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Shradh Puja: Five Facts you should Know about Death Anniversary Ritual In Hinduism

It is stated that by offering this puja to the forefathers and departed dear ones, their souls feel gratified and they bless the person with happiness and prosperity

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A man performing Hindu rituals- shradha puja. Wikimedia

Shradh Puja Date In 2017:

5th September – 19th September’2017:  Shradh Puja also known as  Pitru Paksha is a sixteen lunar days period in Hindu Calendar when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors especially through food offerings. The Puja Includes Individual Puja, Sankalp, Brahmin Bhojan and Dakshina.

Legend of Pitru Paksha

According to Hinduism, the souls of three preceding generations of one’s ancestor reside in Pitru-loka, a realm between heaven and earth. This realm is governed by Yama, the god of death, who takes the soul of a dying man from earth to Pitru-loka. When a person of the next generation dies, the first generation shifts to heaven and unites with God, so Shradh offerings are not given. Thus, only the three generations in Pitru–loka are given Shradh rites, in which Yama plays a significant role. According to the sacred itihas , at the beginning of Pitru Paksha, the sun enters the zodiac sign of Libra (Thula). Coinciding with this moment, it is believed that the spirits leave Pitru–loka and reside in their descendants’ homes for a month until the sun enters the next zodiac—Scorpio (Vrichchhika)—and there is a full moon. Hindus are expected to propitiate the ancestors in the first half, during the dark fortnight.

Meaning of Shradh Pitru Paksha

Pitru Paksha is considered to be very auspicious by the Hindus. Shradh marks an important time for performing the ritual of Tarpan. Performing Tarpan in Shradh is way to remember and privilege the ancestors for whatever they have passed on to the present generation. Tarpan is considered to be a way to communication with the ancestors to let them know that they are still an integral part of the family and they still alive in our memories.

Manu Smiriti : The Law Of Manu

Time of the year when Pitru Paksha or Shradh Puja observed:

In the month of Ashwin each year, during Krishna Paksh, i.e.  15 days commencing from Purnima (full moon) to Amavasya (dark night) “Shradh” days are observed. In the year 2017, it will start from 5th September 2017 and end on 19th September 2017.  Shradh is the ritual carried out to gratify one’s ancestors. It is stated in the ancient texts that a person who does not execute the Shradh of his departed paternal and maternal near and dear ones has to bear much in life and even after.

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Hindu Rituals. Wikimedia

Significance of Shradh Puja or Pitru Paksha

I.  In Hindu mythology, it is believed that ancestors are with us, they are protecting us from all the hurdles of life, keeping us away from problems, but simultaneously they also want us to pay them respect and remember them. The rituals of Shradh is a way to pay a tribute and gratitude to our ancestors. It is believed that if the rituals are performed us with full faith, love and respect our ancestors get happy and bless us with all the good fortune.

II. We inherit the assets and properties of our ancestors, but at the same time we also inherit the results of their misdeeds. Sometimes, their misdeeds do not allow them to attain the peace after death. This disturbance of their souls can sometimes affect the present generations of the family. The rituals of Shradh helps them in attaining the peace of soul and paying for the misdeeds of their lives.

III. Shradh is considered significant to remove the effects of the unnatural death of family members and attain peace of those souls.

IV. Kaal Sarp Dosh is a kind of sin in the birth chart of an individual. People with Kaal Sarp Dosh are likely to face problems related to money and fertility. Performing Shradh rituals is likely to reduce the effects of this dosh.

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  • Rules of Shradh Puja

I. When and where : The Shradh is performed during the lunar days of the Ashwin month. The Shradh is performed only at noonday, usually on the bank of a river or lake.

II. Who and for whom, Shradh Puja is : It is essential that Shradh is performed by the son–customarily the eldest or the male relative of the parental branch of the family for the preceding three generations.

III. Food: The food offerings made to the ancestors are usually cooked in earthen vessels and placed on a banana leaf. The food must include kheer, rice, dal, vegetable of spring bean, and a yellow gourd.

