Friday, January 19, 2007
India is a land of festivals and celebrations. These festivals give an opportunity for the people to come together and share in each other's joys. All the festivals are celebrated with gaiety, merriment and pomp. Indeed, it is rightly said of India that here one just needs an excuse to celebrate. In this land of numerous deities, not only are festivals celebrated in remembrance of these gods and goddesses, but also on the advent of even commencement of a season. One such festival is Basant Pnachami, which heralds the coming of Basant ritu of spring. On a more religious note, the festival is celebrated in honour of Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom and knowledge. The festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the lunar month of Magh, which falls somewhere between January and March.
Celebrated on the onset of spring, it marks the beginning of new life with yellow mustard flowers starting to bloom and nature displaying her majestic best. Thus the colour of the festival is yellow and women can be seen dotted in saffron dresses. The puja on this day is devoted to Saraswati and people pray for wisdom and understanding. There are several ways in which puja is conducted on this day. In Bengal, the place where the statue of Saraswati is kept is decorated with a rangoli. The design of a fish is considered auspicious. Family members bathe early in the morning and dress in whit or yellow coloured clothes. Then they gather around the idol, where the priest commences the puja. Aarti is taken of the idol and the flame is passed arounfd the devotees to warm there hands and touch there foreheads. Children place their books at the goddesses feet. No books our touched that day, signifying that the books are being blessed by the goddess. In Rajsthan also the puja is conducted in a very colourful manner. The youngest girl of the house present sets the stage for the puja by putting a teeka on everyone's forehead. This is followed by the devotees sprinkling water, aipun and roli on the diety. The puja ends with the lady of the house giving a few bers, some sangaris and a laddoo and a paan to everyone present. Not only is the celebration of Basant, a Hindu festival, some sections of the Muslims also celebrate the advent of this colourful season.
Vasant Panchami is a Hindu festival celebrating Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music, and art. It is celebrated every year on the fifth day of the Indian month Magh (January-February), the first day of spring. During this festival children are taught their first words; brahmins are fed; ancestor worship (Pitri-Tarpan) is performed; the god of love, Kamadeva, is worshipped; and most educational institutions organise special prayer for Saraswati. The color yellow also plays an important role in this festival, in that people usually wear yellow garments, Saraswati is worshipped dressed in yellow, and yellow sweetmeats are consumed within the families.
As 'Diwali' – the festival of light – is to Lakshmi, goddess of wealth, and 'Navaratri' is to Durga, goddess of strength, might and power, Vasant Panchami is to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge and learning. She represents the free flow of wisdom and consciousness. She is the mother of the Vedas, and chants to her, called the 'Saraswati Vandana' often begin and end Vedic lessons.
The festival is celebrated every year on the 5th day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha (see calendar) — the day called 'Vasant Panchami'. Hindus celebrate this festival with great enthusiasm, and temples and households are full of activities on this day. This 'Panchami' is also known as Saraswati Day, because it is believed that on this day the goddess was born.
Saraswati, the goddess of wisdom, art and music is the daughter of Lord Shiva and Goddess Durga. It is believed that goddess Saraswati endows human beings with the powers of speech, wisdom and learning. She has four hands representing four aspects of human personality in learning: mind, intellect, alertness and ego. She has sacred scriptures in one hand and a lotus — the symbol of true knowledge — in the second. With her other two hands she plays the music of love and life on a string instrument called the veena. She is dressed in white — the symbol of purity — and rides on a white swan that symbolises Sattwa Guna or purity and discrimination. Saraswati is also a prominent figure in Buddhist iconography — the consort of Manjushri.
The colour yellow is given special importance on Vasant Panchami. On this day, Saraswati is dressed in yellow garments and worshipped. People prefer to wear yellow clothes on this holy day. Sweetmeats of yellowish hues are distributed among relations and friends. Some people feed Brahmins, some perform Pitri-Tarpan (ancestor worship) and many worship Kamadeva, the god of love on this day.
However, the most significant aspect of this day is that children are taught their first words on this day, for it is considered an auspicious day to begin how to read and write. Educational institutions organise special prayer for Saraswati. The great Indian guru Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya laid the foundations of the world class academic institution of Kashi Hindu Vishwa Vidyalaya on Vasant Panchami.
Saintly people and individuals inclined towards spiritual progress attach great importance to the worship of goddess Saraswati. As a practice, only educated people and men of principle worship goddess Saraswati for spiritual enlightenment. In their opinion, there can be no comparison between the king and the learned or the spiritually advanced. The king is honored within his kingdom, whereas the learned is respected or worshipped throughout the world.
