Vratas on specific days for special purposes
Maharshi Sanatana enumerated various ‘Vratas’ (religious rites) to invoke specific Deities on particular days in each month through out the year for special purposes. On the Pratipada day of Chaitra month Shukla ‘Paksha’, Shouri Vrata and Vidya Vrata are scheduled, while on the same day of Shravana Shukla fortnight, Rotaka Vrata is performed for Goddess Lakshmi. Mahattama Vrata is observed in Bhadrapada Shukla, Ashoka Vrata and Navarathra Vrata are important on Ashvin Shukla and Dhana Vrata in Marga Sirsha. On Dwiteeya day, Netra Vrata is held in Vaishakha Shukla, Bhaskara Vrata in Jyeshtha Shukla, Jagannatha-Balarama-Subhadra Vrata in Aashaadha Sukla and Yama Dwiteeya Vrata in Kartika Shukla.
Akshaya Vrata, Rambha Vrata, Swarna Gauri Vrata and Brihat Gauri Vrata are performed on the Triteeya day in Vaishakha, Jyeshtha, Shravana, and Ashvin Shukla Pakshas respectively.
One of the most significant Vratas is held on Bhadrapada Krishna Chaturthi viz.Ganesha Chaturthi.
Twenty specified Leaves are to be utilised for the Puja on this day by reciting the very popular Mantras coordinating Ganasha’s names and specific Leaves viz. Sumukhaayanamah Shami patram pujayami, Ganaadheeshaya namah bhangaraiyaka patram pujayaami,Uma putraya namah bilwa patram pujayami, Gajamukhaaya namah Durvadalam pujayaami, Lambodarayanamah ber param pujayami,Harasunavey namah Dattura patram pujayai, Surpakanthayanamah tulasi dalam pujayami, Vakra tundaaya namah semaka patram pujayami, Grahagrajaayanamah Apaamarga patram pujayami, Ekadantaayanamah Banabhantaa patram pujayami, Herambaayanamah Sindura patram pujayami, Chaturhotreynamah Tejapatrm pujayami and Sarvewarayanamah Agasthya patram pujayaami; This puja is then followed by the Shodasha Upachaaras and so on.
On the Panchami ‘Tithis’, Matsya Vrata is held in Chaitra Shukla, Naga Vrata in Vaishakha Shukla Paksha, Anna Vrata in Shravana Krishna Paksha, Upanga Lalita Vrata in Aswin Shukla, and Jaya Vrata in Kartika Shukla.
On the Shashthi days, Kumara Vrata is performed in Chaitra Shukla, Skanda Vrata in Ashaadha Sukla, Lalita Vrata in Bhadra Krishna Paksha, and Chandana Shashti Vrata in Bhadrapada Shukla in the name of Devi.
Saptami is the day for Surya Deva Vratas on Chaitra Shukla, Vaishakha Shukla, Jyeshtha Shukla, Aashada Shukla, and Sharvana Shukla; Shakha (Mitra) Saptami in Kartika Shukla, Abhaya Vrata in Pousha Shukla, and Achala Vrata (Ratha Saptami) in Magha Shukla are significant. Ashtami is an important ‘Tithi’; Chaitra Shukla Ashtami is stated to be the birthday of Devi Bhavani and as such Mahashtami is a highly significant day. Similarly Jyeshta Krishna Paksha Ashtami is earmaked for Trilochana Puja, Ashadha /Shravana Shukla Ashtamis are also meant for Turmeric Puja and Dashaphal or Ten Fruits Vrata in favour of Devi.
Shri Rama Navami Vrata in Chaitra Shukla Paksha is observed as a fast day for self-purification followed by the Puja as described erelier. During Vaishakha month both the Pakshas are earmarked for UmaVrata on the Navami day; but observed most importantly as the popular Maha- Navami during Aswin Shukla Paksha worshipping Devi Parvati. Bhadrapada Shukla Navami is known as Nanda Navami to worship Devi Durga and Kartika Shukla Namvami is Akshaya Navami when a devotee should perform ‘Tarpana’ to Devas, Rishis and Pitras.
