Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Samskara, The Hindu Rites of Passage

Samskaras, or Hindu rites of passage, according to the ancient sage Panini, are the ornaments that decorate one's personality. They mark the important stages of one's life and enable one to live a fulfilling life complete with happiness and contentment. They pave the way for one's physical and spiritual journey through this life. It is believed that the various Hindu samskaras meticulously leads to a purification of one's sins, vices, faults, and even correction of physical deformities. The Upanishads mention samskaras as a means to grow and prosper in all four aspects of human pursuit -Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Karma and Kama (work and pleasure), and Moksha (salvation).

How Many Samskaras do Hindus have?

The detailed explanation about samskaras is found in the ancient Hindu scriptures - the Smritis and Grihasutras. However, all the different Grihasutras differ on both the names and numbers of samskaras. While the sage Aswalayana lays down 11 customs, Bauddhayana, Paraskar, and Varaha explain 13. Sage Vaikhana has 18 and Maharishi Gautam talks of 40 samskaras and 8 self qualities. However, the 16 samskaras that Rishi Veda Vyas propounded are considered the most important rites of passage in a Hindu's life.

What are the 16 Major Hindu Samskaras?

1. Garbhadhana is the conception ritual for having healthy children. Lord Brahma or Prajapati is appeased by this ritual.
2. Punswana is the fertilization ritual performed on the third month of pregnancy asking for life and safety of the fetus. Once again Lord Brahma is prayed to in this ceremony.
3. Seemantonnayana ritual is observed in the penultimate month of pregnancy for safe and assured delivery of the baby. This is a prayer to the Hindu God Dhata.
4. Jatkarma is birth ceremony of the new-born baby. On this occasion, a prayer is observed for goddess Savita.
5. Namkarana is the naming ceremony of the baby, which is observed 11 days after its birth. This gives the new-born an identity with which he or she will be associated all his life.
6. Niskramana is the act of taking the four-month-old child out for the first time into the open to sunbathe. The Sun God Surya is worshiped.
7. Annaprashana is the elaborate ceremony conducted when the child is fed cereal for the first time at the age of six months.
8. Chudakarma or Keshanta karma is the ceremonious tonsuring of the head and Lord Brahma or Prajapati is prayed and offerings made to him. The baby's head is shaved off and the hair is ceremonially immersed in the river.
9. Karnavedha is the ritual of having the ear pierced. These days it is mostly girls who have their ears pierced.
10. Upanayana aka thread ceremony is the investiture ceremony of the sacred thread where Brahmin boys are adorned with a sacred thread hung from one shoulder and passed around their front and back. This day, Lord Indra is invoked and offerings are made to him.
11. Vedarambha or Vidyarambha is observed when the child is initiated into study. In ancient times, boys were sent to live with their gurus in a 'gurugriha' or hermitage to study. Devotees pray to the Hindu God Apawaka on this occasion.
12. Samavartana is the convocation or the commencement to the study of the Vedas.
13. Vivaha is the lavish nuptial ceremony. After marriage, the individual enters the life of a 'grihastha' or conjugal life - the life of a householder. Lord Brahma is the deity of the day in the wedding ceremony.
14. Awasthyadhana or Vivahagni Parigraha is a ceremony where the marrying couple encircles the sacred fire seven times. It is also known as 'Saptapadi.'
15. Tretagnisangraha is the auspicious ritual that starts the couple on their domestic life.
16. Antyeshti is the final rite of passage or Hindu funeral rites that is performed after death.

The 8 Rites of Passage or Ashtasamskara

Most of the above 16 samskaras, which originated thousands of years ago, are practiced by most Hindus even to this day. However, there are eight rites that are considered essential. These are known as 'Ashtasamskaras', and they are as follows:

1. Namakarana - Naming ceremony
2. Anna Prasana - Beginning of solid food
3. Karnavedha - Ear piercing
4. Chudakarma or Chudakarana - Head Shaving
5. Vidyarambha - Beginning of Education
6. Upanayana - Sacred Thread Ceremony
7. Vivaha - Marriage
8. Antyeshti - Funeral or Last Rites

The Importance of Samskaras in Life

These samskaras bind an individual to the community that nurture the feeling of brotherhood. A person whose actions are connected to the others around him would definitely think twice before committing a sin. Lack of samskaras give rise to indulging in individual physical pleasures and fanning one's animal instincts. The inner demon is aroused that leads to the degeneration of oneself and the society as a whole. When a person is not aware of his moorings in society he runs his own selfish race against the world and the greed to pitch himself over others leads to destruction of not only his self but the entire human community. So, the samskaras act as a moral code of conduct for the society.

10 Benefits of Hindu Samskaras

1. Samskaras provide sound mental and physical health and the confidence to face life's challenges
2. They are believed to purify blood and increase blood circulation, sending more oxygen to every organ
3. Samskaras can energizes the body and revitalizes it
4. They can increase physical strength and stamina to work for longer period of time
5. They rejuvenate the mind and enhance concentration and intellectual capacity
6. Samskaras give a sense of belonging, culture, and refined sensibilities
7. They direct energy to humanitarian causes thereby building a strong character
8. Samskaras kill vices, such as pride, ego, selfishness, wrath, envy, covetousness, gluttony, sloth, lechery, greed and fear
9. They bestow moral and physical balance throughout life
10. Samskaras give the confidence to face death bravely owing to a contented and righteous life

What are Samskaras? - Subhamoy Dass

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nāga Panchami

Nāga Panchami is a Hindu festival organized in almost every part of India. According to the Hindu lunar calendar the festival is held on Panchami (the fifth day or "tithi" of the fortnight or "paksha") in Shravan (Shravanam) month. In the Gregorian calendar it is July and August.

During the festival people honour Nāga Devata (Cobras). Five nagas are worshipped - Ananta, Vāsuki, Taxak, Karkotaka and Pingala. There is a Puranic myth stating that Brahma’s son Kashyapa had four wives.

First one gave birth to Devas, second to Garudas, third to Nāgas and fourth to Daityas. Kashyapa's third wife was Kadroo. That is why Nāgas are also called Kadroojā. They ruled in Pātāl-Loka ("Nether world").

The skin of a snake is covered with scales. Whole outer layer of skin is shed in one layer. This process is called ecdysis or in more common language moulting. Because of cyclical repeating of the process Hindu people believe that snakes are immortal.

