Saturday, March 28, 2009



Celebrated on the birthday of Lord Krishna, Gokul Ashtami is a very auspicious day for the Hindus across the world. The birth of Lord Krishna, son of King Vasudeva and Queen Devaki, is a great story in Hindu mythology. 


On the auspicious day of Gokul Ashtami, devotees decorate their houses, prepare sweets to offer to the deity and imprint a child’s footprint from the door to the prayer room. Butter which is believed to be Lord Krishna’s favorite is also offered during Gokul Ashtami. Shrikhand, a particular kind of sweet is prepared on this occasion. 

Devotees observe fast throughout the day and break the fast at midnight when the Lord is believed to have been born. Devotional songs are sung by the devotees.


Time to celebrate 

Gokul Ashtami is celebrated in the month of Bhadrapada which is between August and September. 

The Festivity

People treat this day as one of very great rejoicing. There is recitation of the "Bhagavatam", singing and praying everywhere. Temples are decorated for the occasion, Kirtans are sung, bells are rung, the conch is blown, and Sanskrit hymns are recited in praise of Lord Krishna. At Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, special spiritual gatherings are organised at this time. Pilgrims from all over India attend these festive gatherings.

People observe a daylong fast, which is broken only at midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. The festival is a community celebration, and people visit Krishna temples, which are specially decorated and lit for the occasion. On the occasion of 'Gokulashtami', we can find kids forming a human pyramid to reach the pot full of curds (dahi-handi) and break it. 

A little before midnight, devotees pour into temples to participate in the special 'Arati' and to relive the birth of Krishna. Till midnight, devotional songs are sung in anticipation of the holy birth. Special cradles are installed at temples and a small statue of the "Balgopal" is placed in them. ashtmi.html 


Ugadi (beginning; the start of an era) is the new year's day for the people of the Deccan region of India. While the people of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka use the term Ugadi for this festival, the people of Maharashtra term the same festival, observed on the same day, Gudi Padwa.

Sindhis, people from Sindh, celebrate the same day as their New Year day Cheti Chand. Ugadi is celebrated on a different day every year because the Hindu calendar is a lunisolar calendar. The Saka calendar begins with the month of Chaitra (March/April) and Ugadi marks the first day of the new year.

The Lunar Almanac of the Deccan
Ugadi is actually Yugadi, means the aadi(beginning) of new(Kali)Yuga. It is the day when the KaliYuga started. KaliYuga started the moment when SriKrishna passed away. The sanskrit versus by Maharshi Vedavyasa says that 'Yesmin Krishno DivamVyataha, Tasmat eeva pratipannam Kaliyugam'. This generally falls in the months of March or April of the Gregorian calendar. In 2008, Yugadi falls on April 6th/7th depending on the region based on the thithi(because of adhika month). Ugadi (start of Telugu year) is based on Bhāskara II lunar calculations in 12th century. It starts on the first new moon after Sun crosses equator from south to north on Spring Equinox.

For example, the time for the new moon for Bijapur where Bhaskaracharya was born can be determined from the website However, people celebrate Ugadi on the next morning as hindu day starts from sun rise.

Observance in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka

The Telugu and Kannada people celebrate the festival with great fanfare; gatherings of the extended family and a sumptuous feast are de rigueur. The day, however, begins with ritual showers (oil bath) followed by prayers, and then the eating of a specific mixture of -

• Neem Buds/Flowers for bitterness

• Raw Mango for tang

• Tamarind Juice for sourness

• Green Chilli/Pepper for heat

• Jaggery for sweetness

• Pinch of Salt for saltiness

This mixture with all six tastes, called "Ugadi Pachhadi" in Telugu and "Bevu-Bellain” Kannada, symbolizes the fact that life is a mixture of different experiences (sadness, happiness, anger, fear, disgust, surprise) , which should be accepted together and with equanimity.

Later, people traditionally gather to listen to the recitation of the religious almanac (Panchangam) of the coming year, and to the general forecast of the year to come. This is the Panchanga Sravanam, an informal social function where an elderly and respected person refers to the new almanac pertaining to the coming year and makes a general benediction to all present. The advent of television has changed this routine, especially in the cities. Nowadays, people turn on the TV to watch broadcasts of the recitation.

Ugadi celebrations are marked by literary discussions, poetry recitations and recognition of authors of literary works through awards and cultural programs. Recitals of classical Carnatic music and dance are held in the evenings.

