Vasant Panchami:​ The festival that honours Goddess Saraswati

The word Hindu is derived from the Sanskrit term Sindhu (or Indus), which means river. Thus, people living in the Indus Valley of the Indian subcontinent were referred to as Hindus.  The Hindu pantheon includes many deities.  Although Hindu adherents practice their faith differently and venerate different deities, they share a similar view of life and look back on a common history. 

The Hindus are divided by cultures but united by religion.  Most Hindu festivals fall in either of the two seasons, summer and winter. The festivals are marked around those points of the year which are at or near the SUMMER SOLSTICE and WINTER SOLSTICE, during which light and warmth begin to increase and decrease,  respectively.  In pre-industrial times, humans survived through hunting, gathering and agricultural practices, which depend on the natural cycle of seasons. Thus, they created rituals to help ensure that they celebrated all the seasonal changes. Vestiges of many of these ancient practices are thought to have survived in festivals still celebrated around seasonal themes.

One such seasonal event is Vasant Panchami. Vasant Panchami is an important Indian festival celebrated every year in the month of Magh according to the Hindu calendar. Celebrated on the fifth day of Magh, the day falls somewhere between the months of February or March, according to the Gregorian calendar. The significance of the day lies in the worship of Goddess Saraswati, the goddess of learning, who bequeaths the greatest wealth to humanity, the wealth of knowledge. Mother Saraswati is the consort of Lord Brahma, the Creator. The divine couple together engages in creating mankind and imbuing self-awareness and intelligence in mankind.

Hindu mythology describes Goddess Saraswati as a lady dressed in pristine white attire, white flowers, and white pearls, sitting on a white lotus set in a wide stretch of water. The Goddess also holds a Veena, a string-instrument, for playing music.  The four arms of Goddess Saraswati represent the four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness, and ego. She rides on a white swan. The swan is known for its peculiar characteristic of separating water from milk, indicating that one should possess clear vision and knowledge to discriminate between good and evil. Children are taught to read and write their first words on this day.  It is considered auspicious to begin a child’s education on Vasant Panchami. The grown-ups are educated about the oldest of the Hindu writings – The “Vedas”.

The word “Veda” comes from the Sanskrit word for knowledge. The Vedas, which were compiled from oral traditions contain hymns, instructions, explanations,  chants for sacrifices, magical formulas, and philosophy. Another set of sacred books includes the Great Epics, which illustrate Hindu faith in practice. The Epics include the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and the Bhagavad Gita. Students keep their notebooks, pens and educational items near the statue of Goddess Saraswati and chant Ma Saraswati shlokas to get her blessings. They distribute sweets among the devotees and share their joy of winning Ma Saraswati’s blessings.

‘Yellow’ is the dominant colour of this festival as it signifies the ripening of fruits and crops. The mustard fields in North India bloom during this season giving a yellow coat to nature. People wear yellow clothes, offer yellow flowers to the Goddess and put a yellow, turmeric tilak on their forehead. They visit temples and offer prayers to various Gods. New clothes are purchased for this festival and many delicious dishes are specially prepared for this particular occasion. The colour yellow is deeply associated with teachers, with wisdom and also with auspiciousness. The other Gods who are shown wearing yellow attire in Hinduism are Lord Dakshinamurti, Lord Dattatreya and Brihaspati or Guru (Jupiter). Notably, all these God forms are associated with imparting wisdom. Hence we find that associating the color yellow with Mother Saraswati has a deep significance of portraying Mother Saraswati as the Goddess of wisdom.

And last but not the least, let our prayer go: May Maa Saraswati bless us all to attain enlightenment through knowledge and rid ourselves of lethargy, sluggishness, and ignorance. Happy Vasant Panchami!

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Makar Sankranti : Reaping the Benefits of the Season

(Not much had changed for Gauri after her marriage.  Her mother-in-law believed in equal opportunities for men and women in their careers and extended complete co-operation to her working hours.  Being from a typical Maharashtrian household, Gauri was supposed to make arrangements for Makar Sankranti celebration in her office this year.  She was quite nervous about it and rushed home to know the details about the festival. 

