Indra, the deity of thunder and rain. According to the story, Krishna saw preparations for an annual offering to Lord Indra and asked his father Nanda about it. He debated with the villagers about what their 'dharma' truly was. They were farmers, they should do their duty and concentrate on farming and protection of their cattle. He said that all human beings should do their 'karma' to the best of their ability and not pray for natural phenomenon. The villagers were convinced by Krishna, and did not proceed with the special puja (prayer). Indra was then angered, and flooded the village. Krishna lifted Mount Govardhan and held it up to protect the people and cattle from the rain. Indra finally accepted defeat and recognized Krishna as supreme. Although this aspect of Krishna's life is sometimes ignored it sets up the basis of the 'karma' philosophy later detailed in the Bhagavat Gita.

Other events associated with Diwali include:
Diwali celebrations are spread over five days, from Dhanteras to Bhaiduj. In some places like Maharashtra it starts with Vasu Baras. All the days except Diwali are named according to their designation in the Hindu calendar. The days are:

Govatsa Dwadashi or Vasu Baras (27 Ashvin or 12 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Go means cow and vatsa means calf. Dwadashi or Baras means the 12th day. On this day the cow and calf are worshiped. The story associated with this day is that of King Prithu, son of the tyrant King Vena. Due to the ill rule of Vena, there was a terrible famine and earth stopped being fruitful. Prithu chased the earth, who is usually represented as cow, and ‘milked’ her, meaning that he brought prosperity to the land.

Dhanatrayodashi or Dhan teras or Dhanwantari Triodasi. Dhana means wealth and Trayodashi means 13th day. This day falls on the 13th day of the second half of the lunar month. It is considered an auspicious day for buying utensils and gold, hence the name ‘Dhana’. This day is regarded as the Jayanti (Birth Anniversary) of God Dhanvantari, the Physician of Gods, who came out during Samudra manthan, the churning of the great ocean by the gods and the demons.

Naraka Chaturdashi (29 Ashvin or 14 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Chaturdashi is the 14th day This was the day on which the demon Narakasura was killed by Krishna – an incarnation of Vishnu. It signifies the victory of good over evil and light over darkness (Gujarati: Kali Chaudas, Rajasthan : Roop Chaudas). In southern India, this is the actual day of festivities. Hindus wake up before dawn, have a fragrant oil bath and dress in new clothes. They light small lamps all around the house and draw elaborate kolams /rangolis outside their homes. They perform a special puja with offerings to Krishna or Vishnu, as he liberated the world from the demon Narakasura on this day. It is believed that taking a bath before sunrise, when the stars are still visible in the sky is equivalent to taking a bath in the holy Ganges. After the puja, children burst firecrackers heralding the defeat of the demon. As this is a day of rejoicing, many will have very elaborate breakfasts and lunches and meet family and friends.

Lakshmi Puja (30 Ashvin or 15 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Lakshmi Puja marks the most important day of Diwali celebrations in North India. Hindu homes worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the God of auspicious beginnings, and then light lamps in the streets and homes to welcome prosperity and well-being.

Bali Pratipada and Govardhan Puja (1 Kartika or 1 Shukla Paksha Kartika) : In North India, this day is celebrated as Govardhan Puja, also called Annakoot, and is celebrated as the day Krishna – an incarnation of god Vishnu – defeated Indra and by the lifting of Govardhana hill to save his kinsmen and cattle from rain and floods. For Annakoot, large quantities of food are decorated symbolizing the Govardhan hill lifted by Krishna. In Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, it is celebrated as Bali-Pratipada or Bali Padyami. The day commemorates the victory of Vishnu in his dwarf form Vamana over the demon-king Bali, who was pushed into the patala. In Maharashtra, it is called Padava or Nava Diwas (new day). Men present gifts to their wives on this day. It is celebrated as the first day of the Vikram Samvat calender, in Gujarat.
Yama Dwitiya or Bhaiduj (also Bhayyaduj, Bhaubeej or Bhayitika) (2 Kartika or 2 Shukla Paksha Kartika): on this day, brothers and sisters meet to express love and affection for each other (Gujarati: Bhai Bij, Bengali: Bhai Phota). It is based on a story when Yama, lord of Death, visited his sister Yami (the river Yamuna). Yami welcomed Yama with an Aarti and they had a feast together. Yama gave a gift to Yami while leaving as a token of his appreciation. So, the day is also called 'YAMA DWITIYA'. Brothers visit their sisters’ place on this day and usually have a meal there, and also give gifts to their sisters

Lakshmi Puja
Diwali marks the end of the harvest season in most of India. Farmers give thanks for the bounty of the year gone by, and pray for a good harvest for the year to come. Traditionally this marked the closing of accounts for businesses dependent on the agrarian cycle, and is the last major celebration before winter. Lakshmi symbolizes wealth and prosperity, and her blessings are invoked for a good year ahead.