IV. Rites of shradh Puja: The males who perform the Shradh should take a purifying bath beforehand and is expected to wear a dhoti. He wears a ring of Kush grass. It is considered that the ancestors are invoked in that ring. The Shradh involves Pinda-Daan which is an offering to the ancestors, accompanying the release of water from hand.

Advantage Of Shradh Puja/ Pitra Dosha & Daan:

Shradh Puja and Pitra dosha Puja and daan is very effective for achieving success in the following

  • To promote financial prosperity and stability
  • To obtain power/immovable property
  • To accelerate/smooth functioning of business
  • To minimize the malefic effect of afflicted Jupiter
  • To obtain Siddhi
  • For overall materialistic and spiritual development
  • For excellent results and higher education of students

 

by Enakshi Roy Chowdhury of Newsgram. Twitter: @enakshirc58

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Buddhism Speaks: Evils and Morals

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Buddhism is attributed to the teachings of the Buddha. Pixabay
  • Desire(meaning greed, lust, clinging), Anger and hatred, Ignorance & Fear and anxiety are the things which lead to evil in Buddhism.
  • killing, or harming any living thing, stealing – taking what is not yours to take, sexual irresponsibility, lying or any hurtful speech, alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness are the morals in Buddhism.

Teachings of Buddhism: Practices & Ethics

Buddhism is a religion that follows a certain set of beliefs and values attributed by the teachings of The Buddha. Like every religion, Buddhism has also its own notions of what is evil and good. When we say the word evil, we derive many meanings from it. If someone or something is evil to one person, it might not be for another. According to Buddhism, people aren’t good/bad or morally correct/incorrect, they simply create certain traits in themselves which only they can undo. Buddha preached a concept known as “Dependent Origination” implying that everything and everyone is interconnected. If everything is interconnected, how can someone be above the other and how can one person be wrong and the other right? Such teachings of Buddha opened up many minds and raised the right kind of questions.

Their teachings were eye-openers. Pixabay

5 Morals Of Buddhism:

  • Avoid killing, or harming any living thing.
  •  Avoid stealing – taking what is not yours to take.
  •  Avoid sexual irresponsibility, which for monks and nuns means celibacy.
  • Avoid lying, or any hurtful speech.
  •  Avoid alcohol and drugs which diminish clarity of consciousness.

3 Evils of Buddhism:

  •  Greed

According to Buddhism, the greatest sin is Greed as it is encompassing sin which includes all sins that are related to desiring anything in excess is money, yearning, lust, food and inability to let go of things easily. Buddha suggests all sins that relate to wanting more like the capital sins of Christianity namely greed, gluttony and lust come under one single sin i.e. Greed.

Buddhism relates sins to the characteristics one adopts. Pixabay

  • Hatred

    Hatred is a powerful emotion which is said to be more powerful than love as it drives one to destructive acts of anger, fury and destruction, both physical and mental. Hatred is also self- destructive as if you give in to hatred you are practically bending the knee to your own enemy.  Among the capital sins of Christianity, hatred is linked to the sins of wrath and envy.

  • Ignorance

    Ignorance is a sin which can drive one to delude their surroundings and take them to states of pride, sloth and envy ( the Christian sins) . It is also one of the primary evils as it includes delusion.

    Ignorance is the ultimate sin. Pixabay

3 Ways to Remove Evils in Buddhism:

  • Practicing Self-Control

    Buddha suggests practicing self -control as it helps free yourself from the clutches of your vulnerability to the state of loss by your own choice. A person must practice self –control to attain a level of satisfaction which would prevent Greed.

  • Love, Acceptance & Forgiveness

    Practicing the act of love, acceptance and forgiveness are important in order to move past the sin of hatred. One cannot achieve inner peace until when is comfortable with their own emotions.

    Love and kindness are major virtues of Buddhism. Pixabay
  • Dependent Origination

    As mentioned earlier, the concept of dependent origination is a way to attain salvation where one must not jump to conclusions and judge others when everyone is the same and interconnected. One should analyze the cause and effect of every situation to rid themselves of any preconceived notions.