Hinduism has taken into account special significance of seasons and interwoven them with religious festivals. During Vasant Panchami, seasons undergo change and the coming of springtime is heralded. Trees display new shoots and new life is evident in the woods and fields. Nature decorates the mango trees with new blossoms, wheat and crops enliven with evidence of new life.
Vasant Panchami is a festival full of religious, seasonal and social significance and is celebrated by Hindus all over the world with verve and new sense of optimism. The first faint signals of the forthcoming festival of Holi — the festival of colours — also manifest at Vasant Panchami.
There is an interesting story associated with it. The celebration of the Basant or spring season can be traced back to the Chisthi Sufis, as early as the twelfth century. The legend goes that 12th Century Chishti Saint Nizamuddin Aulia of Delhi was once so grieved because of the passing away of his young nephew Taqiuddin Nooh, that he withdrew himself completely from the world for a couple of months either locked inside his room or sitting near his nephew s grave. His close friend, the famous court poet Amir Khusro could no longer bear to see his mater being saddened like this and so started to think of ways to brighten him up. One day Khusro met a few women on the road who were dressed up beautifully, singing and carrying colorful flowers.Upon Khusro's inquiry as to why they appeared to be cheerful and brightly dressed, the women told him that they were celebrating Basant Panchami, and were taking the offering of Basant to their god. Khusro found this very fascinating, and smiling he said, "well, my god needs an offering of Basant too". Immediately, he dressed himself up like those women, took some mustard flowers and singing the same songs, started walking towards the graveyard where his pir would be sitting alone.
Nizamuddin Aulia noticed some women coming towards him - he could not recognize Khusro. On close inspection he realized what was going on, and smiled.It was the moment for which all of them had been waiting for two months. They all went ecstatic. Other Sufis and disciples too started singing Persian couplets in praise of spring, and symbolically the mustard flowers were offered to the grave of Nooh.
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Contributed by Acharya Satyam Sharma Shastri
Montagne-Blanche Village, Mauritius
Sankranti means to go from one place to another place (to change direction). It also means one meets another. The time when the sun changes direction from one constellation (of the zodiac) to another is known as Sankranti.
Transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (Uttarayana) is known as Makar sankranti.
Solar Year – Importance of the Sun
There are 12 signs of the zodiac. There are 12 Sankrantis as well. They are given names according to the position of the sun in relation to the signs of the zodiac. Each of the 12 Sankrantis has its relevant importance but two of these are most prominent.
These two are Mesh Sankranti and Makar Sankranti (Aries and Capricorn).The solar year commences when the sun is in Aries (the first sign of the zodiac). From the point of view of mathematical calculations, the solar year is more scientific than the lunar year. One lunar year has 354 days only and lunar days (or nights) increase or decrease according to the phases of the moon. Compare this to the solar year which has 365 ¼ days and remains the same. Many astrological books are based upon solar calculations. The sun is the most important and the most prominent of our stars and the undisputed lord of our planetary system. The sun always comes first. First day of the week commences with Sunday (Ravi).
Science attaches great importance to the sun. The sun is the inexhaustible storehouse and the source of light and energy. Without sunlight creatures and vegetation would cease to exist. People will lose their life sustaining vitality. Lack of nourishing substances would lead to the end of creation. This is why the sun’s existence, movements and positions in the cosmos are so important and that is why the sun earns our respect, admiration and reverence.
The solar year commences when the sun is in Aries (the first sign of the zodiac). During this auspicious period, great deal of merits are acquired by performing Havan (Yajna or Sacred Fire ceremony), Japa (repetition of Mantra or God’s name), Shraddha, Charity etc. Householders top up their grain jars and families start wedding preparations for their sons and daughters of marriageable age.
The second Sankranti of great importance is Makar. Transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (Uttarayana) is known as Makar sankranti. The sun and journeys northward. The days are gradually lengthening in the northern hemisphere.
Makar Sankranti is also known as KHICHADI (Indian dish made from rice and lentils) Sankranti because on this day the injunction to eat Khichadi , is generally observed by people. Seasonal crops become available. Ghee, and spices are used for making tasty nourishing Khichadi. Winter loosens its grip on shiver producing cold, admitting springtime that brings with it the chance for all round health improvement.
In addition to Khichadi, great importance is attached to the use of TIL (Sesame seeds) during Makar Sankranti. Therefore, this Sankranti is also called TIL Sankranti. People make Laddoos (round balls) from Til. Til oil is used for massaging.
Six types of usage of Til are described. Til is used for Bathing, for Massaging, for Havan (sacred fire ceremony), Tarpan with Til (oblations of water with Til), Til used as food, and Til is donated in charity.