The famous temple honouring snakes is in the city of Mysuru (Mysore) located in the state of Karnataka in the south of India. The temple is at the place called Subramania. Subramania is also the name of a giant snake that Lord Vishnu reclines when sleeping in the sea. This snake is mentioned in many Indian folk stories.

People go to temples and snake pits and they worship the snakes. People offer milk and silver jewelry to the Cobras. They believe that they keep them from evil. Sometimes people put little pot with milk and some flowers next to a hole where snakes live. On Naga Panchami people also fast.

Naga Panchami is the day when Lord Krishna beat the snake Kalia when fall from a tree into the river Yamuna. After the big fight Kalia asked for mercy. The Lord Krishna let the snake go but the snake had to promise not to bother people anymore. On the day of Naga Panchami Lord Krishna is known as "Kaliya Mardan".

On Naga Panchami married women visit their parents. Farmers never plough their fields during Naga Panchami. Why? There is a legend that one farmer while ploughing his field accidentally killed some young snakes.

To punish the farmer mother of those snakes killed him and his family. But she made one exception. One of farmer's daughters survived. She was praying to the Nāgas. Because of her devotion the rest of family was brought to life again.

On the day of festival special figures of snakes can be seen on walls of houses. Women made them using a mixture of black powder, cow dung and milk. After that women make of milk, ghee (clarified butter used in cooking), water and rice. It is believed that because of it people living in the house won't be bitten by snake.

Maharashtra is third largest state in India. It is located in the west of country. Local snake charmers go from house to house carrying tamed snakes. They get some offerings including clothes.

Kerala is a state located in the southwest of India. People there visit temples with metal icons of the cosmic snake called Ananta or Sesha. Many of homes in Kerala have altars with a silver or copper cobra. Offerings of milk and sweets are put at the altar. People pray for the welfare of their children and prosperity in general.

Punjab is the state in the northwest of India. The state borders with the province on same name located in neighbouring Pakistan. People in Punjab honour snakes in the festival called Guga Naumi which is organized in September and October.

People make a snake of dough and put it in a basket. They carry the snake through the village. People in each house give some flour and butter as an offering. The dough snake is then buried.

People in West Bengal and parts of Assam and Orissa worship the goddess Manasa. She is the sister of Vasuki, king of Nāgas and wife of sage Jagatkāru (Jaratkāru). It is believed that she helps in case of snakebite and also in matters of fertility and prosperity.

In parts of southern India, people use red sandalwood paste to draw figures of snakes on wooden boards. Special clay sculptures of snakes, painted yellow or black, can be purchased. These sculptures are worshiped. Milk offerings are given.

Traditions & Customs - Mislav Popovic

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Akshaya Tritiya: The Golden Day of Eternal Success

Hindus believe in the theory of "mahurats" or auspicious timings in every step in life - be it to begin a new venture or making an important purchase. Akshaya Tritiya is one such momentous occasion, which is considered one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu Calendar. It is believed, any meaningful activity started on this day would be fruitful.

Once a Year

Akshaya Tritiya falls on the third day of the bright half of Vaishakh month (April-May), when the Sun and Moon are in exaltation; they are simultaneously at their peak of brightness, which happens only once every year.

Holy Day

Akshaya Tritiya, also known as "Akha Teej", is traditionally the birthday of Lord Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. People conduct special Pujas on this day, bathe in holy rivers, make a charity, offer barley in a sacred fire, and worship Lord Ganesha & Devi Lakshmi on this day.

The Golden Link

The word "Akshaya" means imperishable or eternal - that which never diminishes. Initiations made or valuables bought on this day are considered to bring success or good fortune. Buying gold is a popular activity on Akshaya Tritiya, as it is the ultimate symbol of wealth and prosperity. Gold and gold jewelry bought and worn on this day signify never diminishing good fortune. Indians celebrate weddings, begin new business ventures, and even plan long journeys on this day.

Myths Around Akshaya Tritiya

The day also marks the beginning of the "SatyaYug" or the Golden Age - the first of the four Yugas. In the Puranas, the holy Hindu scriptures, there is a story that says that on this day of Akshay Tritiya, Veda Vyasa along with Ganesha started writing the great epic Mahabharata. Ganga Devi or Mother Ganges also descended on earth on this day.

According to another legend, during the time of the Mahabhrata, when the Pandavas were in exile, Lord Krishna, on this day, presented them an 'Akshaya Patra,' a bowl which would never go empty and produce an unlimited supply of food on demand.

The Krishna-Sudama Legend

Perhaps, the most famous of the Akshaya Tritiya stories is the legend of Lord Krishna and Sudama, his poor Brahmin childhood friend. On this day, as the tale goes, Sudama came over to Krishna's palace to request him for some financial help. As a gift for his friend, Sudama had nothing more than a handful of beaten rice or 'poha'. So, he was utterly ashamed to give it to Krishna, but Krishna took the pouch of 'poha' from him and relished having it. Krishna followed the principle of 'Atithi Devo Bhava' or 'the guest is like God' and treated Sudama like a king.

His poor friend was so overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality shown by Krishna, that he could not ask for the financial favor and came home empty handed. Lo and behold! When he reached his place, Sudama's old hut was transformed into a palace! He found his family dressed in royal attire and everything around was new and expensive. Sudama knew that it was a boon from Krishna, who blessed him with more than the wealth he actually intended to ask for. Therefore, Akshaya Tritiya is associated with material gains and wealth acquisition.

Bright Births

It is also believed that people born during this time shine bright in life. Many luminaries were born during this period: Basaveshwara born on May 4, Ramanujacharya and Adi Shankaracharya on May 6, Swami Chinmayananda on May 8 and Lord Buddha on May 16. Akshaya Tritiya is also celebrated as the birthday of Lord Parashurama, one of the ten avatars of Lord Vishnu.

The Golden Day - Subhamoy Das

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thiruvaadhirai: Significance Of Arudraa Dharshanam – Celebration Of The Cosmic Dance Of Lord Shiva

Thiruvaadhirai is one of the famous vradhas celebrated. This is the Thiruvaadhirai Nakshaththram in the month of Marghazhi (Maargasira). Thiruvaadhirai is considered as the Nakshaththram of Lord Nataraaja. Though the Lord never takes birth and hence no Nakshaththram to celebrate, on Thiruvaadhirai He appeared to the holy saints Pathanychali and Yyaagra Paadha.

