RELIGIOUS VOWS AND FASTS

Upvaas (religious vow) is a Sanskrit word made up of two elements, ‘up’ meaning near and ‘vaas’ meaning staying or residing. Therefore, staying near God or experiencing the continuous benevolence of God is known as Upvaas. One has to practice severe austerities while observing these vows. These include control over body, mind and speech. It is also vital that others are not troubled because of our actions. A person who commences a vow must constantly meditate on God, throughout the stipulated period.

Rules and regulations devised by our scriptures are known as vows to be followed and are themselves a certain form of penance. Some important rules to be followed by the person who observes vows are as follows: 1) A person should perform prayers (Sandhya) and also bathe thrice a day. 2) He should have total control over his senses and should sleep on the floor. 3) He should avoid talking to women and people of impure or immoral conduct. It is important that sanctity of the vow is maintained and he should perform Yagna (religious sacrifices) every day.

A person observing vows should not shave his head. If he does so he should repeat the same vow. He should avoid eating horse beans, lentil, grams, kodo (a type of grain eaten by the poor), alcohol and vegetables such as spinach. He should avoid eating food from a copper vessel and should also avoid food prepared by others. Usage of flowers, ornaments, new clothes, incense perfumes, toothpaste and kohl applied on the eyes is not recommended. Only after consuming Panchgavya (cow dung, cows milk, cows urine, curd and ghee) should one observe such vows.

Eating more than once a day, eating Paan (petal nut leaf), sleeping throughout the day and sex should be strictly avoided. Indulgence in either of the above activities defeats the basic purpose of a religious vow. The ten common rules that apply to all religious vows are forgiveness, truthfulness, pity, offerings/donations, cleanliness/purity, control over senses, regular worship of God, religious sacrifices offered to the fire god (Yagya), contentment and abstinence. Food taken once a day at the time of the constellation is known as ‘Nakta Vrata’, Food eaten at night is not known as Nakta Vrata. Whilst observing the vow, if women experience their menstrual cycle, this does not lead to the dissolution of the vow. In such instances, women should enlist someone’s assistance in worshipping God and giving donation.

The greatness of religious vow lies in charity and alms giving and without charity a vow is never accomplished. Once a vow is observed, depending upon one’s financial situation, one should donate generously. Donations of gold, land and cows are important elements of the human existence. Gold and land can never be destroyed and is extremely beneficial. The greatness of a ‘cow’ is above and beyond the other two. A person who donates these three things is considered to be the donor of the three worlds (Trailokya). As a result, a person can be liberated from the cycle of life and death and attains the highest level ‘Moksha’. Our scriptures also speak of the greatness of offering food as charity.

A person who undertakes charity, fasting and religious vows is able to attain the highest sublime stage and enjoys\ tremendous happiness for a multitude of years. He consequently takes birth in a very noble clan and attains Moksha. From a scientific point of view, for the efficient working of the body, it is imperative that one fasts at least once a week. Rules of conduct devised by our scriptures are known as vows to be observed. Religious vows are basically abbreviated forms of penance. Usually the main purposes of these vows are: attainment of mental and spiritual energy, purity of mind and soul, improving one’s will, development of devotion and faith, cleaning or purity of ambience, sublimity of thought, purification of the same, and finally improving one’s physical health.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RELIGIOUS VOWS AND FASTING

Often the word Upvaas is used synonymously with fasting. Religious vows are observed with an aim to achieve a particular goal with specific procedures and resolutions followed with great care. Fasting is not in the real sense a strict rule for observing a religious vow. The rules for religious vows and fasting are separate. One does not see different types of fasting. But one can see different demarcated methods of religious vows. A religious vow is primarily observed to improve the emotional, intellectual, spiritual and financial aspects of life. Fasting is an outwardly observed vow whereas a religious vow is more internally infused in one’s heart and mind. This is the main difference between a vow and fasting.

  1. MAUNI AMAVASYA

Amavasya in the month of Magha is known as Mauni Amavasya. According to procedures, one should observe complete silence and have a bath in the river Ganges. Incidentally, if Mauni Amavasya occurs on a Monday it is of special significance. During this month (Magha) many men and women build small huts near the (Prayag) Triveni Sangam and bath regularly in the Triveni. This vow is observed throughout the month. Whilst observing this vow one should sleep on a straw mattress, avoid application of oil to the body, not decorate the face or body and maintain overall restraint. Bathing in the Triveni Sangam and Kalpavaas during this month (Magha) is of special importance.

  1. SHEETALA SHASHTI

To beget a child this vow is observed on the sixth day of the Shukla Paksha of the Magha month. After daily ablutions, Sheetla Devi is worshipped in 16 steps known as Shodhashopchar. Cold eatables are offered to the Goddess and stale food is eaten after this. After food religious rites are performed to appease the Goddess.

The story goes this way- A Brahmin woman had seven male children as a result of worshipping of Sheetla Devi. One day this woman forgot to observe this vow and bathed with hot water. Then she ate hot food. As a result her seven children and husband died instantly. Seeing this she turned frantic and lost control over her senses, She ran towards the forest. There she saw an old lady in flames. This lady ordered this Brahmin woman to get her some curd. With the curd, Sheetla Devi’s (old woman’s) fire was extinguished and was complacent. According to Sheetla Devi’s orders that Brahman woman came home and applied that curd to her husband and her seven children. As a result, all of them were rejuvenated.

  1. ACHALA SAPTAMI

On the seventh day of Shukla Paksha of the Magha month Achala Saptami this vow is observed. This is also known as Saur Saptami.

  1. BHEEM ASTHAMI

The eighth day of the Shukla Paksha of the Magha month is known as Bheemashtami. It was this day when Bheesma Pitamah expired. A person who sacrifices sesame and performs rites to pacify ancestral souls is blessed with fortunate progeny/child. It is mentioned in the Padma Puran that a boy whose father is alive should also observe Bheeshma Tarpan (gratification).

  1. MAHASHIVRATRI

On the 13th day of the Krishna Paksha of the Phalgun month, the Mahashivratri vow is observed. Men and women worship Lord Shiva with Bilva leaves, Dhatura, flowers, rice, water, milk and Panchamrut (milk, curd, ghee, sugar honey). Lord Shiva is worshipped throughout the night. The next day in the morning religious sacrifice (Yagya) is performed with barley, sesame, porridge, Bilva leaves and the vow is completed.