It is said that Til emanates from Vishnu’s body and that the above described usage wash away all kinds of sins. Sankranti period is held to be very auspicious and any good deeds during this time will produce merits. Gifts of clothing, blankets etc., on this day are productive of merits in both this life and in the next life.
Kite Flying Day
Makar Sankranti is also celebrated with great enthusiasm as the Kite flying day.
Gangasagar and Surya Puja
At Sankranti time great importance is attached to Ganga snaan (bathing with waters of the river Ganges) and Surya Puja (worshipping the sun). Bathing, worshipping gods, Havan, Japa, Fasting and Charity; each of these are extremely holy deeds.
From Makar Sankranti onwards when the sun is travelling northwards, innumerable auspicious things start happening. Climate and atmosphere improve. Children born during this period are naturally progressive, well mannered, pleasant and of noble disposition.
The Bhagavad Gita mentions the importance of the northern path of the sun at the time of death. This was the reason why Grandsire Bhishma, who was wounded in battle and in semi conscious state, while lying on the bed of arrows, chose to wait it out, awaiting the northward path of the sun, before choosing to die.
All such special reasons make the northward journey of the sun sacred and auspicious at Makar Sankranti.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MAKAR-SANKRANTI
Makar Sankranti is a mid-winter festival of India and Nepal. The festival is celebrated to mark the transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (Uttarayana). The famous Kumbh Mela is also held on Makar Sankranti every 12 years
The festival is celebrated by taking dips in the Ganga or any river and offering water to the Sun god. The dip is said to purify the self and bestow punya. Special puja is offered as a thanksgiving for good harvest.
Since the festival is celebrated in the mid winter, the food prepared for this festival are such that they keep the body warm and give high energy. Laddu of til made with sugarcane juice is specialty of the festival.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated all over India and Nepal with some some regional variations:
In North India,
Punjab - Lohri
West Bengal and Assam - Bhogali Bihu
Gujarat and Rajastan - Uttarayan (Kite flying festival)
In South India,
In Kerala and Tamilnadu - Pongal
In Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh - Sankranthi
Other parts of India as Makara Sankranti
Tharu people - Maghi
Other people - Maghe Sankranti or Maghe Sakrati
Many Melas or fairs are held on Makar Sankranti the most famous being the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years at one of four holy locations, namely Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik. The Magh Mela (or mini-Kumbh Mela held annually at Prayag) and the Gangasagar Mela (held at the head of the Ganges River, where it flows into the Bay of Bengal).
Makar Sankranti falls on January 14 on non-leap years and on January 15 on leap years. It is the only Hindu festival which is based on the Solar calendar rather than the Lunar calendar. The day is a holiday in the state of Gujarat.
Makara Sankranti is celebrated in Kerala at Sabarimale where the Makara Jyothi is visible followed by the Makara Vilakku celebrations.
Kite flying festival
The festival is celebrated by the flying of kites in most of northern India.
Kites are flown for most of the day in the region. The objective of this sport is to cut as many rival kites as possible to attain air superiority. Additionally, a cut kite may be also picked up by another kite giving the collector a free kite. The diamond shaped kites come in various designs. The thread, known as manja is sharpened with finely crushed glass pieces. The season also is perfect for spending a day in a sun. The season is windy, making it ideal for kite flying. At night special lantern kites with candles embedded are flown which give the skies an eerie feeling.
In Maharashtra, when two Maharashtrians greet each other or visit each other during Makar Sankranti, they exchange Tilache Ladoo - a special sweet made for this day. When they give the ladoo to an elder they do namaskar and say "til gul ghya, ani god god bola" (let us be sweet to each other and let friendship prevail between us). Til or sesame seeds is one of the important ingredients in this festival. The married ladies in Maharashtra arrange "haldi kum kum", an auspicious religious get together by way of which they call upon their friends and relatives and distribute sweets and gifts.
In Gujarat and Rajasthan
Uttarayan, also known as Makar sankranti, is a kite-flying festival celebrated annually on January 14 in Western India; it is a public holiday in Gujarat and Rajasthan. According to Indian astronomy, Uttarayan is the day when the Sun moves to the Northern hemisphere ("Uttara" means North, and "-yana" means to go). This day also is celebrated as Pongal in southern India.
The kites used are prepared from thin paper and crafted carefully using bamboo sticks. Kite-making businesses usually employ Muslims, who are known for their kite-making ability. The thread used to make kites airborne is specially prepared using "lugdi" and cotton thread, coated with a mix of adhesive and fine glass powder that is dried over time. Thread prepared in cities of Surat and Bareli is famous for its durability.