Gauri went straight to her mother-in-law who was engrossed in some creative cooking in the kitchen. Her Aai(the sweet way Gauri likes calling out to her mother-in-law)was busy in making tilache laddoo (sesame and jaggery sweets) for Sankrant! What a perfect moment to discuss Sankrant; she thought!)

 

Gauri: Aai, I feel very nervous. My boss has asked me to wear a Nauvari and has insisted that I should look after the arrangements of Makar Sankranti celebrations in the office!I barely know about the festival myself! You have to help me with this.

Aai: I should personally call your boss and thank him Gauri.  I don’t remember the last time you have draped a saree, made sweets or performed the Pooja! (Her mother-in-law giggled)

Gauri: Don’t be mean to me, please!  I have a long list of things I need to know and I’m going to keep bothering you.  

(Gauri sat beside her mother-in-law and mumbled all the questions she was worried about…) 

Aai: Calm down dear! I will help you find answers to your questions and will also lend you one of my best Paithanis and some jewellery that goes with it. But in return, you have to help me in making the laddoos. 

(Gauri smiled. She loved the warmth in their bond. She loved the festivals as they strengthened these bonds.  She began rolling the laddoos while listening and capturing every bit of information that the elderly mother figure passed on to her)

Aai: Let me begin with the story that my mother-in-law told me.  I was barely 18 years old when I got married.  I can roughly recall my first Sankrant away from my mothers home. My mother-in-law asked me to make Puran Polis (A Maharashtrian wheat preparation stuffed with a paste of jaggery and tur daal mixture, topped with ghee and served hot with milk).  I was horrible at cooking back then.  So while learning to cook the difficult traditional dish, I heard this story from her.   

Makar Sankranti is a harvest festival.  Most Hindu festivals follow the position of the moon and are based on the lunar calendar. Thus, the dates of festivals change every year. But Makar Sankranti is a festival which falls on the same day every year as it follows the solar calendar. On Makar Sankranti, the sun enters the sun-sign of Capricorn or Makara (the Indian rashi). Therefore, the ‘Makar’ in the name. The word ‘Sankranti’ signifies the movement of the sun from one zodiac sign to another. Thus, the name of the festival literally means the movement of the sun into Capricorn.

It also has something to do with the position of sun, moon or some solstice, I’m not really sure.  Why don’t you google and find the right information Gauri? 

(Gauri hurriedly looked for her phone and surfed the internet to add to the details.) 

Gauri: Google says, Makar Sankranti is one of the oldest solstice festivals and falls on the equinox, day and night on this day are believed to be equally long. Post the festival, it is officially the beginning of spring or the onset of Indian summer and the days become longer, and nights shorter.

Aai: I knew a bit of this. Now, coming to food, Makar Sankranti is the festival of til-gul where sesame and jaggery laddoos or chikkis are distributed among all. They are generally accompanied by the saying, “Til-gul ghya ani goad goad bola“, which means ‘eat these sesame seeds and jaggery and speak sweet words’ or also ‘take sweet, talk sweet’. The festival is one of the bonding where every member of society is asked to bury the hatchet with enemies and foes and live in peace.  Also, since the festival falls in winter, eating of sesame and jaggery is considered beneficial to health as they are warm foods. 

Gauri: Aai, what is the connection between ‘Makar Sankranti’ and kite-flying?

Aai: There is a very interesting reason behind the kite-flying. Kite-flying in olden days was generally done in the early hours of the morning when the sun’s rays were bright but not too harsh. Also, during kite-flying, the human body was exposed to the sun for long hours. The early morning sun is considered beneficial for the skin and body. Since winter is also the time of a lot of infections and sickness, by basking in the sun, Hindus believed that the bad bacteria on their bodies would be cleared to a certain extent. Creating a fun way of sun basking where no one would even realize they were reaping the benefits through kite flying. Cool, right?

Gauri: Fairly amazing! And you mentioned the Paithani and Pooja too.  How do they relate?

Aai: As per the traditions, we wear Nauvari and perform a Pooja.  That is what I want you to do for every festival but you fail to impress me.  This time your boss has replaced me and I cannot thank him enough! 