  1. ARUNDHATI VRATA

Arundhati was the wife of Maharishi Vashishta and daughter of Prajapati Kardam. Thus because of the Saptarshis and Arundhati being the wife of Vashishta, this Vrata has come into existence. This vow is observed for a woman’s good fortune (long life for her husband) and also said to destroy the problem of child widowhood. This begins on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada (1st day) and ends on the third day (Tritiya). On the Pratipada day, after bathing in the river or at home, a resolution is taken. On the next (second) day a water pot is placed on paddy and gold idols of Arundhati, Vashishta and Dhruva are placed. After worshipping Ganeshji, the 3 idols are worshipped on the last (3rd) day. Shiv-Parvati are worshipped and the vow is completed. The gold idols are finally donated to a Brahmin.

  1. GANGAUR VRATA

On Chaitra Shukla Tritiya (3rd day) this vow is observed. It is said that on this day Shivji blessed Parvati and in turn Parvati blessed all woman for their good fortune. On this day all women (whose husbands are alive), worship the idol of Parvati in the afternoon. They offer all their ornaments and jewelry to this goddess. After completion of the story, all women who observe this vow apply the Sindoor (Vermilion) on their foreheads, which was offered to the idol of Gauri. After eating food the vow is completed. The food offered (prasad) to Gangaur is not given to men.

8.                  SHEETLA ASHTAMI

With an aim to cure small pox, Bhagwati Sheetla Devi is worshipped and a vow is observed on Chaitra Krishna Ashtami. On this day of Sheetla Ashtami, Sheetla Devi is worshipped ceremoniously. Stale food is offered to the Goddess and then eaten by her devotees.

9.                  NAV SAMVATSAR PRATIPAD

In our country the New Year begins on Chaitra Shukla Pratipada. That is the reason why it is also known as ‘Nav Samvatsar Pratipada’. According to our religious scriptures, Brahmaji began creation of this entire Universe on this day. It is on this day that all the Gods and Goddess started their work of maintaining the universe and Lord Vishnu assumed Matsya Avataar (the fish Incarnation). The beginning of Vikram Samrat is also on this day. On this day, after daily ablutions, people spread a white cloth and make Ashtadal Kamal (A lotus with eight petals) of rice or turmeric of Keshar (Saffron) and place a gold idol of Brahmaji and worship it. They pray for the well being of their families for the year to come. They also wear new clothes and decorate their houses with flags and festoons. Tender leaves of neem are eaten and water distribution centers are established. Brahmins are also offered food.

10.              PHAL SAPTAMI VRATA

This vow is observed on Bhadrapada Shukla Saptami. By observing this vow one does not get separated from his loved ones. On this auspicious day, one should bathe meticulously and then worship the Sun God. ‘Martana Priyantam’ O Lord, please bless us saying this one should donate fruits to Brahmins. One should pray by saying, O Lord, may all my desires be fulfilled and by eating these fruits and then the fast should be broken. Since fruits are donated and eaten to break the fast, it is known as Phal Saptami.

11.              BUDDHASHTAMI

In the month when it is a Wednesday on the eight day of the lunar month especially when it is the month of Paush, Buddhashtami is celebrated. A person who observes this vow is always prosperous. On this day, Bhagwan Buddh is worshipped in a lake in a five-step procedure. One should donate as much cucumber and rice as possible along with other gifts. One should sacrifice lotuses, wheat and simultaneously recite the mantra AUM BUM BUDHAYA NAMAHA. By observing all the above rules, one’s desires can be fulfilled.

12.              ASHOKASHTAMI VRATA

Shuklastami celebrates the union of Punarvasu Nakshatra in Chaitra month and Shukla Ashtami (eighth day). Those who eat eight buds of Ashok creeper on this day are freed from sorrow. Whilst eating the buds one should recite the following mantra:
TWAMSHOK HARABHISHTA MADHUMAAS SAMUDBHAVA
PIBAANI SHOAK SANTAPTO MAAMSHOAKAM SADA KURU ||

Meaning: O beloved one to Shiva, blossomed in spring, grief stricken, I am eating you. O Ashoka, please free me from all sorrow and grief.

13.              MAHANAVMI VRATA

The Mahanavmi is the Navmi (ninth day) and is a result of the union of Uttarashaad Nakshatra in the month of Ashwin and Ashtami in Shukla Paksha. If one takes a bath and then donates on this day, he /she can be blessed enormously. Even if it is a Navmi, one should worship Goddess Durga and receive her blessings. One should observe this vow if one desires to vanquish his enemy. After performing sacrifices and Yagya, unmarried girls should eat food. After making a beautiful Pandaal one should worship Durga Devi and recite the following mantra:

AUM DURGO DURGE RAKSHINI SWAHA’
One should perform religious sacrifices.

  1. AKSHAYA TRITIYA

Akshaya Tritiya is celebrated on Vaishakh Shukla Tritiya day. The time until mid-day in considered auspicious. This day is considered very auspicious. During the day bath, penance, religious sacrifices, self-study, rituals for liberation of deceased ancestors and charity are observed. All this can bestow many blessings. It is said that the Satyug period commenced on this day.

 

  1. WORSHIP OF AASMAYEE

On a Sunday between Vaishakh, Aashad and Magha, Aasmayee is worshipped. It is usually performed to accomplish a particular task. Sometimes it is performed once, twice or even thrice a year. 12 Adityas (Sun’s) and Aasmayee (every one who fulfills all desires) are simultaneously worshipped. Usually a boy’s mother performs this worship. With the help of white sandal wood paste, a small idol is made on a leaf. Four shells are kept on the leaf and are worshipped. On a small stool, a water pot and the idol of Aasmayee Devi is placed.

The Brahmin first worships the ephemeris and then worships the water pot (Kalash) and Goddess Aasmayee. At the end of the worship, the Brahmin hands a ‘12’ knotted string to the person who observes this vow. Only after tying this string to the hand are offerings made to the Goddesses Aasmayee and Barajyot. After this all ends, the 12 Knotted string and prayer materials are immersed in the water. Only the shells are kept and preserved. These can be used at another time of worship. If any one of the cowries is lost or misplaced a new one can be bought and replaced at the time of worship.

