Sunday, May 4, 2008

Akshay Trittiya

Akshay Trittiya this year is on May 8th 2008. However in some areas of India the Akshay Tritiya muhurat is to start on May 7th 2008. Please check your local calender for accuracy, sometimes festivals appear through two days of the English calender.


The word "Akshaya" signifies everlasting or perpetual.
Starting of something or purchasing some valuable on this day
is believed to convey achievement or good luck. Buying gold
on this holy day is believed to the ultimate mark of affluence
and opulence and signifies ever present good fortune.

Akshaya Tritiya, is the third day of the bright-half of
the lunar month of Vaisakha and is considered as one of
the most sacred days of the year.The auspicious time or
muhurats on this dau surpass the best muhurats of the entire
year.According to belief, this day also marks the beginning
of the"SatyaYug" the first of the four Yugs(eras)," Satya",
"Treta", "Dwapar "& Kali", although at present we are in Kaliyuga.

Traditions and Beliefs

The day is generally observed by fasting and worshipping
Lord Vasudeva ( Sri Krishna or Lord Vishnu) with rice grains. A dip in
the Ganges on this day is also considered to be very auspicious.Vedas say
that knowledge gained or charity done on this day isvery fruitful. It is considered to be very lucky day to start new business or venture. Many people buy gold, assets or property on this day. In some traditions a fan, rice, salt, ghee, sugar, vegetables, tamarind,
fruit, clothes, are given in charity. Tulsi water cosnidered holy and
purificatory is sprinkled also in the vicinity of the idol while performing aarti.After puja, meals are allowed. Special pujas are performed by offering barley in the holy fire. All married women and unmarried girls take part in the pujas and homas.Lakshmi kunera homa is believed to be an auspicious homa to be performed on Akshaya Tritiya. The word "Akshaya" is also mentioned in "Silapathikaram" which is one of the greatest works of Tamil literature.

The various homams that can be performed on that day are
1. Ganapathy homam - For the well being of your family.
2 . Shatru shanti homa - To safeguard from ill effects and enemies.
3 . Visit Shiva Vishnu temple.

Bengalis, Jains, Jats, Tamilians all observe this festival
each with their unique rites and rituals.

Akshay Tritiiya is a holy day for Jains as well. People who observe
the year-long alternative day fasting finish their Tapsaya this day.
As per Jain legends, Rishabhdev fasted and meditated for 6 months.
After that he went out to collect food (asked for alms).However no
one knew the procedure of offering food to a monk.Rishabhdev, therefore
could not get to eat for seven months and nine days.Shreyans was the brother
of King Somaprabha. Shreyans recollected from a previous 'life' how to
offer food to a monk. Hence on the third day of the second half of Vaisaakh
(Akshaya Tritya) Rishabhdev got to break his fast.Rishabhdev was the first
Tirthankara of Jains.It is believed that Rishabha invented pottery, painting,
sculpture. So on this day Jains break their fast (Varsitap) by drinking
sugar cane juice and visiting the main temple of Risabhdeva in Palitana.

In Bengal, on the day of the Akshay Tritiiya, "HalKhata" or
ceremony to start the new audit book is performed with the worship of
Lord Ganesha & Devi Lakshmi. Poila Boisakh, the first day of Boisakh
is considered an auspicious day to start a business as well as to
perform the "HalKhata". According to the Hindu customs, many Bangalis choose
to perform the same rites & rituals as Polia Baisakh on the holy day of
"Akshay Tritiya" also. Then as per tradition, rituals are followed including
welcoming customers and holding dinners. Sweets and new year calendars are also
distributed to guests.

For the Jat farming community this festival is known as "Akha Teej".
Early morning, a male member of Jat family goes to field with shovel.
All the animals and birds encountered on the way to the field indicates omens
and predictions for rains and crops.

Akshay Tritiiya is also an occasion for weddings, which are conducted in
mass marriage ceremonies. Gujarat is famous for this traditin. It is considered
an unboojha muhurat.

