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Shravan – The Holiest Month

2 August, 2019

Shravana
, Holy Month

Considered as one of the holiest months in the Hindu calendar, the Shravan month is here from the 1st or 2nd August (The dates vary from state to state as well; many northern states celebrate it from 17th Jul to 15th August). It is the fifth month in the Hindu calendar and is named so after the Shravana Nakshatra (Star), which is said to shine on the full moon day of this month. This month is considered very auspicious as a lot of festivals also come in during this period. It is a month of spiritual fervor, as well as family ties, and many believe that it is an excellent time to start new ventures.

The variety

Across India, many cultures, celebrate this month in many different ways. The month is associated with Lord Shiva and offering special prayers to him, in many parts of India. There are many festivals lined up in this month, namely Krishna Janmashtami, Vara Mahalakshmi Vrata, Raksha Bandhan, Narali Poornima, Nag Panchami, Basava Panchami, Rishi Panchami, Kalkyavatara, Baladeva or Balarama’s birthday, Gamha Poornima, Putradaikadashi, Onam, etc. In the Konkan regions, the women folk celebrate this festival every Friday and Sunday, by offering floral prayers to Goddess Tulsi, and offering the same for older women in their families. In certain parts of Karnataka women observe Shravan Shanivara, while in the North, they follow Shravan Somavara, to honor Lord Shiva, and seek a good husband, or for the well being of their husbands.

The offerings

In many parts of India, this month is about offering prayers to Lord Shiva, and this includes fasting and following many rituals to cleanse oneself. This is done because it is believed that Lord Shiva drank the deadly poison or the ‘halaahal’ to save the world during this time. The poison emerged during the Samudra Manthan or the churning of the ocean, by the Devas and Asuras, in their quest for the nectar or Amrit, to become immortal.

While they took everything that the ocean threw up like the gems and many other valuables, they both cringed when it threw up the poison. Then Lord Shiva carried it and drank it; however, Goddess Parvati, immediately, held his throat, so that the poison wouldn’t go down, and thus his throat became blue, and he came to be called as the “Neelkanth.” Hence, people pay their obeisance to Lord Shiva during this period.

The other festivals

In Karnataka, they celebrate the second Friday of the Shravan month as Vara Mahalakshmi Vrata, by offering prayers to Goddess Mahalakshmi. The goddess is decorated beautifully and given many different offerings, and solemn Pooja is held. Married women exchange gifts by inviting each other into their homes, and families get together and celebrate the festival.

Raksha Bandhan celebrated across India, is when the brother-sister bond is brought to the fore. Sisters tie the holy thread called Rakhi to the wrist of their brothers and pray for their wellbeing, while the brothers promise to protect their sisters for a lifetime. The sisters are also lovingly given gifts on this day, and families get together and celebrate the day as a day of happiness.

Nag Panchami is again celebrated across India when people pay obeisance on the Nag Devta. People offer flowers, milk, and other offerings to Nag Devta in temples, and seek blessings and protection from the danger from snakes.

Lord Krishna’s birthday, Janmashtami is, of course, another big celebration that is seen across the country. Special prayers are held in temples, while in many households, this is the time when families come together and celebrate the Lord’s birthday, by offering him special prayers. Varieties of eatables are prepared to offer the Lord with love, and Pooja is held at midnight, believed to be when the Lord was born.

Down south, in Kerala, the famous Onam festival also falls in the Shravan month, when the people of the state welcome their erstwhile ruler, Mahabali, who was sent to Paataal by the Vamana Avatar of Lord Vishnu. So, with the Shravan month, a slew of festivals are lined up for almost all parts of India, and it is a month of celebration and holy rituals.

 

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