Wednesday, February 20, 2008

February 21st 2008 - Maasi Magam

Significance of Maasi Magam:

Masi Makam or Masi Magam is an important festival in the Tamil speaking world. The festival falls in the Tamil Month of Masi (February – March). Maham or Makam is one among the twenty seven stars in the astrological system. The makam star in the Masi month usually falls on the full moon day and is considered highly auspicious in many temples across South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry (Pondicherry) and Kerala. In 2008, date of Masi Maham is February 21.

One of the important rituals on this day is the taking of idols to the seashore or ponds. Therefore the festival is also referred as holy bath ceremony. Long processions from different temples arrive at the sea shore with the idols of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva. Idols from Shakti temples are also brought to the seashore. Pujas and other rituals are held at the sea shore and thousands of devotees throng the sea shore on this day to offer prayer.

There are numerous myths in vogue related to Masi Makam. Each temple has a myth for celebrating Masi Makam. The most important one is related to Lord Shiva. Legend has it that Lord Shiva appeared as a child before King Vallala of Tiruvannamalai who was an ardent devotee. The king had no child and Lord Shiva promised to perform his last rituals. The king died on a Masi Magam day and it is said that the Lord performed his last rites. Lord Shiva also blessed the king by saying that whoever bathes in the sea during Masi Magam will merge with him and will get ‘mukthi.’ It is believed that every year the Lord visits the sea to perform the last rites of the king.

Once in twelve years the Masi Magam attains even more significance and then Maha Maham is held. Apart from the full moon, during the Maha Maham there is the movement of Jupiter into Leo (singha rasi.) Maha Maham is of great importance at the Adi Kumbeswaran temple in Kumbakonam. There is sacred teerth (tank) called Maha Maham here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

February 20th 2008 - Pournami Vratham

On the 20th of February is Pournami Vratham.
The pournami vrathams during the months of Adi, Karthigai, Vaigasi and Maasi are supposed to be special.

The ideal time to wake up, take bath and offer prayers according to hinduism is during Brahma muhurtham(4:00-6:00 a.m).

Significance of Brahma Muhurtham:

A period of the day is called by the ancient Rishis as the “Hour of Brahman” -- Brahma muhurtha. In the early hours of the morning sandhya, the sky emits a pale bluish light or halo in the east. These Bluish rays coming from the east contain subtle awakening magnetism, which affects the brain. These dawn rays of a bluish hue have also got a soothing effect on the body. Also, the morning air is fully charged with Prana or vital energy. This living electricity is what the body cells require for sustaining good health. This Prana is what the Yogi requires for charging his six Yogic centers during the Sandhya Vandana of Gayathri.

The hour of Brahman is specially selected for Gayathri worship since at that hour the air is heavily charged with Prana and also the Sun's awakening rays of an electric blue radiate from the east before the physical Sun emerges form the horizon.

What we should do:

Even if we are not able to follow it everyday, due to our lifestyle, atleast during this day on the special months mentioned above, it is recommended that we wake up and finish bathing before 6:00 a.m, to get the full grace of God, with sincere early morning prayer.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

February 18th 2008 - Somavaara Pradosham

Significance of Pradosham:
Lord Shiva performed the sandhyanritya or evening dance, appearing between the horns of his vehicle, the Nandi (bull). On this occasion, it is said that Saraswati played Veena; Indra the flute, Vishnu the mridangam and Brahma kept tala or beat to Lakshmi’s singing –a truly divine ensemble. The time span between 4:30 and 6:00 in the evening of trayodashi both during the waxing and waning phases of the moon when he performed this divine tandava dance came to be sanctified as the PRADOSHAM.
As the name indicates, devotees who worship Lord Shiva during the Pradosham hours, get rid of all their "doshams" committed either knowingly or unknowingly or those committed in their previous birth.
It is also said that during pradosham, ALL the devas are present to witness the incident, and hence devotees thronging to the temple to get a darshan of Lord Shiva also get the blessings of whom we call the mupathimukodi devas.

Maasi Somavaara Pradosham:
Maasi pradosham (Pradosham during the month of Maasi is considered to be special as the month's name is said to be formed with the combination Ma+Si from U"ma" (Uma referred to as Goddess Parvati) and "Si"van. And Somavaram(Monday) is a special day for Lord Shiva every week.

I have been a witness to the Pradosham celebration at Kapaleeswarar temple right from my childhood. The sights and sounds of the extremely religious event with devotees thronging the temple and with chants of "Shambo Mahadeva" and "Hara Hara Shankara, Shiva Shiva Shankara" sends you to a totally different world.

Please try visiting a Shiva temple during pradosham to get a truly out of the world religious experience.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Febuary 15th 2008 - Madhawa Navami

It is on this day, that the exponent of Dwaita philosophy, Sri Madhwacharya, went to Badarikashrama and disappeared.
The temple town of Udupi bears Madhva’s memory at every step with eight Mathas and innumerable followers, who throng everyday throughout the year.

Madhvacharya was a great religious reformer and an orthodox commentator on the Brahma Sutras and the ten Upanishads. He was born in 1199 A.D. at Velali, a few miles from Udipi in the district of South Kanara in South India. He was a Tulu Brahmin by birth. He was born of Madhya Geha and Vedavati. Vedavati was a virtuous woman. Madhva is regarded as an incarnation of Vayu, the Wind-God.

Madhvacharya is the great exponent of the Dvaita school of philosophy. His Vaishnavism is called Sad-Vaishnavism in order to distinguish it from the Sri-Vaishnavism of Ramanujacharya. According to his philosophy, the Supreme Being is Vishnu or Narayana.