Once when Mahaa Vishnu was lying down on the great serpent Adhi Seesha, Adhi Seesha felt Mahaa Vishnu was quite heavy that time. He asked Mahaa Vishnu what was the reason. Mahaa Vishnu said that he was remembering and enjoying the Dance of Lord Shiva. The answer developed the desire in Adhi Seesha to see the Great Dance of Lord Shiva. He asked Mahaa Vishnu how his desire could be fulfilled. Mahaa Vishnu asked him to go to Chithamparam and do "tapas". Adhi Seesha came to Chithamparam and prayed the Lord for a long time.

There was another muni and devotee of Lord Shiva in that place, called Viyaagra Paadha. He prayed to God to get the legs of tiger, so that he can pluck flowers early in the morning to offer to the God, before any bee touches the flower. He was also praying God to see His Great Dance for a long time. Pleased with their prayer the God appeared on the Thiruvaadhirai day and danced in Chithamparam.

The Nataraaja image of the Lord is prayed with great devotion this day. In Chithamparam and other temples it is celebrated as Arudraa Dharshanam. In this festival Abhisheeka (holy anointing) of Lord Nataraaja takes place early in the morning and then He comes around the town. A sweet called ‘kaLi’ and multi vegetable ‘thALakam’ are offered and eaten to celebrate this great joy of seeing the dance of the Lord.

There is an anecdote about how ‘kaLi’ came to be the prasad on this day. A devotee called Sendanar had the habit of eating only whatever was left of the food offered to the Lord and then distributed among other devotees. On Thiruvadirai day in a Marghazhi, he could offer to the Almighty only some ‘pittu’ and ‘kaLi’. With much regret that he could get nothing better, he offered these to the Lord. As he stood a little later in Nataraaja’s sanctorum, the Lord effected a shower of ‘pittu’ and ‘kaLi’ on Sendanar, in recognition of his deep devotion. Since the day of that miracle, ‘kaLi’ is the special offering to Lord Nataraaja on Marghazhi Thiruvadirai.

In Sirghazhi in Tamil Nadu, this day is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Saint Thiru Gnana Sambandar and the day when that saint, while a baby, was breastfed by Parvati. In Thirupperundurai, the day is observed as the birthday of Saint Manickavachakar. Karanagama says we should worship the Divine Dancer on Thiruvadirai in exquisite Marghazhi.

Arudraa Dharshanam is observed in the Tamil month of Marghazhi (December – January). It is essentially a Shaivite festival and celebrates the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, which is represented by the Lord Nataraaja form. Arudraa signifies the golden red flame and Shiva performs in the form this red-flamed light.

The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva represents five activities – Creation, Protection, Destruction, Embodiment and Release. In essence, it represents the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. This cosmic dance takes place in every particle and is the source of all energy. Arudraa Dharshanam celebrates this ecstatic dance of Lord Shiva.

It takes place on the full moon night in the month of Marghazhi and this is also the longest night in a year. The festival is mainly observed in the Tamil speaking world. The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva is enacted on the day. Most of the temples around the world with Lord Nataraja as deity perform the Arudraa Dharshanam.

Bhattar - Shaivam.Org - HinduBlog

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The 7 Blessings Of The Hindu Wedding

The Hindu ceremony, a rite known as 'samskara', has many components and it is quite beautiful, specific and filled with chanting, Sanskrit blessings and ritual that is thousands of years old. In India, it can last weeks or days. In the West, it typically is at least two hours long.

It is the role of the Hindu priest or 'pandit' to lead a couple and their families through the sacrament of marriage. However, as an interfaith minister, I’ve had the good fortune of being called upon by Hindu brides and grooms and couples who love Hindu rituals, to incorporated some of the rites into non-denominational, interfaith or multi-faith ceremonies.

An important aspect of the Hindu ceremony is to light a sacred fire, created from 'ghee' (clarified butter) and woolen wicks, to evoke the God, Agni (Fire God), to bear witness to the ceremony.

The highlight is 'Saptapadi', also called the 'Seven Steps'. Here, traditionally the bride’s sari is tied to the groom’s kurta, or a sari shawl might be draped from his shoulder to her sari. He leads, her pinky linked with his pinky, in seven steps around the fire, as the priest chants the seven blessings or vows for a strong union. By walking around the fire they are agreeing to these. With each step, they throw small bits of puffed rice into the fire, representing prosperity in their new life together. This is considered the most important part of the ceremony, it seals the bond forever.

A nice way to adapt this into a creative, contemporary ceremony is to light a traditional fire, or use a candle, placed on a small table in front of the wedding altar. Bride and groom can be in tux and white dress as they take seven steps while seven blessings are spoken in English. Here are Seven Blessings adapted from a Hindu ceremony.

1. May this couple be blessed with an abundance of resources and comforts, and be helpful to one another in all ways.

2. May this couple be strong and complement one another.

3. May this couple be blessed with prosperity and riches on all levels.

4. May this couple be eternally happy.

5. May this couple be blessed with a happy family life.

6. May this couple live in perfect harmony… true to their personal values and their joint promises.

7. May this couple always be the best of friends.

One thing I appreciate about the Hindu ceremony is that bride and groom come to the altar as God and Goddess, in human form. In many parts of India the bride is considered Lakshmi, Goddess of Fortune, and groom is her consort Vishnu, the Great Preserver.

I believe every bride and groom should walk down the aisle feeling divine!

About the Author: Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway is one of New York's leading interfaith and non-denominational wedding officiants. She serves couples of all backgrounds, cultures and religions, and helps them celebrate their love with a highly personalized ceremony. She is known for her warm, loving, and creative approach to blessing couples in love. Rev. Laurie Sue is also a widely recognized bridal stress expert. She is author of "Wedding Goddess: A Divine Guide to Transforming Wedding Stress into Wedding Bliss" (Perigee Books, May 2005). Hinduism - Rev. Laurie Sue Brockway

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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

10 Reasons To Celebrate Diwali

Why do we celebrate Diwali? It’s not just the festive mood in the air that makes you happy, or just that it's a good time to enjoy before the advent of winter. There are 10 mythical and historical reasons why Diwali is a great time to celebrate. And there are good reasons not just for Hindus but also for all others to celebrate this great Festival of Lights.