For tamilians, Thruthiyai is the third day after
the New Moon. Akshayam means also “ growth”. In the tamil month of Chithirai, the thruthiyai
which falls in the Shukla Paksham (valar pirai) is called Akshaya Thruthiyai. Thrythiyai occurs
ever month, but the one in Chithirai is celebrated specially. On every thruthiyai, Chandra darisanam
is considered auspicious.Candana yatra starts on this day, which is celebrated as well
as the day on which treta yuga began. Barley, one of the main ingredients for homa,
which is the yuga dharma of Treta Yuga, was also created on this day. Ganga devi is also
believed to have descended to the earth on this day. FOr tamilians, many people have special
puja on this day. They bathe in a sacred river, give charity, perform japa and offer barley
in a sacred fire, and also offer barley preparations to the deity. Akshaya Tritiya day is
believed the very auspicious day - there's no inauspiciousness or inauspicious muhurats found
today so even checking muhurthas is considered unnecessary.

The tamilian legend associated with Akshaya Trittiya is that Kuchela, the poor friend Of Krishna
went to see Krishna with some aval (poha) tied in his upper cloth. Kannan welcomed Kuchela happily and putting a handful of poha in his mouth uttered the word “Akshayam”. At once, the humble abode of Kuchela became a palace and he became a very prosperous man. Another legend is that Sri Parasurama, the sixth avatara of Vishnu was born on this day. Many people offer tharpanams to forefathers on this day. This is done to incur their blessings. It is very good to worship, Shiva Parvathi, Shriman Narayanan, Sri Lakhmi Devi on this day. Lakshmi is supposed to have chosen this day to worship Lord Kubera on this day,
to be blessed with Kubera Sampath. Krutha Yuga is said on have started this day. Just like a yuga lasts for millions of years, any action done on this day is supposed to yield, benfits, multifold times. Any new venture started on this day will last long and well. So this day is supposed to be auspicious for registering a business deal, buy a new property, open new accounts and last but not least to buy new clothes, jewellery etc. It is the most ideal day to do charity, help the physically challenged, do give financial help for higher studies for the poor. It is said that giving curd rice to others improves longevity of life. Distribution of sweets, helps to get over the obstacles in getting married. Distribution of grains and cereals, prevents accidents
and untimely death. By giving cattle feed, prosperity will increase.


There are many legends and stories realted to Akshay Trittiya.

The most famous is that according to the Vedas, it was on the
day of Akshay Tritiiya that Veda Vyasa along with Lord Ganesha
started writing the epic, Mahabharata.It is also traditionally
observed as the birthday of Sri Parshuram, the sixth
incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The Puranas speak about how Sri Parshurama
reclaimed the land from the sea. Goa and Konkan regions, even today,
are referred to as Parusurama Kshetra.

The "Puranas", holy Hindu scriptures state that when Ved Vyas Rishi requested
Lord Ganesha to help him compose the Mahabharata, Lord Ganesha accepted the offer
only after laying down certain terms. He said to Vyas Rishi that Sri Ganesh would
write the "Slokas" of the Vedas only if Vyash Rishi would match his speed of writing.
If Sri Ganesh had to stop due to Vyas Rishi, he would discontinue writing.
Vyas Rishi accepted the proposal with his own conditions, stating that Lord Sri Ganesha
had to comprehend the meaning of the "Shlokas" before he could write them down.
Vyas Rishi then started composing the epic and used complicated language. The time Lord
Sri Ganesha took to understand the meaning was enough for Vyas Rishi to compose new lines.

As legend also goes, there is a story of a brahmana who had a very good wife but was poor.
Whatever little money he got would spend. He also did not have any children. As per his wife's
requst he went to meet Vasishta Muni/Rishi to know the reason for his suffering. Vasishta
Muni/Rishi told him that in his previous life he was very rich and also had many children, but
he was very stingy and did not spend money even for the welfare of own children. So in this birth
this is the reason for his being poor and without children. The brahmana then asked Vasishta Muni/Rishi why he has a good wife. So the Muni replied that he had observed that the vrata of Vaishaka month for the last 5 days and that gave him a good wife in this birth and also his brahmana birth. The Muni advised him to fast for at least the last 7 days left of Vaishaka month, with devotion to Lord Krsna. It is belileved that since the brahmana observed the vrata of Vaishaka month as stated by the Muni and he got sons, became rich, and ultimately obtained spiritual bliss.

For vaishnavites, this day also coincides with the death anniversary of Sri Vijayadhvaja Tiirtha,
in the lineage of Sri Pejawar Mutt.He is famous for his commentary upon the Srimad Bhagavatam.He lived in the 15th century and his samadhi is in Kanva Tirtha. Vaishnavites believe that there is also a pipal tree by the side of samadhi under which he is believed to have written his commentary.

