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Bhai Dooj is a festival celebrated by Hindus around the world. Interestingly, the celebrations of this day are similar to that of Raksha Bandhan.
On this day, the bond between the siblings is celebrated. Sisters pray for their brothers' long lives by performing Tikka ceremony and brothers give gifts to their sisters in return.
It is said that Yamraj's sister Yamuna tried to get her brother to visit her on many occasions, but Yamraj was unable to do so for a long time. But, when Yamraj finally met his sister, she organised a grand ceremony for him, offered sweets to him and put tikka on his forehead.
This impressed Yamraj, so he gave Yamuna, his sister, a boon and she in turn asked him to dedicate a day on which he would visit her home each year. Therefore, it is believed that from this day, festival of Bhai Dooj came into existence.
In fact, it is believed that sisters who feed their brothers on this auspicious day, would be blessed to be married happily forever. And, brothers who eat at there sister's home are bestowed with long and prosperous life.
Bhai Dooj is known by different names in different parts of India. Awadhis in Uttar Pradesh and Maithils in Bihar celebrate this festival as Bhardutiya. In Nepal, Khas people celebrate Bhai Tika, and in Odisha, Bhai Jiuntia is celebrated. Interestingly, in West Bengal, people celebrate Bhai Phonta a day after Kali Puja.
Though, Bhai Dooj is known by different names in different parts of the country, but the significance of the festival remains unchanged!
Keywords: Hindu Festival, Bhai Dooj, brother-sister relationship, Hinduism.
Karwa Chauth is a Hindu festival that is primarily celebrated by married Hindu women. On this day, married Hindu women keep Nirjala fast, which means fasting even without consumption of water, from sunrise to sunset. The reason behind this fast is to pray for their husband's life, health, and safety.
According to the Hindu calendar, Karwa Chauth is celebrated on the fourth day after Purnima in the month of Kartik.
On this day, married Hindu women dress in new clothes (preferably red because signifies a happy married life) and apply henna to their hands. At the same time, women observing this fast get together to celebrate it by narrating the Karwa Chauth Vrat Katha and singing folk songs, which make this a lot more lively. Some women also worship Goddess Parvati in the Karwa Chauth puja followed by Lord Shiva, Lord Ganesh, and Lord Kartikeya. And, the fast is later broken after having a glimpse of the moon.
Married Hindu women have gathered to perform the Karwa Chauth puja.Photo by Wikimedia Commons.
Interestingly, there are many stories related to Karwa Chauth. Some of them are:
Story of Queen Veervati
This is the most interesting story. There was a queen named Veervati, who was the only sister amongst seven brothers. She spent her first Karva Chauth as a married woman at her parents' house. She began to fast after sunrise but by evening, she was desperately waiting for the moon to rise because she couldn't control her thirst and hunger any longer. Seeing this, her brothers became worried because their beloved sister was suffering from thirst and hunger. So, they begged her to break the fast but she refused. Seeing her in distress, the brothers tricked her by placing a round mirror in a Pipal tree, which made it look like the moon had risen. So, Veervati fell for her brothers' tricks and broke her fast, and the moment she sat down to eat, news came that her husband is dead. This is the reason why married Hindu women observe such a tough fast for their husband's life.
Story of Karwa Chauth in Mahabharata
Interestingly, it is believed that Draupadi also observed the fast of Karwa Chauth for the safety and long life of her five husbands. Once, when Arjun had gone for penance in the Nilgris, the rest of the Pandavas faced many issues in his absence. That was when Draupadi remembered Lord Krishna for his help, and he reminded her that in a similar situation, Goddess Parvati had kept the fast for Lord Shiva. Inspired by this, Draupadi too kept the fast of Karva Chauth for her five husbands. Since then it was believed that the Pandavas were able to face every problem.
Therefore, Karwa Chauth is celebrated by married Hindu women all across the world with full enthusiasm. Though, there is a sect now that has started calling this age-old ritual “patriarchal".