(Gauri and her Aai laughed out loud….) 

 

-The voice behind this article is Ashwini Gaikwad, Content Writer, Investronaut.

Shree Mahalaxmi Mandir, Pune Serenity Personified.

shree Mahalaxmi Mandir, Sarasbaug, Pune –  A Hindu temple, a revered structure where the boundary between humans and the divine dissolve.  This temple allows one to release themselves from an illusion of complexities of life and move towards the knowledge and truth of life.

Architectural details – The layout of the temple

Shree Mahalaxmi Mandir was consecrated on the 15th February 1984.  This temple is carved in the Dravidian style of architecture. This magnificent architectural marvel goes beyond brick and mortar and imbues ritual purity and has a magical effect on the devotee.

The exquisite external appearance and minute interior details entice even atheists to observe and be astounded by the ambiance created by this temple.  The Mahalaxmi Mandir is laid out pertaining to directions, based on a concept called ‘Vastu Shashtra’, which means ‘science of architecture’. 

The rudimentary structure has a dome on the top which is pyramid shaped.  This pyramidal structure descends down to form the principal part called ‘Vimana’.  The Shikhar of the Mahalaxmi Mandir is 55 feet tall, 24 feet wide and the length of the temple roof is 54 feet long. The temple is constructed in a way that this topmost structure is perfectly visible from any point outside the temple.  It is believed to bring luck and prosperity to those who view it from outside the temple right before they enter or after they leave the temple premise, on the completion of the darshan.

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The ‘Mandapa’ is an underlying grid which is the foundation of the entire temple.  The hallway of Mandapa is be-decked with pillars that lead the way to the ‘Garbhagriha’ (i.e. womb chamber).  The Garbhagriha is a small shrine room located at the very heart of the temple.   Within, the symbols of ‘Tri Shakti’, Goddesses Shri Mahasaraswati, Shri Mahalaxmi and Shri Mahakali are placed.  These idols are six feet tall and have been carved out of pristine marble.  Around this womb is a circumambulatory path where various rishis, munis idols are carved. Saint Dynaneshwar, Saint Tukaram, Saint Tulsidas, Saint Jalaram, Saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Saint Kabir Das, Saint Sur Das, Sri Ramdas Swami, Saint Guru Nanak, Saint Ramakrishna Paramhans, Saint Basaveshwar, Saint Sri Mirabai – twelve such saints can be worshipped by the devotees.  

When the Aarti is performed, a big bell hanging from the center of the ceiling is struck. The positive waves created by this bell allows the devotees to be fully attentive to the deity. The aroma of camphor and incense invade the entire space.  The soft warmth of the diyas and the chanting of religious mantras soothe the entire space.  The devotees find a sanguine solution as they lay their gratitude, their problems, their whole being. One attains peace of mind. It is not just the bell that resonates and brings peace of mind. Every subtle object or carving possesses a divine belief behind it, everything ultimately enabling the devotee to become totally pious. The temple is a beatific environment within which to meditate, with its strategically located mandapa, perfectly spaced pillars, and meticulously and scrupulously carved figures. 

The Tri Shakti   

The three deities worshipped at Mahalaxmi temple are Shri Mahasaraswati the Goddess of learning, Shri Mahalaxmi the Goddess of prosperity and Shri Mahakali, the Goddess who liberates mortals from time and death. 

Goddess Laxmi is the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity.  Laxmi is elegantly dressed, prosperity-showering golden-colored woman, signifying the importance of economic activity in the maintenance of life. She holds a lotus in her hand, a symbolism of fortune, self-knowledge, and spiritual liberation. 

Goddess Saraswati the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, wisdom, and learning.  The goddess Saraswati is a beautiful woman dressed in pure white, seated on a white lotus, which symbolizes light, knowledge, and truth.  The color symbolizing purity, search for true knowledge, insight, and wisdom.

The name Kali means Kala or force of time.  The Dark appearance of Kali represents the darkness from which everything was born.  As she is also the goddess of Preservation, Kali is worshiped as the preserver of nature. 

