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Celebrating Kajari Teej: The Significance of offering prayers to Lord Shiva and Parvati during Monsoon in Hindu Rituals

It is believed in mythology that Teej is celebrated on this day when Goddess Parvati reunited with Lord Shiva after 108 births of painful separation

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Stone figurines of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
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August 21, 2016: Teej is one of the most celebrated Hindu festivals of all time and this year, Kajari Teej falls on Sunday, August 21. Celebrated on the third day after a new moon night and the third day after the full moon night, according to Hindu Mythology, Teej is the day of reunion between Goddess Parvati and her husband Lord Shiva, after a long separation.

India is a multi-religion land blended with rich cultural legacy and rituals. The land where each day is a celebration, however, big or small the occasion is. A geographically small but a religiously huge nation, India accommodates all festivities from every walk of life.

The period of Monsoon (or ‘Saawan’ as it is called in Hindi) is considered as an auspicious time by Hindus— from July to September. Festivals like Raksha Bandhan, Ganesh Chaturthi, Krishna Janmashtami, Onam and Teej are celebrated during the rainy days.

Festivities during Teej. The songs that are sung are called kajri. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Festivities during Teej. The songs that womenfolk sing are called kajri.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

It is believed that Parvati had to go through 108 births to finally reunite with Lord Shiva, ‘the destroyer and the preserver.’ Goddess Parvati is considered as the epitome of pious devotion to her husband Lord Shiva. As a result, the festival of Teej is celebrated among Hindu women in hope to be as devoted as Goddess Parvati.

Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati
Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Married and unmarried womenfolk fast for the well-being and long-life of their husband on this day. However, like the festival of Karva Chauth, women hold ceremonies of eating food at 4 am and breaks fast with the food prepared by their mother-in-law. The food, popularly known as ‘sargi’ and is combined with various Hindu ornaments like bangles, red dupattas, kumkum and others.

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The festival of Teej is celebrated in the Northern and Western India, in parts of Nepal, and also observed by women from the Sindhi community. There are three kinds of Teej celebrated during months of Saavan and Bhadrapada: Hariyali Teej, Kajari Teej and Hartalika Teej.

Celebration of Teej in Nepal. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Celebration of Teej in Nepal.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Kajari Teej is also known as Badi Teej, while Hariyali Teej is called Chhoti Teej. It is celebrated fifteen days after Hariyali Teej and five days prior to Krishna Janamashtami and falls in the ‘Krishna Paksha’ of Bhadrapada/Shravana month. Kajari or Kajali Teej is mostly celebrated all over Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat; where women hold fast and worship around holy Neem trees. Women worship the moon and Lord Shiva and break their fast by eating a special sweet called ‘sattu’.

prepared by Chetna Karnani, at NewsGram. Twitter: @karnani_chetna

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Shankaracharya: A remarkable genius that Hinduism produced (Book Review)

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

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He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita
He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita.

Title: Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker; Author: Pavan K. Varma; Publisher: Tranquebar Press; Pages: 364; Price: Rs 699

This must be one of the greatest tributes ever paid to Shankaracharya, the quintessential “paramarthachintakh”, who wished to search for the ultimate truths behind the mysteries of the universe. His genius lay in building a complete and original philosophical edifice upon the foundational wisdom of the Upanishads.

A gifted writer, Pavan Varma, diplomat-turned-politician and author of several books including one on Lord Krishna, takes us through Shankara’s short but eventful span of life during which, from having been born in what is present-day Kerala, he made unparalleled contributions to Hindu religion that encompassed the entire country. Hinduism has not seen a thinker of his calibre and one with such indefatigable energy, before or since.

Shankara’s real contribution was to cull out a rigorous system of philosophy that was based on the essential thrust of Upanishadic thought but without being constrained by its unstructured presentation and contradictory meanderings.

He was greatly influenced by three basic texts of Hindu philosophy: Upanishads, the Brahma Sutra and the Bhagavad Gita. He wrote extensive and definitive commentaries on each of them. Of course, the importance he gave to the Mother Goddess, in the form of Shakti or Devi, can be traced to his own attachment to his mother whom he left when he set off, at a young age, in search of a guru and higher learning.

The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara's philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.
Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess.

Against all odds, Shankara created institutions for the preservation and propagation of Vedantic philosophy. He established “mathas” with the specific aim of creating institutions that would develop and project the Advaita doctrine. He spoke against both caste discriminations and social inequality, at a time when large sections of conservative Hindu opinion thought otherwise.

Shankara was both the absolutist Vedantin, uncompromising in his belief in the non-dual Brahman, and a great synthesiser, willing to assimilate within his theoretical canvas several key elements of other schools of philosophy. He revived and restored Hinduism both as a philosophy and a religion that appealed to its followers.

Also Read: Hinduism: The Nine Basic Beliefs that you need to know

Varma rightly says that it must have required great courage of conviction as well as deep spiritual and philosophical insight for Shankaracharya to build on the insights of the Upanishads a structure of thought, over a millennium ago, that saw the universe and our own lives within it with a clairvoyance that is being so amazingly endorsed by science today. The irony is that most leading scientists, particularly outside India but also within, have little knowledge of the structure of Shankara’s philosophy and the transparent interface it has with scientific discoveries today.

Shankara wrote hymns in praise of many deities but his personal preference was the worship of the Mother Goddess. The added value of the book is that it has, in English, a great deal of Shankara’s writings. Unfortunately, most Hindus today are often largely uninformed about the remarkable philosophical foundations of their religion. They are, the author points out, deliberately choosing the shell for the great treasure that lies within. This is indeed a rich book. (IANS)