  1. NRUSINGH CHATURDASHI

Lord Nrusingh was born on Vaishakh Shukla Chaturdashi day. That is the reason why this Tithi (day) is called Nrusingh Chaturdashi. This vrata (vow) has to be observed until dusk. Incidentally, if on any day the tithi is Trayodashi and after that Chaturdashi, and if the day is Saturday, the Nakshatra (star) is Swati, yoga is Siddhya and Karam is Vanij, the day is considered the most auspicious for this vow.

In the afternoon one should have a bath reciting Vedic mantras and worship the gold idol of Lord Nrusingh. According to one’s financial situation, one should donate and distribute gifts amongst Brahmins. The person who performs and accomplishes this vow meticulously is freed from all sins and attains the sublime state of Vaikuntha lok.

  1. VAT-SAVITRI VRATA

Women (whose husbands are alive) observe Vat Savitri Vrat with the intention of preserving their good fortune. On the day of Jyestha Krishna Trayodashi, they should brush their teeth and in the afternoon women apply a paste of sesame and amala on their bodies followed by a clean bath. Then women should eat the roots of the VatVriksha (Banyan tree) with water. Women who have just delivered a child or those in the throes of their menstrual cycles can request a Brahmin to conduct the worship and fulfill the vow. This vow should be observed from Traydashi to Poornima (full moon) or Amavasya.
One should go near the Banyan tree and sip water and pray
“I, on this auspicious day of Jyestha, Krishna Trayodashi pray for the health and well being of my children and husband. Never should I become a widow and this is the main intention of this vow. In the roots of the Banyan Tree lies Brahma, in the stem/ barks lays Janardan and in the above portion lies Shiva and in totality lies Devi Savitri. O Banyan tree! I water you, which is the elixir of life.
After saying this, the Banyan tree should be tied with a string and incense flower and rice offered to worship Vat Savitri. Following this, women should circumambulate the tree. After returning home, women should draw a Banyan tree using a paste made of turmeric and sandalwood. One should sit near the drawing and should pray and make a resolution. One should observe a fast for 3 nights and on the fourth day offer water to the Moon God and worship Vat Savitri.
 Delicious dishes should be prepared and offered to the Goddess. One should offer food to as many Brahmins as possible and then eat one’s food. Finally, praying to the goddess one should say, “Goddess Savitri may I accomplish this vow without any hurdles and with your blessings.
After worshipping Vat (Banyan tree and Savitri Goddess) one should worship women whose husbands are alive with Sindoor (vermilion) Kumkum and betel leaves. To accomplish this vow in totality, women should offer clothes, fruits, Sindoor (Vermilion) kumkum etc in a copper vessel to a Brahmin.

  1. GANGA DASHEHRA

It was Jyestha Shukla Dashami when, on the request of Bhagirath, Ganga Devi incarnated on earth and freed the 60,000 sons of King Sagar from a curse and liberated them. That is why this day is observed as Ganga Dashehra. On this day, one should have a religious bath and also donate generously.
Firstly, one should have a bath in the holy water of the river Ganga. If this is not possible, then one should have a bath in sesame water. If this day falls on a Monday and if the Nakshatra is Hasta, then this is a time when all sins can be vanquished. It is on this day on a Wednesday, (Nakshatra Hasta) that Ganga Devi incarnated from heaven. For these important reasons this Tithi (day) is considered very auspicious. One can be freed from 10 sins if one observes religious bath, donates and perform ceremony liberation for deceased ancestors. This is also called Dasshera, which means vanquisher of 10 sins.

  1. NIRJALA EKADASHI

This is one of the most popular vows observed in the Hindu community. On the eleventh day of every fortnight of every month this vow is observed. In a year this vow is observed for 24 days. Amongst these 24 days, the vow observed on Jyeshtha Shukla Ekadashi is considered the most beneficial. If one properly observes a vow on this day it is said to give the fruits of 24 Ekadashis observed throughout the year. It is said that Bhimsen heard that Vyas Muni would observe Ekadashi without partaking of food throughout the day. One day he humbly noted that Arjuna and all his brothers observed the Ekadashi fast but it was simply not possible for him to do so. He asked Vyas Muni to help him in observing and benefiting from the 24 Ekadashi vows.
In response, Vyas Muni directed Bhimsen to observe the fast on Jyestha Shukla Ekadashi. He would thus absolve himself of the sin of not fasting at all previous Ekadashis and derive benefit from all the Ekadashis of the current year. Bhimsen observed this fast sincerely and this is why this Ekadashi is also known as Bhimsen Ekadashi.
Because one has to abstain even from water from sunrise on Ekadashi to sunrise on Dwadash this known as Nirjali Ekadashi. Severe austerities have to be practiced to accomplish this vow properly. During the month of Jyestha the day is longer and one often after feels thirsty. As a result it is difficult to observe this vow without drinking water. This vow can only be fulfilled with meticulous discipline. It is associated with donating a water pot as well as gold.

  1. HARISHAYANI EKADASHI

Harishayani Ekadashi is observed on Aashad Shukla Ekadashi. It is on this day when Lord Vishnu hibernates in the Ksheer Shayya or the Ocean. According to the Puranas, from this day onwards Lord Vishnu stays for the next 4 months in the house of King Baali in the Patal Lok and returns back on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi. This is why this Ekadashi is known as Harishayani and Kartik Shukla Ekadashi is known as Prabodhini Ekadashi respectively, Religion and other marriage ceremonies are not performed in these 4 months since Lord Vishnu hibernates in the ocean. The months from Aashad to Kartik are known as ‘Chaturmaas’. During this period holy people as well as mendicants reside in one place and practice severe austerities and penance along with singing bhajans etc.
According to the Brahma Vaivastya Purana, a person who observes this vow is freed from all his sins and is blessed by Lord Vishnu. This vow fulfills all desires. This Ekadashi is also known as Padma Ekadashi.

  1. VYAS / GURU POORNIMA

The poornima in the month of Aashad is known as Vyas Poornima. On this day, Vyas or Guru (teacher) is worshipped. In early times, students did not pay their Guru (teachers). Every year on this day they prayed and worshipped their Guru and accordingly gave gifts (Dakshina). But this worship is not limited to Gurus only and can also observed with parents and brothers.
Folowing daily ablutions and a bath one should go to one’s Guru and make him/her sit on an elevated platform. One should ceremoniously worship him/her with a garland. Flowers and fruits should be kept at his feet and his/her blessings sought. By doing so, one is blessed with knowledge and the mind and are cleansed making the disciple/student’s life prosperous.