In the state of Gujarat, kite flying is considered an art. Kite fighting is a traditional Uttarayana activity: the kite flyer must keep his kite aloft while others attempt to sever his thread using their own kites. When someone wins the kite fight, his group celerates with cheerful shouts and drum beatings. It is a common scene to see people play music, dance and socialize freely.
Traditionally the menfolk do the flying and women hold the "Firki" meaning the spool of thread by standing behind the man. They also tie the thread on the kites and keep them ready for the man for unending kiteflying session where the sky has turned into a battlefield and neighbours are enemies. But now the trend has changed and women and young girls also do the flying.
Due to the sun's heat generally all wear cap and sunglasses. They also keep loud speakers and music systems on their roof.
The next day 15th January is also celebrated as kite-flying day but it is called "Vasi Uttrayan". Where "vasi" is term that is used in Gujarati for older food. So as the festival has become older it is termed as "Vasi".
Traditionally, undhiyu (a mix of vegetables and green beans) and puri are served on the festival. Other traditional snacks include chikki (a sweet peanut bar) and fruits like berries and guava.
Once the sun sets, people watch can watch lanterns called Tukkal, flying. The day's winning kite is flown as Chinese lanterns are tied with thread. Today, celebrators also enjoy loud music and firecrackers in the everning.
The government of Gujarat has attempted to attract foreign tourists on the occasion by organizing a world kite flying festival.
Tuesday, January 9, 2007
Kumbh Mela (the Urn Festival) is a Hindu pilgrimage that occurs four times every twelve years and rotates among four locations: Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. Each twelve-year cycle includes one Maha Kumbh Mela (Great Kumbh Mela) at Prayag, which is attended by millions of people, making it the largest gathering anywhere in the world.
After visiting the Kumbh mela of 1895, Mark Twain wrote:
"It is wonderful, the power of a faith like that, that can make multitudes upon multitudes of the old and weak and the young and frail enter without hesitation or complaint upon such incredible journeys and endure the resultant miseries without repining. It is done in love, or it is done in fear; I do not know which it is. No matter what the impulse is, the act born of it is beyond imagination marvelous to our kind of people, the cold whites."
Astronomy and Kumbh Mela
The precise dates of the Kumbh Mela are astronomically determined, based upon precise calculations of the positions of the Sun, the Moon and Jupiter. At Prayag, the Maha Kumbh Mela is held in the month of Magha (January/February in the Gregorian calendar). The highest spiritual merit is attached to bathing on the new moon day, Amavasya, when Jupiter is in Taurus and both the Sun and Moon are in Capricorn. At Haridwar, the Kumbh Mela is held in the months of Phalgun and Chaitra (February/March/April), when the Sun passes to Aries, the Moon is in Sagittarius and Jupiter is in Aquarius. In Ujjain, the festival is held in the month of Vaishakha (May), when other planets are in Libra, the Sun and Moon are in Aries and Jupiter is in Leo. At Nashik, the Kumbh Mela takes place in the month of Shravana (July), when the Sun and Moon are in Cancer and Jupiter is in Scorpio.
It is also said that the elixir of life is filled in a Kumbh (Pot) in Swarg (heaven) so with certain combination of Sun - Moon - Jupiter combination, the elixir falls from heaven to earth, and kumbh mela is held on those locations.
The observance of Kumbh Mela is based upon the following legend: Thousands of years ago, in the Vedic period, gods and demons made a temporary agreement to work together churning amrita (the nectar of immortality) from the Ksheera Sagara (primordial ocean of milk), and to share the nectar equally. However, when the Kumbh (urn) containing the amrita appeared, the demons ran away with it and were chased by the gods. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for possession of this pot of amrita. It is said that during the battle, drops of amrita fell at four places: Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nashik. Thus, the Kumbh Mela is observed at these four locations where the nectar fell.
Kumbh Mela is attended by millions of people on a single day. The major event of this festival is a ritual bath at the banks of the rivers in each town. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men and women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized. Kumbh Mela (especially the Maha Kumbh Mela) is the most sacred of all the Hindu pilgrimages. Thousands of holy men and women (monks, saints and sadhus) attend, and the auspiciousness of the festival is in part attributable to this.
Kumbh Mela 2003
When the Kumbh Mela was held in Nashik, India, from July 27 to September 7, 2003, 39 pilgrims (28 women and 11 men) were trampled to death and 57 were injured (keeping in mind that the number of devotees attending the fair was around 70 million). Devotees had gathered on the banks of the Godavari river for the maha snaan or holy bath. Over 30,000 pilgrims were being held back by barricades in a narrow street leading to the Ramkund, a holy spot, so the sadhus could take the first ceremonial bath. Reportedly, a sadhu threw some silver coins into the crowd and the subsequent scramble led to the stampede .