Prepared by Tanya Kathuria of Newsgram; Twitter: @TanyaKathuria97

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Diwali 2017: Significance of the Diwali, Celebrations & Rituals, Date & Diwali Recipes

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Deepawali 2017: 19th october'2017
  • Deepawali or Diwali is the biggest and the brightest of all Hindu festivals.
  • Diwali or Deepawali is the festival of lights: “Deep+awali”: deep means “light” and awali “a row,” so, deepawali means “a row of lights”.
  • Diwali is marked by four days of celebration, which literally illuminates the country with its brilliance and dazzles all with its joy.
  • The Diwali festival occurs in late October or early November. It falls on the 15th day of the Hindu month, Kartik, so it varies every year.

About Diwali:

Diwali (Deepawali) is considered to be the most significant festival in India. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil and the power of  light over darkness. The preparations of Diwali starts days before in which people clean their houses and offices and decorate them with lights and Diyas ( oil lamps) .

When is Diwali? – Diwali 2017 falls on 19th October 2017

Significance of Diwali

Diwali marks the homecoming of Lord Rama with his wife Sita after killing the evil king Ravana. He was sent to 14 – year – exile by his father, King Dushrath during which he was wandering in forests and villages of India. On this special occasion of his return to ayodhaya, the capital of Lord Rama, people decorated the whole kingdom with oil lamps and busted crackers with joy.

Diwali Celebrations and Rituals

On this auspicious occasion of diwali people welcome goddess Laxmi in their houses by lighting traditional earthen Diyas ( oil lamps) , making colorful rangoli , decorating house with flowers  and placing paduka (footsteps of goddess Laxmi)  at the entrance. Also there is a tradition of exchanging gifts and sweets with friends and family and donating food and goods to the needy. People wear new clothes and prepare tasty sweets and food delicacies at their home. At night Laxmi Puja takes place for the wealth and prosperity in the house after which people go outside to fire crackers and enjoy the festival.

Special Recipe to Serve on Diwali

With the joy of festival and stress free work schedules we often forget to keep check on our weight and calorie intake. And thanks to the goodies we receive and sweets which we make at home containing loads of sugar. To avoid the unnecessary weight gain and calories , here is a mouthwatering yet low calorie recipe of Oats Laddu which you can easily prepare at home this Diwali.

Ingredients:

  • Dates – ½ Cup
  • Oats – ¼ Cup
  • Cashew nuts – ¼ Cup
  • Almonds – ¼ Cup
  • Dry Coconut – ¼ Cup (shredded)
  • Powdered Sugar as per taste
  • Green Cardamom Powder – ½ tsp
  • Ghee as required

Preparation:

  1. Remove seeds from dates and chop them.
  2. Dry roast oats, cashew nuts and almonds, shredded coconut separately.
  3. Coarsely grind dates, oats, cashew nuts and almonds separately.
  4. Heat pan and add 1 tbsp ghee.
  5. Now add ground oats, cashew nuts, almonds, shredded coconut, green cardamom powder. Mix well and cook for 2-3 minutes on slow flame. Stir continuously.
  6. When the mixture starts to come together switch off the flame.
  7. Transfer the mixture into the large mouth bowl and add powdered sugar and some ghee (if required for binding). Mix well and allow this mixture to cool down.
  8. Shape the mixture into small balls like laddu and serve.

 

Gift Ideas for Diwali

There is an old tradition of exchanging gifts on Diwali with our family and friends as it adds to the happiness of our loved ones. Here are some of the unique gift items which you can gift to your close ones:

Personalized gift items: Colorful earthen pots, diyas, mugs and cushions designed with your choice of painting and colors can be a cool gift for your friends and family.

 Diwali cupcakes: Sweet with a message can be a unique gift for your loved ones. You can gift a box of cupcakes with Diwali theme running through them to your friends.

Online gift vouchers: You can gift your friends online shopping gift vouchers of leading online shopping portals like Amazon , Flipkart , Snapdeal , Jabong and many others to treat them with gift products of their own choice.