1.Goddess Lakshmi’s Birthday: The Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi.

2. Vishnu Rescued Lakshmi: On this very day (Diwali day), Lord Vishnu in his fifth incarnation as Vaman-avtaara rescued Lakshmi from the prison of King Bali and this is another reason of worshipping Ma Larkshmi on Diwali.

3. Krishna Killed Narakaasur: On the day preceding Diwali, Lord Krishna killed the demon king Narakaasur and rescued 16,000 women from his captivity. The celebration of this freedom went on for two days including the Diwali day as a victory festival.

4. The Return of the Pandavas: According to the great epic ‘Mahabharata’, it was ‘Kartik Amavashya’ when the Pandavas appeared from their 12 years of banishment as a result of their defeat in the hands of the Kauravas at the game of dice (gambling). The subjects who loved the Pandavas celebrated the day by lighting the earthen lamps.

5. The Victory of Rama: According to the epic ‘Ramayana’, it was the new moon day of Kartik when Lord Ram, Ma Sita and Lakshman returned to Ayodhya after vanquishing Ravana and conquering Lanka. The citizens of Ayodhya decorated the entire city with the earthen lamps and illuminated it like never before.

6. Coronation of Vikramaditya: One of the greatest Hindu King Vikramaditya was coroneted on the Diwali day, hence Diwali became a historical event as well.

7. Special Day for the Arya Samaj: It was the new moon day of Kartik (Diwali day) when Maharshi Dayananda, one of the greatest reformers of Hinduism and the founder of Arya Samaj attained his nirvana.

8. Special Day for the Jains: Mahavir Tirthankar, considered to be the founder of modern Jainism also attained his nirvana on Diwali day.

9. Special Day for the Sikhs: The third Sikh Guru Amar Das institutionalized Diwali as a Red-Letter Day when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings. In 1577, the foundation stone of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was laid on Diwali. In 1619, the sixth Sikh Guru Hargobind, who was held by the Mughal Emperor Jahengir, was released from the Gwalior fort along with 52 kings.

10. The Pope’s Diwali Speech: In 1999, Pope John Paul II performed a special Eucharist in an Indian church where the altar was decorated with Diwali lamps, the Pope had a ‘tilak’ marked on his forehead and his speech was bristled with references to the festival of light.

The Festival of Lights is for All - Shri Gyan Rajhans & Subhamoy Das

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pitri-Paksha: Annual Ancestor-Worship

The annual ancestor-worship or 'Pitri-Paksha' is a period that is observed during the dark half of the Hindu month of 'Ashwin.' This period of 15 days is set aside by the Hindus for the remembrance of their ancestors. During this fortnight, Hindus donate food to the hungry in the hope that their ancestors will also be thus fed. It is this time that Hindus throughout the world reflect on the contributions their forefathers made to their present life, and the cultural norms, traditions and values they set for us in order to make our lives better.

Three Debts an Individual is Born with

According to the Vedic scriptures an individual is born with three debts. The debt to God is called ‘Dev-rin.’ The debt to the sages and saints is called ‘Rishi-rin.’ The third debt to one's parents and ancestors is called ‘Pitri-rin.’ These three debts are like three mortgages on one's life, but not liabilities. It is an attempt by Hindu scriptures to create an awareness of one's duties and responsibilities.

"Pitri-rin" - Debt to One's Parents & Ancestors

The third debt an individual is expected to pay during one's life is to one's parents and ancestors. One's entire existence, including the family name and the great dharma one belongs to, are the gifts of one's parents and the forefathers. Just as your parents, who brought you into this world, protected you when you were weak and frail, fed you, clothed you, taught you, and brought to you up, your grandparents performed similar duties for your parents.

How to Repay the Debt to Ancentors

So how is this debt repaid? Everything that one does in this world should enhance the fame and glory of one's family, and of one's forefathers. Your ancestors are anxious to help you in all your endeavors and the departed souls are capable of doing so. However, they have one expectation from all of us and that is to perform acts of charity in their names during their annual visits to your homes in their subtle, invisible bodies.

A Pure Act of Faith

You do not have to believe in this unique Hindu ritual because it is purely based on faith called 'shraddha' in Hindi. Hence, another name for annual ancestor worship is 'Shraadh,' derived from the word 'shraddha' or faith. However, you will agree that it is the responsibility of everyone to keep up the pride of the family lineage by performing actions that promote the good of all. The fortnight of ancestor worship is nothing but a reminder of your lineage and duties towards it.

Ritual to Remember Forefathers & Repay their Debt - Gyan Rajhans

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

15 Years Of The Ganesha Milk Miracle

September 21, 1995. The bewildering news that Lord Ganesha is drinking milk spread across the world like wild fire - faster than ever! I was a college student living in a hostel in a sleepy university town in northeastern India, and soon found myself among friends and classmates marching to the nearest temple to feed milk to the idol of Ganesha, even before my rational mind could question the fact or dismiss it as a rumor.

It Happened in Homes & Temples Alike
What was so special about the unprecedented incident was that even curious non-believers rubbed shoulders with believers and even fanatics standing in long queues outside the temples. Most of them returned with a sense of awe and reverence - a firm belief that, after all, there may be something called God up there!

People returning home from work would switch on their television sets to learn about the miracle and try it out at home. What was happening in temples was true even at home. Soon every temple and Hindu household around the world was trying to feed milk to Ganesha - spoon by spoon. And Ganesha scooped them up - drop after drop.

How It All Began

To give you a background, Hinduism Today magazine published from the United States reported: "It all began on September 21st when an otherwise ordinary man in New Delhi dreamt that Lord Ganesha, the elephant-headed God of Wisdom, craved a little milk. Upon awakening, he rushed in the dark before dawn to the nearest temple, where a skeptical priest allowed him to proffer a spoonful of milk to the small stone image. Both watched in astonishment as it disappeared, magically consumed by the God. What followed is unprecedented in modern Hindu history."