Renunciation, devotion and direct cognition of the Lord through meditation lead to the attainment of salvation. The aspirant should equip himself with the study of the Vedas, control of the senses, dispassion and perfect self-surrender, if he wants to have the vision of the Lord. These are some of the important teachings of Madhvacharya, the renowned exponent of the dualistic school of philosophy.

Religious Event Details- Courtesy: Aruna Venkataraman

Thursday, February 14, 2008

February 17th 2008 - Vijaya Ekadasi Vratham

Ekadasi Vratham is considered to be one of the greatest Vrathams, and Vijaya Ekadasi Vratham is considered to be the most supreme. Those who observe a fast on this day and pray sincerely will get "Vijaya" or victory in all that they do.

Greatness of Ekadasi Vratham:

There is no equivalent mantram than Gayathri, there is no equivalent theertham than Kasi and finally, there is no Vratham greater than this Ekadasi Vratham.

The main aspect of this Ekadasi Vratham is for self control (i.e.) focusing our entire soul towards Sriman Narayanan. And for an every Hindu, this Vratham is one of the best viradham that he/she should follow and this is said to be the best way to pass through the doors of Sri Vaikundam to get the Dharshan of Sri Vishnu.

"Ekam" means one and "Dhasam" means ten. This Ekadasi comes on the 11th day and this day is said to be one of the luckiest and good day to follow.

Since, the 11th day is for the Dharma devathai, it is said that one who follow this Viradham will attain the Moksha and if all the persons follow this Vratham, the entire world will become happy surrounded by good thoughts and actions.

So the best results are obtained when we fast on that day. If you are not able to, then you can pray sincerely to Lord Vishnu.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

February 14th 2008 - Krithigai Vratham & Bheemashtami

Vrathas are called "Upavasas" which literally means "Living near God". The devotee voluntarily imposes on himself food restrictions and emotional restrictions.

Krithigai Vratham:

For which God?
Lord Murugan or Subramanya

Significance of Krithigai vratham:
For oneness in the family

The eighth day of the Shukla Paksha of the Magha month is known as Bheemashtami. It was on this day when Bheesma Pitamah passed away.

February 13th 2008 - Ratha Sapthami

I am indeed very happy to start posting on the auspicious Ratha Sapthami Day.

Significance of Ratha Sapthami:

- It is said to be the day when Surya Bhagwan's ratha(his chariot drawn by 7 white horses) changes direction of travel. It is also considered as Surya Bhagawan's birthday.

- Ratha Sapthami is the seventh thithi after the Amavasya (new moon) thithi in the month of the Thai (mid January - mid February).

Scientific/Yogic Reasoning:

- The centerpiece of this worship procedure is the Ratha Sapthami ritual bath. The leaves of the erukku shrub (Calotropis gigantea, remember the "erukka maalai" we adorn Ganesha with on Ganesh Chathurthi? Its the leaf of that plant) shrub form an important part of the Ratha Sapthami ritual bath.

- Sri Agasthiar says that these leaves have an innate spiritual force that's similar to the one derived from the sihka knot and thus they can be used to achieve spiritual effects similar to those gotten from the sikha.

- The Ratha Sapthami worship procedure is designed to imbue us with gnaana (knowledge of the Divine) and launch us towards the Divine. Sri Agasthiar informs us that the practice of wearing one's hair in the sikha(kudumi) form is very conducive to the blossoming of gnaana. When sunlight falls on that head where the hair is tied in the sikha knot, it sets spiritual wheels in motion that start the process of gnaana acquisition

- But this is not practiced in modern times. So sage Agasthiya has mentioned an alternative.

How to worship Surya Bhagawan on Ratha Sapthami:
- On Ratha Sapthami day, wake up before sunrise, place a block of wood in the bathroom and seat yourself facing east.

- Place the following on your head (erukka leaves, some akshadai(turmeric mixed with rice, manjal) and take a head bath

- After the ritual bath, wear dry clothing and perform Soorya Namaskar and recite Sri Agasthiar's Aditya Hrudayam hymn. Link for it is here. -> Stotras to the Planets - Navagraha Stotras -> Aditya Hrudayam
In case you are not able to follow all of these, please do the following minimum things:

- Think of Lord Surya and pray to him sincerely on this day. He is the Lord who bestows good health and prosperity, hence pray to him for good health.

- In case you cannot chant Aditya Hrudayam or dont have the time, you can chant "Om Sooryaya namaha" 108 times and offer your prayers.

Introduction to the Daily Hinduism Blog

In this fast paced world, we have hardly anytime for our Culture, Religion and Religious practices. We the current younger generation, do not know the signifcance of the different days of our Hindu Calendar and what we are supposed to follow and how. When we were at home, our moms used to take care of everything and all that we needed to do was be present at the time of the aarathi. But now, most of us are away from our parents. We feel that we dont have the time ot do anything and we are slowly letting our rich culture, tradition and festivals fade away. At this rate, we will not be passing on anything to our future generations. That is a really sad situation to be in, as our culture and religion are our only rich identities.

I created this blog, so that we know the significances of almost everyday of the year and what we are supposed to follow as rituals. Most of them are very simple. Please be aware that it is not necessary for us to follow all that is required of us, but I guess we can try our best and do whatever we can to keep the age old religious practices alive and give great benefits to all of us.
Believe me, every hindu ritual has got a scientific reason behind it and it will be really beneficial for us to follow them and gain good health, wealth, prosperity and spiritual elevation.

It is a learning process for me as well, and hence please feel free to add our comments/corrections.