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KARTIKEYA

Describing Kartikeya's manifestation and how his worship got associated with the auspicious day of shashthi,sage Mahatapa told king Prajapal-Once,a fierce battle was between the deities and demons in which the deities got defeated.The reason behind their defeat was the absence was the absence of an able commander who could lead them.The deities went to seek the help of lord Brahma.Being unable to solve their problem,lord Brahma took the deities to lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva invoked 'Shakti' present within his body and thus manifested lord Kartikeya.He was named after the six 'Kritikas' who had nurtured him by feeding their breast milk.Lord shiva then made Kartikeya the commander of the deities on the auspicious day of shashthi.Under his able leadership,the deities finally managed to defeat the demons.
A devotee who worships lord Kartikeya on shashthi enjoys prosperity and gets all his desire fulfilled. A childless couple must worship on this auspicious day to get blessed with a son.

LORD ADITYA

King Prajapal asked Mahatapa-"The thought of divine radiance taking the form of human radiance bewilders me.Please clear my doubts."
Sage Mahatapa replied -"When the almighty God willed to manifest himself in other tangible forms,an effulgence emanated from his being resulting into the creation of 'Surya'(The Sun).The whole world became illumined with Surya's radiance and all the deities dwelling within the body of Almighty God expressed their gratitude.Initially,unbearable heat emanated from 'Surya',causing great uncomfort to the deities but later on Almighty God reduced it to bearable limit at the request of the deities.Surya had manifested himself on the auspicious day of 'saptami' hence this particular day became deeply associated with the worship of Surya.

ASHTA MATRIKAS

Continuing with his narration,sage Mahatapa said -"During ancient times,there lived a mighty demon named 'Andhakasur'.Andhakasur had become arrogant because of a boon of immortality received from lord Brahma. Being tormented by Andhakasur,all the deities went to seek lord Brahma's help.Lord Brahma took the deities to lord Shiva who agreed to kill the wicked demon-Andhakasur.
The battle commenced and a fierce dual fight broke out between Lord Shiva and Andhakasur.Shiva attacked Andhakasur with his trident.Stream of blood oozed out from the wound,but to Shiva's utter amazement each drop of blood falling on the ground resulted in into the creation of numerous Andhakasuras.In a short time the battle field was overcrowded with countless Andhakasuras.Now,Shiva's anger crossed all limits and he thundered loudly.Flames emanated from the mouth of enraged Shiva resulting into the manifestation of goddess 'Yogishwari'.Similarly,seven more goddesses manifested themselves from different deities- Vaishnavi from lord Vishnu,Brahmi from lord Brahma,Kaumari from Kartikeya,Mahendri from Indra,Yami from Yama,Varahi from lord Varah and Maheshwari from lord Narayan.All these eight goddesses came to be known as 'Matrikas' and lord assigned them the auspicious day for their worship.A devotee who worships these eight matrikas on ashtami are blessed.The use of 'bael'(wood-apple)fruit on this day has great significance.

GODDESS DURGA

King Prajapal requested sage Mahatapa to narrate about the manifestation of goddess Durga and the significance of her worship on navami.Sage Mahatapa replied-The mighty demon-Vetrasur had driven out deities from the heaven.All the deities went to lord Brahma and sought his help.As lord Brahma was wondering about his further course of action,suddenly goddess Durga appeared from nowhere.She held various weapons in each of her eight arms and was mounted on a ferocious lion.Lord Brahma was relieved as he was confident that Goddess Durga would certainly kill Vretasur.Finally,goddess Durga indeed killed the dreaded demon without much difficulty.Later on,all the deities requested her to make himalaya mountain as her abode to which she agreed.This particular place,in course of time became famous as Nandadevi.One who worships goddess Durga on the auspicious day of navami gets her blessings.

DASH DISHAS

Having finished the tale of goddess Durga,sage Mahatapa revealed how all the six directions came into existence-"Six divine women manifested themselves from both the ears of lord Brahma during the initial phase of creation.The name of these six divine women were Purva(east),Dakshina(south),Paschima(west),Uttara(north), Urdhva(upwards) and Adhara(downwards).In course of time all of them got married to six different Lokpals. Lord Brahma assigned the auspicious day of dashami for their worship.One who worships all these six goddesses on the auspicious day of dashami is blessed and one who observes fast on this day gets absolved of all his sins.

