The festival of Dussera or Vijayadasham bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu autumn month of Ashvin and as per the western calendar this period falls in October.
Dussehra celebrates the victory of Lord Ram over the demon king of Lanka, Ravana (Ravana was 10 headed). The sacred Indian epic 'Ramayana' mentions the birth of Lord Ram, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu,some ten thousand years ago in Ayodha that belongs to the present day state of Uttar Pradesh in India. Ramlila is generally held in almost every part of India to celebrate the return of Lord Rama from exile for 14 years. On a similar day as Dussehra in Satyug, Ram (the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu), is said to have killed Ravan, who had abducted his wife Sita. Ramlila, meaning “Rama’s play”, is a performance of the epic Ramayana in the form of a series of scenes that include song, narration, recital and dialogue. Seeing the Ramlila in open rural surroundings is an experience of a lifetime that cannot be replicated in a theatre even with the best of technology. It originated in Kashi modern day Benaras (Varanasi).It is believed that Ramlila was first staged in about 1625 AD and was based on Ramacharitamanas written by Goswami Tulsidas although some scholars believe Ramlila’s origin to be much older.
Most Ramlila’s in north India are based on the Avadhi version of Ramayana, Ramacharitamanas. The killing of Ravana by Lord Rama is enacted in a beautiful way by local actors, often amateur performers and drawn from the same social grouping as the audience. On the tenth day, the effigy of Ravana is burned, symbolizing the victory of good over evil. The Ramlila brings the whole population together, without distinction of caste, religion or age. Ramlila of Ramnagar is very famous is enacted almost two centuries. Ramnagar is just some kilometers from Varanasi. Other famous Ramlila’s in India are Ayodhya,Vrindavan, Almora, Satna and Madhubani,Chitrakoot and Delhi which is staged on Ramlila Ground outside the historic Red Fort.
Ramlila is not only staged in India,but also in Nepal,Pakistan.Also its performed in places outside Indian subcontinent like Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Guyana,Canada, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, Great Britain, the United States, and Australia. UNESCO proclaimed the tradition of Ramlila a Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2005.
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- ▼ August (9)
Prostrating before Parents and Elders is deep rooted in Indian culture. Those who are not aware much about the Indian culture get very puzzled when they see children touching feet of their parents or elderly people. Touching elders' feet is the first lesson in manners and etiquette that all Indian children are taught. As per this Indian tradition when elders feet are being touched, they are suppose to extend their hand of blessing by touching the head of the young ones. The Aashirvada (blessings) of elders are highly valued in India and which we seek during prostration. We invoke the good wishes and blessings of elders which flow in the form of positive energy to envelop us, when we prostrate with humility and respect. That’s why the posture assumed whether it is in the standing or prone position, enables the entire body to receive the energy thus received. To touch the feet in prostration is a sign of respect for maturity, nobility, age and divinity that our elders personify. It reflects the strong family ties, which has been one of India’s enduring strengths as well as our social security.
Not only touching elder’s feet is a symbol of respect but also another aspect is that whenever we touch the feet of our elders we withdraw their positive energies flowing through their toes. This positive energy scientifically blesses us by giving positive attitude, positive feelings and encouragement when the withdrawn energy is polished over the forehead or face.
Touching the feet is an integral part of the Indian culture and tradition and not adhering to it by natives is considered as disrespectful. It is a way of humbly acknowledging the greatness of another and creates an environment of mutual love and respect among people ensuring harmony in the family and society.
• Hinduism is the oldest religion where its origin occurs before history was ever recorded. There is no founder to give credit to its discovery and establishment. The foundation of Hinduism has been laid on the bedrock of spiritual truths. The entire structure of Hindu life is built on eternal truths, the findings of the Hindu Rishis or seers. That is the reason why this structure has lasted through scores of centuries.
• Hindus hold the belief of the four Vedas high in their mind. This is considered the most ancient scripture throughout the world. Hinduism is not based on one single text book. Though it could be said that vedas are the base, in essence veda is nothing but knowledge. It is the science of the self and Supreme. The science can not be limited to one book so is Hinduism.
• Ongoing cycles of creation, preservation and dissolution within the universe is a main belief of this religion. Hindus believe that the soul can be reincarnated, undergoing a cycle of rebirth. Hindus believe that a soul is able to undergo numerous lifetimes within a physical body. All of the past lives that you have led, contribute to the person you are today.
• Hinduism is more a way of life, than being a religion, Dharma, that is, the law that governs all action. It has its own beliefs, traditions, advanced system of ethics, meaningful rituals, philosophy and theology. The religious tradition of Hinduism is responsible for the creation of such concepts and practices as Yoga, Ayurveda, Vastu, Jyotish, Yajna, Puja, Tantra, Vedanta, Karma, etc.
