Archive for September, 2009

Aashwa Yuja Masa (Ashwin) September 19th- October 18th 2009

As per Uttaradimatta Panchanga, this year in Virodhi Nama Samvatsara(ವಿರೋಧಿನಾಮ ಸಂವತ್ಸರ), Dhakshinayana(ದಕ್ಷಿಣಾಯನ‌), Sharad Ruthu, Aashwa Yuja Masa (Ashwin) starts from September 19th and ends on October 18th 2009.

  • September 19th – Navarathri begins
  • September 26th – Durga Ashtami
  • September 27th – Mahanavami, Saraswathi Pooja
  • September 28th – Vijaya Dasahami
  • September 29th – Smartha Ekadashi
  • September 30th – Vaishnava Ekadashi
  • October 4th – Poornima, Hunnime
  • October 14th – Ekadashi
  • October 17th – Diwali Begins, Naraka Chaturdashi
  • October 18th – Amavasaya, Lakshmi Pooja.

Navaratri-Dussera in Brief

Compiled by B.R. Ramaprasad and sent to me by my Aunt Lalitha Rao.

Navaratri and Dussera are festivals celebrated over a period of ten days. The
first nine days constitute the Navaratri festival. Navaratri means nine nights (Nava= nine, ratri = night).The term “Dussera” which is the last and tenth day is derived from the word for number ten i.e. Dus (in Hindi) or Dasha (in Sanskrit). The tenth day is also celebrated as “Vijayadashmi” (Vijaya is victory in Sanskrit.) The 9 night festival of Navratri begins on the first day of the bright half of Ashvina (Ashvayuja) month of the Hindu calendar.

• This festival is devoted to the Mother Goddess Devi known variously as Durga, Kali, Bhavani, Amba, Chandika, Chamundeshwari, Lalitha etc., (manifestations of Paarvati the consort of Shiva.) As the female manifestation of the supreme lord, she is also called Prakriti or Maya. (The male manifestation of the supreme lord is called Purusha.)

In southern India usually Devi is worshipped in the form of Durga (Goddess of valor) for the first three days, as Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth) for the second three days and as Saraswati (Goddess of knowledge) for the next three days. Celebrations includes a display of images of Goddesses and toys at home for nine days.

The Garbha Dance mainly in the state of Gujarat in western India is performed around a pot containing a lamp. The word “Garbha” by which the pot as well as the dance is known is etymologically close to the word Garbha meaning womb. In this context the lamp in the pot, symbolically represents life within a womb. Another prevalent practice is of sowing legumes, cereals and other seeds on the first day of this festival in a pot, which is watered for nine days at the end of which the seeds sprout. This pot is worshipped throughout the nine days. This custom is also indicative of fertility worship.

Significantly, no male God is worshipped during Navaratri. This contrasts strongly with other festivals in which male gods are dominant e.g. Ganesh Chathurti for Ganesha, Gokulashtami (Janmastami) for Krishna, Mahashivaratri for Shiva, Ramnavami for Rama etc.

The Ramlila ceremony observed in northern India on Dussera day commemorates the victory of Rama over the demon-king Ravana and the rescue of Rama’s consort Sita whose chastity Ravana tried to violate. Rama succeeded in rescuing Sita unmolested from Ravana’s clutches. Giant effigies of Ravana,
Kumbhakarna and Meghnad (Lord Rama’s enemies), are publicly burnt.

In southern India, eastern India and western India, the festival of Navaratri culminates with Vijayadashami on the tenth day of the bright half of the lunar month of Ashvina. The day commemorates the legend in which the Goddess Durga, also known as Chamundeshwari or Mahishasura Mardini, vanquishes the demon Mahishasura, an event that is said to have taken place in the vicinity of the present day city of Mysore in the State of Karnataka.

When Mysore was still a princely state, celebrations on this day included a grand procession of the Maharaja (King) of Mysore in a Golden Ambari (elephant mounted throne) to Banni Mantap (a playground) where he would symbolically cut a fully grown shami tree (please see Legend of the Shami tree below.) With the integration of the princely states into the Union of India, the Maharaja is now replaced by the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari in the Golden Ambari.

Legend of the Shami Tree

There is another and little-known legend associated with this festival, the one associated with the Mahabharata. The Pandavas underwent a period of exile, 12 years of living in the forest followed by a year of exile incognito. Disguise being indispensable during the latter period, the Pandavas found it necessary to lay aside, for the length of that year, the many divine and distinctive weapons that they possessed#. These they hid in a ‘Shami’ tree in the vicinity* of their chosen place of incognito residence. At the end of a year, they returned to the spot, found their weaponry intact, and worshipped in thanksgiving both the Shami tree and the Goddess Durga, presiding deity of strength and victory.
Meanwhile, the Kauravas, suspecting the residence of the Pandavas there had invaded that area. Upon finishing their devotions, the Pandavas fought the battle, and won the contest. The day that all these events occurred has since been known as “Vijayadashami.” In recognition of the endeavors of the Pandavas, even to this day, people exchange Shami leaves and wish each other victory in their own ventures and efforts. The following shloka is used, sometimes, to signify this:

shamI shamayate paapam shamI shaTruvinaashinI |
arjunasya dhanurdhaari raamsya priyadasrshinI ||

(Shami, the remover of all sins, the destroyer of all enemies bore witness to Arjuna taking his bow and Lord Rama coming back to his near and dear ones.)
# – Arjuna’s Gandeeva bow was one among them.
* – It is said that the Shami tree chosen by the Pandavas stood inside a cremation ground.
It was chosen to make detection difficult. The Pandavas wrapped their weapons in a white cloth and concealed them on that Shami tree making the weapons look like a dead body.

Sources:, Wikepedia etc.

P.S: Dates of various festivals performed during Dussera have already been posted. You can get all the details here.

1. Dasara information

Visiting India

It was quite hectic the last few weeks. With Shravana Masa, and Gowri-Ganesha Festival, it was a great few weeks as well. My India trip has been finalized. I will be leaving to Bangalore on September 11th and returning on October 6th 2009.

I will try to post from India as well, but not sure about how much time I will get to spend in front of the computer.I am going to get recipes and songs for the entire list I already have. It will be really exciting. I am also hoping to get some answers to my foot problem, which I have been suffering from years now. And of course, I am going to visit Mantralaya, and offer my prayers to Rayaru.

I will not be posting any new posts in the next 10 days. Thanks so much for all the help and support so many of you have showed.

See you all soon.

P.S:  Feel free to contact me if you need any specific song, recipe for any food made in Madhwa houses. 🙂

Mahalaya Paksha – Sept 5th – Sept 18th, 2009

The fortnight (15 days) preceding the Dasara or Navaratri is known as Mahalaya Paksha or Pithru Paksha. This period is important for honoring our ancestors. Men, whose fathers or Mothers have passed away, offer their obeisance (shraddha) to their ancestors during this period.

The last day of this period called as Mahalaya Amavasya, the new moon day, is considered as the most important day in the year for performing obsequies and rites.

This year in the Virodhiname Samvatsara, Mahalaya Amavasya falls on September 18th 2009. The pitru tarpana given during this time is a way of showing gratitude to your departed ancestors.

1. Amavasya Tharpana

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