  1. MAGHA PANCHAMI

Serpents are worshipped on Shravan Shukla Panchami. This day is also called Naag Panchami. On this day, on both sides of a door, two idols of serpents made of cowdung are placed. In this vow, on the Chaturthi day one should take food only once a day. One should fast on the Panchami day and take food only in the evening.
One should make an idol of a five-hooded serpent of silver, gold, mud or wood pens using turmeric and sandalwood pastes as ink. On the Panchami day, porridge, Panchamrut (milk, curd, ghee, honey and sugar), lotus flowers, incense etc are offered and the God is worshipped. In serpents, Ananta, Vaasuki, Shesh, Padma, Kambal, Karkolok, Ashvatar, Dhifrashta, Shankpal, Kaaliya, Takshak and Pingal , 12 in all, are the most important ones; Every month one particular serpent is worshipped and the (Brahman) person who performs the worship should be offered food. On Nag Panchami, the Brahmin should be offered cows and gold. Some also offer a silver serpent on betel leaves. The person who performs worship of the serpents on Panchami day should not dig the ground. By observing this vow, one is freed from the fear of snakes and earns plenty of money.

  1. SHRAAVANI

The Poornima in the month of Shravan is called Shravani Poornima. People should observe celibacy and Brahmins should go to a lake or river and perform Shraavani Karma. Initially for purification of body one should partake of Panch agavya (cows milk, ghee, curd, cowdung and urine) and perform religious sacrifice (Yagya) along with ghee, porridge, and sugar. This is known as Upakarma. After this one should stand in the flowing water of a river and contemplate, pray and worship Lord Bhaskar (Sun).
One should also worship Saptarshis and Arundhati and offer milk and Sattu (powder of roasted gram) as oblation to these deities. This is known as Utsarjana. This festival is of special significance to all of us. According to the old scriptures, on the day of Shraavani Poorinama, saints perform Upakarma and begin their teachings, concluding them on Magha Krishna after performing Utsarjana. In the following months, theoretical knowledge was imbibed through contemplation and meditation. Thus this day of Shraavani was the first day of study and learning.

  1. KAJRE KI NAVMI

Shravan Poornima is also known as Kajri Poornima. One of the specialties of Shraavani Poornima in Bundelkhand is that there are processors of Kajri. On Shraavani Poornima day wheat or barley are allowed to bloat in water and sown in conical vessels made up of leaves. These are kept away from air and moisture. Lack of air induces the plants to assume yellow colour and this is called Kajri. From the Navami day to the Poornima day, the Kajri is worshipped in the evening with incense and by singing devotional songs. The colour of the Kajri is closely associated with auspicious and inauspicious events.
On Navami when a Kajri is sown, it is known as Kajri Navami. Only women who beget male children observe Kajri Vrata (vow). On Navami day, the women folk of a village get some mud from a specific place to sow Kajri. The mud is bought in clothes or conical vessels made of leaves.
 On the walls of the house where the Kajri is kept, a small doll is hung resembling Goddess Saraswati. Beside this picture, there are those of a small hut, a cradle with a child, a baby mongoose and a woman. They are made of turmeric paste. It is on this Navami when women worship and sow Kajri. They listen to stories (fables) and sing Kajri’s songs. Woman observes this vow for the wellbeing of their male child and protection from insects and other creatures.

  1. HAL SHASHTI / HAR-CHATH

This vow is observed on Bhadrapada Krishna Shashti. This was the day when Krishna’s elder brother Balarama took birth. Balarama’s primary weapons were the plough and the pestle and that why it is known as Hal-Shashti. It is observed with the intention of begetting a male child. The woman who observes this vow brushes with the fruits of Mahua (bacia latifolia). For this vow one should not eat any food, which is sowed or planted, or even a fruit. Cows milk and curd should be avoided. Only buffaloe milk is permitted.
In the morning after bathing, women plaster the floor with cow dung and make a small tank. They put one stem of strawberry, a type of reed and palaash together to make a plough. After that they bury it and worship it. They worship with Satavyaa (seven types of grams i.e. wheat, gram, jowar, centil, paddy, kidney beans (moong) and corn), dry mud, green Kajri’s ashes of Holi (bonfire), or green grams and wheat awn. Other than these ornaments, cloth coloured with turmeric paste is also offered and kept near the plough. After the pooja concludes, there is a religious sacrifice (Yagya) performed along with butter extracted from buffalo milk.

  1. JANMASHTAMI

Janmashtami is celebrated on Bhadrapad Krishna Ashtami. It was on this day that Lord Shri Krishna took birth. On this day, the night it is Rohini Nakshatra, it is also known as Krishna Jayanti. If there is no Rohini Nakshatra then it is plainly Janmashtami. On this day of Ashtami at night devotional songs, bhajans are sung and stories related to Shri Krishna’s birth are recited and heard at midnight. Shri Krishna is worshipped according to scriptural procedure and joy is expressed over his birth.
After this before fasting is broken on the Navami day, Brahmins are offered food and gifts.

  1. HARTALIKA

This vow is observed on the day of Bhadrapad Shukla Tritiyaa when in conjunction with Hasta Nakshatra it is said to bestow material benefits. Those woman who desire a long life and well being of their husbands should observe this vow. The procedure of this vow is as follows-
The home should be clean and tidy. A pandaal should be made with the help of banana leaves and its barks and be very well decorated. One should play the conch, the cymbals, mridangam and sing beautiful songs. One should place the idol of Parvati along with a shivlinga made of sand. In the sixteen-step ceremony method, both the deities should be worshipped (pooja) and donations of clothes, gold and cows made to Brahmins.
This vow protects women and helps continue their good fortunate, But women who get lured away from the fast midway remain without child for the next 7 lives and could also become a widow forever.  A woman who does not fast or leaves it midway is cursed. If she cannot, for any reason, keep a fast she should listen to stories associated with the merits of keeping it.. She then earns the blessings that are earned after performing an Ashwamedh Yagya.