During the tenure of Sri Pejawar MaTha a special festival is arranged in Sri Krishna Mutt on this
day and the akshaya paatra given by Sri Madhva is offered a special puuja. This akshaya patra
is said to have been given by the Sun god, it is the same pot that Draupadi used to cook in. It is
said that from the time of turning it upwards for use on a day the pot will provide unlimited amounts of foodstuffs for the satisfaction of the Lord.

There is another legend in connection to this pot.

On the Pandavas return to Hastinapur they resided in the palace created for them by the demon Maya Danava. Mayasura built this palace out of gratitude to Sri Krsna for saving him in the forest fire in the Khandava Forest where he was hiding when Agni devoured it. The Rajasurya sacrifice was performed, Duryodhana, being always envious of the Pandavas, came to
the mansion created by Maya Danava's illusions. Bewildered by illusions of many kinds, Duryodhana mistook the solid floor for water and lifted the end of his garment to walk forward on what he thought was shallow water but it was solid floor, and after a few more steps he fell into waist deep water mistaking it for a solid floor. Proud Duryodhana, who was wearing his crown and a costly necklace was very angry, but when he fell into the water everyone laughed, especially Draupadi and Bhima.Yudhisthira tried to check the laughing of all the women in the palace, by raising his hand and his glances. Lord Krsna however, encouraged it by the suggestive gestures of His eyebrows. Humiliated and swearing revenge, Duryodhana turned his face
downwards and went back to Hastinapura.The Kurus then made a conspiracy to trick Yudhisthira into a gambling match by which the Kauravas (Kurus) could cheat the Pandavas out of everything with the dice made from Sakuni's bones. During the match Yudhisthira lost his kingdom, wealth, jewelry, clothing and finally even gambled and lost his wife Draupadi. When Dussasana went to fetch the chaste Draupadi, she said she couldn't come to the assembly as she was undergoing her monthly period, and was only dressed in one piece of cloth (a simple 'sari'). Draupadi had a beautiful bunch of hair which was sanctified at the ceremonial Rajasurya Yajna,
but Dussasana defiled that sacred lady and grabbed her by her hair just to insult her. When he started to pull off her sari just to make her naked, Draupadi, realizing that she had no hope of help from her husbands as they too had been lost, by Yudhisthira being tricked into upholding honour codes and now had no free will to act. Draupadi then prayed to Sri Krsna, and as much 'sari' as Dussasana took from her body, that much was replaced. Lord Krsna, though protecting his surrendered devotee, decided that for their sinful behaviour the Kurus would be
inevitably killed at the Battle of Kuruksetra.

When the Pandavas were exiled to the forest for twelve years after a second gambling match, the Kurus stated that after the completion of twelve years the Pandavas had then to spend one year incognito, thus making thirteen years. If, during the final year the Pandavas's whereabouts were discovered,they again had to spend another twelve years in the forest. Because the Pandavas were concerned how to feed the 'brahmanas' who accompanied them to the forest,
Draupadi Devi was given a pot by the sun god called by Aksayapatra. This pot would never be empty until Draupadi had taken her meal and turned the pot upside down. Then it would produce no more for that day. Once Draupadi had finished cooking and had just taken her meal when the Muni/Rishi Durvasas arrived with many of his disciples. The angry sage Durvasas and his disciples had secretly been asked to go there by the Kauravas who knew that by this time Draupadi would have taken her meal, and if she was unable to offer them anything to eat,
she would incur the wrath of Durvasa. Durvasas and his disciples went to the river to bathe and freshen up before taking their meal. Draupadi, full of anxiety, prayed to Lord Krsna to help her. Lord Sri Krsna then told Draupadi that if there was a morsel of food left he would be satisfied if that were offered by Draupadi to him. Seeing a fragment of rice stuck to the side of the pot, Sri Krsna asked for it, Draupadi offered it to Sri Krsna, and simply by eating that morsel of foodstuffs, all of Rishi Durvasas' men and Durvasa himself became completely full
and satisfied, and out of embarrassment slipped away and didn't come to demand a meal from Draupadi as the Duryodhana had arranged for them to do.

The photos are of Hare Krsna Hare Rama devotees in Navadvipa, cooking prasadam, distributing food, cooking food, and also the deities at Navadvipa. There is also a photo of two elderly Jain ladies at a Kolkotta 2007 Akshay Trittiya festivity. There is a couple at a mass marraige ceremony. Photos of Sri Lakshmi Devi and Sri Parasurama.

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