Prepared by Pragya Mittal | Twitter @PragyaMittal05

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10 Customs of the Hindu Dharma Explained by Science

Have you ever wondered the rationale behind the customs and traditions of the Hindu dharma?

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A deeper look into the practices of Hindu dharma reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge. We tell you how! Pixabay

New Delhi, October 4, 2017 : You might have been moved by the way followers of the Hindu dharma bow down and welcome you inside their homes. Or by the way Hindu women dress, with jewellery adorning their hands and legs. Who doesn’t like the crinkling of their bangles, after all? But have you ever wondered the rationale behind their customs and traditions?

According to popular notions, the traditions and practices of the Hindu dharma have been equated with superstitions. However, a deeper look into the practices reveal that they are based on scientific knowledge and have been observed over generations , keeping in mind a more holistic approach.

Hinduism can hence, be called a dharmic scientific religion rather than just scientific religion. We prove you how!

 1. Worshiping the Peepal tree

Hindu dharma entails a myriad gods and goddesses and there exist a variety of reasons that propagate worship of Peepal tree. According to Brahma Purana, demons Ashvattha and Peepala hid inside and lured people to touch the Peepal tree and consecutively killed them. They were killed by lord Shani and hence the tree has been worshiped ever since. Another legend believed Goddess Lakshmi resides under the Peepal tree every Saturday which lends it a divinely touch. Another school of thought believes lord Hanuman sat on top of the Peepal tree in Lanka to witness the hardships faced by Sita.

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Leaves of the ‘holy’ Peepal tree. Pixabay

The Peepal tree does not have a succulent fruit, lacks strong wood and does no good other than provide shade. However, it continues to enjoy increasing devotion from people practicing the Hindu dharma. Science confirms that Peepal is the only tree which produces oxygen even during the night. Hence, in order to preserve this unique property, ancestors of the Hindu dharma related it to God. Additionally, the tree is of utmost significance in Ayurveda and its bark and leaves are used to treat diseases and illnesses.

 2. Do not chew leaves of Tulsi plant

The Tulsi plant is revered in the Hindu dharma. Apart from its medicinal qualities, the plant is also known for its symbolic presence in Hindu mythology.

According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Hence, biting and chewing it is considered disrespectful.

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According to popular belief, Tulsi is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Pixabay

However, according to botanists, Tulsi has high quantities of mercury. If raw mercury comes in contact with teeth (calcium), it can possibly result in inundation, making the teeth fall. Hence, leaves of the Tulsi plant are suggested to be swallowed and not chewed.

 3. Applying tilak on your forehead

Application of tilak is a religious ac. According to the Hindu dharma, the forehead signifies spirituality. Hence, application of a tilak on the forehead denotes an individual’s thoughts and conviction towards spirituality.  Various Vedic scriptures and Upanishads maintain that energy, potency and divinity comes to those who apply a tilak.

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A flute player from India with a tilak on his forehead. Wikimedia Commons.

However, science asserts that during the application of a tilak, the central point in the forehead and the Adnya-chakra automatically pressed which encourages blood supply to the facial muscles.  According to body anatomy, a major nerve point is located in the middle of the eye brows on the forehead. Application of the red tilak is believed to maintain vitality in the body and prevent the loss of energy. The Tilak is also believed to control and enhance concentration.

 4. Obsessive cleaning during Diwali

Diwali, the festival of lights honors the goddess Lakshmi, the deity of wealth. The festival also commemorates the return of lord Ram after an exile of 14 years to his kingdom in Ayodhya. According to Hindu mythology, the night of his return was a new moon night. To illuminate his path in the pitch dark night, the villagers of Ayodhya cleaned the entire village and lit it with lamps.

Hence, Diwali is preceded by extensive cleaning of the entire house in honor of both the deities of Hindu mythology. Legend also believed goddess Lakshmi comes home on Diwali and thereby, the entire place should be cleaned and decorated to welcome the goddess.

However, science backs the concept and explains that Diwali essentially falls in October and November, and mark beginning of winters and end of monsoon season.