Observance in Maharashtra

The festival is called "Gudi Padwa" in Maharashtra; it heralds the advent of new year and is one of the most auspicious days for Maharashtrians.It is customary to erect ‘Gudis’ on the first day (Padwa) of the Marathi New Year. 'Gudi' is a bamboo staff with a colored silk cloth and a garlanded goblet atop it, which symbolizes victory or achievement. 

Hence, this day is known as “Gudipadwa” in Maharashtra. The New Year is ushered in with the worship of the "Gudi" and the distribution of a specific "Prasad" comprising tender neem leaves, gram-pulse and jaggery. The symbolism of tastes is the same as what is described above.
Also in many Maharashtrian homes they celebrate the occasion by making Shrikhand Puri.


• Vasanta Navaratri (literally - The 9-night Spring festival) starts on this day and culminates nine days later on Sri Ramanavami which falls on Chaitra Sudhdha Navami.
• The years would have names in Sanskrit. The name of the one that starts on April 6th 2008 is Sarvadhaari.The one that ended is Sarvajit.



The marriage of Parvati and Parameshwara, Muruga and Devasena, and Andal and Rangamanna took place on this day.

In the month of : March/April

The Panguni Uthiram festival falls in the month 'Panguni' (March-April). This month is special because of the star 'Uthiram' and 'Pournami' occurring together. Besides, it is on "Panguni Pournami Uthiram" that the marriage of Parvati and Parameshwara, Muruga and Devasena, and Andal (also known as 'Kothai') and Rangamannar (also splet as Rangamannar) took place. Also, Valmiki's Ramayan (also spelt as Ramayana) says it is on this day and star that Sita's marriage with Rama was celebrated. From Brahmanda Purana one learns that on Panguni Uthiram every holy water joins Thumburu Teertha (also spelt as Tirtha), one of seven sacred tanks in Tirupati Tirumala. 

Its Importance
The ancients chose Uthiram to convey to humans that it is for underlining the glory of Grahasta Dharma (married life) that the Almighty manifests in the marital state as Uma Maheshwara, Sita Rama, and Radha Krishna - despite his changelessness, sans childhood or youth or old age. The Lord is indeed a "Nitya Kalyana Murti". It is our duty to celebrate this day when the Lord, in both Shiva and Vishnu temples, appears to devotees in his married state. On Panguni Uthiram, in all places where Lord Subramanya has a temple, his devotees carry in a Kavadi the requisites of puja for him, in fulfilment of vows. Such vow fulfilment by devotees carrying Kavadis is a special feature of Subrahmanya temples wherever they happen to be. Devotees flock in hundreds to the Perur temple near Coimbatore during the Panguni Uthiram festival, which is celebrated in March every year.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


"Maha-Sivaratri" is a Hindu festival observed on the night of the four¬teenth day of the dark half in the month of 'Magha', in Tamil 'Masi', corresponding to the English months 'February—March', in honour of Siva, one of the Hindu Trinity, representing the destructive aspect in the universe.Though generally, the night time is considered sacred and suitable for the worship of the feminine aspect of' the deity and the day time for that of' the masculine, yet on this particular occasion Siva is worshipped during the night time, and as a matter of fact, it is specially enjoined to be observed then. The observance of the Vratha is believed to secure for the devotee immunity from the eftects of sin committed either wittingly or unwittingly. The night is divided into four quarters, each quarter going by the name of a Jama called also Yama and pious people keep awake during every one of it , worshipping Iswara.

It is said that the whole world was under destruction once and the Goddess Parvati worshipped her husband Siva then and prayed to him that the Jivas (living souls) remaining in space like particles of gold dust in a lump of wax during that long period of pralaya (deluge) night, should, when they became active once again and are in the enjoy¬ment of their short day and night, have his blessings if they but worshipped him just as she did then, and her prayer was accordingly granted.The night fixed for the worship of Iswara by mortals by Parvati was named Maha-Sivaratri or the great night of Siva, since pralaya is brought about by him and hence the period is really his night from the great night or pralaya which was the cause for the origin of this Sivaratri.
The people who observe this Sivaratri- Vratha take only single meal during the day previous to the Vratha day and sleep in clean place during the night. In the morning of the Vratha day they take a bath in the waters of a sacred river, and then go to witness the divine worship in a Siva temple, and at night offer worship to Siva during every one of the four Yamams. Night long vigil on Sivaratri day,watching the sacred ablutions of Siva Linga at the temple,is the core of the Sivaratri festival.The Rudra Japa Abhisheka of Siva Linga resounds the multifacted glory of Lord Siva,who is also called Asutosh or One who is easily pleased by copius ablutions with water, the cheapest available commodity.We should remember that water in essence is Prana Sakti or life force. Such an observance of Siva Ratri will really bestow on the devotee the greatest grace of Lord Siva, the auspicious knowledge of Atma Jnana. Besides the devotee is also blessed with material prosperity the items of which are beautifully listed in the ChamakaMantra uttered on this occasion.