Keywords: Hinduism, Women, Karwa Chauth, Festivals, Patriarchy.
Interestingly, Moli Kalava is very believed to be sacred for Hindus. In fact, it is a part of every Hindu ceremony and havan. Moli Kalava is often used as an offering to the Hindu deities and then worn around the wrist after a ceremony or ritual is over. It is also observed that people wear Moli Kalava before the start of the puja ceremony, just after offering it to the Hindu deity.
The significance of Moli Kalava is such that it is offered as cloth to Hindu deities. And traditionally, the thread is wrapped around a copper Tumblr, fully filled with water. Also, the mouth of the Tumblr is decorated with five mango leaves and coconut, and is covered in red cloth. Therefore, this is offered to the Hindu deities before the start of any puja ceremony or ritual.
This sacred thread is, therefore, considered to be the connection between the soul and the God, and is worn to seek blessings from the almighty. At the same time, Moli Kalava is also believed to be Raksha Sutra, which means that it wards off evil eyes and offers protection to the wearer.
It must be noted that men and unmarried women wear Moli Kalava in their right hand, while married woman wear it in their left hand.
Scientifically, too, it is believed that tying the red sacred thread on the wrist helps regulate the body's blood circulation. At the same time, it also helps in purifying one's thoughts and turn them into positive ones.
Keywords: Moli Kalava, Hindu Custom, Hinduism, Tradition, Culture
It is believed that Goddess Durga is the combined form of powers of Goddesses Lakshmi, Kali and Saraswati. Also, she protects her devotees from evil powers and safeguards them.
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga was created by Lord Vishnu to fight the demon, Mahishasur.
It must be noted that Goddess Durga represents the power of the Supreme Being that preserves moral order and righteousness in the creation. As the Sanskrit word ‘Durga’ means fort or a place that is protected, therefore Goddess Durga, also called Divine Shakti, protects mankind from evil and misery by destroying evil forces.
As seen in sculptures and pictures, Goddess Durga is depicted as a warrior woman with eight hands, carrying weapons of different kinds with different mudras. Therefore, let us see what Goddess Durga represents.
Chakra in Goddess Durga’s first upper right hand symbolises dharma, meaning duty and righteousness. This denotes that we must perform our duties and responsibilities in life.
Conch in Goddess Durga’s first upper left hand symbolises happiness. This means that we must perform our duties happily and cheerfully and not with resentment.
Sword in Goddess Durga’s second right lower hand symbolises eradication of vices. This denotes that we must learn to discriminate and eradicate our evil qualities.
Bow and arrow in Goddess Durga’s second left lower hand symbolises character like Lord Rama. This means that when we face difficulties in our life, we should not lose our character, i.e. values.
Lotus Flower in Goddess Durga’s third lower left hand symbolises detachment. This denotes that we must live in the world without attachment to the external world. Just like the lotus flower stays in dirty water yet smiles and gives its beauty to others, we must also do the same.
Club in Goddess Durga’s third right lower hand is the symbol of Lord Hanuman, and symbolises devotion and surrender. This means that whatever we do in our life, we must do it with love and devotion , and accept the outcome as the Almighty's will.
Trident/Trishul in Goddess Durga’s fourth left lower hand symbolises courage. This denotes that we must have the courage to eliminate our evil qualities and face the challenges which life gives us.
Fourth lower right hand symbolises forgiveness and Goddess Durga giving her blessings. This also denotes that we must forgive ourselves and others for all the mistakes and move forward in our lives.
At the same time, as Goddess Durga is always seen as riding on a lion or a tiger. Therefore, this symbolises unlimited power. Also, Goddess Durga is seen wearing a red saree, which denotes she is destroying all the evil forces and is protecting mankind from pain and suffering.
Keywords: Durga, Navratri, Devotion, Hindu Mythology, Hinduism.