Shraddh - For Missing Persons


If a person has gone missing what to do about his last rites and shraddh?

Hindu Scriptures (Shastras) order that in case of a missing person his return should be awaited for 12 years. This ruling is in case the of the natural calamities. After 12 years the last rites may be performed using a mud lump to represent the missing person. After one year from that point shraddha may be regularly performed.
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Why Pind Daan Ceremony in Gayaji (Bihar, India) ?

Vishnupad Temple, Gayaji
“In Vayupuran, according to a narration titled Gaya Mahatam, when creating mankind, Brahma created a demon named Gayasur. The demon went atop the kolahal Mountain and offered great penance to Lord Vishnu. Pleased with Gayasur, Lord Vishnu asked him to seek one blessing. So,Gayasur requested that whoever came in touch with him - be it an angel or a demon, an insect, a sinner, a saint or a sage, or an evil spirit - should find salvation after having been purified of all sins. From that day everyone who came in touch with him found salvation and proceeded to vaikunth (abode of Lord Vishnu).”

It is believed that it was Lord Brahma who first performed the pind daan ceremony in Gaya. Since then this tradition has continued. Offering pind daan during the dark fortnight of Ashvin (9 Sep to 23 Sep 2014) is of special significance. Symbolically a pind is a round ball made of a mixture of wheat and rice flour with some sesame seeds mixed along with some milk and honey. Seven balls are made out of 100 grams of flour. Of these, one is offered to the deceased and the rest to others as desired.

Earlier pind daan was performed around the year. There were 360 platforms where pind daan was done with wheat and oat flour mixed with dried milk. Pind daan is also performed symbolically with mud balls. Presently pind daan is performed at Vishnu temple, Akshay,Vat,Phalgu and Punpun river, Ramkund, Sitakund, Brahm Mangalpuri, Kagbali, and with the five pilgrimages they together make 48 platforms where pind daan is performed.

In the Kurmpuran, 34/7-8, it is said:

“All forefathers appreciate a pilgrimage to Gaya by their successors. Once the pind daan is performed in Gaya, one achieves salvation. One becomes free of rebirth. If one visits Gaya even once and offers pind daan, the forefathers become free from hell and other dreadful destinations and achieve salvation.”

In the Kurmpuran it is also said that whoever goes to Gaya for pind daan is blessed and seven generations from the paternal and maternal side are benefited along with the personal self who achieves salvation.

Only a son or another male relative is authorised to offer pind daan. However,in 1985, the Brahmins of Mithila authorised women relatives also to offer pind daan. It is said that once Sita(Wife of Lord Rama) too offered pind daan after Dasrath(Father of Lord Rama) died.
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Anant Chaturdashi Vrat, Puja Vidhi and Katha (English & Hindi)


Anant Chaturdashi (Vrat)
 Monday, 8 September 2014

The 14th day of the bright half of Bhadrapad (Aug-Sep) is called Anant Chaturdashi. On this auspicious day Lord Vishnu sleeping on the bed Anant (the serpent shesh), in the milky ocean is worshipped and meditated upon. People also observe a vow in honour of Vishnu, which if kept for 14 years is supposed to bring wealth.

This vrat is to be performed on Bhadrapada shukla chaturdashi. After bathing and attiring in red, decorate the altar with devotion. Keep a kalash on the south of the altar in which you invite the Lord. Keep 7 darbhas tied to each other to represent ananta. Keep a red thread with 14 knots on the altar. Worship lord with 14 variety of flowers and 14 variety of leaves. The prasad for this vrat is Atiras. Make 28 of them and serve them to brahmins. Those attendning should be given food and respect. Do this vrat for 14 years each year replacing the thread that was worn in the earlier year. 15th year do the udyapana.

Anant Chaturdashi - Ganpati Visarjan Final Day

Anant Chaturdashi Vrat Katha

There was a Brahmin with the name Sumant. His wife Diksha gave birth to girl child who named Sushila. After the death of Diksha, Sumant married another woman Karkash. Karkash was not at all caring towards Sushila so when Sushila grew younger she decided to marry Kaundinya to get rid of the ruthless behavior of her step mother.

Once Sushila joined a group of women bathing in the river. These women were offering prayers to Anant. In order to get endowed with his blessings Sushila prayed as well and in a little time-span became quite rich. One day when her husband observed the Anant string in her hand he became annoyed and told her that they were rich not because of a mere thread but because of his wisdom. Saying this he took the thread and burnt it.

After this incident their economic status fell considerably. So he soon realized the importance of Anant string. He decided that he will undergo penance. He vowed for fourteen years and got his wealth back.





