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Showing posts from August 8, 2009

Hal Sashti or Hala Shasht – Balaram Shasti

Hala Shasht, or Balaram Shasti, observed in Bhadrapad month in North India is dedicated to Lord Balaram, the elder brother of Lord Krishna. In 2017, the date of Hal Sashti is August 13. Hal Sashti is observed on the sixth day of the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) in Bhadra month. Hala (plough) was the weapon of Lord Balram.

Legend has it that Lord Balram was transferred from the womb of Devaki to the womb of Rohini to avoid persecution by Kamsa. In Vrindavan, after the arrival of Lord Krishna, Balaram and Krishna participated in numerous adventures. Balaram was also the Guru of Duryodhana and Bhima. He avoided joining the army of either Pandavas or Kauravas in the 18-day Mahabharata war.

Special prayers are offered to Lord Balaram on the day. A partial fasting is undertaken on the day. Most people, mainly married women, only consume buffalo milk and curd. People pray for a peaceful life and for the welfare of the children.

A designated place is plastered with cow dung and bran…

Rekha Panchami in Orissa – Raksha Panjami

Rekha Panchami, also known as Raksha Panchami or Rakhya Panjami, is observed in Orissa and is dedicated to Batuk Bhairav – an incarnation of Lord Shiva. In 2017, the date of Rekha Panchami is August12. The festival is observed for protection from wild animals and is also dedicated to Lord Ganesh. Rekha Panchami is observed on the fifth day of the Krishna Paksha of Bhadraba month.

On this day, paintings of Batuka Bhairav or Bhairab, Ganesh and Mahadeb (Shiva) is drawn on doors of homes. Some people draw the picture of Nandi the vehicle of Lord Shiva on the back door. A prayer (invocation) to Lord Shiva is written on palm leaf and is hung on the top of the door. Along with the palm leaf, kusha grass and a small packet of rice also hung on the door.

At night there is a ritual of making small offerings to wild animals and snakes.

Shitala Satam in Gujarat

Shitala Satam is observed on the seventh day of the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) in Shravan month in Gujarat. In 2017, Shitala Satam date in Gujarat is August 14. Shitala Satam, popularly known as Shitala Shasti, is dedicated to Goddess Shitala, the goddess of pox and measles. It is observed for the welfare of children and others and to escape from measles and small pox.

There is a popular belief that with the blessings of Goddess Shitala, children and other will be protected from numerous contagious diseases. Food cooked on previous day is eaten on the Shitala Satam day. The previous day is dedicated to cooking and is known as Randhan Chath.

There is a popular belief that Goddess Shitala appears in homes and rolls on the cool ashes in the hearth or fireplace. The ashes used for extensive cooking on Randhan Chat are not removed and is kept for Goddess Shitala on Shitala Satam day.

People also distribute food to poor people on Shitala Satam. Friends, relatives and neighbors…

Quotes from Maneesha Panchakam of Adi Shankara

Maneesha Panchakam is a Sanskrit text in the form of questions written by Adi Shankara and it brings out the essence of Advaita Vedanta.It consists of the questions asked by a Chandala and the answers given by Shankaracharya. If a person has attained the firm knowledge that he is not an object of perception, but is that pure consciousness which shines clearly in the states of waking, dream and deep sleep, and which, as the witness of the whole universe, dwells in all bodies from that of the Creator Brahma to that of the ant, then he is my Guru, irrespective of whether he is an outcaste or a Brahmana. This is my conviction. I am Brahman (pure consciousness). It is pure consciousness that appears as this universe. All this universe is only something conjured up by me because of avidya (nescience) which is composed of three gunas (Sattva, Rajas and Tamas). One who has attained this definite realization about Brahman which is bliss itself, eternal, supreme and pure, is my Guru, whether he…