KUMBH MELA, 2007
Dates of Ardh Kumbh Mela in Allahabad, India, 2007
January 03 to Feb 26, 2007.
Kumbha (Kumbha means pot) Mela (means fair) is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage that takes place at the following four locations of India:
Prayag, Allahabad (in the state of Uttar Pradesh) at the confluence of three holy rivers - Ganga (Ganges), Yamuna and Saraswati
Haridwar (in the state of Uttar Pradesh) where the river Ganga enters the plains from Himalayas
Ujjain (in Madhya Pradesh), on the banks of shipra river, and
Nasik (in Maharashtra) on the banks of Godavari river.
"the experience of a life-time"
Kumbh Mela 2007 will last for about a month, beginning on Jan 03 and ending on Feb 02, 2007. Although all the days are observed as special for taking the ritual bath, however the following are said to be the most auspicious days in the month.
Day & Date Parva (Special Days for Ritual Baths)
Thursday Jan 03, 2007 Snanarambha (Beginning of the Kumbh festival) Paush Purnima
Sunday Jan 14, 2007 Makar Sankranti
Friday Jan 19, 2007 Mauni Amavasya (No moon day)
Tuesday Jan 23, 2007 Basanta Panchami
Friday Feb 02, 2007 Purnamasi (Full moon day)
"the city of sangam"
About the city
Location: Uttar Pradesh, India
Altitude: 98 Meter Above the Sea Level
Temperature: 30° C - 45° C (Summers), 5° C - 15° C (Winter)
Languages Spoken: Hindi, Urdu and English
Festivals/Events: Magh Mela, Ardha Kumbh Mela, Kumbh Mela, Holi, Shivaratri, Dussehra, Diwali, Id, Christmas etc
Local Transport: Buses, Tempos(Shared Auto Rickshaw) and Cycle Rickshaws
Population: Around 5 Million
Tourist Attractions: Sangam, Allahabad Fort (Akshayavat), Reclining Hanuman Temple, Anand Bhavan, All Saints Cathedrals Church etc
Cities Nearby: Varanasi, Kanpur, Lucknow, Ayodhya, New Delhi, Patna etc.
How to reach Allahabad
The Ardha Kumbha in the year 2007 will be held at Allahabad. We are providing brief information about how to reach Allahabad for the Ardha Kumbha Mela 2007. Allahabad (Prayag) is one of the most revered holy places in India. It is the place of the confluence of the three rivers- Ganga, Yamuna and the mythological Saraswati. Allahabad, being an important religious, educational and administrative center, is well connected to major cities of India by Air, Rail and Road.
How to Reach Allahabad by Air
Allahabad has a domestic airport and there are daily flights from New Delhi. Also there are flights from other metros either via Delhi or Via Kolkata. Other nearest airport is Varanasi which 120 KM away from Allahabad and is also well connected from all the main cities of India.
How to Reach Allahabad by Rail /Train
Being situated on the main line of the Indian railways, there are direct trains for Allahabad from most of the major Indian cities.
How to Reach Allahabad by Road
As Allahabad is located in the heartland of the great Indian plains, the road density is quite high in these parts. National Highways 2 and 27 pass through Allahabad. Here is a distance chart giving distance between Allahabad and other cities of India.