Scientists Had No Convincing Explanation

Scientists were quick to attribute the vanishing of millions of spoonfuls of milk from under Ganesha's inanimate trunk to such natural scientific phenomenon as surface tension or physical laws as capillary action, adhesion or cohesion. But they could not explain why such a thing never happened ever before and why it stopped abruptly within 24 hours. They soon realized that this was in fact something beyond the realm of science as they knew it. It was indeed the paranormal phenomenon of the past millennium, the "best documented paranormal phenomenon of modern times," and "unprecedented in modern Hindu history," as people now call it.

A Mammoth Revival of Faith

Various such small incidents were reported from different corners of the world at different times (November 2003, Botswana; August 2006, Bareilly, and so on), but it was never such a wide-spread phenomenon that presented itself on that auspicious day of 1995. Hinduism Today Magazine wrote: "This "milk miracle" may go down in history as the most important event shared by Hindus this century, if not in the last millennium. It has brought about an instantaneous religious revival among nearly one billion people. No other religion has ever done that before! It is as if every Hindu who had, say "ten pounds of devotion," suddenly has twenty." Scientist and broadcaster Gyan Rajhans recounts the 'Milk Miracle' incident on his blog as "the most important event regarding idol-worship in the 20th century ... "

The Media Confirmed the 'Miracle'

India's secular press and the state-run broadcast media were bamboozled if such a thing should merit a place in their news release. But soon they themselves were convinced that it was in fact true and so, newsworthy from every angle. "Never before in history has a simultaneous miracle occurred on such a global scale. Television stations (among them the CNN and BBC), radio and newspapers (among them The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Guardian and Daily Express) eagerly covered this unique phenomenon, and even skeptical journalists held their milk-filled spoons to the statues of gods - and watched as the milk disappeared," wrote Philip Mikas on his website specially dedicated to the unworldly incident.

The Manchester Guardian noted, "The media coverage was extensive, and although scientists and "experts" created theories of "capillary absorption" and "mass hysteria" the overwhelming evidence and conclusion was that an unexplainable miracle had occurred… While the media and scientists still struggle to find an explanation for these events, many believe they are a sign that a great teacher has been born."

How the News Spread

I can't imagine anyone of that generation who had not heard about or was not amazed by the milk miracle incident. I don't remember if a short supply of milk was reported, but as a student of communications, I found that the ease and speed with which the news spread in a not-so-connected world, was nothing short of a miracle in itself. It was long before people in small-town India ever heard of the Internet or e-mail, years before mobile phones and FM radios became popular, and a decade before social media was invented. It was 'viral-marketing' at its best that didn't rely on Google, Facebook or Twitter. After all Ganesha - the lord of success and remover of obstacles was behind it!

Paranormal Phenomenon of the Last Millennium - Subhamoy Das

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Mahalakshmi-Varalakshmi Vrata Puja

Varalakshmi Vratam or Varalakshmi Vrata is a special ritual performed by married women in South India, particularly in the regions of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Varalakshmi Vrata Festival is celebrated to worship and seek the blessings of Goddess Varalakshmi, one of the Ashta Lakshmi or Ashtalakshmi (eight Lakshmis). Goddess Varalaksmi, the Goddess who bestows Beautiful Boons, and is considered as the Goddess of wealth, power and prosperity. Vara Lakshmi Vratam is observed on Friday before the full moon day during the month of Sravan or Aadi (July - August).

How to perform the Varalakshmi Vrata Pooja?

The preparation for the Varalakshmi Vrat puja starts in the evening before the day of worship. The place where puja is performed should be cleaned thoroughly. Usually, the women decorate the place with rangolis and flowers. A kalasam (bronze pot) is filled with water or rice and coins, betel leaves, betel nut and mango leaves and decorated with turmeric, sandal paste, vermillion, with a new cloth tied around its neck. A coconut is rubbed with turmeric paste around it and kept on the top of the kalasam. The mango leaves are made to fall on the sides of the kalasam. An image of Goddess Lakshmi (made of any kind of materials) is fixed on the pot. Then arathi is taken to the kalasam.

Next morning, the kalasam is placed on raw rice and then the Varalakshmi pooja starts, with a prayer to Lord Ganesh. Varalakshmi slokas, Ashtalakshmi Stotram, and Lakshmi Sahasranamam are recited throughout the pooja. Sweets, fruits and flowers are offered to Goddess. At the end of the Varalakshmi puja, women tie yellow colored threads to their wrists. Thamboolam (betel leaves, betel nuts fruits, turmeric and dakshna (money) are offered to other sumangalis (married women) who are invited for the pooja. Fasting is observed by the women who perform the pooja. The water in the pot is sprinkled in the house on the next day.

History of Varalakshmi Vrata

Legends say that Vara Lakshmi Vrata pooja was stated by Lord Parameswara to be performed by his consort Parvathi, to get prosperity for the family. Hence, it is followed by married women to seek boons (varam) for the health, wealth and knowledge for their family.

Importance of Varalakshmi Vrat

It is believed that observing Varalaksmi Vratham would bless a woman with eight forces or energies, namely, Sri (Wealth), Bhu (Earth), Saraswati (learning), Priti (love), Kirti (Fame), Santhi (Peace), Tushti (Pleasure) and Pushti (Strength).

Hindu Devotional Blog - Tamil Festivals

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Shri Bhairava Deva

Bhairava (The Wrathful) is one of the more terrifying aspects of Shiva. He is often depicted with frowning, angry eyes and sharp, tiger's teeth and flaming hair; stark naked except for garlands of skulls and a coiled snake about his neck. In his four hands he carries a noose, trident, drum, and skull. He is often shown accompanied by a dog.

Bhairava is Shiva at his most terrifying, at his most fearful. He may be understood as a particular manifestation, or emanation of Shiva, or as Shiva displaying himself at a very high level. In some myths, Shiva created Bhairava as an extension of himself, in order to chastise Brahma. Bhairava is the embodiment of fear, and it is said that those who meet him must confront the source of their own fears. His name describes the effect he has upon those who behold him, as it derives from the word bhiru, which means to become fearful - of feeling great fear.

In some sources, Bhairava himself is said to have eight manifestations, including Kala (black), Asitanga (with black limbs), Sanhara (destruction), Ruru (hound), Krodha (anger), Kapala (Skull), Rudra (storm) and Unmatta (raging). Dogs (particularly black dogs) were often considered the most appropriate form of sacrifice to Bhairava, and he is sometimes shown as holding a severed human head, with a dog waiting at one side, in order to catch the blood from the head.