There are two legends that associate the worship of Lakshmi on this day. According to the first legend, on this day, Lakshmi emerged from Kshira Sagar, the Ocean of Milk, during the great churning of the oceans, Samudra manthan. The second legend (more popular in western India) relates to the Vamana avatar of the big three Vishnu, the incarnation he assumed to kill the demon king Bali. On this day, Vishnu came back to his abode the Vaikuntha; so those who worship Lakshmi receive the benefit of her benevolent mood, and are blessed with mental, physical and material well-being.

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 (happiness and satisfaction)
Kubera: Wealth (generosity; one who shares wealth)
Indra: Opulence (satisfaction due to wealth)
Gajendra: Carries the wealth

Thursday, 23 June 2011

June 23, 2011

Makar Sankranti



Makar Sankranti marks the transition of the Sun into Makara Rashi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. Traditionally, this has been one of many harvest days in India.

Owing to the vast geography and diversity of culture in India, this festival is celebrated for innumerable reasons and in innumerable ways depending on the climate, agricultural environment, cultural background and location.

Sankranti is the Sanskrit word in Hindu Astrology which refers to the transmigration of the Sun from one Rāshi (sign of the zodiac) to another. Hence there are 12 such sankrantis in all. However, the Sankranti festival usually refers to Makara Sankaranti, or the transition of the Sun from Dhanu rashi (Sagittarius) to Makara rashi (Capricorn).

For this purpose, the signs and houses of the zodiac are calculated using sidereal time, not tropical. As such it does not account for the Earth's precession. The festival therefore takes place around 21 days after the winter solstice (between December 20 and 23) that marks the starting of the phenomenon of 'northward apparent migration of the sun' or Uttarayana, literally meaning northward journey of Sun.

Considering the winter solstice marks the beginning of the gradual increase of the duration of the day. Scientifically, the shortest day of the year is around December 21–22 after which the days begin to get longer, hence actual Winter Solstice begins on December 21 or December 22 when the tropical sun enters Makara rashi. Hence actual Uttarayana is December 21. This was the actual date of Makar Sakranti too. But because of the Earth's tilt of 23.45 degrees and sliding of equinoxes, Ayanamsa occurs. This has caused Makara Sankranti to slide further over the ages. A thousand years ago, Makar Sankranti was on December 31 and is now on January 14. Five thousand years later, it shall be by the end of February, while in 9,000 years it shall come in June.

While the traditional Indian Calendar is based on lunar positions, Sankranti is a solar event. So while dates of all Hindu festivals keep changing as per the Gregorian calendar, the date of Makar Sankranti remains constant over a long term, 14 January. Makar Sankranti is celebrated in the Hindu Calendar month of Magha.

Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. According to the lunar calendar, when the sun moves from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer or from Dakshinayana to Uttarayana, in the month of Pausha in mid-January, it commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makar in Hindi, this occasion is named as Makar Sankranti in the Indian context. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every year (or may be sometimes on 15th January (leap year)).

Makar Sankranti, apart from a harvest festival is also regarded as the beginning of an auspicious phase in Indian culture. It is said as the 'holy phase of transition'. It marks the end of an inauspicious phase which according to the Hindu calendar begins around mid-December. It is believed that any auspicious and sacred ritual can be sanctified in any Hindu family, this day onwards. Scientifically, this day marks the beginning of warmer and longer days compared to the nights. In other words, Sankranti marks the termination of winter season and beginning of a new harvest or spring season.

All over the country, Makar Sankranti is observed with great fanfare. However, it is celebrated with distinct names and rituals in different parts of the country. In the states of northern and western India, the festival is celebrated as the Sankranti day with special zeal and fervor. The importance of this day has been signified in the ancient epics like Mahabharata also. So, apart from socio-geographical importance, this day also holds a historical and religious significance. As it is the festival of Sun God and he is regarded as the symbol divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it.

Scriptural and cultural significance
1. According to the Puranas, on this day Surya(Sun) visits the house of his son Shani(Saturn), who is the lord of the Makar rashi(Zodiac Capricorn). Though the father and son duo did not get along well, the Surya made it a point to meet his son on this day. He, in fact, comes to his son’s house, for a month. This day thus symbolizes the importance of the special relationship between father and son.
From Makar Sankranti starts the ‘day’ of devatas(Gods), while dakshinayana (southward movement of the sun) is said to be the ‘night’ of devatas, so most of the auspicious things are done during this time. Uttarayana is also called as Devayana, and the dakshinayana' is called Pitrayana.

It was on this day when Lord Vishnu ended the ever increasing terror of the Asuras(Demons) by finishing them off and burying their heads under the Mandara Parvata. So this occasion also represents the end of 'negativities' and beginning of an era of righteous living.