CITY DISTANCE CITY DISTANCE CITY DISTANCE
Agartala 1903 Gurgaon 621 Panaji 1742
Agra 425 Guwahati 1304 Paradwip 1058
Ahmedabad 1119 Gwalior 444 Pathankot 1079
Aizawl 1770 Haldia 884 Patna 360
Ajmer 788 Hassan 1902 Pondicherry 1950
Akola 855 Hissar 792 Porbandar 1513
Aligarh 472 Hubli 1555 Pune 1323
Ambala 795 Hyderabad 1092 Purulia 591
Amritsar 1050 Imphal 1788 Raipur 640
Asansol 579 Indore 737 Rajkot 1335
Aurangabad 1109 Jabalpur 343 Rameswaram 2255
Bakhtiyarpur 408 Jaipur 657 Ranchi 536
Bangalore 1654 Jaisalmer 1227 Ranippettai 1873
Barauni 471 Jalandhar 967 Raurkela 756
Barddhaman 682 Jammu 1186 Rohtak 699
Bareilly 481 Jamnagar 1421 Sagar 471
Belgaum 1659 Jamshedpur 666 Saharanpur 722
Bellary 1459 Jhansi 398 Salem 1857
Bhagalpur 595 Jodhpur 988 Sambalpur 795
Bhavnagar 1306 Jorhat 1607 Shahjahanpur 406
Bhopal 551 Kakinada 1615 Siliguri 829
Bhubaneshwar 1090 Kandla 1607 Shillong 1404
Bikaner 978 Kanniyakumari 2335 Shimla 946
Bilaspur 529 Kanpur 195 Shivpuri 502
Calcutta 805 Kochi 2187 Silchar 1630
Chandigarh 841 Kohima 1643 Solapur 1269
Chennai 1688 Kolhapur 1516 Srinagar 1479
Chittardurga 1587 Kota 722 Surat 1202
Coimbatore 1994 Kozhikode 2009 Thane 1425
Cuttack 1065 Krishnagiri 1745 Thanjavur 2045
Dehra Dun 770 Kurnool 1302 Thiruvananthapuram 2407
Delhi 628 Lucknow 238 Thrissur 2101
Dhanbad 533 Ludhiana 908 Tiruchchirappalli 1991
Dhule 1132 Madurai 2100 Tirunelveli 2254
Dibrugarh 1743 Mangalore 1916 Tirupati 1684
Dimapur 1578 Meerut 600 Tuticorin 2235
Dindigul 2034 Moradabad 577 Udaipur 1007
Durgapur 619 Motihari 500 Ujjain 739
Ganganagar 1036 Mumbai 1466 Ulhasnagar 1452
Gangtok 943 Muzaffarnagar 651 Vadodara 1060
Gaya 375 Muzaffarpur 584 Varanasi 125
Ghaziabad 584 Mysore 1796 Vijayawada 1423
Ghazipur 197 Nagpur 605 Vishakhapatnam 1230
Gorakhpur 298 Nanded 983 Warangal 1055
Gulbarga 1245 Nashik 1283
Guntur 1384 Nellore 1608
Kumbha (Kumbha means pot) Mela is a sacred Hindu pilgrimage that takes place at the following four locations of India
• Prayag (near the city of Allahabad, in the state of Uttar Pradesh) at the confluence of three rivers Ganga (Ganges), Yamuna and Saraswati
• Haridwar (in the state of Uttar Pradesh) where the river Ganga enters the plains from Himalayas
• Ujjain (in Madhya Pradesh), on the banks of Ksipra river, and
• Nasik (in Maharashtra) on the banks of Godavari river.
The pilgrimage occurs four times every twelve years, once at each of the four locations. Each twelve-year cycle includes the Maha (great) Kumbha Mela at Prayag, attended by millions of people, making it the largest pilgrimage gathering around the world.
The observance of Kumbha Mela is based upon the following story : thousands of years ago, perhaps in the Vedic period, gods and demons made a temporary agreement to work together in obtaining amrita (the nectar of immortality) from the Milky Ocean, and to share this equally. However, when the Kumbha (pot) containing the amrita appeared, the demons ran away with the pot and were chased by the gods. For twelve days and twelve nights (equivalent to twelve human years) the gods and demons fought in the sky for the possession of this pot of amrita. It is said that during the battle, drops of amrita fell on to four places : Prayag, Haridwar, Ujjain and Nasik. Thus, Kumbha mela is observed at these four locations where the nectar fell.
Kumbha Mela is attended by millions of people on a single day. A ritual bath at a predetermined time and place is the major event of this festival. Other activities include religious discussions, devotional singing, mass feeding of holy men/women and the poor, and religious assemblies where doctrines are debated and standardized. Kumbha Mela (especially the Maha Kumbha Mela) is the most sacred of all the Hindu pilgrimages. Thousands of holy men/women (monks, saints, sadhus) grace the occasion by their presence. The suspiciousness of Kumbha Mela is in part attributed to the gathering of thousands of holy men/women at one place on earth
According to astrologers, the 'Kumbh Fair' takes place when the planet Jupiter enters Aquarius and the Sun enters Aries.
[Adopted from Bansi Pandit : The Hindu Mind]
Saturday, January 6, 2007
The New Year is an event that happens when a culture celebrates the end of one year and the beginning of the next year. Cultures that measure yearly calendars all have New Year celebrations.
The most common modern dates of celebration are listed below, ordered and grouped by their appearance relative to the conventional Western calendar.
