With the Grace of Sri Sharadamba, and with the blessings of our Jagadguru, Sri Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji, the Shankaracarya at Sringeri, SVBF wishes all the devotees and their families a peaceful, happy and healthy 2012. The year started out in a grand manner; January 1st was a Sunday and the day when Abhisekam is offered to Mahaganapati. The special events conducted in January are presented here with some brief notes.
One of the main attractions on January 1st is the special Alankaram to Sri Sharadamba by priests. It is beauty to behold! All the deities are similarly adorned nicely with colorful Vastrams.
A picture of the beautifully adorned Sri Sharadamba is shown below:
"Pradosha" occurs twice a month. It falls on the 13th day of the waxing and waning moons "Pradosha" Puja is an event dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Puja is done in the evening. This Puja was performed at the Sri Sharada temple for Lord Candramouleeshwara on Friday, Jan. 6th at 6:30 PM, and again on Jan. 20th at the same time. The priests chant the Rudram while doing the Abhisekam for Lord Shiva and his mount, Nandi. The Lord is then taken in the Vahana around the temple with devotees following it with Bhajans. As per Shiva Purana one who undertakes a fast on Pradosha day and participates in the Puja will be blessed with all good things in life (wealth, children, happiness, good health) and freed of sins.
The temple conducted the monthly Satyanarayana Puja on this day - a Poornima (full moon day) starting at 6:30 P.M. The Puja is performed by the devotees with a priest officiating. Devotees sponsor and participate in the Puja. The temple also has a plan whereby devotees, who cannot attend for personal reasons, can yet sponsor by calling the temple office and providing all relevant details (Names, Gotra and Naksatrams etc.) The priest will conduct the Puja on their behalf and mail the Prasadam afterwards.
Another important event during this month is the arrival of Uttarayana Punya Kalam on January 14th and the start of Pongal festivities. The Sun moves from Makara Rasi (Capricorn) to Karkataka Rasi (Cancer) on this day.
As per the Vedas, Uttarayana is a holy period when our departed elders return to earth to bless their kith and kin, and return to Punya Loka at the beginning of the Dakshinayana (July 15th). This is a good period to do various Punya Karyams like Annadanam, Vastradanam, Upanayanam etc. It is also the start of the marriage season. .
In Tamilnadu, this time is very special as they celebrate the Pongal festival. The first day is celebrated as Bhogi in honor of Lord Indra, the king of the gods and ruler of the clouds that give good rains and a rich harvest. .
On Pongal day, Devotees perform the Puja at home. They boil rice and milk in a pot to the point of overflow and then symbolically offer to the sun-god along with other oblations. All people wear traditional dress and nice clothes. .
The following day is known as Mattu Pongal. This is Pongal day for the cows. The cows are decorated with beads and tinkling bells and then worshipped and fed Pongal. .
Finally Kanu is celebrated. The ladies wash a banana leaf and place it on the ground. The leftovers of sweet Pongal and other rice items are served on the leaf with betel leaves and nuts, for cows. The women perform this ritual before bath and ask for blessings for their families and brothers for good life. Arati is performed for the brothers and the water is sprinkled on the Rangoli placed at the front door of the house. .
Vasanta Pancami is a Hindu festival of the spring season. "Vasanta" means spring and "Pancami" refers to the fifth day of the lunar month. Vasanta Pancami is also referred to as Lalita Pancami; it is observed on the 5th day of the bright half of Magha. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm as it is said to be the birthday of Goddess Saraswati. Goddess Saraswati, the embodiment of purity and spiritual knowledge, associated with the creation of the Universe is worshipped on this day. Spring time signifies renewal and by extension creation! Actually, this year the day was very much like a spring day here! Devotees sponsored special "Aksara Abhyasa" or initiation into writing for their children.
This festival falls on the seventh day of the bright half of Magha Masa. It is celebrated as Surya Jayanti or Surya's birthday. This is also regarded as the day when sun's chariot turns northward. Sun's chariot is said to be drawn by seven white horses. The seven horses and the seventh day of the month are perhaps a reference to the seven colors of the rainbow and the seven suns - Aroga, Bhraja, Patara, Patanga, Svarnara, Jyotisiman and Vibhasa. In Hindu numerology, seven is a significant number as there are seven Rishis, seven oceans, seven islands, seven books of the Ramayana etc. Ratha Saptami is dedicated to Surya Bhagawan and the Lord is worshipped for good health and well being. This day is marked by the recitation of Aruna Prashnam with Namaskarams at the end of each Anuvakam (section.) The temple conducted a special Puja with the chanting of Aruna Prashnam, Navagraha and Naksatra Suktams. A large number of devotees participated by doing the Namaskarams.
Devotees are requested to visit the SVBF web site www.svbf.org to get more detailed and timings for the events in February.