KUBER

Continuing with the tales of the manifestation of various deities,sage Mahatapa said-"In the process of doing his creation,lord Brahma bellowed as a result of which Kubera manifested himself.Lord Brahma assigned kubera the lordship of all the wealth and prosperity.It was 'ekadashi' when Kubera had manifested himself,so this particular day has deep association with his worship.One who observes a fast on the auspicious day of ekadashi never lives in poverty."

LORD VISHNU

Describing how lord Vishnu manifested,sage Mahatapa told Prajapal -"Narayan -the almighty God incarnated as lord Vishnu to nurture all the living creatures inhabiting the world.Eventually,lord Vishnu entrusted the job of world's welfare to goddess Yoganidra and himself went into his meditative sleep.While he was still in his meditative sleep,a lotus flower emanated from his navel.Lord Brahma was seated on that lotus flower.
The almighty God was delighted to see himself in the incarnation of Vishnu.He blessed Vishnu by saying- 'May you destroy all kind of ignorance with the help of your sword.Hold this chakra I am giving you,to sever the evil influences of 'kaal-chakra'(wheel of time).May all the sins be destroyed by your mace.May the deity-Vayu adorn your hand in the form of a conch and vaijyanti mala in your neck.May the Sun and Moon adorn your person in the form of shrivatsa and kaustubh diamonds.May Garuda be your mount and goddess Laxmi your consort.May people desirous of salvation worship you on the auspicious day of dwadashi.One who worship you on this day will definitely attain to the heaven.'

DHARMA

Sage Mahatapa then told king Mahapal about the manifestation of Dharma and the significance of trayodashi-'Dharma manifested himself from the right part of almighty God and appeared like a bullock. The almighty God instructed him to protect the mankind from all evils and sins.All the four feet of Dharma signified four various virtues-truth,purity,penance and charity.In satyayuga,Dharma was four footed-all the four virtues were prevalent during that era.In treta yuga,the feet reduced to three.The subsequent eras of dwapar and kaliyuga saw the further decline in virtuosity in which Dharma had two feet and one foot respectively.'
'Once,a fierce battle was fought between the deities and demons.The bone of contention was a woman for whom both the side made claims.Dharma intervened and solved the contentious issue to the satisfaction of both the warring sides.Lord Brahma was very impressed by the deftness with which Dharma had handled such a tough situation and blessed him by saying-I am assigning the auspicious day of tryodashi to you.One who observes a fast and worship you on this day will be liberated from all his sins.'

LORD RUDRA

Sage Mahatapa then went on to describe the incident that led to the manifestation of lord Rudra and the significance of chaturdashi-'In the beginning of creation,when lord Brahma failed in his repeated attempts to create,he became frustrated.Frustration turned into fury and from his fury manifested a divine entity who cried incessantly.Lord Brahma tried to stop him from crying and said-tvam ma rud(don't cry).This is how lord Rudra got his name.Lord Brahma then requested Rudra to commence creation but since Rudra lacked the power needed for doing creation therefore he refused and went to do penance.Later on, lord Brahma created his manasputras and other living creatures.Daksha Prajapati was one of these manasputras.Once,he had organised a grand yagya in which all the deities and even the demons had been invited.'
Meanwhile,Rudra's penance was disturbed by the constant chanting of the mantras at the yagya performed by Daksha Prajapati.Rudra was infuriated resulting into the emanation of flames from his mouth.Eventually these fire-balls got transformed into ferocious spirits and ghosts.Rudra then reached the place where the yagya was being performed and with the help of all the spirits and ghosts started destoying the oblation site.It was only after lord Brahma's intervention that Rudra calmed down.All the deities then eulogized Rudra and sought his blessings. One who worships lord Rudra on the auspicious day of chaturdashi becomes absolved of all his sins.

