Legends related to Rakhi Festival

5 Aug

The festival Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on Shravana Pournima that is the full moon day of the month of Shravana. Sisters tie Rakhis (a symbolic holy ornamental rope)  that is Raksha Bandhans to brothers on this day wishing for the safety and success of their brothers’s  lives. Brothers in return bless their sisters with all possible good wishes and happy life by giving them a gift as a token of love and affection.

                    In Indian mythology there are many contexts where this festival is mentioned. One of the prominent contexts is about Lord Indra’s (king of Gods) success over the rakshasas. There was a war between rakshasas and Gods and it so happened that the rakshasas were about to win. Indra’s wife Indrani tied a Rakhi to Indra wishing him success over the rakshasass. With the power of the good wishes with which Rakhi was tied, Gods could win the battle.  

The other story is about King Bali and Indra. King Bali was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Feeling insecure of his throne Indra worshipped Lord Vishnu and got the promise from Lord Vishnu for Indras prayers.  Later Vishnu gave Bali immortality and promised that he would protect his Kingdom. Owing to his promise, Lord Vishnu left for Bali’s kingdom.

          Lordess Lakshmi, wife of Vishnu, went to Bali’s kingdom as a poor Brahmin lady. And on the day of Shravana pournima that is the day when Rakhi is celebrated, she tied Rakhi to king Bali and inturn took a blessing from him for the return of her husband Vishnu.

      There are many such contexts in Indian Mythology where sisters tying Rakhis to brothers have helped the brothers acheive victory. Wish all the sisters and brothers a happy Rakhi.

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The story of the root cause of Grahanas (Solar Eclipse of 22nd July)

23 Jul

There was an eclipse on 22nd July 23, 2009. Exploring the Indian Mythological roots of eclipses, the story goes as given below.
In Indian Mythology there is a myth behind the formation of the eclipses. It was decided by Devatas (gods) and Asuras (demons) to extract amruta (the eternity granting nectar) by churning the ocean.
During the churning of the ocean, many items that came out including poison, kamadhenu (the unlimited food provider) etc. At the end, after the amruta was extracted by churning the ocean, devatas and asuras quarreled for it. Lord Vishnu then took the avatar of Madhumathi and asks asuras to sit on one side and the asuras on the othe other side. Enticed by the beauty of Madhumathi (Lord Vishnu’s avatar) they accept it and do so. But an asura smelled the trick and disguised himself as God and sat between Surya Devata (the Sun God) and the Chandra Devata (the moon). Madhumathi starts distributing the amruta to the devatas and the asura from her Kamandalam (a pot with a spout used to serve liquids). In the process she serves amruta to the asura also disguised in the form of a devata.
Only when Moon god and Sun god signaled, Vishnu realized that it is an asura but by that time the amruta had been swallowed by the asura. The asura runs away frightened, but Lord Vishnu follows him and uses Vishnu chakra to cut the head of the asura from the body. But because the asura had already swallowed the amruta, he does not die. The head part of the asura is called as Rahu and the body is called as Ketu. However, Vishnu curses Rahu and Ketu to be two planets along with the seven other planets already present. As per astrology these planets symbol inauspicious time for living beings. And it is also said that because of the anger at Sun and Moon gods, Rahu and Ketu swallow/eat parts and whole of Sun and Moon, causing the eclipses. These days when Rahu/Ketu eat Sun or Moon periodically partially/fully manifest as eclipses.

Celebrating Ramanavami, the birth of Rama

3 Apr

Today is Ramanavami, the auspicious occasion of the birth of Lord Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu, and considered the most ideal and respected incarnation.

 

 It is essentially the story of an ideal king, son, father and man, RAMA. As an ideal son, he agrees to abide by wishes of his father King Dasaratha to spend 14 years in forest, along with his wife Sita and brother Lakshman. During the course of his stay in forest, the demon Ravana abducts his wife Sita. Ram then sets out in search of his wife. During this he makes friends with king of monkeys Sugreeva, and his devotee Hanuman. In the end he wages a war with Ravana and rescues Sita to return to Ayodhya and rule it as an ideal king for 1000 s of years

 

Check out http://www.indianmythology.com/stories.htm for details of the story of incarnation of Rama.

Ugadi heralding the New Year

27 Mar

How and why is Ugadi celebrated?

Ugadi is celebrated as the new year of the people of southern Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Yuga and Adi when put together sound as Yugadi. ‘Yuga” is a timespan, in this context it means an year. “Adi’ means beginning. So, the name Ugadi, refers to the beginning of new year and is so celebrated by these people.

          The celebration of Ugadi mainly includes doing puja,  preparation of naivedya (offering to god), preparation and having of Ugadi paccadi (Chutney), and panchanga (alamnac) reading.. People celebrating Ugadi buy new clothes for the festival, take oil bath, eat Ugadi paccadi and do panchanga reading..

Ugadi paccadi is prepared specifically on this day and each of us needs to have it as part of the ritual. There is an understanding behind the recipe of Ugadi paccadi. The Ugadi Paccadi is consumed  on an empty stomach. The i Paccadi is special in its composition of  six diverse  tastes, comprising mandatorily jaggery, flowers of neem,raw  mango. A popular  belief is that the diverse tastes enable us to face different obstacles in the year.

Festival Holi

9 Mar

Holi is celebrated as  the festival of colors in India and by Indians. Every year Holi is celebrated on the full moon day of Spring season. The story behind the Holi festival goes this way.

               There was demon king Hiranyakashyapa. He had ordered everyone in his kingdom to worship him as the Lord, harrassing everyone who did not follow the diktat. Unfortunately he could not convince his own son Prahalada to  worship him, Instead Prahalada was an ardent devotee Lord Vishnu and used to constantly chant the name of  Lord Vishnu aka Narayana. He tried numerous ways to convince his son but all attempts were invain, and so Hiranyakashyapa tried multiple times to kill his son.

In one of Hiranyakashyapa’s attempts to kill his son Prahalada, Hiranyakashyapa asked his  demoness  sister Holika to carry Prahalada in her lap and jump into a sacrificial fire. Holika had a boon that she would not be harmed even when she passed through fire. Hiranyakashyapa wanted to take this as an advantage to kill Prahalad.    On Hiranyakashyapa’s request, Holika took Prahalada in her lap and went into fire. Holika did not realize that the boon was true only when she went into fire alone. This time Prahalad was in her lap and so she was killed. Prahalda was saved by the blessing of Lord Vishnu as Prahalad was chanting the name of Vishnu even when he passed through fire. Holi is celebrated on this day when demoness   Holika was burnt in fire.

Thus Holi is a celebration of deep devotion of the Lord by Prahlada, and triumph over the evil Holika.