• Hinduism considers that the world is a manifestation of God. There is no concept of Creation and a Creator. The world came from God, exists in God and will return back to God, just like waves arise from the ocean, exist in the ocean and subside back into the ocean. And this happens in cycles, again and again.
• Karma is the universal principle of cause and effect. Our actions, both good and bad, come back to us in the future, helping us to learn from life's lessons and become better people.
• Hindus believe that all living entities have a soul, or ãtma. Each is eternal – it was never created and will never perish. The ãtmã is characterized as unchanging truth, consciousness and bliss.
• Reincarnation is the phenomenon where the immortal soul is continuously born and reborn in any one of 8,400,000 life-forms until it attains moksha. Moksha is ultimate liberation. This is the goal of human life. Moksha is the liberation of the soul from the cycles of birth and death; thereafter, it remains eternally in the service of God.
• An attitude of understanding and tolerance is taught within the religion, where all religious teachings are not to be looked down upon and that no one way of worship should be considered better than another.
• Hinduism is a religion of 330 million Hinduism gods.
• Hinduism is not a religion but a way of life. Hinduism grants you a healthy lifestyle. The Hindu practices like bath in the morning, do Yoga, stay away from meat etc. promote health and hygiene.
These are some of facts about this vast religion,in my coming post I would come up with some more facts about Hinduism.
Fasting in Hinduism indicates the denial of the physical needs of the body for the sake of spiritual gains. As per the Holy Scriptures through fasting one can establish a relationship or a strong bond with body and soul. Fasting is primarily the act of willingly abstaining from some or all food, drink, or both, for a period of time. In Hindi language fasting is known as Upvas or Vrat.Hindus fast on certain days of the month, week or depending on individual choices of one’s favorite god or goddess. For example some Hindus fast on Tuesday to please Lord Hanuman and some fast on Monday in the honor of Lord Shiva. Hindus also fast on various festivals which are celebrated all the year round. Though fasting has been associated with God but it has many other benefits, the reasons why Hindu religion advocates fasting.
• Fasting helps in achieving self discipline. Hinduism is the belief that by learning to fast, you also learn how to face other obstacles in your life. Fasting teaches us how to face hardships of life with self control.
• To train our minds to reach high levels of concentration and enlightenment, we must deny our body's worldly gratifications.
• The pangs of hunger that one experience during fasting make one think and extend one's sympathy towards the destitute who often go without food.
• Fasting is also a non – violent protest. A hunger strike draws captures people’s attention. Mahatma Gandhi has set a wonderful example of non-violent protest of fasting.
• Fasting relives stress.
• Fasting has been effective in metabolism management and has the ability to cleanse your body.
• Fasting also controls emotional imbalances of the body and prevents acidity and flatulence.
• The fasting ritual in Hinduism contributes to clean living and moral thinking.
• Fasting is well explained in Ayurveda medicinal system. The human body is composed of 80% liquid and 20% solid, like the earth, the gravitational force of the moon affects the fluid contents of the body. It causes emotional imbalances in the body, making some people tense, irritable and violent. Fasting acts as antidote, for it lowers the acid content in the body which helps people to retain their sanity.
Fasting rituals is of many type:
• A common fasting ritual may mean avoidance of foods like fish and meat for a couple of days (for non-vegetarians). Most Hindus abstain from eating such foods for one or more days.
• Moderate fasting involves avoiding solids and following a liquid diet consisting of vegetable or fruit juices. This fasting ritual is generally followed during festivals.
• Some follow a strict fasting ritual by taking only water or avoiding any liquids for a set number of days. The Karva Chauth ritual among women is the best example of such kind of fasting.
The dark fortnight which falls in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapad (September) is known as Pitr-Paksha or Mahalay Paksha all over the Hindu World. Pitra Paksha is performed from the 1st day / tithi of the Ashwin month and goes up to the following New Moon (Amavasya) day. Each of these 15 days is dedicated to the Shraddha of those ancestors who had met eternity on that particular day/tithi. During Pitra Paksha, Shraddha is performed for the departed immediate relatives usually up to three preceding generations. Shraddh is the name of the ceremonies performed by relatives to help the departed soul in Pitr-Paksha. The word Shraadh comes from Shraddha or devotion. Pitrapaksha gives a chance to repay debt to our deceased ancestors by gratifying their spirits. The Lord of death, Yamaraja enables the dead ones to come to earth and receive offers from the descendants.
Shraddh must be performed with faith, devotion and reverence. As per the ritual, three cakes are offered to the father, grand-father and great grand-father. Gifts to deserving Brahmins (priests) for the benefit of the Pitris, in the proper time and place and with faith, are known as Shraddh. Shraddh gives satisfaction to the Pitris. Performance of Shraddh and Tarpan (libations of water) relieves the hunger and thirst of the departed soul during its journey to the Pitri Loka. By the offering of the Shraddh, the son helps his father to dwell in joy with the Pitris. Departed souls in the family, for whom Shraadh is not performed, are said to wander aimlessly on Earth. The Pitr Paksha Shraadh is also offered to ancestors whose dates of death are not known Rituals are offered in the names of the departed in the many holy Ghats spread across the country. The whole fortnight preceding Amavasya is considered to be apt for this occasion. People gather in the banks of Godavari and Krishna to perform rituals and rites for the departed. The Holy waters of the river plays a major part in the ritualistic festival.