TANMATRAS

Describing the importance of amavasya,sage Mahatapa told Prajapal-"Once,while lord Brahma was just about to commence the process of creation,suddenly 'tanmatras'(subtle forms of matter) revealed themselves from his mind.All of them being extremely virtuous were eager to go up in the sky to do penance byt lord Brahma requested them to become the 'pitras'(ancestors)of the human beings.All the tanmatras then requested Brahma to make arrangement for their sustenance.Lord Brahma blessed them by saying-'I assign to you the auspicious day of amavasya.Anybody who performs the rituals of 'tarpan'(libation) on this day would become absolved of his sins.You would sustain yourselves on various things like water,sesame seeds, and kusha grass which are offered by human beings to their ancestors on this day.'

CHANDRAMA

Describing the importance of purnima sage Mahatapa said-"Daksha Prajapati had cursed Chandrama,his son-in-law for maltreating his daughters.As the fallout of that curse Chandrama started waning day by day and eventually became invisible on amavasya.All the deities became worried and went to seek lord Vishnu's help.Lord Vishnu advised them to get the ocean churned.While the ocean was being churned,Chandrama once again manifested himself from the ocean.Lord Brahma then assigned the auspicious day of purnima to him and blessed him.A devotee should observe a fast on purnima and worship Chandrama for the attainment of kowledge,prosperity aswell as salvation.

AUSTERITIES RELATED WITH

MATSYA-DWADASHI VRATA

Matsya-dwadashi is celebrated on the twelfth day of hindu month-Margashirsh.On this auspicious day a devotee should worship lord Matsya -the incarnation of lord Vishnu with appropriate rituals and give charity to brahmins.Prithvi was the first one to observe this particular austerity while she was being abducted to rasatala by a mighty demon named Hiranyaksha.A devotee who observes a fast on this day and worships lord Matsya with appropriate rituals attains to Brahma loka and remains their for eternity. Such a person attain's a divine body when creation recommences after the period of deluge.An issue-less woman is blessed with a virtuous son if she observes a fast on this day.Matsya-dwadashi is capable of absolving a man even of the gravest of his sin.

KURMA-DWADASHI VRATA

This particular austerity is dedicated to the worship of lord Kurma-the incarnation of lord Vishnu.It is celebrated on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month 'pausha'.The austerity which commences on the tenth day itself when a devotee is supposed to purify himself by taking a holy bath.On the following day he observes a fast and worships lord Kurma with appropriate rituals.He breaks his fast on dwadashi which marks the conclusion of the austerity.A devotee who observes a fast on this auspicious day becomes absolved of all his sins and attains salvation.

VARAH-DWADASHI VRATA

Varah dwadashi is celebrated on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month-magh.This was the day on which Prithvi had been rescued by lord Varah-the incarnation of lord Vishnu.An idol of lord Varah is installed on a pot filled with water and worshipped with appropriate rituals amidst the continuous chanting of the mantra-'om varahay namah'.Offerings of various articles are made while worshipping lord Varah-sandal- wood,incense, naivedya,etc.After the accomplishment of the rituals brahmins are fed and charity given to them.One who observes a fast on this day enjoys a good health and prosperity.Such a man becomes absolved of all his sins and attains to heaven after his death.

NRISIMHA-DWADASHI VRATA

This austerity is observed on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month-phalgun.A devotee should observe fast on this day and worship lord Nrisimha with appropriate rituals.This particular austerity is capable of absolving a man from all his sins.

VAMAN-DWADASHI VRATA

Vaman dwadashi is celebrated on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month-chaitra.A devotee should observe a fast and worship lord Vaman by saying the following prayer-O Lord!Vaman-the dwarfish incarnation of the almighty Vishnu,who took incarnation on the auspicious day of dwadashi in the month of chaitra-I seek your blessings."One who observes a fast on this day is blessed and protected from all kinds of danger.

JAMDAGNYA-DWADASHI VRATA

This austerity is related with the worship of lord Parshuram who is also famous as Jamdagnya.It is cele- brated on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month-vaishakh.Before commencing the rituals, a devotee should purify himself by taking a bath and then worship an idol of lord Parshuram kept on a pot filled with water.While worshipping he should make offerings of various articles tothe deity-flowers, sandalwood,ardhya,etc.It is mandatory to remain awake for the whole night.On the following day,he should donate the idol to a brahmin.A devotee who observes a fast on this day gets all his wishes fulfilled and attains to Brahma loka.