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People indulge in cleaning, repari and beautification of their homes ahead of Diwali to welcome goddess Lakshmi. Pixabay

In older times, the monsoons were not a good period as they were characteristic of excessive rains that often resulted in floods and damaged homes, which then needed repair. This is why people indulged in repair, cleaning and beautification of their homes.

 5. Folding your hands for ‘Namaskar’

You will often find people practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. The ‘Namaskar’ is believed to signify respect for people.

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People practicing Hindu dharma greeting people by joining their palms together. Pixabay

This pose requires an individual to join all finger tips together that carry the pressure points of ears, eyes and mind. Science says pressing them together activates these pressure points, making our mind attentive.  This aids us to remember people for a longer duration.

The Namaskar can also be backed up by an act to maintain hygiene and cleanliness since it does not involve any physical contact.

 6. Wearing toe rings

Traditionally, toe rings are worn by married woman on the second toe and are treated as a sign of holy matrimony. However, they are believed to be a part of the Indian culture since the times of Ramayana when Sita threw her toe ring for her husband lord Ram, upon being abducted by Ravana.

Science says that a nerve on this toe connect the uterus to the heart.  Wearing a ring on this finger helps regulate blood flow, thereby, strengthening the uterus and regulating menstrual cycle. It is also believed to have an erotic effect.

 7. Applying henna on hands and feet

Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. According to popular beliefs, the color of the henna denotes the affection a girl will enjoy from her husband and mother-in-law.

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Mehendi or henna is usually applied during weddings and festivals to enhance the beauty of the women-folk. Pixabay

However, science provides rationale of applying henna during the stressful times of festivals and weddings. Festivity stress can bring fevers and migraines, which when mixed with excitement and nervous anticipation can prove to be harmful for an individual.

Thus, besides lending color, henna also possesses medicinal qualities that relieve stress and keeps the hands and feet cool thereby shielding the nerves from getting tense.

 8. Fasting during Navratri

There are four major Navratris throughout the year, however only two are celebrated on a grand scale. Throughout the nine day festival, devotees observe ritualistic fasts, perform several pujas and offer bhog (holy food) to Goddess Durga in an attempt to gratify her.

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Durga, the Goddess of strength. Wikimedia

But according to science, these navratris are celebrated when the seasons are transitioning. As the seasons and the temperatures change, our eating habits also do.

Fasting during Navratri allows our bodies to adjust to the changing temperature. Individuals get a chance to detox their bodies by quitting excessive salt, sugar and oil. Additionally, Navratris allow them to meditate and gain positive energy. This helps them prepare for the upcoming change in seasons.

 9. Applying sindoor

In traditional Hindu societies, the Sindoor denotes a woman’s desire for their spouse’s longetivity. The red powder is believed to be the color of power, symbolizing the female energy of Parvati and Sati. The Hindu dharma holds a woman is ‘complete’ or ideal only when she wears Sindoor.

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Sindoor a cultural identity of every Hindu women. Wikimedia

Science explains that sindoor is made out of Vermilion, which is the decontaminated and powdered type of cinnabar (mercury sulfide). Because of its characteristic properties, mercury is known to reduce anxiety, control blood pressure and also initiate sexual desire, the primary reason why married women are advised to wear the ‘holy’ red powder. This is also the reason why widows are prohibited from wearing sindoor.

10. Wearing bangles on wrists

Bangles have been worn in the Hindu dharma since times immemorial- goddesses are also pictured to adorn these beautiful rings in their wrists. Bangles are believed to enhance feminine grace and beauty. The Hindu dharma almost makes it mandatory for newly-wed brides and to-be brides to wear bangles as they are believed to symbolize the well-being of the husbands and the sons.

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Bangles are believed to accentuate the beauty of the Indian woman. Pixabay

Science suggests the constant friction caused by wearing bangles in the wrists expands the blood flow level. Besides this, the energy passing through the external skin is once again returned to one’s own body due to the round-molded bangles which has no ends to pass the energy out.