The architectural excellence seen in the temple is of sublime virtue. Its beauty is enhanced solely by the soulful structures. Florid decorations surrounding the premises enable the devotees to dwell in serenity, maintain their composure and focus their attention on the Lord, eventually hoping to win his benevolence.

For more details please visit http://www.mahalaxmimandirpune.org/About.

The voice behind this article is Ashwini Gaikwad, Content Writer, Investronaut.

Diwali:​ That of the rich and that of the poor.

The cell phone beeps –  “ Maa ka phone aaya” is a harsh ringtone that is a contradiction to my mom’s pleasing personality. I peel open my eyelids – it’s 5 am and she has called me to wake me up like she has been doing on Diwali every year.  I hear the excitement in her ‘hello’. It is my first Diwali away from home. I don’t know if I feel good about being away from my family or not.   “We miss you too love. Get up, crawl out of your bed and make a conscious choice to be happy.  Happiness won’t find you, you need to find it!” Mom’s voice softly coming over the line dispels my feelings of being low.

Each time I find life getting down,  she manages to turn the tables in my favour! I promise her that I will dress well and call her later to wish and chat with the rest of the family.  I hurriedly get out of the bed, grab my sneakers and rush to the garden across the street.  An early morning stroll through the open green spaces will definitely lighten my mood. 

As I step out I see the sky emblazoned with different colours.  I sit on the cement benches stretched along the back of the garden.  Red, purple, yellow flowers grow alongside a pond.  On the other bank of this pond is a low lying compound wall, behind which the poor, the downtrodden, the underprivileged, the unfortunate community, of our society resides here in their tiny huts.  Children dressed in their worn-out clothing sit there and wait with their mothers to give them something to eat. I then got to thinking.  

Diwali is the festival that celebrates good over evil.    In the 21st century poverty is one of the biggest societal evils.  What does Diwali mean to the underprivileged?

Diwali. The festival of lights. 

Every year millions of firecrackers explode, casting their light in the night skies.  ‘Diwali’ seems to mean differently for different strata of society in this ‘modernised’ world we are in today.  One stratum belongs to the rich; it’s a grand world.  The other belongs to the poor; it’s a vast world.  These worlds of the rich and the poor seem to overlap but never really merge.  Or do they? Every Diwali the rich paint their happiness all over the sky for the poor to watch.  

It is now time for us to realize what we have done to the poor people.  Money that we donate to them will last them for a few moments. The food and leftover from our tables will keep them fed for a few more hours. Every Diwali many show their compassion for the underprivileged by gifting them crackers. Many others show their compassion by sharing sweets. They donate sweets on one day and wrongly believe they have satisfied the hunger of the needy!  The ones who can’t deal with the subtlety and are even more compassionate and donate money. After all, money is what the richness is all about! 

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Money, sweets and crackers – is this what the poor are asking for? Many believe it is. I do not.

The compassionate fail to recognize that the very same crackers they burst during this season were made by the hands of these kids. Excesses in food and sweet, during this festival, finds its way into garbage bins. Whilst the empty stomachs of these poor people who long for a fistful of food remain hungry. 

Instead, if we spend an hour with them, it will impact them and us alike, for a lifetime. The simplest thing we can do would be spending a day with them and understand what their real problems are.  

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But this doesn’t fully answer the original question.

What is the meaning of Diwali for the underprivileged people?

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These poor kids light up our skies every Diwali.   The rich are under the complete control of this Ravana of the 21st century and every Diwali he laughs when the crackers we

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burst plunge someone’s life into darkness.  The poor know our wants but we don’t bother about their needs.  Through the factories, they risk their lives. Diwali in their world was about the lamps that drove away the darkness and not about the crackers that have driven intense darkness in their lives.

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As Diwali brings its unique joy of celebration,  maybe it not the right time to decide if banning crackers, donating food and money to the needy is the way one should celebrate it.  But if not now then when will we consider the unending plight of the underprivileged! Maybe next year or some other time…or maybe never!  This year let us closely connect to the people in need and understand the ways in which we can help them find their happiness.   

Happiness shared is happiness multiplied.  Let’s distribute happiness this Diwali season! 

