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Periods or Menstruation are extensively a taboo topic to discuss in India. A bleeding woman is seen as impure and believed that her touch is capable of polluting and causing destruction. However, some communities and cultures celebrate periods and the start of periods. They see the start of the menstrual cycle as a milestone in a woman's life as it is the transition of a girl into a "young woman". People rejoice at the beginning of the fertile period with rituals and celebrations.
Ambubachi Mela is an annual festival celebrated at the Kamakhya temple in Guhwahati. The roots of The Ambubachi Mela lie in Hindu Mythology. People believe that the genitalia of Goddess Sati aka Shakti fell to the ground where the temple was built. Every June the temple gates are closed off for three days when the goddess is believed to be menstruating. On the commence of the fourth day the temple doors open and devotees receive a red cloth that is supposedly soaked in the goddess' menstrual blood. Then on the seventh day of Asadha, the festival takes place at one of the major Shakti Peethas where the female genitalia of Goddess Sati is said to have fallen and a cave with natural spring was formed. Notably, Devi Kamakhya is represented by a stone shaped in the form of a vulva.
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A red cloth that is supposedly soaked in the goddess' menstrual blood.Wikimedia Commons
Raja Parba or Mithuna Sankranti is a 3-day festival celebrated to honor womanhood. It is commonly believed that during these three days Mother Earth or 'Bhudevi' menstruates. A ceremonial bath is arranged on day four. The first day is called Pahili Raja, the second day is Mithuna Sankranti, the third day is Bhudaaha or Basi Raja. The final and the fourth day is called Basumati snana, on this day the ladies bathe the grinding stone as a symbol of Bhumi Devi (Mother Earth) with turmeric paste and flower, indoor, etc. during these three days women and girls take a break from work and wear new saree, aalta, and ornaments and receive gifts as a sign of gratitude. The festival also signifies the onset of monsoon in the state.
Assamese people celebrate the menarche of their daughters by holding a small wedding to a banana tree signifying that the girl is now a woman and marriageable. The tradition is similar to a typical wedding ceremony. Girls are restricted from all activities and isolated in their rules. Relatives come over and participate in the ceremony, and the young girl is lavished with gifts.
In India, there are numerous other rituals celebrating periods In Telegu called Langa Voni or half Sari function takes shape. Meanwhile, Tamils term it as Pavadai Dhavani, whereas in Kannada it is Langa Davani. The girl puts on a half-saree for the first time in her life and she will continue to wear it until her marriage when she drapes a full saree. After her first period, a girl becomes a young woman after this point in their eyes and society. The Ritu Kala Samskara or Ritusuddhi, as termed in South India is observed by the girl's family and friends.
ALSO READ: Menstruation Not a Taboo in Hindu Culture
Rituals and ceremonies may differ from community to community, the celebration is to mark the transition of a girl towards womanhood. The celebration has a history of meaning to convey to the girl that she has reached a 'marriageable age' and is being looked for as a 'potential suitor'.
Keywords: Menstruation, Hindu Mythology, womanhood, menarche, celebration, Hindu festival, bleeding goddess, Ambubachi Mela
Deepavali or Diwali is the name given to the Festival of Lights (deep-lamp, vali - array) and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and certain Buddhists. The celebration lasts five days and is held during the Hindu lunisolar month of Kartika. Diwali represents the spiritual winning of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance.
During Diwali, people dress in their best clothes, decorate their homes with diyas and rangoli, hold worship ceremonies for Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity and wealth, light fireworks, and gather with their families for family feasts during which sweets and gifts are exchanged.
Diwali is a joyous festival in the Jammu and Kashmir Province, just as it is across the rest of India. The whole city of Jammu comes to life during Diwali, and there is a palpable sense of excitement in the air. In preparation for the festival, many begin decorating their homes several months in advance. While some people paint their houses, others meticulously clean their homes.
Diwali is a joyous festival in the Jammu and Kashmir Province, just as it is across the rest of India. | Photo by Umesh Soni on Unsplash
On Diwali, people put on new clothing and proceed to temples, where they buy large quantities of sweets to distribute to friends and family. To light their homes and places of business, people also purchase earthen lamps, candles, and electrical accessories.
But, Kashmiri Pandits do not celebrate Diwali with great zeal since they adhere to Shivaism, i.e., they follow the Hindu God Shiva in particular. On this day, however, they perform Puja, which is a religious ceremony.