There is also a myth emphasizing the importance of the worship of Siva during the Sivaratri night and it is in brief as follows :

Once there was a hunter, and he one day went into the forest to procure meat for his family by hunting some animal. He wandered up and down in the forest from morning till night in search of game but was unable to shoot any. At last, when night overtook him, he climbed up a Bael tree to escape from a wild animal that was pursuing him, being roused from its lair by the hunter. The animal was lying down at the foot of the tree quite certain that the man would fall down either from sleep or from exhaustion, and that he might eat him. The hunter, exhausted as he was from his exertions and hunger, wished to scare away the animal by throwing handful of bael leaves. These leaves dripping with water on account of the recent shower, fell on a Siva-Lingam that was near. The night happened to be the Maha-Sivaratri night. He had fasted during the whole day since he could not find anything to eat. The drenching rain constituted a bath and his action of throwing the bael leaves on the Siva-Lingam, the wor¬ship of Siva on the Sivaratri night. Though his actions were not intentional to worship Siva, yet he is said to have gained heaven as he had observed the Sivaratri - Vratha unwittingly.

The basic principle underlying the observance of the Maha-Sivaratri Vratha appears to be to emphasize the fact that death is sure to follow birth, night is sure to follow day,Pralaya, active cosmic life and so on, and consequently people should always bear in mind while enjoying the one its opposite and regulate their life accordingly. They should not be elated at success nor should they allow themselves to be carried away by despair at failures but always have trust in God and worship him.


Puthandu, or better known as Tamil New Year, is the celebration of the first day of the Tamil new year traditionally in mid-April by people of Tamil origin in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in India, and by the Tamil population in Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka. People greet each other on this day by saying (Iniya Tamizh Puthaandu Nalvazhthukkal). This is in keeping with the Hindu solar calendar. Tamilians believe that it was on the Tamil New Year's Day that Lord Brahma started the creation of the world.

The day starts with viewing the 'kanni' (the auspicious sight) at dawn, in the expectation that beginning the New Year by looking at auspicious or favourable things will bring good fortune throughout the year. The auspicious things include, gold and silver jewellery, betel leaves, nuts, fruits and vegetables, flowers, raw rice and coconuts. This is followed by the ritual bath and a visit to the temple to pray for a prosperous and happy New Year. After which, the Panchangam (almanac) is read. The ladies adorn the entrances of their houses with ‘Kolam’ (design made with rice flour) and deck the doorway with mango leaves.

Highlights of the Festival

The highlight of the festival is the 'Maanga Pachadi' (a dish made of raw mangoes, jaggery and neem flowers), which is at the same time sweet, sour and bitter. This signifies all the different aspects of our life.

Puthandu Rituals

In Tamil Nadu, people follow some strict rituals in a belief to ensure well-being and prosperity of their families. The most popular tradition is to view Kanni at dawn with a hope to bring good luck. People start the day by watching some auspicious items like gold and silver jewelery, betel leaves, nuts, fruits and vegetables, flowers, raw rice and coconuts. Following the rituals, Tamils take bath, wear fresh clothes and visit the temples to pray for success in life. After this, Panchangam (almanac) is read. 
Many people get their houses painted to mark the renewal of life. Ladies adorn their houses with fresh mango leaves and Kolam (rangoli)designs. Sometimes, a decorated lamp kuthuvillakku is placed in the center of colorful Kolam to bring light to the house. 
People in the advent of merrymaking and feasting exchange gifts with each other. Children are highly excited at the time of Puthandu as they receive small gifts or cash from their parents and relatives.