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Happy Diwali | Lakshmi Puja on Thu, 23 October 2014


DEEPAVALI or Diwali means “a row of lights”. It falls on the last two days of the dark half of Kartik (October-November). For some it is a three-day festival. It commences with the Dhan-Teras, on the 13th day of the dark half of Kartik (hindu month), followed the next day by the Narak Chaudas, the 14th day, and by Deepavali proper on the 15th day.

According to the legends Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth, was incarnated on the new moon day (amaavasyaa) of the Kartik month during the churning of the ocean (samudra-manthan), hence the association of Diwali with Lakshmi. From that day she is worshipped as the symbol of wealth and prosperity. It is also said that on this very day Lord Vishnu rescued Goddess Lakshmi from the prison of Demon king bali and for that reason Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on the day of Diwali. In Bengal the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. It also commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphant Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. On this day also Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura.

In South India people take an oil bath in the morning and wear new clothes. They partake of sweetmeats. They light fireworks which are regarded as the effigies of Narakasura who was killed on this day. They greet one another, asking, “Have you had your Ganges bath?” which actually refers to the oil bath that morning as it is regarded as purifying as a bath in the holy Ganges. Everyone forgets and forgives the wrongs done by others. There is an air of freedom, festivity and friendliness everywhere.

This festival brings about unity. It instils charity in the hearts of people. Everyone buys new clothes for the family. Employers, too, purchase new clothes for their employees. Waking up during the Brahmamuhurta (at 4 a.m. ) is a great blessing from the standpoint of health, ethical discipline, efficiency in work and spiritual advancement. It is on Deepavali that everyone wakes up early in the morning. The sages who instituted this custom must have cherished the hope that their descendents would realise its benefits and make it a regular habit in their lives. In a happy mood of great rejoicing village folk move about freely, mixing with one another without any reserve, all enmity being forgotten. People embrace one another with love.

Deepavali is a great unifying force. Those with keen inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages, “O Children of God! unite, and love all”. The vibrations produced by the greetings of love which fill the atmosphere are powerful enough to bring about a change of heart in every man and woman in the world. Alas! That heart has considerably hardened, and only a continuous celebration of Deepavali in our homes can rekindle in us the urgent need of turning away from the ruinous path of hatred.

On this day Hindu merchants in North India open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity during the coming year. The homes are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated by night with earthern oil-lamps. The best and finest illuminations are to be seen in Bombay and Amritsar. The famous Golden Temple at Amritsar is lit in the evening with thousands of lamps placed all over the steps of the big tank. Vaishnavites celebrate the Govardhan Puja and feed the poor on a large scale.

This year celebrate the Festival of Lights (Diwali) on Thu, 23 October 2014
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Swastika – an auspicious mark


Why do Hindus use the swastika on auspicious occasions?

The swastika is a benedictory or auspicious mark in the form of a cross, the four arms of which are bent at right angles. Besides Hindus, other communities and religions also consider this mark auspicious. It is therefore customary to make this mark before any auspicious ceremony or function.

In the Ganesh Puran it is said that the swastika is a form of Lord Ganesha. It is necessary that this be made before beginning any auspicious work. It has the power to remove all obstacles. Those who ignore it may fail. It is therefore customary to make all beginnings with the swastika.

The Swastika is also known as ‘Satiya’, which is a symbolic of the Sudarshan Chakra. People also consider it as a symbol denoting plus (+). That makes it a symbol of prosperity. The four dots around the swastika are symbolic of the four directions around us.

Religious texts explain that the eight arms of the swastika are symbolic of the earth, fire, water, air, sky, mind, emotions and feelings. The four main arms point in four directions. They represents the four eras- Satyug, Tretayug, Dwaparyug and Kalyug. They also represents the four castes – Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras. They represents the four ashrams of life too – Brahmacharya, Grihast, Vanprasth and Sanyas. The four arms are also symbolic of the four basic aims of human pursuit – dharm (righteousness), arth (prosperity), Kaam (passion) and moksha (salvation). They are also symbolic of the four faces and four hands of Brahma and of the four Vedas – Rig-Veda, YajurVeda, Sam-Veda and atharva-veda. They are also symbolic of the four constellations – Pushya (8th), Chitra (14th), Shravan (22nd) and Revti (27th).

In one of the hymns in the Rig-veda it is said that the swastika is symbolic of Surya (Sun). In the Amarkosh, it is referred to as a pure and auspicious blessing.

In this way, the swastika is really symbolic of all the directions and of Gods and auspicious circumstances. One must appreciate its importance and adopt it as a part of everyday life.
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