 

The Navratri Story: An artisan who personifies Maa Durga through his art

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The artisan is perched at the edge of his studio; behind him are rows and rows of Maa Durga idols.  The rain has ebbed a bit.  Outside as the sun lies low on the horizon the luminescence effect of the rising sun throws an ephemeral glow on the faces of the Durga idols.  The artisan is keen on getting the biggest idol crafted today.

The art of crafting an idol. 

Myriad thoughts run through his mind. “Do my hands craft out these beautiful idols? And do the colours I use bring life to these lifeless eyes?  Of one thing I am certain: I don’t carve these idols; I don’t bring life to the lifeless; these idols take a shape on their own”.  

With a wooden base, he craft the basic structure of the idol with bamboo. Using straw and ropes he fashions the shape of the idol.  With fresh clay sourced from Ganga, he mixes it with rice husks till it is hard enough to hold yet pliable enough to mould. The body of the idol lovingly takes shape under his hands.   The face remains.  This is part of his work he loves the most.

The detailing: Artisan brings life to the lifeless 

The artisan continues, he creates a mould of the idols face, nostalgically remembering the making of a similar mould in the years gone before.   Mixing the past with the present creating the future, rapt in attention, he sits there quietly and carves the face of the clay Goddess. 

His fingers trail down the cheek of the freshly moulded goddess, caressing it, smoothing it.  The sweet smell of wet clay helps him etch a smile onto the face of the goddess. He adds a few finishing strokes to the large drawn out eyes.  There it is; the face looks soulful; radiant in a way he has never seen before.  Remarkable is the end result when you put your heart into something you love doing!  

Around the corner, a small shack is stacked with glittering crowns, arms and legs.  The artisan moves to his collection of a variety of zaris, beads, mirrors, motis and starts accessorizing.  A goddess is a mother, a woman, a warrior.  Keeping this universal role that the mother goddess plays in perspective, the artisan starts threading the beads, motis, mirrors accordingly.

Triumph of good over evil

A few meters away is the artisans home.  His 12 – year – old daughter, whom he lovingly addresses as Durga, walks in to help her father.  She looks up at him and asks curiously “Baba, why do we worship the Goddess Durga?”  The artisan, still engrossed in his craft, replies “Dear Durga, as your name suggests, it’s the warrior aspect of the Divine Mother.  Durga means something that is inaccessible, invincible or who can be a redeemer in situations of utmost distress.  Mother Durga represents strength, morality, power, and protection.  She protects humankind from dark forces like selfishness, jealousy, hatred, anger, and ego.  She is an embodiment of the feminine force and creative energy.  It is believed that she is the supremely radiant goddess who destroys the evil forces and brings peace.  These are the reasons why we worship Mother Durga.”  

“Baba, why do they say that a woman shouldn’t touch the goddess?” It was first time in a while that the artisan’s hands stopped working.  He looked upon his little daughter and said, “ It is said so because people believe that they want to keep the women into a mould. But, you my little girl, you are set free to do whatever you feel like doing.  I want you to touch every idol your baba makes. I want you to feel the art.  I want you to break the shackles that are put upon women and recognize your own worth.  Maa Durga is a woman herself. She will never object to children, whether they be girls or boys.”

The artisan’s little girl hugged him with a trusting smile. Her baba has never lied to her. As the sun goes down and the darkness engulfs the area of the studio, the artisan smiles with content for understanding the true meaning of worship.  He is not breaking the traditions but indeed preserving them in the best way he knows.  Every girl, woman we come across is in some form or the other a symbol of love, strength, weakness, motherly – care. She must be worshipped next to every divine goddess. 

Conclusion 

As the artisan heads back home with his little girl, skipping behind him, trying to keep pace, he sees her stumble.  He rushes to help her when she stops him saying“ No Baba. Please, don’t help me.  I want to fall and rise on my own. I’m the Durga of tomorrow.  Maa Durga has given me enough strength.”   The artisan has created a difference.  His well-put thoughts are now deeply engraved on his daughter’s mind.  He sees his daughter stand up all by herself.  And behind her rises the shadow of Goddess Durga; the one that’s coming from an idol standing tall far behind her.  Such is the blessing of the Mother.  She comes home for a short span but empowers each individual.  

