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Two Hindu festivals to spread love and joy

Raksha Bandhan on August 18; Krishna Janmashtami on August 25

Venkat Raman – 

venkat@indiannewslink.co.nz

Millions of Hindu in India and other parts of the world will observe two important festivals this fortnight- one to highlight the fraternal bond and the other to celebrate the birth of Lord Krishna.

According to the Hindu calendar, ‘Raksha Bandhan’ will be marked on Thursday, August 18, 2016, while ‘Janmashtami,’ the Birth of Lord Krishna, an Avatar of Lord Vishnu will be celebrated on August 25, 2016.

Brotherhood extolled

Brothers occupy a place of importance in Indian families and Hindus in particular extol the relationship with religious fervour. The brother-sister relationship blossoms into one of care and protection as siblings get older. Recognising the fact that women would be separated from their brothers upon their marriage, the Hindu system provides for a number of occasions in a year for their get-together to celebrate the bond. These events include Navaratri, Diwali and Raksha Bandhan, the last of which is the most important occasion for Hindus.

‘Raksha Bandhan’ denotes the pledge of protection that a brother gives his sister, in recognition of which she ties a ‘Rakhi’ (a colourful bracelet) on his right wrist. The brother usually offers gifts, which could range from a simple box of sweets to expensive jewellery, clothes, cars and even properties.

The Indian film industry has eulogised this bond through hundreds of films in almost every language in which movies are made. There have been many films dedicated to this theme and the songs picturised on brothers and sisters have become immortal, with an intense emotive appeal.

Religious notations

Two Hindu festivals- Lord Krishna WebThe following is an extract from ‘Dirk Panchang,’ with religious notations.

Raksha Bandhan is celebrated on Full Moon Day (Poornima) during ‘Shravan Mass’ (‘Adi Masam’ in Tamil), corresponding to July-August in the Gregorian calendar.

On this day, the divine firmament (Sky) is under the celestial sovereignty of ‘Shravan Nakshatra’ (one of 27 Nakshatras), which gives the month its name.

Each day during this month is auspicious for worshipping ‘Shambhu’ (Lord Shiva). Prayers and Vedic rituals are performed in Shiva Temples. Other festivals observed during Shravan are Naga-Panchami, Govatsa, Shravani Poornima, Varalakshmi Vrata, Rishi Panchami, Kalkyavatara and Putradaikadashi.

Auspicious Time

The best time to tie the Rakhi is during ‘Aparahna’ (late afternoon) according to Hindu division of the day. If Aparahna time is not available, then Pradosh time is also suitable to perform rituals related to Raksha Bandhan. The rituals should not be done during Bhadra, a malicious time, which should be avoided for all auspicious work.

Lord Krishna

Lord Krishna (like Lord Rama) is known as the ‘Sampoorna Avatar’ (Complete Reincarnation) of Lord Vishnu, the Protector of the Universe.

Born on ‘Ashtami’ (the Ninth day of the Lunar month), Krishna is known for his youthful pranks and in later years for his diplomacy and pragmatic warfare.

An epitome of kindness, Krishna is a celebrated Deity for of various ethnic groups grouped under ‘International Society for Krishna Consciousness’ and other assemblies.

Birth Significance

Janmashtami or birth on the eighth day of the chronological cycle is one of the most significant for Hindus in every part of the world. This Festival occurs on the eighth day (Ashtami) of a lunar fortnight; hence the name (Krishna+Ashtami).

Krishnashtami, which comes around in August, is celebrated over two days. The first day is Krishnashtami or Gokulashtami. The second day is called Kalashtami or more popularly Janmashtami.

On the midnight between the first and second days, the ‘Birth’ of Lord Krishna is replicated with pomp and ceremony. Delicacies are prepared from milk and curd that Krishna loved. The more popular ceremony of ‘Dahi-Handi’ (breaking a pot full of milk and its derivatives} takes place on the second day. During this ceremony, a large earthenware pot filled with milk, curd, butter and honey, is suspended from a height of 20 to 40 feet.

This ceremony replicates Krishna’s love for milk and butter. In his childhood, the Lord and his mates raided the houses of His neighbours in search of milk and butter. It is a common practice in India to tie up food articles in a pot suspended from the beams of the roof to prevent domestic animals from despoiling them.

Pastoral Society

The story of Lord Krishna reflects life in a pastoral society. Cattle are the principal means of subsistence. The activity of people revolves around tending cows, milking them, making curd, butter and other modern-day dairy products.

New Zealanders would easily understand the significance.

Krishna himself has names displaying a pastoral character. Govinda and Gopala as he is also known, mean cowherd.

Hindu and Hare Krishna Temples and informal groups will celebrate Janmashtami with religious discourses, prayers and Mahaprasad this month.

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