KALKI-DWADASHI VRATA

A devotee should commence this austerity by observing a fast on the eleventh day of the bright half of the hindu month-bhadrapad and break it on the following day-dwadashi.He should worship lord Kalki with appropriate rituals.As per the norms of the rituals,the idol of lord Kalki is placed on a pot which is filled with water.This idol is donated to a learned brahmin on the following day-trayodashi.

PADMANABH-DWADASHI VRATA

This austerity is related with the worship of lord Padmanabh-an epithet of lord Vishnu and is observed on the twelfth day of the bright half of the hindu month-ashwin.One important charecteristic of the ritual is that all the organs of lord Padmanabh is worshipped.The idol is placed on a pot filled with water and while worshipping offerings of various articles are made-flowers,fruits,sandalwood,etc.On the following day the idol is donated to a brahmin.One who observes a fast on this day enjoys a prosperous life and attains to the abode of lord Padmanabh.

DHARNI-VRATA

This particular austerity is observed in the hindu month of Kartik.The rituals commence by worshipping various organs of lord Narayan amidst the chanting of different mantras which are as follows-

  om sahastra shirse namah - head

  om purushay namah - arms

  om vishwa rupine namah - throat

  om gyanastray namah - weapons

  om shri vatsaaya namah - chest

  om jagad grasishnave namah - abdomen

  om divya murtaye namah - waist

  om sahastra paday namah - feet.

Similarly,srikrishna dwadashi is celebrated in the hindu month of Ashadh,shukla- paksha.A devotee should worship lord Krishna on this day and observe a fast.

BUDDHA-DWADASHI VRATA

Lord Buddha is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu.The austerity begins on the eleventh day of the bright half of the hindu month-shravan.On this day lord Vishnu is worshipped with appropriate rituals and by making offerings of various articles like flowers,fruits,incense,etc.The following mantras should be chanted while worshipping the various organs of lord Vishnu -

  om damodaray namah - feet

  om hrishikeshay namah - waist

  om sanatanay namah - abdomen

  om shri vatsadharine namah - chest

  om chakrapanaye namah - arms

  om haraye namah - throat

  om manju keshay namah - head

  om bhadray namah - top-knot(shikha).

After the accomplishment of the rituals,the idol should be donated to a brahmin.

SUBH-VRATA

This particular austerity on the first day of the hindu month-margashirsh.It is related with the worship of lord Vishnu and the rituals have some special characteristics-having one meal on the eleventh day of the month(ekadashi),donating barley to brahmins,worshipping the idol of goddess Prithvi on 'ekadashi', etc.The austerity concludes on dwadashi. On ekadashi,goddess Prithvi is also worshipped alongwith lord Vishnu.Both the idols are installed side by side and covered with white clothes.After that some rice grains are scattered in front of both the idols. As per the norms of the rituals,a devotee is required to remain awake for the whole night.Next morning,he should invite twenty-four brahmins and feed them.He should also donate a cow,apparels,ornaments,an umbrella,woodden sandle and similar articles to them.A devotee who observes a fast on this auspicious day enjoys prosperity.

DHANYA-VRATA

This particular austerity is a form of 'nakta-vrata',which means observing fast for the whole day and breaking it in the night.The austerity commences on the first day of the bright half of the hindu month-aghan and lasts for a year.Rituals include worshipping Agnideva-an embodiment of lord Vishnu,chanting of certain mantras praising the glory of the deity and performing 'havan'.There are specific instructions on the type of food a devotee should have during the course of this austerity-for four months(chaitra to ashadh) he should have delicacies like 'kheer' seasoned in pure ghee.From shravan to kartik he should have food-items prepared from gram-flour. This way,the austerity lasts for one year whereby a devotee observes fast on the first day of every month that follows.The austerity concludes by worshipping an idol of lord Agni made of gold.The idol is adorned with a piece of red-cloth and red-flowers are offered to the deity while worshipping.After the rituals are accomplished,the idol should be donated to a brahmin.The observance of this particular austerity brings good fortune to a man and makes him prosperous.