  1. SIDDHIVINAYAK VRAT

Siddhi Vinayak is performed or observed on Ganesh Chaturthi day itself. On this day Ganeshji is worshipped according to the scriptures. 21 malpuas are offered to Ganeshji along with 21 Durvas (a type of grass) and 21 modaks, while reciting the 21 names of Ganeshji. Food is eaten after it is offered to the Brahmins.

  1. KAPARDI VINAYAK VRATA

A person by eating one meal a day from Shravan Shukla Chaturthi to Bhadrapada Shukla chaturthi can observe Kapardi Ganesh Vrata. A person who does so gets all his desires fulfilled. The method of worship is like the methods of vows above. The important aspect of this vow is that one should offer a handful of rice (28 times) and some sweetmeats to a person who has maintained celibacy (Brahmachari) after worship of the deity.

  1. DURVAASTAMI

Durvaashtami Vrata is observed on Bhadrapad Shukla. Aashtami day. On this day the observer of this vow should fast and worship Gauri Ganesh with durva and should worship Shivji with fruits and flowers while reciting the mantra:

||SAMBHAVE NAMAHA, SHIVAAYA NAMAHA ||

While reciting the mantra Tram Durva one should worship Durva only after doing this is the Durvaashtami vow accomplished in the true sense and one gets all his desires fulfilled. It is said that in this vow one who eats raw foods is freed even from the sin incurred because of killing a Brahmin.

  1. VEER NAVAMI VRATA

Veer Navami Vrata is observed on Ashwini Shukla Navami day. On this day one should partake of meals only once a day and should worship  Brahmins, He should recite the Vedic Beej Mantra ‘AING HREENG KLEENG CHAAMYUNDAYAEE VICHCHEE’ one hundred thousand times.

  1. DAMANAK NAVAMI VRATA

On the day of Chaitra Shukla Navami one should worship Goddess with flowers of Damanak. The person who does so is blessed with good health, prosperity and a long life. Moreover he vanquishes all his enemies and emerges a winner.

  1. RISHI EKADASHI VRATA

This vow is observed on the day Chaitra Shukla Ekadashi, On this day Rishi’s (divine souls/saints) are worshipped. By observing this, one can get all his desires fulfilled and he becomes wealthy and begets a male child. Moreover, he becomes a divine soul and assumes a significant place in Rishilok (land of saints) Maricha, Atri, Angira, Pulastya, Pula, Kratu, Pracheta, Vashishta, Bhrigu and Narad are the saints (Rishis) worshipped with Damanak flowers and garlands made of these flowers.

 

  1. SHRAVAN DWADASHI VRATA

On the day of Shravan Nakshatra when Ekadashi and Dwadashi come in unison on one day itself this day is called Vijaya Tithi. Especially if Bhadrapada Shukla Dwadashi is in unison with Shravan Nakshatra and it is a Wednesday, it is considered a very auspicious and beneficial time. If a person on such a day has a holy bath in the Triveni Sargam it is said to be very divine and blissful and is said to give great fruits. One by worshipping Shri Hari on this day can be blessed tremendously. One should take meals only once a day. The observer of this vow, should abstain from copper vessels, non-vegetarian food, honey, lust lies, exercise, sex, sleeping during the day, collyrium applied to eyes, kidney-bean and things prepared by rubbing on the floor or stone.
For the next ten days one should cover 2 water pots filled with jewels (Ratna),with white cloth and one should worship the gold idol of Waman along with the golden umbrella as well as the Paduka (footwear). One should perform the pooja (worship) by reciting the following mantra.

    1. For the Head: AUM NAMO BHAGVATE VASUDEVAI NAMAHA
    2. For the Face—AUM SHRI DHARAYA NAMAHA
    3. For the Neck—AUM KRISHNAYA NAMAHA
    4. For the Chest—AUM SHRI PATAYA NAMAHA
    5. For the Shoulders—AUM SARVASTRA DHARINO NAMAHA
    6. For the Lips—AUM VYAAPKAYA NAMAHA
    7. For the Stomach—AUM KESHAVAYA NAMAHA
    8. For the Genitals—TRAILOKYA PATAYA NAMAHA
    9. For the thighs—AUM SARVABHOOTE NAMAHA
    10. For the feet/legs—AUM SARVATMANE NAMAHA

In this way one should worship different part of the body. One should offer ghee and porridge as oblation to the deity. One should give away/surrender the Kumbh (water pot) and should stay awake all through out the night. Next day early in the morning the observer of this vow should, take a religious bath and after sipping water (Aachamana) should worship the Lord again with flowers and by reciting the following mantra.

AUM NAMASTE GOVIND BUDH SHRAVAN SANGYAK |
ADAUDYA SANKSHAYAM KRUTVA SARVA SAUKHYA PRADOBHAVA


Which means-
O Govind, named also as Shravan, I pray and bow before thee. Please vanquish all my sins and bless me with all happiness and prosperity.

After prayer, one should say PRIYANTAAM DEV DEVESH and donate the Kalash water pot the Brahmins. If one performs this pooja (worship) on the banks of a river or any other place which is holy and pure one can get all his desires fulfilled.

  1. RAMBHA TRITIYAA VRATA

This vow is observed on Mrigshira Shukla Tritiya. This vow is giver of fortune, wealth, male child and prosperity. One should fast on this day and by taking Kunshodak in one hand and by taking Bilva leaves in another. Then one should pray to goddess Mahagauri.One should use the bark of the Kadam tree while worshipping the goddess.

  1. AKHAND DWADASHI VRATA

This vow is observed on Mrigshira Shukla Dwadashi day. One should take meals which should consist of cows milk, curd etc and the should worship Lord Vishnu. Between the months (Mrigshira to Aashad) the observer of this vow should donate to a Brahmin 5 pots full of 5 different type of grains and should worship Lord Vishnu is the following manner.

SAPTA JANMAANI HEY VISHNO YANMAYAADI VRANTAM KRUTAM
BHAGVANSTYA PRAASADENA TAT AKHAND MISHASTU ME
YATHA KHANDAM JAGATSARVAM TVAMEVA PURUSHOTTAM
TATHA AKHILANYA KHANDANI VRATAANI MAM SANTUVAI||


Which means – O Lord Vishnu, I have observed this vow for the last seven times. Please accomplish this vow in this life of mine. O Purushottam, in the same way as you are in every atom of this universe. May this vow, I am observing, be fulfilled and accomplished in totality.

