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Shravan or Sawan: The Holiest of Months in Hinduism is dedicated to Lord Shiva

According to Hindu Mythology, in this month Lord Shiva drank Halahala, the poison that emanated from Samudra Manthan along with Ambrosia, a drink that conferred immortality to the Gods

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Shiv Linga. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
  • In 2016, Shravan month will start from July 20. The whole month is dedicated to Lord Shiva
  • Shravan month is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Mondays during the month are considered highly auspicious
  • All Tuesdays or Mangalwar are dedicated to Goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva. Tuesday’s fasting during the Shravan month is known as Mangal Gauri Vrat

Shravan month (July- August) is considered as the holiest of months, according to the Hindu Calender. In 2016, Shravan month starts from July 20 and the whole month is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Legend has it that, in this month, Lord Shiva drank Halahala, the poison that emanated from the churning of the ocean (Samudra Manthan) along with Ambrosia, a drink that conferred immortality to the Gods.

The Mondays during the month are considered highly auspicious. The story of the churning of the ocean milk , one of the most popular in Hinduism, is retold by Savities, worshipers of shiva, at this time. The story begins with devas, or demigods, complaining of the weakness of curse that had been placed on them, mentioned the Speakingtree.com Website.
The deity Brahma told them that they needed to drink amrit, the nectar of immortality, which could be obtained by the churning of the ocean. the devas were assisted by the asuras (demons) in the churning activity, which was so successful that the turbulent ocean threatened to become destructive of force, and Vishnu was forced to take action to calm it.
Lord Shiva consuming Halala Image source: legendsofmagadha.blogspot.com
Lord Shiva consuming Halahala during churning of Ocean. Image source: legendsofmagadha.blogspot.com

Due to the churning of the ocean by the asura and devas, a pot of poison called Halahala was produced. This poison was determined to be so toxic that it could destroy all the creation. The devas thus approached god Shiva, and out of his compassion, he drank the poison. Alarmed at his action, Shiva’s wife Parvati strangled his neck and prevented the poison from moving downward and spreading all over the universe, supposed to be in Shiva’s stomach. And the colour of Shiva’s neck turned blue and he got the name Neelkanth.

Churning of the Ocean. Image source: divinations.wordpress.com
The Churning of the Ocean. Image source: divinations.wordpress.com

Shravan month is also known as Sawan in North Indian states. All the Mondays or Somwar(s) which fall during this month are considered highly fortunate for fasting and known as Sawan Somwar.

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All Tuesdays or Mangalwar are dedicated to Goddess Parvati, wife of Lord Shiva. Tuesday’s fasting during the Shravan month is known as Mangal Gauri Vrat.

Major Festivals of Shravan month

  • Nag Panchami: In the month of Shravan, on the fifth day, serpent Gods are worshipped across India and is observed as an auspicious day by the Hindus. Usually, this festival falls two days after Hariyali Teej. During the festival, women worship Nag Devta as well as offer milk to snakes on this auspicious day. Apart from that, women also pray for the well-being of their brothers as well as their family.
  • Shravan-Narali Purnima: Is celebrated on the day of the full moon in the month of Shravan. On this day coconuts are thrown into the sea because it is a good omen for trade; ships resume voyages which had been interrupted due to the monsoons; Brahmins renew their sacred thread (zan’vem) and evoke the memory of rishis (who are believed to be their ascendants).
Nariyal Poornima. Image source: magnificentmaharashtra.wordpress.com
Narali Poornima. Image source: magnificentmaharashtra.wordpress.com

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  • Janmashtami: The birth of Krishna is celebrated in one in the fourth waning quarter of the moon in the month of Shravan. The Hindus fast, worship Krishna at midnight, offer him Tulasi leaves and then take their first meal of the day. On this day, the birth of Lord Krishna is celebrated.
Children celebrating Janmashtami. Image source: www.bagariaschool.org
Children celebrating Janmashtami. Image source: www.bagariaschool.org
  • Rakshabandhan: According to the Hindu Calender, Raksha Bandhan falls on the Purnima of the Shravan month, generally, in the month of August. It is one of the most important Hindu festivals which celebrates the unconditional love and affection of between brothers and sisters.
Rakhi 3.jpg
Rakhi, Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The meaning of Raksha is ‘protection’ and the meaning of Bandhan is ‘bond’. On this day, sisters tie sacred thread Rakhi on their brothers’ wrist symbolises the sister’s love and prayers for well-being and good future of their brothers and the brother’s lifelong vow to protect their sisters.

