Wednesday, August 28, 2013


By. ~ Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

Ashtami is from 02.06 am on 28.08.2013 to 04.10 am on 29.08.2013.

Krishna Took Birth At Midnight On The Ashtami Or The 8th Day Of The Krishnapaksha Or Dark Fortnight In The Hindu Month Of Shravan (August-September). This Auspicious Day Is Called Janmashtami. Indian As Well As Western Scholars Have Now Accepted The Period Between 3200 And 3100 BC As The Period In Which Lord Krishna Lived On Earth. Read About The Story Of His Birth.

The Devotees Of Lord Krishna Observe Fast For The Whole Day And Night, Worshipping Him And Keeping Vigil Through The Night While Listening To His Tales And Exploits, Recite Hymns From The Gita, Sing Devotional Songs, And Chant The Mantra Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.

Krishna's Birthplace Mathura And Vrindavan Celebrate This Occasion With Great Pomp And Show. Raslilas Or Religious Plays Are Performed To Recreate Incidents From The Life Of Krishna.

Krishna was the 8th son of Devaki and Vasudeva. Based on scriptural details and astrological calculations the date of Krishna's birth, known as Janmashtami, is 19 July 3228 BCE and departed on 3102 BCE. Krishna belonged to the Vrishni clan of Yadavas from Mathura, and was the eighth son born to the princess Devaki, and her husband Vasudeva.

Why Celebrate Krishna’s Birthday?

Janmashtami celebrates the birth of Krishna. Ashtami, the half-moon, indicates a perfect balance between the seen and unseen aspects of reality; the visible material world and invisible spiritual realm. Krishna’s birth on ashtami signifies his mastery of both spiritual and material worlds. His teachings are most relevant to our times in the sense that they neither let you get lost in material pursuits nor make you completely withdrawn. To celebrate Gokulashtami is to imbibe extremely opposite yet compatible qualities and manifest them in your own life.

Krishna simply means the most attractive -- the Self or the Being. Radheshyam represents infinity. Radhe is individual life and Shyam is infinite life. Krishna is the Self of every being and when our true natural Self shines through our personality, skills and abundance follow.

It is said that Krishna used to steal butter. What does this signify? Butter is the final product of a process: the milk is first made into curd and then the curd that is well churned becomes butter. And like milk or curd, life is the process of churning through so many events, happenings and instances. Finally butter comes out, which is the saintliness in you.

The whole essence of it is to maintain that balance, to be joyful, happy and centred. You can have a big smile when everything is smooth in your life; if you can smile even in adversity then you have achieved something in life. It is like how Krishna stands with one foot firmly on the ground, the other is raised, poised; this is how dance can happen. This depicts the way to live life in perfect balance. When you are buried in the mind, dance cannot happen. Witnessing the disturbances of the mind helps us to rise above them. So whenever you are disturbed, instead of thinking that this should never have happened, simply surrender.

In the Bhagwad Gita Krishna says, “Why is it that so many are not able to know me? The reason is that they are constantly stuck between their cravings and aversions.” One who intensely craves for someone or has too much hatred for someone, falls into the trap of moha, attachment. When such a person has a problem in his life, be it regarding money or relationships, for example, then his mind is completely engrossed with the problem and he spends his days and nights, even years, worrying over it, but he is not able to overcome it.

For this, Krishna says, ‘Those whose punyas, meritorious deeds, begin to bear fruit are freed of all their sorrow, and they begin to get drawn towards me. Those whose sins are not cleansed remain stuck in ignorance and delusion”. If you walk towards the light, the darkness of ignorance automatically starts to disappear. But sin is that which does not let you move towards the light. And this is what causes misery, pain and suffering. When a person completely understands that I am not the body, I am pure Consciousness, then such strength dawns in him. Once you have faith in the Divine, then that is it. Then you should not doubt it one bit. This is what knowing the Divine truly means.

Krishna is the symbol of all possibilities, the total blossoming of all aspects of the human, and the Divine. Janmashtami is the day when you enliven that virat swaroop, the cosmic nature of Krishna in your own consciousness once again. Letting your true nature manifest in your day-to-day life is the real secret of Krishna’s birth.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Pongal Festival

Pongal is celebrated to mark the day of harvest which falls in the month of Thai which usually falls in the month of January. It represents celebration of "fertility and renewal" and is observed either for three days or four-days, after the end of the monsoon season and rice (paddy) crop is harvested. As the entire world economy was agricultural based, this festival was celebrated all over the world.