Maharaja Bhagiratha, performed great penance to bring Ganga down to the earth for the redemption of 60,000 sons of Maharaj Sagar, who were burnt to ashes at the Kapil Muni Ashram, near the present day Ganga Sagar. It was on this day that Bhagirath finally did tarpan with the Ganges water for his unfortunate ancestors and thereby liberated them from the curse. After visiting the Pataala(underworld) for the redemption of the curse of Bhagirath’s ancestors the Ganges finally merged into the sea. A very big Ganga Sagar Mela is organized every year on this day at the confluence of River Ganges and the Bay of Bengal. Thousands of Hindus take a dip in the water and perform tarpan for their ancestors.
Another well-known reference of this day came when the great grand-sire of Mahabharata fame, Bhishma, declared his intent to leave his mortal coil on this day. He had the boon of Ichha-Mrityu(death at his will) from his father, so he kept lying on the bed of arrows till this day and then left his mortal coil on Makar Sankranti day. It is believed that the person, who dies during the period of Uttarayana, becomes free from transmigration(rebirth). So this day was seen as a definite auspicious day to start a journey or endeavours to the higher realms beyond.

Sikhs celebrate it as Maghi. The tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh tore the Beydaava written by 40 Sikhs and gave them Mukhti on this day. These 40 Sikhs later came to be known as 40 Mukhtas.

After giving seven days of speeches before 500 Hindu scholars, Jagadguru Kripalu Maharaj was named fifth Jagadguru (world teacher) on Makar Sankranti Day 1957.

Tradition
In Maharashtra on the Makar Sankranti day people exchange multi-colored halwa (sugar granules coated in sugar syrup) and til-gul ladoos (sweetmeats made from sesame seeds and jaggery). Gul-polis (flat bread stuffed with jaggery) are offered for lunch. While exchanging tilguls as tokens of goodwill people greet each other with the words, "Til-gul ghya, god god bola" meaning ‘Accept these tilguls and speak sweet words’. The under-lying thought in the exchange of tilguls is to forget the past ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends.

This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kunku’ (literally meaning turmeric and vermillion) and given gifts such as utensil, clothes etc. Typically, women wear black sarees or black coloured outfits on this occasion. The significance of wearing black is that Sankranti comes at the peak of the winter season and black colour retains and absorbs heat, helping keep warm

Thursday, 2 June 2011

June 02, 2011

Bhau Beej



The festival of Bhau-beej or Bhai Dooj or Bhai Phota is celebrated by Hindus on the last day of the five-day-long Diwali festival. This is the second day of the bright fortnight or Shukla Paksha of the Hindu month of Kartika. On this day, sisters pray for their brothers to have long and happy lives by performing the Tika ceremony, and brothers make gifts to their sisters.

The festival is known as:
Bhai Phota  in Bengal and it takes place every year on the first or the second day of the Kali Puja festival.
Bhai Bij, Bhau-beej or Bhav Bij amongst the Marathi and Konkani-speaking communities in the states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka;
Bhai Tika in Nepal, where it is the second most important festival after Vijaya Dashami.
In Manipur this festival is celebrated under the name Ningol Chakuba. Brother-Sister bonding is present here also.

Another name for the day is Yamadwitheya or Yamadvitiya, after a legendary meeting between Yama the god of Death and his sister Yamuna (the famous river) on Dwitheya (the second day after new moon).Other names include Bhai Dooj, Bhathru Dwithiya, Bhai Tika and Bhatri Ditya.

According to another popular legend in Hindu mythology, after slaying the evil demon Narkasur, Lord Krishna visited his sister Subhadra who gave him a warm welcome with sweets and flowers. She also affectionately applied tilak on Krishna's forehead. Some believe this to be the origin of the festival.

On the day of the festival, sisters invite their brothers for a sumptuous meal often including their favorite dishes. The whole ceremony signifies the duty of a brother to protect his sister, as well as a sister's blessings for her brother.

Carrying forward the ceremony in traditional style, sisters perform aarti for their brother and apply a red tika on the brother's forehead. This tika ceremony on the occasion of Bhai Bij signifies the sister's sincerest prayers for the long and happy life of her brother. In return brothers bless their sisters and treat them with gifts or cash.

As it is customary in Maharashtra to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Bhau-beej, women who do not have a brother worship the moon god instead. They apply mehendi on girls as their tradition.

The sister, whose brother lives far away from her and cannot come to her house, sends her sincerest prayers for the long and happy life of her brother through the moon god. She performs aarti for the moon. This is the reason why affectionately Hindu children call the moon Chandamama (Chanda means moon and mama means mother's brother).

On the day of the festival, sisters invite their brothers for a sumptuous meal often including their favorite dishes. The whole ceremony signifies the duty of a brother to protect his sister, as well as a sister's blessings for her brother.