April 14th also happens to be the Bengali New Year Day, Naba Barsha, which begins with the ‘Prabhat Pheries’ (an early morning procession) with songs and dances welcoming the New Year. In Kerala ‘Vishu’ is celebrated by Malayalees commemorating the beginning of the astronomical New Year in the Malayalam Calendar.

Monday, March 23, 2009


The origin of Lord Skanda, the purpose of His avatara and its significance are of much importance to all seekers after Truth. During the battle between the Asuras and the Devas, the latter were defeated several times by the former. The Devas were unable to resist the onslaught of the Asuric forces. In despair, they approached Lord Siva and entreated to give them an able leader under whose heroic leadership they might obtain victory over the Asuras. They surrendered themselves completely and prayed to Lord Siva sincerely. The gracious Lord granted their request by creating mighty divine warrior, Lord Skanda, out of his own power or Achintya Sakti. This great son of Lord Siva at once assumed leadership of the celestial forces, originated them, inspired them and attacked the asuric forces. The asuras were routed and a glorious victory was gained by the Devas.

Generally people take a vow to offer a kavadi to the Lord for purpose of tiding over or averting a great calamity. For instance, if the devotee's son is laid up with a fatal disease, he would pray to Shanmuga to grant the boy a lease of life in return for which the devotee would take a vow to dedicate a kavadi to Him. Though this might on the face of it appear mercenary, a moment's reflection will reveal that it contains in it the seed of love for God. The worldly object is achieved: and the devotee offers the kavadi. After the ceremony is over, he gets so much intoxicated with love of God that his inner spiritual chamber is opened. This too ultimately leads to Para Bhakti -Supreme devotion.

Origins of Kavadi
The kavadi itself is steeped in mythology. At Mount Kailas, Lord Shiva entrusted the dwarf saint sage Agastya with two hillocks, with instructions to carry and install them in South India. But the sage left them in a forest and later asked his disciple, Idumban to get them. Idumban found the two hillocks, but could not initially lift them, until he obtained divine help. Near Palani in South India – where to this day there is a famous shrine of Murugan — Idumban put the hillocks down to rest awhile. When he attempted to continue with his journey, he found that the hillocks were immovable.

Idumban sought the help of a scantily dressed youth, but the youth claimed the hillocks belonged to him. In the ensuing scuffle, Idumban was defeated. Idumban then realised that the youth was Lord Murugan. Idumban pleaded to be pardoned and asked that anyone who comes to the hills to worship Murugan with an object similar to the two hillocks suspended by a rod, may be granted his heart’s desire. Idumban’s wish was granted. And so the kavadi came to play its role in Hindu festivals.

Devotees prepare for the celebration by cleansing themselves through prayer and fasting. Kavadi-bearers have to perform elaborate ceremonies at the time of assuming the kavadi and at the time of offering it to Lord Murugan. The kavadi-bearer observes celibacy and take only pure, Satvik food, once a day, while continuously thinking of God.
On the day of the festival, devotees will shave their heads undertake a pilgrimage along a set route while engaging in various acts of devotion, notably carrying various types of kavadi (burdens). At its simplest this may entail carrying a pot of milk, but mortification of the flesh by piercing the skin, tongue or cheeks with vel skewers is also common.

The simplest kavadi is a semi circular decorated canopy supported by a wooden rod that is carried on the shoulders, to the temple. In addition, some have a little spear through their tongue, or a spear through the cheeks. The spear pierced through his tongue or cheeks reminds him constantly of Lord Murugan. It also prevents him from speaking and gives great power of endurance. Other types of kavadi involve hooks stuck into the back and either pulled by another walking behind or being hung from a decorated bullock cart or more recently a tractor, with the point of incisions of the hooks varying the level of pain. The greater the pain the more god-earned merit.

The most spectacular practice is the vel kavadi, essentially a portable altar up to two meters tall, decorated with peacock feathers and attached to the devotee through 108 vels pierced into the skin on the chest and back. Fire walking and flagellation may also be practiced. It is claimed that devotees are able to enter a trance, feel no pain, do not bleed from their wounds and have no scars left behind. However, some of the more extreme masochistic practices have been criticized as dangerous and contrary to the spirit and intention of Hinduism.