  • Teej: A seasonal festival is celebrated in northern Indian states, heralding the onset of monsoon season after the season of oppressive heat. It is a festival of womenfolk and is celebrated on the 3rd day of waxing phase of the moon (Shukla Paksha) in the month of Shravan. The festival is named after a small, beautiful, red insect ‘Teej’ which comes out of the soils during rains.
Giddha dance Teeyan Punjab Teej India.jpg
Giddha dance Teeyan Punjab Teej India, Wikimedia Commons

The girls and the women on this day go to temple after taking bath and offer prayers to Lord Shiva’s consort, Goddess Parvati. They also perform ‘puja’ at home. Commemorating Goddess Parvati’s union with Lord Shiva, the festival is celebrated for marital bliss, the well-being of spouse and children and purification of own body and soul. the festival is a three-day-long celebration that combines sumptuous feasts as well as rigid fasting.

– by Akansha Sharma of NewsGram. Twitter: Akansha4117

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Do You Know there are only two Leaning Temples in The World? Visit the Leaning Temple of Huma in Sambalpur

Huma is about 23 kms towards the southern direction of Sambalpur, Odisha. and is connected with Sambalpur and other cities of Orissa by road. The temple is situated inside the village of Huma.

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Leaning Temple
The Leaning Temple of Huma. Wikimedia.

The famous Leaning Temple of Huma built in 1670 AD is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This temple is one of the only two leaning temples in the world. It was constructed by the ruler, Baliar Singh, the 5th ruler of the kingdom of Chauhan of Sambalpur, Odisha, India. The speciality of this temple is it’s structure skewed to one direction.

Reason Behind its Tilted Structure:

It is regarded that the reason for its tilted structure could be some interior dismounting of rocky bed at which this temple is positioned, either because of flood current inside the Mahanadi River or earthquake, thereby affecting the position of this original temple.  An interesting fact to be noted is that the other little temples inside the Hamlet are also tilted to various other directions.

The finest time to visit this leaning temple is October to March. Enshrine your spirituality during these months and celebrate the festive season in the town of Sambalpur, Odisha. Shivratri is believed to be the chief festival of this temple. Hence, it advances a huge gathering specially during Shivratri festival during March. You may also find ‘Kudo’ fishes on the bank of river Mahanadi near the temple who are given food by devotees as a part of the worship.

Leaning Temple
The Leaning Temple of Huma. Wikimedia.

How to Reach the Leaning Temple of Huma:

By Road – Huma is about 23 kms towards the southern direction of Sambalpur, Odisha. and is connected with Sambalpur and other cities of Orissa by road. The temple is situated inside the village of Huma.

By Rail – Sambalpur railway station is the closest station from Huma. You may find taxis and cabs to drop you 23 kms towards the temple of Huma.

By Air – Bhubaneshwar is the closest airport to Huma which is approximately 290 ms away from Huma. Catch a taxi or cab to drop you at the exact destination.

Leaning Temple
Huma Leaning Temple is one of the two leaning temples of the world. Wikimedia.

Where to stay:

There are various hotels nearby the temple at affordable prices presenting the pleasant view of the outside village.

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana 

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Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here

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hindus
Hinduism. Pixabay

Oct 06, 2017: Have you ever wondered what being a Hindu means? Or who is actually fit to be called a Hindu? Over centuries, Hindus and Indians alike have asked this question to themselves or their elders at least once in their lifetime.

In the 1995 ruling of the case, “Bramchari Sidheswar Shai and others Versus State of West Bengal” the court identified seven defining characteristics of Hinduism but people are still confused to what exactly defines being a Hindu in the 21st century. It’s staggering how uninformed individuals can be about their own religion; according to a speech by Sri Dharma Pravartaka Acharya there are various common notions we carry about who a Hindu is:

  • Anyone born in India is automatically a Hindu
  • If your parents are Hindu, you’re are also inevitably a Hindu
  • If you believe in reincarnation, you’re a Hindu
  • If you follow any religion practiced in India, you’re a Hindu
  • And lastly, if you are born in a certain caste, you’re a Hindu

After answering these statements some fail to remove their doubts on who a Hindu is. The question arises when someone is unsure on how to portray themselves in the society, many people follow a set of notions which might/might not be the essence of Hinduism and upon asked why they perform a particular ritual they are clueless. The problem is that the teachings are passed on for generations and the source has been long forgotten, for the source is exactly where the answer lies.

Religion corresponds to scriptural texts

The world is home to many religions and each religion has its own uniqueness portrayed out of the scriptures and teachings which are universally accepted. So to simplify the dilemma one can say that determining whether someone belongs to a particular religion is directly related to whether he/she follows the religious scriptures of the particular religion, and also whether they abide to live by the authority of the scriptural texts.

Christianity emerges from the guidance of the Gospels and Islam from the Quran where Christians believe Jesus died for their sins and Muslims believe there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his prophet. Similarly, Hinduism emerges from a set of scriptures known as the Vedas and a Hindu is one who lives according to Dharma which is implicated in the divine laws in the Vedic scriptures.By default, the person who follows these set of religious texts is a Hindu.