One should donate a pot full of Sathu to the Brahmin till Chaitra Aashad month and observer should offer a pot full of Ghee from month of Shravan to month of Kartik. In this way the observer who accomplishes this resolution of Dwadashi Vrata is blessed with a wife, children and at the end attains Swargalok or bliss.

  1. ANANG TRAYODASHI VRATA

This vow is observed on the Mrigshira Trayodashi day. On this day one performs the Pooja (worship) of Shivji in the 16 ceremonial step method using the flowers and fruits of Dhatura. In this way one should worship Shivji until year-end, on every Trayodashi of every month. After worshipping the Lord in the aforesaid method one should worship Lord Kamadeva and his wife Rati. One should offer 10,000 commodities as oblation during religious sacrifices and should stay awake through out the night. In the early hours of the morning one should once again worship the Lord and should donate a bed, vessels, umbrella, clothes, shoes and cows to the Brahmins. One should accomplish the observer of the vow by doing so, If one does this with faith, he is sure to be blessed with, wealth, male children, health, prosperity, fortune and at the end beatitude of bliss.

  1. AGASTA ARGHYA VRATA

Three days before the transition of the Sun through the Virgo Zodiac one should worship an idol of Agasta made of a type of seed named Kaash Pushpa at dusk and should offer water as an offering. One should stay awake all night should fast and should worship the deity with curd, rice, fruits and flowers. One should decorate the idol with curd and sandal wood paste. After this with seven types of grains filled pots with gold and silver and 5 Varna (offerings (oblations) should be offered to the deity. One should pray to the deity saying the following Mantra-

KAASH PUSHPA PRATIKAASH AGNI MARUT SAMBHAVA
MITRA VARUNAYOHO PUTRA KUMBHA YONE NAMASTUTE
 

Meaning- To Agasta who is bright as a flower, Mitra who is born by Agni and Vaayu, son of Varuna, born in Kumbha Yoni, I bow before thee.

After this the observer should donate a pot full of gifts and gold to the Brahmin. One should offer food to seven Brahmins. In this way the person who observes this vow through out the year in all ways, he is blessed.

  1. RISHI PANCHAMI

Rishi Panchami is observed on Bhadrapada Shukla Panchami day. Women observe this. In some cases even men on behalf of their wives can observe this vow. On this day one is supposed to go by the river or a near by lake in the afternoon and one should apply mud to ones body and have a bath. After this one should partake Panchgavya. One should come home and make a Sarvatobhadra Pandaal and place a water pot in that place. After this in the ceremonial 16 step (Shodashopchar) method one should worship Arundhati along with the Saptarshis. One should offer food to the Brahmins and take meal himself/herself after this. This vow is observed to free one from the sin incurred by touching grain or any other commodity during periods (menstruation).

  1. SANTAAN SAPTAMI VRATA

This is observed on Bhadrapada Shukla Saptami day. This is also known as Muktabharana vrata. On this day in the afternoon one should according to the scriptures install an idol of Shiv-Parvati and perform the worship in the ceremonial 16 step (Shodashopchar) method. One should offer Porridge, Puris and Malpuas as oblation to the deities, One should also offer a string to Lord Shiva for protection and should pray by saying – O Lord! Giver of progeny and issues, Please accept this string.
One after praying and offering it to Lord Shiva should tie it to one’s wrist. This vow is observed to free oneself or liberate oneself from sins and cursed during different lives and also for progeny and children.

  1. ANANT CHATURDASHI

This vow is observed on Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturdashi day. After a religious bath one should meticulously pray to Lord Anant and should perform a religious sacrifice (Yagya) keeping in front a 14 Knotted Ananta. After this the Ananta is tied to the right arm. One should take meals only once a day. This vow is reliever from all miseries and pains.

  1. JIVAT PUTRIKA VRATA (JEETIYA)

This vow is observed on Ashwini Krishna Ashtami day. This vow is observed by women to have male children. In this vow one should not drink water, keep a fast throughout the day and night and should break the fast the next day. This is giver of long life and health to the child.

  1. MAHALAXMI VRATA

Worship of Goddess Mahalaxmi begins on Bhadrapada Shukla Ashtami and end on Ashwini Krishna Ashtami. On the first day i.e. Bhadrapada Shukla Ashtami woman go to a near by river or lake and take a religious bath.
There women who have their husbands alive carry a pot full of water (40 small pots filled with water are emptied in a big pot which is carried on the head) and these women give equal quantity of water as an oblation to the Sun God. But widows carry’s pot full of water (16 small pots filled with water are emptied in a big pot which is carried on the head. And these women give equal quantity of water as an oblation along with Durva (a type of grass). After doing this Goddess Laxmi is worshipped. A 16 knotted string is offered to the goddess and perform the religious sacrifice. This worship continues for the next 16 days.

  1. MAHALYA VRATA

Mahalya Vrata is observd on Ashwini Krishna Amavasya day. On this day worship is offered to the deceased ancestors, by doing Pind-daan (donation of pindas (ancestors) with the intention of liberating them from the cycle of life and death. Ashwin Krishna Paksha (fortnight) a child (boy) whose parents aren’t alive, after a bath, one should offer sesamum, rice and kush (type of grass) to the deceased ancestor. This procedure should be repeated till Amavasya day. On this day (Amavasya) or on the day of death (an expiring) of the ancestors) one should perform the Mahalya Shraddha (pacifying the souls). One should offer food to the Brahmins along with gifts.

  1. NAVRATRI VRATRA

The greatness and the divinity of goddess Bhagvati has been spoken of in Durga Saptashati. The synopsis of this is that when there was an emergence of evil such as Shumbh-Nishumbh or Mahishasura at that time all the gods were troubled. As a result all of them started praising the cosmic female energy Mahamaya and started meditating upon her, pleased with their devotion Mahamaya blessed all the gods and ordered them to observe vow and worship from Ashwin Shukla Pratipada to the Dashami day. From this day Navratri Mahotsav is celebrated. On the Pratipada day the water pot is placed and the idol of the goddess is worshipped and after this Punvayaachan, Shodash Matruka, Vaishya Deva Sankalp, Mandi Shraddha is performed. One should perform pooja (worship) of the goddess for the nine days according to the scriptures through a Brahmin.
On Dusshera day the oblation made to the tree is partaken. Girls from the age group of 2-11 years should also be worshipped. One should perform religious sacrifices on the Navmi and Dashami day and should do Visarjan (discharge) accordingly.