Perayaan Ponggal diraikan oleh kaum India pada pertengahan bulan Januari bagi merakamkan Uttarayan atau pergerakan matahari menuju ke utara. Diraikan selama empat hari berturut-turut, Ponggal termasuk Bhogi merupakan acara terbesar selepas sambutan Deepavali dan Thaipusam. Jika di India, perayaan ini disambut lebih meriah daripada Deepavali selama seminggu. Di Malaysia, tidak kurang hebatnya peranan yang dimainkan dalam seisi keluarga.

Pada hari pertama perayaan ini, Bhogi yang membawa maksud yang cukup signifikan menandakan permulaan penting dalam kehidupan masyarakat India.
Seluruh rumah dibersihkan dan barang-barang lusuh dibuang dan dibakar bagi menyingkirkan anasir-anasir buruk. Bhogi juga secara tidak langsung memberi penghormatan kepada Dewa Indra atau Dewa Langit dan Hujan yang menyuburkan tanah selepas hampir setahun bercucuk tanam.

Surya Ponggal
Pada hari kedua, Surya Ponggal disambut dengan meriah di rumah masing-masing. Surya Ponggal memberi penghormatan kepada tenaga matahari dan bermulanya hari pertama bulan Thai dalam kalendar Tamil. Seawal pukul 5 pagi, penganut-penganut agama Hindu di Malaysia, India dan di serata dunia membuat persiapan untuk memasak Ponggal dalam periuk tanah liat. Kaum wanita yang sudah berkahwin dan anak dara akan bangun awal untuk membentuk ‘kolam’ menggunakan beras berwarna di halaman rumah. Pintu rumah diikat dengan tebu dan periuk tanah liat dihias dengan daun mangga, daun kunyit dan pewarna ‘kum kum’ bagi menceriakan lagi suasana.
Amalan ini amat simbolik terutamanya kepada golongan petani. Ia bukan sahaja merupakan hari pertama padi dituai tetapi beras yang dikumpul digunakan untuk memasak Ponggal sehingga ia melimpah keluar. Perbuatan membiarkan masakan ini melimpah dikenali sebagai Ponggal dalam bahasa Tamil. LIMPAHAN Ponggal bermaksud kehidupan yang serba baik. Ketika susu melimpah, ungkapan ‘Ponggal O Ponggal, Ponggal O Ponggal, Ponggal O Ponggal’ disebut sebanyak tiga kali oleh penganut agama Hindu yang mengelilingi periuk tanah liat berhias yang digunakan untuk memasak susu itu.
PONGGAL yang melimpah juga membawa maksud bahawa hidup seseorang akan dilimpahi kemakmuran, kesejahteraan dan keamanan.
Susu ini kemudiannya dicampur dengan beras, gula merah, buah pelaga, badam, buah gajus, kismis dan minyak sapi sebelum disembahyangkan serta diedarkan kepada para penganut.

Mattu Ponggal
Pada hari ketiga sambutan Ponggal iaitu atau Ponggal lembu, lembu-lembu dimandikan, dibubuh kunyit pada tanduknya dan badan serta dikalungkan dengan bunga. Ponggal yang dimasak juga disuapkan kepada lembu dan haiwan-haiwan ternakan lain seperti yang disaksikan di Kuil Sri Srinivasa Perumal.
Lembu dianggap sebagai haiwan yang berjasa dan suci oleh para petani kerana membantu membajak tanah dan memberi susu yang berkhasiat, jelas Balakrishnan lagi.
Pada hari ini juga, haiwan-haiwan itu dibiarkan berehat.

Kanni Ponggal

Ponggal terakhir pada hari keempat ialah Kanni Ponggal. Kanni bermaksud anak dara dan seperti namanya, mereka yang sudah mencapai akil baligh digalakkan untuk memasak Ponggal sama ada di rumah atau beramai-ramai di kuil. Kanni Ponggal juga secara tidak langsung menarik perhatian ibu bapa untuk mencari jodoh untuk anak-anak lelaki mereka.

Penduduk di bahagian selatan Tamil Nadu menyambut perayaan ini seumpama sambutan Tahun Baru. Pelbagai acara seperti pertandingan Jallikattu (pertandingan antara manusia dan lembu) dan Selambam (seni mempertahankan diri) diadakan di Madurai, Tiruchirapalli dan Tanjavur. Sungguhpun permainan ini tidak menyerlah di Malaysia, namun Ponggal tetap disambut dengan penuh meriah mengikut adat.

Kosmo 24 mac 2009 Oleh SUBASHINI RAJANDRA