Also Read: Christianity and Islam don’t have room for a discourse. Hindus must Stop Pleasing their former Christian or Muslim masters, says Maria Wirth 

Vedas distinguishes Hindu from a Non-Hindu

Keeping this definition in mind, all the Hindu thinkers of the traditional schools of Hindu philosophy accept and also insist on accepting the Vedas as a scriptural authority for distinguishing Hindus from Non-Hindus. Further implying the acceptance of the following of Bhagwat Gita, Ramayana, Puranas etc as a determining factor by extension principle as well.

Bottom Line

So, concluding the debate on who is a Hindu we can say that a person who believes in the authority of the Vedas and lives by the Dharmic principles of the Vedas is a Hindu. Also implying that anyone regardless of their nationality i.e. American, French or even Indian can be called a Hindu if they accept the Vedas.

– Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram                                                                

(the article was originally written by Shubhamoy Das and published by thoughtco)

One response to “Are We Hindus If We Live in India? The Answer to Contentious Question is Here”

  1. Hindu is a historical name for people living “behind the river Indus”. So, everyone living in India is a Hindu, eventhough he might have a different faith.

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Karwa Chauth 2017: Know the Customs, Age Old Tale, Meals and Muhurat

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Karwa chauth 2017
Karwa Chauth 2017. Wikimedia

Chandigarh,Punjab [Published on 5th Oct’2017]

About Karwa Chauth:

Karwa Chauth is an important festival for married Hindu women all over the world. This year Karwa Chauth will be celebrated on 8 October 2017.

The festival of Karwa Chauth falls on the Krishna Paksha Chaturthi of the Kartik month (October). On the eve of Karwa Chauth, married women keep an uninterrupted fast for their husband’s long life. The ritual of fast keeping for husbands is prevalent in north India like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, and Haryana.

On this day married women neither consume water and nor food, to pray for their husband’s long life.

There is a story related to Karwa Chauth that a married woman had brought the life of her dead husband back.

There is another story with this, in the past, when the girls got married in a village or place away, they had to leave their families and friends behind and build new relations.

These little girls did not have any information about their husbands, they needed some time to get involved in new family and customs. In order to make this link easier for girls, people of the village started a practice in which the newlyweds used to be friends with their age girls.

During this time, all the girls could express their minds in front of each other. Between the celebrations of this friendship, they got an opportunity to make Dharam sisters. It is believed that the beginning of this festival of Karwa Chauth took place as a celebration of friendship.

The women used to come and carry them and decorate them to their sisters. But, over time, the traditions changed and women started fasting for husbands on this day.

Karwa Chauth 2017: The story of Rani Veeravati

Veeravati was the only sister of seven brothers, who loved all the family very much. With full devotion, Veeravati awaited for the moon with anxiety, keeping the fast throughout the day. Veerawati’s brothers deceived her and showed moon using glass and peepal tree. She broke her fast by looking at the fake moon, and as soon as she started pouring the mouth of the food into her mouth, the servants came and told her that her husband has died.

After receiving this news, Veeravati cried all night, suddenly a goddess appeared in front of her and she told her that if she wanted to see her husband alive again, then she will have to follow the fasting rituals with complete dedication and devotion. Veeravati again fasted Karwa Chauth and after seeing her devotion, the god Yama had to return the life of her husband.

“How to celebrate Karwa Chauth”

Karwa Chauth 2017
Shiv and Parvati. Wikimedia

Married women eat sargi before sunrise – which is prepared by their mother-in-law. After eating sargi, women sustain without water and food till the time they see the moon at night. On this day women worship Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and Kartik. In the evening, women worship God and wish for their husband’s long life. On the first glimpse of the moon, women offer water to the moon. After this, the husbands feed water to their wives and complete their fast.

Karwa Chauth 2017: Customs associated with Karwa Chauth

Before watching the moon, a festival is organized by married women in which women participate in wearing red colored sarees. In the meantime, they all rotate their thalis seven times and narrate the story of Karwa Chauth and sing songs. After this, women worship goddess Parvati and pray for their husband’s long life.

Karwa Chauth 2017: Sargi meal eaten
Karwa Chauth 2017: Sargi meal during fast. Wikimedia

Karwa Chauth 2017: “Sargi” Meals during fasting

On the day of Karwa Chauth, the sargi which is eaten before sunrise, contains mathri, sweet, cashew curry, dry fruits, and other foods. At the same time after completion of fasting, women enjoy delicious recipes like kheer, chhole puri, chaat, dahi bhalle with their families.

Karwa Chauth 2017: Muhurat and Timing

The muhurat to worship Chauth Mata is between 17:55 to 19: 09 according to drikpanchang. You can worship the goddess within 1 hour and 14 mins. Moonrise on Karwa Chauth will be at 20:14. However, do check the timing in your city. Chaturthi tithi will begin from 16: 58 on October 8 and will end at 14:16 on October 9.