As regards Dashami Tithi, Chaitra Shukla is stated to be a day which Dharma Raja is fond of and after fasting till the evening, worship of the Deity with flowers, fruits, ‘Gandha’ etc. should be observed and at the end of the Vrata, bhojan and dakshina is to be provided to fourteen Brahmanas. Jyeshtha Shukla Dashami is the day of ‘Gangavataran’ and is reckoned as ‘Dasahara’or destroyer of Ten Sins when Ganga Snaan is highly recommended; this is the day when ten yogas coincided viz. Jyeshtha Maasa, Shuka Paksha, Hasta Nakshatra, Budha day, Dashami Tithi, ‘Gara’ karana, Ananda Yoga, Vyatipaata, Kanya Rashi’s Chandra and Vrisha Raasi Surya. Shravana Shukla Dashami is marked for Shankara Puja when Nakta Vrata, Japa, Brahmana Bhojana and suvarna daana are commended. Bhadrapada Shukla Dashami is to observe Dashavatara Vrata to worship the Ten Incarnations of Vishnu viz. Matsya, Kurma, Varaha, Nrisimha, Trivikrama /Vamana, Parashu Rama, Rama, Krishna, Buddha and Kalki by day-long fasting and Brahmana Bhojana etc. Ashwayuja Shukla Dashami is the much-celebrated Vijaya Dashami when the Dussehra Festival of Nava Rathras get terminated to mark the killing of Mahishasura by Devi Durga as also to symbolise the Ramleela celebration as Shri Rama killed Ravana and brought back Devi Sita from Lanka. Margasirsha Shukla Dashami is the Arogya Vrata day when ten Brahmanas are to be treated with bhojan and dakshina, while ten Vishwa devas viz. Kratu, Daksha, Vasu, Satya, Kaala, Kaama, Muni, Guru, Vipra, and Rama are to be worshipped. Magha Sukla Dashami is the Day for Angira Vrata to meditate ten Angira Devas, viz. Atma, Vayu, Manah, Daksha, Mada, Praana, Barhishmaan, Gavishtha, Dutta and Satya, where as Phalguna Shukla Dashami, fourteen Yama Devas are worshipped viz, Yama, Dharma Raja, Mrityu, Antaka, Vaivaswata, Kaala, Sarva Bhuta Kshaya, Aoudumbara, Dadhna, Neela, Parameshthi, Vrikodara, Chitra and Chitragupta.
‘Nrisimha Vrata’ is well known on Vaishkha Shukla Chaturdashi, when a devotee requires to keep day-long fast and worships the Deity with ‘shodasho-pacharas’ and recites the Kshama Prarthana Mantra again and again: Taptahaataka keshaanta Jalatpaavaka lochana, Vajraadi nakha sparsha Divya Simha Namostutey/ (Divya Simha! Your mane is shining like molten gold and eyes are glowing like fire balls; the slightest touch of your diamond-strong nails are excruciating; my salutations to you!). After the Puja, the devotee should sleep on bare earth, with full control of body parts. The Vrata is to be performed a few years to secure high contentment and fulfillment of earthly desires as also salvation after life’s termination. On this very date of Vaishakha Shukla Chaturdashi, Omkareshwar Linga Vrata is to be observed for demolition of all past sins. On Jyeshtha Shukla Chaturdashi, ‘Rudra Vrata’is to be performed for securing unimaginable results by observing ‘Panchagni Yogic Tapasya’. Bhadrapada Shukla Chaturdashi is earmarked for executing Ananta Vrata, while Kartika Shukla Chaturdashi, observance of Pashupat Vrata has far reaching impact. However the most outstanding Vrata of the day/night is stated to be on Shiva Raatri on Phalguna Krishna Chaturdashi, when Nirjala Upavas, Bilwa patra puja, high concentration, Night-long Jaagaran, Stotra-Paath, three-hourly Abhisheka and detailed Puja and japa, etc. purifies a devotee with fulfillment and Shiva Darshan.