The voice behind this article is Ashwini Gaikwad, Content Writer, Investronaut.

Raksha Bandhan- Decoding the festival for brothers and sisters

Temple - RSP Rakhi Article ImageRaksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival, that celebrates the caring relationship between brothers and sisters. It is celebrated on the full moon (Purnima) of the month of Shravan.  This year it falls on the 26th of August 2018. As the name suggests Raksha Bandhan is the bond of protection between brother and sister. It encompasses the warmth shared between the siblings and reminds them of the strong relationship they share. By tying  a raakhi the sister asks her brother for his protection and love. The brother, in turn, accepts the raakhi, confirms his love and affection, and presents the sister with an assurance of protection along with gifts and sweets.

The traditional significance of the elements of Rakhi Purnima 

Every element of this day has a special significance. In our culture, whenever we have any spiritual significance, the first thing we do is to prepare the ‘Aarti Thal’ and honor each other by putting a ‘Tilak’ on the forehead, offering sweet and circling the ‘Arti Thal’ over the individual. 

The Rakhi:

Rakhi is the sacred thread that reminds the wearer of his commitment, his promise and responsibilities. Interestingly, the  ‘Rakhi’ surfaced around the time when India was ruled by kings and queens. When soldiers were on the battlefield, most would not see their families for years. It is said that the sister of a captain on the battlefield, sent this sacred thread to remind him about his responsibilities and his duty towards his family. Motivated by this simple gesture, the captain fought vigorously to win the war and got back to his family. From then on, Rakhi has become a sign of love, affection and reminder of the commitment of protection. 

The Tilak: Putting dried KumKum or wet Kumkum is a prayer offered to God saying, ‘Let the receiver of this Tilak be blessed with colourful happiness and abundant prosperity.’ Putting rice grains after the KumKum asks that the receiver have ample food for his lifetime. 

Offering Sweets: Offering sweets signify that the one eating this sweet shall always have a sweet speech and no ill thought shall touch his mind, body or soul. Likewise, he shall also be kind and generous to others. Every word that comes out of his mouth shall be a goodwill, prayer or a blessing. 

Circling of the Arti Thal:

Every Arti Thal has an oil lamp in it. When an individual is encircled by the Arti Thal, it signifies a prayer for the long life of an individual. The oil lamp, Kumkum, rice and the sweets, therefore, signifies that the receiver’s life be blessed with abundant goodwill, colourful happiness, sweet memories and a long prosperous life. 

As we understand the beautiful significance of the elements of Rakhi Purnima, there are stories from history too associated with this festival.

More than a brother-sister bond

Rani Karnavati, the Queen of Chittor, sent the sacred thread to Emperor Humayun when she realized she could not defend her kingdom after the demise of her husband. Touched by this gesture, Emperor Humayun along with his cavalry left to protect Chittor and The Queen. 

Another story dates back to 300 BC when Alexander of Macedonia set on a mission to conquer India. Outraged by his crusade, the then King of India, King Puru, vowed to execute Alexander. Shaken by his fury, Alexander’s wife sent a Rakhi to King Puru asking him for the gift of her husband’s life. Respecting the bond of sacredness and the pious relation of sisterhood King Puru pardoned Alexander.  

For ages now, we have been practicing this festival by celebrating the love-hate relationship between a brother and a sister. The significance of the rituals, the way this day is celebrated, all of this reminds us of the relation of brother and sister. But, in today’s scenario, Rakhi Purnima has a different perspective. The occasion involves the pledge of a lifetime practice of moral, cultural and spiritual values. The values and the sentiments attached to the rituals of this festival are worth inculcating by the whole human race, the sentiments of harmony and peaceful coexistence. The festival of Raksha Bandhan assumes all forms of Raksha or protection, of righteousness and destroyer of all sin. 

-Snigdha Keskar is a content writer at Investronaut, a firm dedicated to providing organizations with business, products and services consultation.