The customs and rituals performed vary regionally. Some people fast on the day; some abstain from non-vegetarian food, avoid onion and garlic and some do not cut their hair or shave through out the fortnight. Generally, no new clothes are worn nor purchased out the fortnight.
The Hindu festival Pitr-Paksha 2009 starts on Saturday 5 September and lasts a fortnight until Friday 18 September. The next day after this Amavasya marks the beginning of the wonderful celebration of Navaratri when the Devis are worshipped
Chewing Beetle leaf (Paan) play an important role in Indian Tradition. In many Hindu religious ceremonies Paan is used for performing the rituals also it holds a great significance in wedding rituals and all other important functions where its offering is a mark of respect for the guests. The betel leaf is known as Paan in Urdu/Hindi, and Taambuul and Nagavalli in Sanskrit. The betel plant is an evergreen and perennial creeper, with glossy heart-shaped leave. The Betel plant originated from South and South East Asia (India and Sri Lanka). Farmers called barui prepare a garden called a barouj in which to grow betel. There are various types of leaves, the most popular being : Calcutta, Banarasi, Magahi, etc. In South Asia Dinajpur, Rangpur, Chittagong, Faridpur, Jessore, Narayanganj, Barisal and Sylhet are the areas producing most betel in India. Banarsi Paan is famous worldwide.
According to Indian traditional Ayurvedic medicine, chewing areca nut and betel leaf is a good remedy against bad breath. Chewing Pan also helps in diseases such as bleeding or hemorrhages, tuberculosis, reduces the blood pressure assists in digestion, decreases menstrual bleeding and also its acts as an antiseptic etc. Commonly used herbs for this purpose are jatiphal (Myristi cafragrans), Lavang (Syzygium aromaticum), kapur (Cinnamomum camphora), kankol (piper cubeba), supari (areca catechu, lata kasturi (hibiscus abelmoschus) are the herbs which are to be accompanied by Pan. Sometimes tobacco is also added in Pan. Some of the popular preparations of Paan in India are Meetha Paan and Sada Paan.
Beetle leaf and areca is also a very important part of Vietnamese culture. In Vietnamese there is a saying that "the betel begins the conversation. Pan is not only chewed in India but also Burma, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and may other parts of south Asia. In Malaysia beetle leaf is used to cure headache, arthritis and joint pain. In the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and China they are used to relieve toothache.
• When your heart has been broken, a best friend is the best band-aid for it.
• A good friend is my nearest relation.
• Best friend's family soon feels like your own.
• The best kind of friend is the kind you can sit on a porch and swing with, never say a word, and then walk away feeling like it was the best conversation you've ever had
• Fate chooses your relations, you choose your friends.
• Best friend is more important than a boyfriend.
• True friendship has many memories, both good and bad, but all important.
• The best mirror is an old friend.
• When a best friend is happy, you find yourself happy too, even when it has nothing to do with you
• A mere friend will agree with you, but a real friend will argue.
• Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.
• Anyone can give advice, but a real friend will lend a helping hand.
• Friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.
• When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends
• Books and friends should be few but good.
• True friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance
• Friendship isn’t a big thing, its a million little things.
Hartalika Teej is observed in Bhadrapada or Bhaadra month. It is celebrated by Hindu women mainly in Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Maharashtra. This Varat (Fast) is observed by both married and unmarried women. Married women observe Hartalika Teej ‘Nirjala Vrat’ (Fasting without even taking water) for happy and peaceful married life and unmarried girls observe this ‘nirjala vrat’ for getting good husbands.
Hartalika Teej is observed in the Honor of Goddess Parvati. It is believed Goddess Parvati will be pleased with women who observe this Vrat. As per Hindu mythology, it is believed that after the death of Goddess Sati Devi, Shiva ignored the whole world and as well Goddess Parvati Devi. To get Shiva back, Parvathi observed severe penance in Himalayas for several years. After the severe penance of Parvati for several years, Lord Shiva noticed her love and affection towards him and married her.
On this auspicious day, women wear new clothes, apply mehendi on their hands and feet wear their best jewelery, complete ‘Solha Shingar’ .Melas (Fairs ) are organized regionally to celebrate this festival.
There are several regional variations of this Teej Vrat in India but the essence remains the same. The other two Teej Vrat’s are Hariyali Teej and Kajari Teej but Hartalika Teej being the most important. This year Hartalika Teej will be celebrated on 23th August 2009.
For Hartailka Vrat Katha (story) please refer the below link