On Purnimas, Anna-daana would please Chandra Deva in Chaitra month and any kind of charities on Vaishaka purnima would have multiplier-effect; Dharmaraja Vrata on the latter Purnima would please him with Go-Daan, Swarna Daan and Bhojan Daan. ‘Vata Savitri’ Vrata would certainly please Devi Savitri who conquered Lord Yama for the sake of her husband with the prayer of a devotee by reciting: Jagat pujye Jaganmatah Savitri pati devatey, patya sahaviyogam mey vatasthey kuru tey namah/ ( Jaganmata Savitri, You are worshippable to the entire Universe as you are the unique Pativrata. You reside in the Vata Vriksha and as such, I pray to the Vata Tree; do bless me to ensure that I am never separated from my husband). Any woman who prays to Savitri and worships her and treats virtuous women with food and gifts would never lose her husband till she dies herself. Shravana Purnima is the day of Upa Karma of Vedas’, when Yajurvedi Brahmanas should perform Tarpana to Devas, Rishis and Pitras; the Rishis whom Tarpana are to be offered would be of one’s own ‘Shakha’. Rigvedis on Chaturdashi day of Shravana month and Sama Vedis on Bhadrapada Hasta Star should observe ‘Raksha Vidhana’. ‘Uma Maheswara Vrata is scheduled on Bhadrapada Purnima, which requires total abstinence, Upavas on the previous and on the day proper, Jaagaran on the previous night and fast till the dusk time of the day, Pujas on the previous night, on the day and night proper would be compulsory as per shodasopacharas as described in the previous pages of this write-up. This Vrata is expected to be performed for fifteen years, whereafter the ‘Udyapan’ function should be concluded with full formalities of Mantras, homas, and celerbrations. Shakra Vrata is also scheduled on the same day of Bhadrapada Purnima addressed to Indra Deva for ‘Dhana-Dhanya Vriddhi’ or all round prosperity. ‘Kartika Purnima’ Vrata is intended to attain/ retain Brahmatva in the next birth as also to demolish enemies and the Deity to be worshipped is Kartika Deva. On this very day of Kartika Purnima at the Pradosha Time, organisation of ‘Tripurotsava’ and Deepa Daana are considered propitious; display of illuminations, especially in the vicinity of a river or a water-body would help light up ‘krimi-keetas’, flies, mosquitos, trees, water, etc and would enable ‘Punarjanmas’ (rebirths) as human beings since the upgradation of such ‘Praanis’would indeed be a welcome step for such ‘praanis’.As regards, the Amavasya Vratas, Sanatana Kumara explained to Narada Maharshi that Chaitra and Vaishakha Amavasyas were extremely significant since these days were very dear to Pitras for their Puja, Shraddha by way of offering ‘Pindas’(cooked rice) prepared by the ‘paarana vidhi’, Brahmana Bhojana, especially ‘daanas’ of cows etc. In Jyeshtha month Brahma Savitri Vrata was stated to be imperative on Amavasya. In Ashaadha, Shravana, and Bhadrapada months, Amavasyas are essential for Pitru shraddas, Daanas, homas, and Deva Pujas. On Ashwin Amavasya, it would be good to perform Shraadha Tarpan to Pitaras in River Ganga or more ideally at Gaya. On Kartika Amavasya ‘Deepa daan’given in a temple, or home, near a river, a garden, go-shaala or at a public Place is commendable; on this very day, Lakshmi Puja would be beneficial. Organising Brahmana Bhojan on a Margasirsha Amavasya or better still performing Shraddha on that day would be useful. In fact, Pitru Shraaddhas on Pousha, Magha and Phalguna Amavasyas would be effective too.
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