Take spiritual control of yourself this Shrawan Maas

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As the monsoon sets in with its first shower, we see nature changing its backdrop and we can look forward to a pleasant time of the year. Our surroundings turn verdant, lush and fertile. It is during this time  that  the holy month of Shrawana enlightens us with its spirituality and holiness. 

The fifth month of Hindu calendar, is famously known for different vratas and pujas. Many blogs and articles focus on what to eat, drink or do in this month. However, lets understand why we do all these things in this month only and why this month has such an important place in our devotional calendar.

Climatic Significance:

With the change in weather, and unavailability of beneficial food options, our ancestors set out some spiritual rules for these times. As the then era stipulated a spiritual and religious lifestyle, the dietary habits became a part of religion. Gradually, the way of living changed and these rituals became a significant part of religion. The period comprises four months which is called  Chaturmaas, of which Shrawan is at the start of this period. However, with the changing lifestyles, this period was limited  to Shrawan. As a result, Shrawan is considered as the most significant time of the year and Hindus dedicate themselves to Vratas, fasts and Pujas. 

Spiritual Significance:

Another reason for Shrawana to be observed as the holy month is that all the spiritual festivals occur in this month. The spiritual festivals  Shrawani Somwar, Mangala Gauri, Guru Purnima, etc. all happen to fall in this month. In spiritual terms, the universe, the air, the atmosphere, everything is known as Shiva Tattva. Shiva is the ultimate consciousness. There is no one, who can step out of Shiva. Our ancestors have signified this concept as Lord Shiva who symbolises the unfathomable divine universe. As the atmosphere changes, the Shiva Tattva is activated that adds to the spiritual awakening of every existing being. In order to communicate this message to the masses, our ancestors translated it in spiritual terms which is why this month is dedicated to Lord Shiva and carries utmost importance. 

Mythological Significance:

The month of Shrawana is important in association with mythological stories as well. The most important story in Hindu mythology is Samudra Manthan which had taken place during this month. To describe the event in short, a dispute between the gods and demons for immortality caused the churning of the ocean which then led to the retrieval of fourteen gems from the ocean. Thirteen of them were equally distributed amongst the gods and demons, but, the fourteenth one was  poisonous fluid called, Halahal. The poison was very fatal and it could lead to an apocalypse. Lord Shiva drank the poison and held it in his throat; which attributed to Lord Shiva’s throat turning blue. To reduce the impact of this poison, every god and demon offered the holy water of Ganges to him. In memory of  this event, all the devotees also offer the water of Ganges to Lord Shiva. 

Fasts and Rituals:

Of all the days, the Mondays of Shrawana are considered the most important ones. The Shivmuth Puja is said to aid a better married life and is to be done for five consecutive years after marriage. There are particular grains and pulses that need to be consumed during this month. Likewise, every Monday has a specific grain associated with it which is called as Shivmuth Puja. On the first Monday, a fistful of rice is offered as an abhishek (grain by grain falls on to the Shivling) in the morning and an equal amount is to be consumed by the devotee for the whole day. On the second Monday, sesame is consumed; on the third, green gram or moong is consumed; and on the last Monday Jawas or flax seeds are consumed. 

All these pulses and grains have an effective benefit on the human body during the times of monsoons, and therefore this vrata has been designed accordingly. 

Another vrata is the Shrawani Somwar wherein people fast for getting a good life partner and for a good married life. As Shrawan is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is solely committed to his only wife Sati for eternity (Read our Adishakti article for this), our ancestors have symbolised all the fasts and rituals in Shrawana to bringing peace and tranquility in married life. There are many stories associated with this vrata that explain the procedure of the Vrata. A day long puja is to be done, and all rice, lentil, sesame or such food grains and pulses are to be consumed in this Vrata.

Likewise, there are many vratas in this auspicious month, however the Shivamuth Vrata and Shrawani Somwar Vrata are followed significantly. 

Delving into the rituals associated with Shrawan, can be an interesting subject. The more we delve, do we will realise that all these rituals are in fact, for our health benefits. So, even though it may sound little cliched, following Shrawana and the associated rituals will  make us strong and contented in the spiritual sense.