DhanTeras: Many of India’s festival are based on and have significance in agriculture. Cattle are very important part of agriculture. On DhanTeras farmers worship their cattle. The horns of cattle and oxen are coloured red and prashad made from sesame seeds is distributed as sesame symbolises the productivity.
Kali Chaudas: Kali Chaudas is known as NarkiChaturdashi. Lord Krishna killed demon Narkasur today and liberated 16,100 maidens from his prison. To save their honour, Lord Krishna later married all these maidens and took them to Dwarika. In verse 127 of Shishapatri, Lord Swaminarayan has asked Acharya MaharajShree to perform ritual worship of Hanuman on this day. To keep this in mind, Hanumanji is worshipped in all our temples on this day. Legend has it that on the eve of the first anniversary of His coronation, Lord Ram was giving appropriate and suitable gifts to all who helped Him in the battle against demon Ravan. Lord Ram gave a very expensive pearl necklace to Hanuman. On receiving the necklace, Hanumanji started breaking open all the pearls. On being asked why, he said he is looking for Lord Ram in each pearl as he did not want anything which is devoid of Lord Ram. Sitaji asked him if his body has Lord Ram in it. Hanuman opened his chest by his hands and showed Lord Ram in his heart. Lord Ram was very pleased with this devotion and asked hanuman for a boon. Hanuman asked to be always present wherever and whenever the Leelas of Lord Ram are being sung. As people are still singing Lord Ram’s Leela till today, Hanuman has become immortal. This day is considered the second birth of Hanuman as a great devotee. Since then Hanumanji is worshipped on the day Kali Chaudas.
Diwali: This is the day when Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya from 14 years of exile in forest. Residents of Ayodhya decorated their homes and city with lights. They let go of fireworks in pleasure. Since that day we celebrate Diwali in similar fashion. The darkness of moonless night of Diwali symbolises our ignorance and lightening of lamps the knowledge. We should look inwards in our hearts and remove our ignorance. On this day we also worship Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. Traders do symbolic Puja of their account books.
New Years Day: This day marks Lord Ram’s coronation after His triumphant return to Ayodhya. We greet each other and wish them a happy and prosperous New Year. Children like receiving monetary gifts today. To show the gratitude towards mountain, which sustains rural agricultural society, Lord Krishna organised special Puja of Govardhan Mountain. The mountain of different varieties of food was offered in worship. The word “AnnKut” literally means the mountain of food. Today, we offer food to God as a thanksgiving service.
At the beginning of the universe, Lord Shiva was born from the brows of Brahma. So, till the ultimate annihilation of the universe, Lord Shiva, like Brahma, remains in the same form. (There are no incarnations of Brahma and Lord Shiva). He is the third of holy triumvirate and responsible for the destruction of the universe. He is also known by other names as Shankar, Mahadev, Rudra, Sadashiv, Bholanath etc. As the result of the churning of the ocean, poison arose first from the ocean. Nobody was prepared to touch the deadly poison.
The Puranas contain many stories describing the origin of this festival. According to one, during the samudra manthan, a pot of poison emerged from the ocean. This terrified the gods and demons as the poison was capable of destroying the entire world, and they ran to Shiva for help. To protect the world from its evil effects, Shiva drank the deathly poison but held it in his throat instead of swallowing it. Because of it, his throat turned blue, and he was given the name Neelakanth, the blue-throated one. Shivaratri is the celebration of this event by which Shiva saved the world. Lord Shiva is very benevolent demigod. He is very easy to please, so demons used to do his penance to get boons from Him. Since then He has become known as the god of demons.
The birthday of Lord Shiva. In common with Ramnavmi and Janmashtami, Swaminarayan Bhagwan has asked us to observe the fast today (verse: 79). Short history of Lord Shiva At the beginning of the universe, Lord Shiva was born from the brows of Brahma. So, till the ultimate annihilation of the universe, Lord Shiva, like Brahma, remains in the same form. (There are no incarnations of Brahma and Lord Shiva). He is the third of holy triumvirate and responsible for the destruction of the universe. He is also known by other names as Shankar, Mahadev, Rudra, Sadashiv, Bholanath etc. As the result of the churning of the ocean, poison arose first from the ocean. Nobody was prepared to touch the deadly poison.
Lord Shiva, on the instruction of Narayan Bhagwan drank that poison without swallowing it beyond his throat. Thus He saved the world from the effects of the poison. As a result of this, His throat turned blue, and He became known as Nilkanth. (Nil means blue and kanth means throat). During the time in forest, Swaminarayan Bhagwan was known as NilkanthVarni. (Swaminarayan Bhagwan was of dark complexion). Shiv means benevolence. Lord Shiva is very benevolent demigod. He is very easy to please, so demons used to do his penance to get boons from Him. Since then He has become known as the god of demons. Swaminarayan Bhagwan mentions Lord Shiva at five places in Shikshapatri.
Lord Swaminarayan has recognised Lord Shiva as one of the five reverend demigods (verse: 84). In verse 47 He has asked us to consider Lord Shiva and Narayan as equals. Lord Shiva is also known for his great renunciation. He prefers to live in cemetery rather than in grand palaces. He smears ash on his body and wears skin of tiger rather than fancy cloths. He uses snakes as necklace and bracelet. Lord Swaminarayan praised him as the best of devotees in Vachanmrut. Once during the journey through the forest, Nilkanthvarni did not get anything to eat for three days. Lord Shiva along with his wife Parvati came to feed Nilkanthvarni.
This day is considered even more auspicious if it falls on a Monday or under the planet Rohini. The Lord Vishnu is invoked on this day by enthroning his image or his picture and by offering of water soaked grams, gram pulse and crystallized sugar and by sprinkling Tulsi water while performing Aarti. Many people also take a dip in the river Ganga on this day. Different kinds of things are given in charity and can be, rice, salt, ghee, sugar, vegetables, tamarind, fruit and clothes.
In Mahabharata, Sri Krishna explains the significance of this day to Yudhistar in the following manner. He describes this day as being most pious and is called `Yugaadi Trity’ because Satyug commenced on this day. Laying stress on the importance of the day, Krishna narrated the story of a poor godly Brahmin, who in spite of his poverty and having a big family to support, never shirked his religious duties and good actions. He observed this day with great faith and piety every year and as a reward for his faith became the king of Kushavati in his rebirth.