Carrying forward the ceremony in traditional style, sisters perform aarti for their brother and apply a red tika on the brother's forehead. This tika ceremony on the occasion of Bhai Bij signifies the sister's sincerest prayers for the long and happy life of her brother. In return brothers bless their sisters and treat them with gifts or cash.

As it is customary in Maharashtra to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Bhau-beej, women who do not have a brother worship the moon god instead. They apply mehendi on girls as their tradition.

The sister, whose brother lives far away from her and cannot come to her house, sends her sincerest prayers for the long and happy life of her brother through the moon god. She performs aarti for the moon. This is the reason why affectionately Hindu children call the moon Chandamama (Chanda means moon and mama means mother's brother).

Shirad Shahapur Jain Temple




At Shirad Shahapur village of Aundha Nagnath taluka place falls one of the most historical temples of Jain community. There exists statue of Lord Mallinath which is about 300 years old. There is legendary story of establishment of this temple. Years back the idol was placed at Ardhapur. Bhattarak shree Premanand once saw this idol placed in between other confuted idols and was annoyed. He seeked permission from Nizam to move the idol to Karanja. Nizam permitted him to take the idol to Karanja. While he was traveling he once stayed at shirad shahapur. There he saw dream in which he got message to establish the idol at shirad shahpur, only according to the famous temple came in to existence. Now it is well constructed with facilities for pilgrims to stay. Lot of Jain pilgrims from all over India visit this place.

How to Reach :
Distance from Parbhani by Road: 45 Km.
Distance from Hingoli by Road : 35 Km.

Contact Details :
Tahsildar Aundha Nagnath : 02456 - 260047


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

June 01, 2011

Nemgiri Digambar Jain Temple



Shri Digamber Jain Atishya Kshetra Nemgiri Samsthan is situated in sub hills of Sahyadri Mountains  3 km away from Jintur. in Parabhani District  of Maharastra. The nearby Cites  are  Parabhani 43 km, Aurangabad 160 km and Nandel 110 km  away from Jintur. 
  Shri Digamber Jain Atishya Kshetra Nemgiri  is a very ancient digambar jain Atishya Kshetra 3 kilometers from Jintur,  There are two hills Nemgiri and Chandragiri famous for their ancient artistic and miraculous Jain Cave Temples and Chaityalayas. At Nemgiri Hill, in Cave Number 5 a miraculous idol of Lord Antariksha Parsvanath is staying in the space 3 inches high from surface.

Main Temple :
Nemgiri Hill : There are seven Cave Temples on the Nemgiri hill. In the cave number 4, a 7.5 feet high beautiful idol of Baghwan  Neminath in cross legged seating posture  is installed. In the cave number 5 an idol of Antariksha Parsvanath nearly  6.5 feet in height with nine serpent hoods  head, installed.  
Chandragiri Hill – A Choubeesee carved on a flat rock is very artistic here, that includes great standing idols of Lord Shantinath, Kunthunath & Arahnath and this was installed in V.S. 1665.

Other Temples :
In first cave of Nemgiri, an  attractive idol of Baghwan  Mahavira 3.5 feet in height in cross legged seating posture is installed, This idol was installed in V.S. 1676.Near the temple an ancient feet images of Acharya Bhadrabahu are also located. 

 In second cave there is an ancient idol of Lord Adinath in state of meditation and penance.

 In third cave there is an attractive idol of Lord Shantinath, 6 feet in height in cross legged seating posture. 

 In sixth cave there is an ancient idol in standing posture with four heads in four directions

 In seventh cave there is a  very artistic standing  5.5 feet in height idol of Lord Bahubali,  

 There are also two more old temples in Jintur city where old and  ancient idols of the temples ruined by invaders are placed. 

History 
In ancient times Kshetra Nemgiri was famous as Jainpur, said to be developed in the time of Emperor, Amogh Varsha of Rashtrakut Family. At that time there were 14 Jain Temples. This Kshetra was destroyed by invaders and out of 14 temples only two temples are present. The name of Kshetra was changed to Jintu.  

In the year 1609 A.D. this Kshetra was reconstructed and developed by Shri Veer Sangavi of Bagherwal. It is said that Samavsharan of Lord Mahaveer came here. Also the Last Shrut Kevali Acharya Bhadrabahu with his 12000 scholars visited this place. The famous idol of Lord Parsvanath was also installed by them. The idol called Antariksha Parsvanath  is staying in the space 3 inches high from surface without any support

Location :
Shri Digamber Jain Atishya Kshetra Nemgiri Samsthan, Jintur
Place & Post – Jintur, Taluka – Jintur, Dist. – Parabhani (Maharashtra), Pin 431509 
Phone 02457 – 220113