The origin of Bhairava can be traced to the conversation between Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu recounted in "Shiv Maha-Purana" where Lord Vishnu asks Lord Brahma who is the supreme creator of the Universe. Arrogantly, Brahma tells Vishnu to worship him because he (Brahma) is the supreme creator. This angered Shiva who in reality is the creator of all. Shiva then incarnated in the form of Bhairava to punish Brahma. Bhairava beheaded one of Brahma's five heads and since then Brahma has only four heads. When depicted as Kala Bhairava, Bhairava is shown carrying the amputated head of Brahma. Cutting off Brahma's fifth head made him guilty of having slain brahma, and as a result, he was forced to carry around the head for years until he had been absolved of the sin.

Another story of the origin of Bhairava is the tale of Sati, wife of Shiva. Sati, the daughter of the king of gods, Daksha, had chosen to marry Shiva. Her father disapproved the alliance because he perceived Shiva as an ascetic associated with a frugal lifestyle, forest animals and ghosts. Eventually, Daksha held a yagna (a ritualistic sacrifice) and invited all the gods, but not Sati and Shiva. Sati came to the yagna alone, where Daksha publicly spoke in a belittling manner about Shiva. Sati could not bear to hear her husband insulted and offered herself to the sacrificial pyre.

When Shiva learned of this, he destroyed the yagna and killed Daksha by beheading him. Shiva carried Sati's corpse on his shoulders and ran uncontrollably all around the world for days. Since this would eventually destroy all creation, Vishnu used his Sudarshan Chakra (divine discus) to cut Sati's body into pieces, which then fell all around. These spots where Sati's body parts fell are now known as Shakti Peethas. In the form of the frightful Bhairava, Shiva is said to be guarding each of these Shaktipeeths. Each Shaktipeeth temple is accompanied by a temple dedicated to Bhairava.

The Lord of the March of Time - Blazing Avatar Kala Bhairav

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Saptvaar Vrat : 7 Days Fasts To Appease God

There are seven days in the week. A different God governs each day. Depending upon the purpose of the fast, one fasts accordingly. A common reason for fasting is to get over the malefic effect of a particular planet or God, or to achieve something through a blessing of the god. For each day there is a different procedure, different ways to pray to God, and also a different katha to read or arti to sing. However one resolves to fast, one must understand the details of different fasts.

A fast on Sunday is devoted to Surya - the sun

Eye problems or those pertaining to heat and skin may affect one. Blessings from Surya enable one to receive honour and fame and achieve success over enemies. Food is eaten once in the day before sunset. Food must not be eaten after sunset. It must be free of salt and oil. It must not be tamsik. One must offer prayers to Surya and read or listen to the prescribed katha. Only then one must eat. To appease Surya one should wear ruby. When inclined to give charity one must give wheat, red pulses, jaggery, or metals like gold and copper or ruby amongst gems. The best time to give charity is at sunset.

A fast on Monday is devoted to Chandrama - the moon

Prayers are offered to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Since they had a long, happy married life, fasting on Mondays helps one find a suitable marital partner. There are three kinds of fasts observed on Mondays. The routine fast observed on a Monday is the saumya pradosh - the fast to seek pardon for a fault, and a fast for 16 Mondays. The procedure to be followed is similar, but in each case the katha to be read or heard is different. Food is eaten once in the day. Cereals are permitted. After prayers to Shiva and Parvati one must read or hear the appropriate katha. To appease Chandrama one must wear pearls and silver. When inclined to give charity, one must give white things like rice, white clothes, conch shells, silver or pearls.

A fast on Tuesday is devoted to Mangal - the planet Mars

It is believed that fasting for 12 Tuesdays helps overcome the malefic effects of this planet. All kinds of obstacles are overcome. It also brings fame and honour. Prayers must be offered to Hanuman. Use of red clothes and red flowers is auspicious. Food prepared of wheat and jaggery must be eaten once in the day. After prayers to Hanuman one must read the katha.

A fast on Wednesday is devoted to Budh - the planet Mercury

One must preferably eat green things once in the day. One must pray to Lord Shiva and follow it by reading or hearing the katha. To appease Budh one must wear emerald in gold. When inclined to give charity one must give moong (green gram - Phaseolus mungo), kasturi (musk), blue clothes, gold, copper and five gems.

A fast on Thursday is devoted to Brihaspati - the planet Jupiter

It promotes greater learning and prosperity. Prayers must be offered to Brihespeshwar Mahadev, followed by reading or hearing the katha. One must preferably wear yellow clothes and use yellow sandalwood. Food must be eaten once. One must include yellow pulses in the meal. To appease Brihaspati one should wear topaz in gold. When inclined to give charity one should give yellow things like turmeric, salt, yellow clothes, rice, yellow pulses, gold and topaz.

A fast on Friday is devoted to Shukra - the planet Venus

The procedure for this fast is similar to that of Monday. It is preferable that food is eaten once a day. It must include white preparations like kheer (rice porridge) or rabri (milk preparation). To appease Shukra one must wear mani (a gem) in silver. Those inclined to charity must give rice, white clothes, a cow, ghee, diamonds and gold.

A fast on Friday is also devoted to Santoshi Maa

She is the daughter of Sri Ganesh and blesses one with happiness and contentment. Prayers are offered to her followed by katha and arti. Food must be eaten once. This is a strict fast and nothing sour or acidic must be eaten or offered to anyone else. It is customary to fast for 16 Fridays. On the final day, young boys are fed.

A fast on Saturday is devoted to Shani - the planet Saturn

The effect of Shani is harsh and lasts for a long time. Therefore this fast is observed. Shani is fond of all kinds of black things like black clothes, black peas, black sesame, iron and oil. Prayers are offered to Shani followed by the katha and arti. To appease Shani one must use sapphire and iron. When inclined to give charity one should give black things like an iron vessel with oil, an umbrella, a black shoe, black clothes, black sesame and black peas.

RiiTi - Dharma, Artha, Entertainment & Technology

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Hindu Vrats - Fasting Or Upvaas

Vrats are votive fasting rites which are practiced throughout India. The observance of Vrats spans religious boundaries, social classes and even caste and sectarian affiliations.