  1. KARVA CHATURTHI VRATA

Kartik Krishna Chaturthi is known as Karva Chauth. Only women can observe this vow. The women who observe this vow, after completing her daily ablutions should sip water (Aachmana) and take a resolution for the accomplishment of the vow. After this she should make a drawing of the moon on the wall and below that one should make a drawing of Shiva, Kartikeya and Gauri. One should worship all these dieties in the ceremonial 16-step method (Shodashopechar). After the worship one should donate a pot (copper-mud) full of Malpuas to the Brahmin. After the moon rises, one should offer water to the moon god and should listen to the stories (Vrata kratha). This vow augments children, fortune and wealth.

  1. DHAN TERAS

Dhanteras is a also known as Kartik Krishna Trayodashi. On this day Yamraj (Lord of Death) is worshipped. Mud ploughed by a plough is mixed with milk and applied to tender branches of a tree. Circumambulate this itself round oneself three times and apply this to the forehead as kumkum. After this have a kartik religious bath. In the evening, at dusk, one should keep a lamp in the house, in the temple, one on the well, on the ghat, in the garden, on the road and also the cowshed for 3 days continuously. If the sun is in Libra (Zodiac) it is custom to offer the deceased ancestor burnt wooden stick on Chaturdashi and on Amavasya evening. On the day of Amavasya after daily ablutions one should worship god one should break the fast having the meal and should perform Shraddh and Laxmipujan. After this only should take meals. People who observe donation of lamp and this vow, do not meet untimely death.

  1. NARAK CHATURDASHI

Narak Chaturdashi is also known as Kartik Chaturdashi. One should have a bath early in the morning (Brahmamuhurta). On this day, those who have a bath after sunrise do not reap fruits of all religious ceremonies performed throughout the year. One should have a bath after applying oil and should clean one’s genitals. One should then offer oblation to Yamraj and worship him. One should donate lamps from the Trayodashi day to the Amavasya day. Goddess Laxmi always blesses the person who performs the Deepotsav and Mahotsav.

  1. SOORYA SHASTHI (CHATH) VRATA

Soorya Shashti vrata is observed on the day Kartik Shukla Shashti. This is celebrated in the intention of a blessing for long life. One has to observe 3 days fast for this vow. The observer should have one meal on the Panchami day. On the next day one should not even drink water and should offer water to the Sun God before sunset. One should worship the Sun god with sweet meats, delicious dishes, coconut and fruits. After Sunset one should return home and remain awake throughout the night. One the third and final day one should in the similar manner go to the ghat and offer water to the Sun God. Thus concludes the observation of the vow.

  1. DEVOTTHAMI EKADASHI

This Ekadashi is celebrated on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi. It is opined that Lord Vishnu woke from his sleep in the Ksheer Sagar (Ocean) on this day. The observer should perform the worship (pooja) of Lord Vishnu, very meticulously on this day and seek his blessings.

  1. BHEESHMA PANCHAK

This Vrata begins on Kartik Shukla Ekadashi day and ends on the day of Poornima. That is the reason why it is referred to as Bheeshma Panchak. On the Ekadashi day one has to make a four-doored pandaal in the house or by the banks of a river. One should smear the Pandaal with cow dung and should make a Sarvatobhadra Mandal (A square). After this the observers should install a house made of sesamum in that and should light a lamp, which continuously burns. One should also start Japa (name recitation) and should give 108 offering as an oblation. This Vrata is the destroyer of evil and sin and more over is a giver of Dharma, Arth, Kama and Moksha.

  1. KARTIK POORNIMA

Kartik Poornima is also referred to as Tripuri Poornima. A bath in river Ganga and donation of a lamp hold special significance on this day. If on this day the Nakshatra is Bharani, Kruthika or Rohini then one can expect better fruits. It is said that, on this day that Lord Vishnu incarnated himself as a fish (Matsyavtaar). One who donates on this auspicious day is blessed with the fruits of 10 religious sacrifices (Yagya). One this day the observer should worship the 6 Kruthikas, Shiva, Sambhuti, Santati etc at time of moonrise. One who ceremoniously donates a buffalo at night, is blessed and achieves highest state of celibacy (Shivapad). One should observe a fast on this day and should contemplate upon God. On doing so one is blessed and he/she also attains the Suryalok. If one donate a ram made of gold on this day one is freed from problems of Grahadosh (problems and curses of planets). There is a custom even of donating of Ksheer Shayya (an ocean). One should fill the dish with milk and should disburse a fish made of gold or silver in the dish and donate it.

  1. PRADOSH VRATA

Pradosh Vrata is observed on the Trayodashi of both the fortnight (Shukla and Krishna Paksha). This is observed with the aim of achieving progeny, prosperity and fortune etc. In the evening it is a custom to perform pooja (worship) of Lord Shiv and also perform Japa (Name recitation) and religious sacrifices (Yagya). The fast is broken the next day.

  1. VRATA FOR THE SEVEN DAYS OF A WEEK

Woman who take a holy bath in Adhik maas and in the month of Kartik usually observe this Vrata for seven days of the week. One can partake fruits milk etc on the days of Sunday and Tuesday Vrata.

    1. SUNDAY VRATA: One should avoid salty food and oily food for the observance of this vow. One should break the fast and partake of fruits, milk etc during daytime and on the second day one should eat fruits, milk etc after sunset. One should take meals only once a day. On the conclusion of this Vrata, after pooja (worship) the Vrata Katha (story) is heard.
    2. MONDAY VRATA: On this day one should worship Lord Shiva and Parvati. This vow is observed till afternoon and then should take meals only once. The Vrata Katha of Somvaari Amavasya is heard on this day.
    3. TUESDAY VRATA: (Mangal) Mars (planet) the lord of Tuesday likes Red Sandalwood, garlands, fruits, wheat dishes made with jaggery etc. Mars is worshipped with shoe flowers (Hibiscus), red cloth and red sandalwood. On the days of Vrata one should take meals only once a day. The observer if observes this Vrata for 21 Tuesdays is freed from Mangal dosh. (ill effects of the planet).
    4. WEDNESDAY VRATA: One should pray to Lord Shivji on this day and should take partake meals only once a day. One should preferably take meals of fruits, dishes of green colour, which is especially beneficial. Donation of green coloured commodities is also considered very auspicious.
    5. THURSDAY VRATA: On this day the Guru (Teacher) of all gods is worshipped. On this day Mahadevji is also worshipped. Brihaspati is worshipped with yellow flowers, Yellow Sandalwood, Yellow fruits, yellow pulses, and other yellow coloured commodities, One should also donate yellow coloured articles. One should avoid shaving and cutting hair on this day.
    6. FRIDAY VRATA: Shukracharya (the Guru of all Asuras/Demons) is worshipped on this day. Alike Pradosh Vrata one should also worship Lord Shiva.
    7. SATURDAY VRATA: On this day one prays to Shani (Saturn). This planet is adorned with black sesamum, black cloth, black moong, iron and oil. One observes this Vrata to lesson the ill effects of the planet Shani. One should also recite Shani Stotra on this day.
  1. SHRI SATYA NARAYANA VRATA