KANTI-VRATA

This austerity is related with the worship of sri Krishna and Balaram.It commences on the second day of the bright half of the hindu month-kartik and lasts for a year whereby a devotee observes fast on the second day(bright half) of every month that follows.While worshipping Balarama,a devotee should chant-'om baldevay namah'and while worshipping sri Krishna he should chant-'om keshavay namah'. Subsequently,'ardhya'is offered to both the deities.A devotee should have food prepared from barley-flour in the night but those devotees who have resolved to observe this austerity for four months beginning from 'falgun' should live only on 'kheer'.Offerings of rice and sesame seeds are made in the sacrificial- fire during the months of 'aghan' and 'kartik' respectively. The rituals conclude by worshipping the deity 'Chandrama'at the end of the year.Finally all the three idols (sri Krishna,Balram and Chandrama) should be donated to brahmins.A devotee who observes this austerity is bestowed with a charming personality.

SAUBHAGYA-VRATA

This austerity commences on the third day of the bright half of the hindu month-falgun and lasts for a year whereby a devotee observes fast on the third day(bright half) of every month that follows.According to the tradition a devotee can either worship 'Shiva-Parvati' or 'Sri Hari-Laxmi on this auspicious day. While worshipping,the devotee should chant the following mantras-om gambhiray namah, om saubhagyay namah,om devdevay namah,om trinetray namah,om vachaspataye namah,om rudray namah,etc.One important feature of the rituals is making offerings of honey and ghee to the sacrificial fire.During the course of the rituals,a devotee should have food prepared from pure cereals preferably wheat. After the rituals are accomplished at the end of the year,the idols should be donated to brahmins.One who observes this austerity is blessed with good fortune in his successive seven births.

AVIGHNA-VRATA

As the name implies,this austerity clears all the obstacles faced by a man.It commences on the fourth day of the bright half of the hindu month-falgun and lasts for four months whereby a devotee observes fast on the fourth day(bright half) of every month that follows.One important characteristic of this austerity is the importance and use of sesame seeds in it's rituals.It is not only the chief constituent of the diet but it is also offered in the sacrificial fire and donated to the brahmins as well.After observing this austerity for four months,a devotee should conclude it by worshipping lord Ganesh in the fifth month and donating the Ganesh-idol to a brahmin alongwith five pots filled with sesame seeds.While worshipping lord Ganesh,he should chant the following mantras-om shooray namah, om dhiray namah,om gajananay namah,om lambodaray namah,om ekdanshtray namah,etc.A devotee thus becomes free from all kind of obstacles and all his wishes are fulfilled

SHANTI-VRATA

This austerity commences on the fifth day of the bright half of the hindu month-kartik and lasts for a year whereby a devotee observes fast on the fifth day(bright half) of the every month that follows.It is related with the worship of lord Vishnu and Sheshnag.A devotee should abstain from hot and spicy food during the course of this austerity.Lord Vishnu's idol is purified by chanting mantras and by performing ablution with milk.Offerings of sesame seeds and milk are made in the sacrificial fire.After the accomplishment of the rituals at the year end,brahmins are invited and fed.Finally,the idol of Sheshnag is donated to one of them.A devotee who performs this austerity becomes free from all kinds of turbulence in his life and experiences peace and tranquility.

KAAM-VRATA

This austerity is related with the worship of lord Kartikeya and is observed in the bright half of the hindu month-pausha.On the sixth day of this month,a devotee is expected to live on nothing else but fruits.Lord Kartikeya is also known by several other names-Shadanan,Senani,Kritikasut,Kumar,Skand,etc. The austerity concludes by feeding the brahmins at the year end and making donations to them.A devotee who observes this austerity gets all his wishes fulfilled.

AAROGYA-VRATA

This austerity is related with the worship of lord Surya Narayan who is also known by several other names like Aaditya,Bhaskar,Ravi,Bhanu,Diwakar,Prabhakar,etc.A devotee should observe a fast on the seventh day of any month and worship lord Suryanarayan.The fast should be broken on the next day-ashtami.A devotee can continue this ritual for one year following the above mentioned rituals. A devotee who observes the rituals of this austerity becomes free from all kind of diseases and enjoys a healthy life.