1 January: The first day of the year in the Gregorian calendar used by most countries.
In the Eastern Orthodox Church, the civil New Year (also celebrating the infant Jesus' circumcision) falls on 14 January (1 January in the Julian Calendar). Many in the countries where Eastern Orthodoxy predominates celebrate both the Gregorian and Julian New Year holidays, with the Gregorian day celebrated as a civic holiday, and the Julian date as the "Old New Year", a religious holiday. The Church's own liturgical calendar begins on September 1st thereby proceeding annually from the celebration of Jesus' birth in the winter (Christmas) through his death and resurrection in the spring (Pascha / Easter), to his Ascension in the summer, and the assumption of his mother (Dormition of the Theotokos / Virgin Mary) in the fall.
Note: Eight of the twelve biggest Eastern Orthodox Churches have adopted the Revised Julian calendar administratively and the civic and religious holidays match. The orthodox population of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Greece, Poland, Romania, Syria and Turkey celebrate the New Year on January 1st. The orthodox churches of Georgia, Jerusalem, Russia and Serbia still use the Julian Calendar.
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, occurs every year on the new moon of the first lunar month, around the beginning of spring (Lichun). The exact date can fall anytime between 21 January and 21 February (inclusive) of the Gregorian Calendar. Because the lunisolar Chinese calendar is astronomically defined, unlike the Gregorian Calendar, the drift of the seasons will change the range. Each year is symbolized by one of 12 animals and one of five elements, with the combinations of animals and elements (or stems) cycling every 60 years. It is the most important Chinese holiday of the year.
The Vietnamese New Year is the Tết Nguyên Đán which is for most times the same day as the Chinese New Year.
The Tibetan New Year is Losar and falls from January through March.
Hola Mohalla, New Year's Day in the Sikh Nanakshahi calendar is on March 14.
The Iranian New Year, called Norouz, is the day containing the exact moment of the vernal equinox, commencing the start of the spring season. In 2007 this falls on the 20th of March.
The Zoroastrian New Year coincides with the Iranian New Year of Norouz. It is celebrated by the Parsis in India and Zoroastrians across the world.
In the Bahá'í calendar, the new year occurs on the vernal equinox on 21 March, and is called Naw-Rúz.
The Telugu New Year generally falls in the months of March or April. The people of Andhra Pradesh, India celebrate the advent of Lunar year this day. This day is celebrated across entire Andhra Pradesh as UGADI(Meaning the Start of a new Year.).The first month is Chaitra Masam. Masam means month.
Gudi Padwa is celebrated as the first day of the Hindu year by the people of Maharashtra, India. This day falls in March or April and coincides with Ugadi. (see: Deccan)
The Kannada New Year or Ugadi is celebrated by the people of Karnataka, India as the beginning of a new year according to the Hindu Calendar. The first month of the new Year is Chaitra.
The Assyrian New Year, called Rish Nissanu, occurs on 1 April
The Punjabi new year Vaisakhi is celebrated on 13 April and celebrates the harvest.
The Thai New Year is celebrated from 13 April to 15 April by throwing water.
The Cambodian New Year and Lao New Year are celebrated from 13 April to 15 April.
The Bengali New Year Pohela Baisakh is celebrated on 14 April or 15 April in a festive manner in both Bangladesh and West Bengal, India.
The Sinhalese New Year falls In April (the month of Bak) when the sun moves from the Meena Rashiya (House of Pisces) to the Mesha Rashiya (House of Aries) Sri Lankans begin celebrating their National New Year "Aluth Avurudhu" in Sinhala and "Puththandu" in Tamil. However, unlike the usual practice where the new year begins at midnight, the National New Year begins at the time determined by the astrologers. Not only the beginning of the new year but the conclusion of the old year is also specified by the astrologers. And unlike the customary ending and beginning of new year, there is a period of a few hours in between the conclusion of the Old Year and the commencement of the New Year , which is called the "nona gathe" (neutral period). During this time one is expected to keep off from all types of work and engage solely in religious activities.
In India, the Tamil New Year and Vishu are celebrated on the same day respectively in the Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. They generally fall on 13 April or 14 April. The first month of the Tamil New Year is called Chithrai. Every year in the month of Chithrai, in the temple city of Madurai, the Chithrai Thiruvizha is celebrated in the Meenakshi Temple. A huge exhibition is also held, called Chithrai Porutkaatchi. In some parts of Southern Tamil Nadu, it is also called Chithrai Vishu. The day is marked with a feast in Hindu homes and the entrance to the houses are decorated elaborately with kolams.
Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew for 'head of the year') is a celebration that occurs 163 days following Pesach (Passover). In the Gregorian calendar at present, Rosh Hashanah cannot occur before 5 September, when it occurred in 1899 and will occur again in 2013. After the year 2089, the differences between the Hebrew Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar will force Rosh Hashanah to be not earlier than 6 September. Rosh Hashanah cannot occur later than 5 October, when it occurred in 1967 and will again occur in 2043. See Hebrew Calendar.
In the Coptic Orthodox Church, the New Year, called Neyrouz, coincides with 11 September in the Gregorian calendar between 1900 and 2099, with the exception of the year before Gregorian leap years, when Neyrouz occurs on 12 September). The Coptic year 1723 began in September 2005. The Ethiopian Orthodox New Year, called Enkutatash, falls on the same date as Neyrouz; the Ethiopian calendar year 1999 thus began on September 11, 2006.
The Marwari New Year is celebrated on the day of the festival of Diwali
The Gujarati New Year is usually celebrated the day after the festival of Diwali (which occurs in mid-fall - either October or November, depending on the Lunar calendar). The Gujarati New Year is synonymous with sud ekam of the Kartik month - the first day of the first month of Gujarati lunar calendar. Most other Hindus celebrate the New Year in early spring, but the Gujarati farming community celebrates the New Year after Diwali to mark the beginning of a new fiscal year.
Some neo-pagans celebrate Samhain (a festival of the ancient Celts, held around November 1) as a new year's day representing the new cycle of the Wheel of the Year, although they do not use a different calendar that starts on this day.
The Islamic New Year occurs on 1 Muharram. Since the Muslim calendar is based on 12 lunar months amounting to about 354 days, the Gregorian date of this is about eleven days earlier each year. 2008 will see two Muslim New Years.
The Thelemic new year is usually celebrated with an invocation to Ra-Hoor-Khuit, commemorating the beginning of the New Aeon in 1904. It also marks the start of the twenty two day Thelemic holy season. And a piece of shit for some people.
Historical dates for the new year
The ancient Roman calendar had only ten months and started the year on 1 March, which is still reflected in the names of some months which derive from Latin: September (seventh), October (eighth), November (ninth), December (tenth). Around 713 BC the months of January and February were added to the year, traditionally by the second king, Numa Pompilius, along with the leap month Intercalaris. The year used in dates was the consular year, which began on the day when consuls first entered office — fixed by law at 15 March in 222 BC, but this event was moved to 1 January in 153 BC. In 45 BC, Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, dropping Intercalaris; however, 1 January continued to be the first day of the new year.
In the Middle Ages in Europe a number of significant feast days in the ecclesiastical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church came to be used as the beginning of the Julian year:
In Christmas Style dating the new year started on 25 December. This was used in Germany and England until the thirteenth century, and in Spain from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century.
In Annunciation Style dating the new year started on 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation. This was used in many parts of Europe in the Middle Ages, and was the style introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in AD 525. Annunciation Style continued to be used in the Kingdom of Great Britain until January 1, 1752, except Scotland which changed to Circumcision Style dating on 1 January 1600. The rest of Great Britain changed to Circumcision Style on the 1 January preceding the conversion in Great Britain from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar on 3/14 September 1752. The UK tax year still starts on 6 April which is 25 March + 12 days, eleven for the conversion from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar plus a dropped leap day in 1900.
In Easter Style dating, the new year started on Easter Saturday (or sometimes on Good Friday). This was used in France from the eleventh to the sixteenth century. A disadvantage of this system was that because Easter was a movable feast the same date could occur twice in a year; the two occurrences were distinguished as "before Easter" and "after Easter".
In Circumcision Style dating, the new year started on 1 January, the Feast of the Circumcision (of Jesus).
The ancient Roman new year of 1 March was used in the Republic of Venice until its destruction in 1797, and in Russia from 988 until the end of the fifteenth century. 1 September was used in Russia from the end of the fifteenth century until the adoption of the Christian era in 1700 (previously, Russia had counted years since the creation of the world).
Since the seventeenth century, the Roman Catholic ecclesiastic year has started on the first day of Advent, the Sunday nearest to St. Andrew's Day (30 November).
Autumnal equinox day (usually 22 September) is "New Year's Day" in the French Republican Calendar, which was in use from 1793 to 1805. This was primidi Vendemière, the first day of the first month.
April Fool's Day probably has its origin with a pre-Gregorian new year celebration which went from the spring equinox to April 1. When the new calendar, starting on January 1, replaced it, people who continued to celebrate the traditional New Year were, apparently, mocked and teased, the subject of various humorous harassment.
If you want to be where the new year arrives first each year, make your way to Kiribati, Christmas Islands, where January 1 (and every other day, too) arrives 14 hours earlier than at Greenwich, England.
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