Naturally then, there is a great variety in the kinds of vrats performed and numerous variations in the actual practice of any particular vrat.

The word fasting means to move near (to the Supreme) and by implication to overcome helplessness. A calamity has always been an occasion for prayer, we normally pray for a positive reason like asking for a boon, other reasons include appeasement of an anger deity.

It is believed that no prayer can be complete unless it is accompanied by an offering.

Commonly performed Vrats:-

· Monday Vrat for Shiva

· Tuesday Vrat for Ganapati

· Wednesday Vrat for Krishna

· Thursday Vrat for Dattaguru

· Friday Vrat for Lakshmi

· Saturday Vrat for Hanuman

· Sunday Vrat for Surya

Pundit Ravi - Hindu Vrats

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Seven Spiritual Laws Of Success

You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." – Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

This is the core message of the book ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success - A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams’ by Dr Deepak Chopra, the celebrated author of ‘Ageless Body, Timeless Mind’. Alternately, he calls it ‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Life’. In seven simple life-altering practical steps, he tells us how to attain success.

What Does It Take to Succeed?

In this book Dr Chopra proves that success is not the result of hard work, exacting plans, or driving ambition but comprehending our basic nature as a human being and abiding by natural laws. When we understand these laws and apply them in our lives, anything we want can be created, because the same laws that nature uses to create a forest, or a star, or a human body can also bring about the fulfillment of our deepest desires.”

What is Success?

For most, it is material wealth. But Dr Chopra goes much beyond: “Success is a journey, and it includes much more than material wealth which is only one component that makes this journey enjoyable”. Success, in actuality, is – good health, energy, enthusiasm for life, fulfilling relationships, creative freedom, emotional and psychological stability, a sense of well-being, and peace of mind. Also, and importantly, it is the unfolding of the divinity within us to live in harmony with the natural laws of life.

The Seven Keys to Success

In brief, here are the seven laws that can lead you to success:

1. The Law of Pure Potentiality or The Law of Unity

The source of all creation is pure consciousness or pure potentiality seeking expression from the unmanifest to the manifest. Our essential nature is one of pure potentiality – infinite spiritual essence, pure joy, creativity, endless possibilities, pure knowledge, infinite silence, perfect balance, invincibility, simplicity and bliss. And by daily practice of silence, meditation, and non-judgment, when we realize that our true Self is one of pure potentiality, we align with the power that manifests everything in the universe and get what we desire.

2. The Law of Giving

The universe operates through dynamic exchange giving and receiving are different aspects of the flow of energy in the universe. And in our willingness to give that which we seek, we keep the abundance of the universe circulating in our lives. The driving force behind giving and receiving should be happiness – if you want love, love others; if you want joy, give joy to others; if you want all the good things, want the same for others.

3. The Law of Karma or Cause and Effect

What we sow is what we reap, and when our actions of conscious choice-making bring happiness and success to others, the fruit of our karma (both action and the consequence of that action) is joy and success.

4. The Law of Least Effort

Nature’s intelligence functions with effortless ease – flowers don’t try to bloom, they bloom; birds don’t try to fly, they fly. “Least effort is expended when our actions are motivated by love, harmony, and joy”. If we try to seek power, money, or chase happiness for the sake of ego, we waste energy. But contrarily, if these actions are dovetailed with love, our energy multiplies and we can use the surplus energy for anything we want.

5. The Law of Intention and Desire

“Inherent in every intention and desire is the mechanics for its fulfillment. And when we introduce an intention in our pure potentiality, we put this infinite organizing power to work for us”. At quantum mechanical levels, the universe is our extended body and when we intend, it triggers transformation of energy and information and organizes its own fulfillment.

6. The Law of Detachment

Relinquish attachment to the result of your action. Attachment is based on fear and insecurity. Detachment is based on the unquestioning belief in the power of your true Self. “Cars, houses, money, clothes etc. are transitory symbols of your Self…chasing symbols is like settling for the map instead of the territory. It creates anxiety; it ends up making you feel hollow and empty.”

7. The Law of Dharma or Purpose in Life

“Everyone has a purpose in life…a unique gift to give to others, and when we blend this talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy of our own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.” First, we have to discover our true Self. Second, express our special talents. Third, use the gift to serve humanity. Constantly ask the question, how can I help?

These laws constitute the seven chapters of the book, and each segment ends with ‘Applying the Law’ – some easy methods to practice daily and right away embark on the road to Success. Truly, as the Chairman and CEO, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Peter Guber puts it – “‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success’ is a Virtual Reality toolkit for the 21st century spiritual traveler.”

‘The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success' - Dr Deepak Chopra

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Greatness Of Lord Ganesha - Lord Of Wisdom And Success

Our concept of ‘ishtadeiva’ encourages us to worship God through our favourite deity or avathara, but every Hindu will worship the elephant headed Vinayagar, who is often lovingly referred to as ‘Pillayar’. Hence, He is the most powerful unifying force in Hinduism and is even claimed to be ‘in charge of Hinduism’.

In fact, He is worshipped in some form or other in many parts of the world and is the most popular object of worship in Maharashtra state in India. First worship is always to Vinayagar, who is propitiated first and foremost even in the celestial world. He exists in physical form with elephant head and trunk in the astral and celestial worlds.

Among all God forms, Vinayagar best manifest AUM the pranava in both form and sound. An elephant roar resembles AUM, which is the primary sound of creation which originated from sound (not light). Vinayagar’s trunk is naadam (sound) and its curled tip is bindu (energy).

Vinayagar is revered as the Lord of wisdom, success and memory for many reasons – large brain and ears (hearing everything), small eyes (discrimination) etc. He is a total ‘brahmachari’ but His divine intellect (buddhi) and success (siddhi) are sometimes portrayed as His two ‘wives’. (This is a misnomer).

Vinayagar sits at the moolathara chakra (spiritual centre) at the lower most part of our spine and gradually propels our kundalini energy upwards towards the manipura chakra higher up. He is the 1st step in kundalini yoga.

He knows best our past karmas and hence guides us accordingly. He is also the guardian and custodian of the gravitational force and so most concerned with our worldly life, creating obstacles when we are wrong, and removing obstacles when we are on the right path. Even Lord Muruga was unable to win Valli over till He had propitiated His elder brother Vinayagar, who then appeared (as the pranava) to Valli in the elephant form.