This vrata can be observed on any desired day. It is considered auspicious to worship Lord Satyadev especially either of the following days i.e. Sankranti, Poornima, Amavasya.
One should observe this vow through out the day. After this one should worship Ganeshji. Gauri. Varuna., Navgraha (9 Planets) and finally Shri Satyanarayana Bhagwan. Ceremoniously, one should offer 1000 Tulsi leaves whilst reciting Vishnu Sahastra Namavali (1000 names of Lord Vishnu). After this one should listen to the Satyanarayana Vrata Katha, offer prasad (offering) to the deity and should perform ‘aarti’. One should sing songs in praise of the Lord (Sankeertan) and should offer food to the Brahmins. Only after doing so should the observer of this Vrata and his family member partake of meals. Observance of Satyadev Vrata in the Kalyug is considered very auspicious and beneficial.

  1. MAASOPVAAS VRATA

It is customary to keep a fast on Ashwin Ekadashi day and after that observe this vow for the next 30 days. One should invoke and praise Lord Vishnu in the following manner before inception of this Vrata.
ADYA PRABHUTYAHAM VISHNO YAVADUTHANAKAM TAV
ARCHAYE TVAAM NASHNANSTU DINAANI TRINSHDEV TU
KARTIKA SHVANAYOORVISHNO DWADASHAYOHO SHUKLA
YORAHAM
MRIYE YADYAN VARALE TU VRATMANGO NA ME BHAVETA ||

Which means – O Lord Vishnu, From today to the final day you do not awake from your sleep (Shayanotthan), I will worship you without partaking meals/ O Lord, if I die between Dwadashi (Shukla Paksha) of Ashwin or Kartik to the next Dwadashi, then may my vow not be interrupted or broken.

After praying in the above method one should have holy bath in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening and only after doing so should the observer worship the deity Lord Hari, But the observer of this vow should not apply aromatic paste etc. to the body. On the Dwadashi day and one should worship Lord Hari and offers food to the Brahmins. One should break the fast only after one month of regular worship of Lord Hari. If one becomes unconsciousness while observing this fast he should be offered milk. This in no way does break the Vrata. The observer of this Vrata is blessed with Bhoga (enjoyment), material happiness) and Mukti (bless, Spiritual happiness).

  1. CHATURMASYA VRATA

This Vrata begins on Aashad Ekadashi or Poornima day. On this day Lord Hari is prayed and should be invoked by praying in the following manner.

EEDAM VRATAV MAYAA DEVA GRUHITAM PURASTASVA
NIRVIGHNAM SIDDHI MAAPNOTU PRASANNE TWAYI KESHAVA
GRIHITE ASMIN VRATE DEVA YADYAPOORNE PRIYAMYAHAM
TANME BHAVATU SAMPOORNA TVATPRASAADA JANARDHAN ||

Meaning: O Lord! I have taken a resolution to accomplish this vow before thee. O Keshava bless us so that we may fulfill the same without interruption and may I be blessed with siddhi consistently. O Lord! In case I meet untimely death in this period, may you bless me so that I can complete this vow O Janardan!.

In this method one should take a resolution of Vrata Poojan and Japa (name recitation) after worship of Lord Hari. The observer of this Vrata is freed from all sin and evil. The Sadhak (observer) should take a resolution of Japa, and worshipping (pooja), and related ceremonies to be followed after having a holy bath. One should observe this Vrata for 4 months (Aashad, Shravan, Bhadrapad and Kartik), whilst partaking meals once a day and regularly worshipping Lord Vishnu. The Sadhak of this Vrata attains the highest state of Vaikuntha lok.

  1. KUKSHAPAAD VRATA

This Vrata is observed for 3 days. On the first and second day one should partake meals once a day and on the third day one should fast through out the night.
One should continuously worship Lord Vishnu ceremoniously and avoid eating non-vegetarian food, oil and drinking alcohol etc.
The observer who fasts through out the night attains the position of a Vaimanik Devta. (A God, who is seated on a divine vehicle, travels the universe). After observing fast for 3 nights one should partake food given, after requesting to some one or offered by someone. The Sadhak who does so attains a place in Shveta Dweep.

  1. CHANDRAYANA VRATA

This vow is of many types. According to Manu one should have a bath thrice a day and should begin this vow on the Poornima day. One should take meals consisting of 15 morsels of food. After Poornima, from the Krishna Pratipada day one should reduce the no. of morsels one by one that i.e. 14, 13, 12 etc. and should have only one morsel food on chaturdashi day of Krishna Paksha. One should after that, observe total fast on Amavasya day. Again after Amavasya from Shukla Pratipada day one should increase the no. of morsel per days i.e. 1,2, 3… respectively and should have 15 morsels of food on the second Poornima day. In this way one completes the vow in one-month time. By doing so one can attain Vishnulok and one is liberated from this world without request or prayer.

  1. PRAJAPAYYA VRATA

This Vrata is observed for 12 days. On the first 3 days one should take meals only once a day in the morning and on the following 3 days one should take meals once at nights.
After this one should partake what one gets without requesting only once a day. On the last 3 days one should observe total fast and worship Lord Vishnu, The Sadhak of this Vrata attains Vishnulok.

  1. PARAK VRATA

In this Vrata one should only drink water for 12 days. One can get blessings of Lord Vishnu and liberate oneself on observance of this Vrata.