This day marks the transition of the Sun into Makara rasi (Capricorn) on its celestial path. So it is also known as Makara Sankranti. Traditionally, this has been one of many harvest days in India.

This day is also marks the rise of star cluster called Pleiades on the horizon. The Pleiades is known to cultures all around the world, including the Maori, Aboriginal Australians, the Persians, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Maya, the Aztec, and the Sioux and Cherokee. In Tamil culture this star cluster is attributed to Lord Murugan (Lord Murugan raised by the six sisters known as the Kārthigai Penngal and thus came to be known as Kārtikeyan), in Sanskrit he is noted as Skanda.

Boghi Festival

The Pongal Festival is celebrated over four days period, the last day of the Marghazhi month and the first three days of the month of Thai. The first day (the last day of the Marghazhi month) is known as Bhogi. Bhogi festival is celebrated in honor of Lord Indra, "the God of Clouds and Rains". Lord Indra is worshiped for the abundance of harvest, thereby bringing plenty and prosperity to the land.

It is the time to clean up the house and burn the rubbish. But today, the people mistakenly take this day as to destroy and burn the old things. That is not what it was meant for. The farmers who toil in the farm from morning to night would not have time to clean their house. So on this day farmers will gather together and clean up not only their houses but also the village. Cleaning up and burning of this pile of rubbish is celebrated as festival because it is done as a community project. All trashes and agricultural wastes will then be burnt in a bonfire which marks the height of the Boghi festival. The fire made of wood and cow-dung cake is also to keep warm during the last lap of the winter.

Newly harvested rice is boiled together
with milk and other  items until it boils.

Pongal Day (Surya Pongal)

On the next day of Pongal, (the first day of the Thai month), which is known as the actual Pongal Day, the farmer's wives will gather together and boil the first harvest rice with milk and offer to the Sun God to express their gratitude do the yield.

Village women cooking Pongal in a earthen ware called claypot

Besides rice and lentils, the ingredients of the sweet dish Pongal dish include cardamom, jaggery, raisins, and cashew nuts. Cooking is done in sunlight, usually in a porch or courtyard, as the dish is dedicated to the Sun God, Surya. The cooking is done in a clay pot called kollam which is decorated with coloured patterns. There are two versions of pongal, one sweet the other salted. The prepared dish is served on banana leaves. Apart from Pongal Day celebrations, cooking pongal is a traditional practice at Hindu temples during any Temple Festival in Tamil Nadu. The community will convene to cook pongal rice, partake of it and distribute it to those present.

Maattu Pongal

The second day of the Thai month is dedicated to the farm animals an known as Maattu Pongal. Though the name of the festival is specific to Tamil Nadu, in India, it is also celebrated in other southern states such as Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. It is for celebration of the cattle, particularly cows and bulls that play a vital role by working hard to help the farmers to raise crops on their fields

Sweetened food is served including the animals.

Kanni Pongal

Since the harvest is the time when the farmers makes their income, they organise their children's marriage during this month. Thus the month of Thai is known as auspicious month for wedding ceremonies. The last day of Pongal is used for this particular reason. On this day which is know as Kanni Pongal or the Virgins Pongal, the teenagers will have many activities together. This practice was introduced because girls usually stay in the house and not exposed to the world. During the activities, the boys and girls can get introduced. Once the family of the groom to be sees a girl to their liking they will then send a proposal group to find out more info on the girls and the marriage talk will begin.

The boys will show their strength in controlling the bulls to
impress the girls on  the 3rd day in the game of Jallikattu

This practice has been found in the history and may well be more than 1000 years old although some are of the view that the festival is older than that. Epigraphic Evidence suggests the celebration of the Puthiyeedu during the Medieval Chola empire days. It is thought that Puthiyeedudoodle meant the first harvest of the year.

Girls will show their talents in "Kolam" competition
to impress the boys on the day of Kanni Pongal.

Recently the Tamil Nadu DMK government who is known for segregating certain factions for their "Divide and Rule" political system declared that Pongal Festival as "Tamizhar Thirunaal" or Tamizhan's Festival. This declaration is absurd as this day does not occur in the beginning of the Tamil year. This day was not derived based on any mathematical or astrological calculations. As such Tamils worldwide should not consider this date as a new year.