Vinayagar’s wisdom is seen in several episodes. In the contest for the fruit of wisdom (jnanapalam). While Muruga raced away on His peacock round the universe, Vinayagar calmly circumambulated His parents (Siva and Parvathi) claiming the entire universe to be in them and thus won the fruit of wisdom.

He teaches that no physical sacrifice is too great for destroying evil as well as for propagating spiritual knowledge and dharma. For the former He used His right tusk as a weapon to subdue Mausika the mouse-headed demon. For the latter He broke His right tusk to complete writing the Mahabharatha (the greatest epic of all time) while it was dictated by Sage Veda Vyasa (in 8800 verses) who had found Vinayagar to be the most qualified ONE to write the epic.

Vinayagar’s five (5) shaktis are love and compassion for family, for relatives and friends, for culture and discipline, for dharma, and for charity.

Lord of Wisdom and Success - Dr. K. Dharmaratnam, Klang

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Mehendi or Henna Dye: Green, Cool & Beautiful

Although Mehendi is generally used in many Hindu festivals and celebrations, there's no doubt that the Hindu wedding ceremony has become synonymous with this beautiful reddish dye.

What is Mehendi?

Mehendi (Lawsonia inermis) is a small tropical shrub, whose leaves when dried and ground into a paste, give out a rusty-red pigment, suitable for making intricate designs on the palms and feet. The dye has a cooling property, and no side effects on the skin. Mehendi is extremely suitable for creating intricate patterns on various parts of the body, and a painless alternative to permanent tattoos.

Mehendi History

The Mughals brought Mehendi to India as lately as the 12th century AD. As the use of Mehendi spread, its application methods and designs became more sophisticated. The tradition of Henna or Mehendi originated in North Africa and the Middle East. It is believed to have been in use as a cosmetic for the last 5000 years. According to professional henna artist and researcher Catherine C Jones, the beautiful patterning prevalent in India today has emerged only in the 20th century. In 17th century India, the barber's wife was usually employed for applying henna on women. Most women from that time in India are depicted with their hands and feet hennaed, regardless of social class or marital status.

It's Cool & Fun!

The varied use of Mehendi by the rich and royal from very early times has made it popular with the masses, and its cultural importance has grown ever since. Mehendi's popularity lies in its fun value. It's cool and appealing! It's painless and temporary! No lifetime commitment like real tattoos, no artistic skills required!

Mehendi in the West

The introduction of Mehendi into Euro-American culture is a recent phenomenon. Today Mehendi, as trendy alternative to tattoos, is an in-thing in the West. Hollywood actors and celebrities have made this painless art of body painting famous. Actress Demi Moore, and 'No Doubt' crooner Gwen Stefani were among the first to sport Mehendi. Since then stars like Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Naomi Campbell, Liv Tyler, Nell McAndrew, Mira Sorvino, Daryl Hannah, Angela Bassett, Laura Dern, Laurence Fishburne, and Kathleen Robertson have all tried Henna tattoos, the great Indian way. Glossies, like Vanity Fair, Harper's Bazaar, Wedding Bells, People and Cosmopolitan have spread the Mehendi trend even further.

Mehendi in Hinduism

Mehendi is very popular with both men and women also as a conditioner and dye for the hair. Mehendi is also applied during the various vratas or fasts, such as Karwa Chauth, observed by married women. Even gods and goddesses are seen to adorn Mehendi designs. A large dot in the centre of the hand, with four smaller dots at the sides is an oft seen Mehendi pattern on the palms of Ganesha and Lakshmi. However, its most important use comes in a Hindu Wedding.

The Hindu marriage season is a special time for Henna tattoos or 'Mehendi'. Hindus often use the term 'Mehendi' interchangeably with marriage, and Mehendi is considered among the most auspicious 'ornaments' of a married woman.

No Mehendi, No Marriage!

Mehendi is not just a way of artistic expression, sometimes it's a must! A Hindu wedding includes a number of religious rites before and during the nuptials, and Mehendi play a vital role in it, so much so that no Indian marriage is considered complete without it! The reddish brown color of Mehendi - which stands for the prosperity that a bride is expected to bring to her new family - is considered most auspicious for all wedding-related ceremonies.

The Mehendi Ritual

A day before her wedding, the girl and her female folks gather for the Mehendi ritual - a ceremony traditionally marked by joie de vivre - during which the bride-to-be embellish their hands, wrists, palms and feet with the lovely red hue of the Mehendi. Even the groom's hand, especially in Rajasthani weddings, is decorated with Mehendi patterns.

There's nothing strictly sacred or spiritual about it, but applying Mehendi is considered beneficial and lucky, and always regarded as beautiful and blessed. That is perhaps why Indian women are so fond of it. But there're some popular beliefs about Mehendi, especially prevalent among women.

Wear It Dark & Deep

A deeply colored design is generally considered a good sign for the new couple. It's a common belief among Hindu women that during the nuptial rituals the darker the imprint left on the bride's palms, the more her mother-in-law will love her. This belief may have been contrived to make the bride sit patiently for the paste to dry and yield a good imprint. A bride is not expected to perform any household work until her wedding Mehendi has faded. So wear it dark and deep!

Name Game

A bride's wedding designs usually includes a hidden inscription of the groom's name on her palm. It's believed, if the groom fails to find his name within the intricate patterns, the bride will be more dominant in conjugal life. Sometimes the wedding night is not allowed to commence until the groom has found the names. This is also seen as a subterfuge to let the groom touch the bride's hands in order to find his name, thus initiating a physical relationship. Another superstition regarding Mehendi is that if an unmarried girl receives scrapings of Mehendi leaves from a bride, she will soon find a suitable match.

How to Apply

The Mehendi paste is prepared by powdering dried leaves and mixing it with water. The paste is then squeezed through the tip of a cone to draw patterns on the skin. The 'designs' are then allowed to dry for 3-4 hours until it becomes hard and crusted, during which the bride must sit still. This also lets the bride take some rest, while listening to pre-nuptial advice from friends and elders. The paste is also said to cool the bride's nerves. After it dries, the gruff remains of the paste are washed off. The skin is left with a dark rusty red imprint, which stays for weeks.

Essential Part of Hindu Wedding - Subhamoy Das

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