PUTRA-PRAPTI VRATA

This austerity commences on the eighth day of the bright half of the hindu month-bhadrapad.The rituals consist of taking a 'sankalp' on the preceding day(saptami)and worshipping lord sri Hari on the next day with appropriate rituals.Offerings are made to the sacrificial fire,which usually consist of articles like barley,sesame seeds,ghee,etc.The austerity concludes by feeding the invited brahmins and making donations to them.This way,the austerity continues for a year whereby a devotee observes fast on 'ashtami' of every month.A sonless person is blessed with a son if he observes this austerity with total devotion .This austerity,which is popularly known as 'Krishna ashtami'also helps a devotee to become absolved of gravest of sin.

SHAURYA AND SARVA BHAUM VRATA

Shaurya and Sarva Bhaum vrata is related with the worship of goddess Durga and is observed on the nineth day of the bright half of the hindu month-ashvin.The rituals commence by taking a 'sankalp' as well as observing a fast on the preceding day(saptami).The fast is broken on the next day(ashtami) by having fruits.Cereals are excluded from the diet.One important aspect of this austerity is the worship of virgin girls along with goddess Durga.One who observes the rituals of this austerity attains power valour and strength. Sarva bhaum vrata is related with the worship of all the ten directions,considered as goddesses.A fast is observed on the tenth day of the bright half of the hindu month-kartik and lasts for a year whereby a devotee observes fast on the tenth day(bright half) of every month that follows.One important charecteristic of this fast is that it is broken at the end of the day by having rice and curd.Making sacrifices in the name of all the ten directions are the inseparable part of this austerity.A devotee,who observes this austerity lasting for a year remains invincible in whatever he does.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF DHENU-DAAN

TIL DHENU-DAAN

As the name implies,an idol of a cow made from powdered sesame seeds is donated to a brahmin.The idol should weigh not less than sixteen 'prasthas'(one prastha=four kudav,ancient units of weight measurment) Similarly,a calf's idol made from powdered sesame seeds and weighing four 'prasthas'is donated to a brahmin.Apart from these idols ofcow and calf a devotee should also donate'deer-skin'. While donating these things,he should pray in the following way-'O Til dhenu!Bless me so that I enjoy prosperity and never experience scarcity of any kind in my life.'The brahmin receiving the donation should express his gratitude in the following way-O goddess! I am receiving you in all humility.Bless and nurture my whole family.'A person who donates 'Til Dhenu'get's all his wishes fulfilled and attains to Vishnu loka after his death.

JAL-DHENU DAAN

The method of donating 'Jal Dhenu' is as follows-first of all small area of land is purified by coating it with cow dung and place two small pots are placed at the centre.These pots are filled with different things like water,camphor,sandalwood,etc.The devotee should then imagine goddess Jal Dhenu and her calf to be dwelling in those pots respectively.Both the pots are adequately adorned with various articles like sandalwood,flowers and then worshipped.After the completion of the rituals both the idols are donated to brahmins.A person who donates Jal Dhenu or a brahmin who accepts it attains to Vishnu loka after being absolved of all his sins.

RASA DHENU DAAN

First of all,the area is purified by coating it with cow-dung after which a black deer-skin is spread on it alongwith 'kusha grass'.Two pots-one large and the other a small one are placed side by side.These pots are filled with sugarcane juice and symbolize 'Rasa-Dhenu' and the calf.Four sugarcanes symbolizing the four legs of 'Rasa-Dhenu' are fixed at four corners.After that,one small silver piece is placed at the base of each of the sugarcanes symbolizing hoofs.Rasa-Dhenu is then adorned with colourful cloths and flowers.Again,four small pots filled with sesame seeds are kept at the four corners near Rasa-Dhenu.After the worship is accomplished,Rasa-Dhenu is donated to a brahmin.A person who donates Rasa-Dhenu is liberated from all his sins and all his ancestors as well as the generations to come attain to the Heaven.

GUD-DHENU DAAN

As it is amply clear by the name,in this ritual some jaggery is taken and given the shape of a cow and a calf.The land is purified by coating it with cow-dung.After that,a black deer-skin is spread on that purified area.Some kusha grass are then spread on the dear-skin and covered with a piece of cloth.Now,both the idols of cow and it's calf are worshipped with appropriate rituals after which they are donated to brahmins.A devotee should also should also donate shoes,umbrella and if possible,a gold ring to brahmins.Donating a Gud-Dhenu enables a man to attain to such divine world where sages and hermits dwell.By doing thus,he also liberates his ancestors and the future generations.