Many people are seen during the evening hours when devotees flock to temples in Srinagar and elsewhere to offer special prayers and light lamps to commemorate the occasion. The sweet stores in Srinagar bustle with customers as Muslims exchange sweets with their Hindu friends and acquaintances.
Keywords: Diwali in Jammu, Kashmiri Pandits, Diyas, temples, Srinagar, Muslims, Lakshmi- Shiva,
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OṀ SAMPŨRṆABHŨMYAI NAMAH:
OṀ (AUM) - POOR-ṆA-MA-DA-HA-BHOO-MYAI—NA-MA-HA
ॐ संपूर्णभूम्यै नमः
(Sampūrṇam: Infinite, full, endless)
In Īśa or Īśhavāsyopanishad which belongs to Yajurveda saṃhita, the glory of the divine cosmic soul and the knowledge of the Supreme Self are deliberated. This is also referred to as the Jnāna Kānda. The book starts with an invocation, recited as Mangaḷacharan (the auspicious inception) to sing the glory of the Supreme God 'Oṁ pūrṇamadaha pūrṇamidam, pūrnāt pūrnamudaschyate; pūrṇasya pūrnamādāya pūrṇamevāvashishyate', -meaning that 'Parabrahman' (Supreme divine cosmic soul) is embellished with all qualities tangible and intangible. It is through this Parabrahman that this universe evolved. Because this universe has evolved from the One, the universe is devoid of beginning and is infinite.
This total or complete One, is so significant that even if one literally decides to deduct or remove the cosmos and universe from that complete or total energy, it shall remain constant, i.e., total. Even if this universe does not remain, the divine cosmic energy is devoid of beginning and is infinite. The knowledgeable person that sees God in all creatures and sees all creatures in God becomes happy and experiences incessantly the beauty of God. If we realize God, we get liberated from all the miseries and attachments that continually plague us.
The Vedas are the holy commandments of the gods for mankind. The entire universe or cosmos is pervaded by He who is all pervasive, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and unchanging. Even the gods and sages have not realized Him in reality. The energy the gods possess is just one fragment of the divine cosmic energy. They cannot do anything without divine inspiration and intervention. He is the source of all the contradictory features and natures. Even if He is devoid of birth, He takes birth, even being formless, assumes form; even being devoid of characteristics, assume the nature. He is very far from us, yet, very close to us. The entire world is embellished with this cosmic energy inside out. The person that performs all his duties according to the scriptures and their directives indirectly in reality worships God. Those who work selflessly are not caught in the bondage of actions or karma. There is no way that one can escape the chains of karma.
He, who is always absorbed in the divine cosmic energy, attains the blissful state. He gradually loses the self and merges into the divine cosmic energy.
The land and its Vedic scriptures which taught us about the total cosmic energy is 'Sampūrṇa Bhūmi'.
Keywords: Vedas, Endless, Infinite, Complete
On the ninth day of the Navratri celebrations, Ayudha Pooja is celebrated in Karnataka, where all the instruments of the household or shop are gathered together in one place and consecrated before the patron deity. This practice was carried out since the time of kings, briefly stopped during the British rule, and was reintroduced by the Wodeyars of Mysore.
The practice of anointing instruments is believed to have originated during the Kurukshethra war, when Arjuna placed his weapons in the Shami tree before using them in the war. He won the war after doing this, and so people do the same to their household objects believing that it holds great significance to their prosperity and success.
People in Karnataka apply turmeric and vermillion on household objects Image credit: wikimedia commons
During the time of the kings, weapons were gathered in one place, mounted on a royal elephant and taken to the patron temple. Here they would be rubbed with turmeric and vermillion, placed in the sanctum for a day, and retrieved on the last day of the Dasara festival. Even today, at the Mysore Palace, this is the practice. The palace weapons are taken to the nearby Chamundeshwari temple, where they are sanctified. They are brought back the next day and worshipped while they are hung on the palace walls. This is significant to the fact that the demon Mahishasura was slain with weapons blessed by goddess Chamundeshwari.
Offering prayers for books is believed to promote success in the acquisition of knowledge and wealth Image credit: wikimedia commons
In the villages of Karnataka, the sanctification process begins with the sacrifice of sheep. The blood of the animal is smeared on instruments that are imperative to livelihood, like bullock carts, farm equipment and so on. In the cities, vehicles, devices, and are prayed for and blessed, to express gratitude for their working. Ayudha Pooja is always observed the day before the final day of celebration, Vijayadashmi.
Keywords: Ayudha Pooja, Navratri, Dasara, Mysore, Karnataka, Vijayadashmi