List of Hindu Festivals

» Toli Ekadashi
» Andalu Tiru Nakshatramu
» Makar Sanakranthi
» Holi
» Ugadi
» Maha Shivrathri
» Sri Rama Navami
» Raksha Bhandan
» Sri Krishna Janmashtami
» Ganesh Chaturthi
» Navarathri
» Vijayadasmi
» Deepavali




Toli Ekadashi

Hindus regard Toli Ekadasi as a scared day. People fast on this day and at the break of dawn they offer prayers and break the fast by eating fruits.
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Andalu Tiru Nakshatramu

Birth Day of Goda Devi ( Andalu Devi ), A very famous poet who was a devotee of lord krishna, was found by Vishnu Chittula in a tulasi garden.
Andal waited with excited anticipation as the wedding party approached Lord Ranganatha's shrine. As they entered the temple, she jumped out of the palanquin, unable to restrain herself any longer. Running into the temple sanctum, she embraced Lord Ranganatha and disappeared in a blaze of glory, having joined her Lord. She was only fifteen at the time.
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Makar Sanakranthi

This is the day when the sun begins its northward journey. It usually falls in the middle of January. For the people of the northern hemisphere, the northward path of the sun marks the period when the sun is getting closer and closer to them, when the days are getting longer, and it is becoming warmer and warmer.

To Hindus, the sun stands for knowledge, spiritual light and wisdom. Makara Shankranti signifies that we should turn away from the darkness of delusion in which we live, and begin to joyously let the light within us shine brighter and brighter. We should gradually begin to grow in purity, wisdom, and knowledge, even as the sun does from this day.

In fact, the sun itself stands for all the ideals of the Pongal festival. Its message is that of light, unity, equality and true selflessness. These are the ideals of Karma Yoga. Hence, the sun is the greatest Karma Yogi. Does it ask any reward for all that it gives to us? If it stops shedding its light, we are doomed to death. If we learn this one lesson from the sun, our lives will shine with divine lustre like that of the sun.

Makara Shankranti is called Pongal by the Tamilians, from whom it ushers in the New Year. The day begins with Surya Pongal or sun worship. The newly harvested corn is then cooked for the first time.

Joyous festivities mark the celebration in every home. Servants, farmers and the poor are fed and clothed, and given presents of money. On the next day, the cow, which is regarded as the symbol of the Holy Mother, is worshipped. Birds and animals are also fed.

In this manner the devotee’s heart gradually expands during the course of the celebrations. Love extends from the household to servants, the poor, the cow and all other living creatures.

During this holy festival we learn to feel our oneness with all creation; we learn to be unselfish and to tread the path of love, purity and forgiveness. We learn that our real wealth is the goodwill and friendship of those around us, the land on which our food grows, and the animals that help to make our work lighter.

"Share what you have with all" – this is the clarion call of the Pongal festival.

                                                                                                                                            
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Holi

Hiranyakashypu was the king of the asuras. Hiranyakashypu's brother had been slain by Vishnu for terrorising gods and goddesses. So Hiranyakashypu wanted to destroy Vishnu and keep other Gods in heaven subdued. He told his soldiers to crush all those who worship Vishnu, but the Gods protected the Devotees of Vishnu.

Hiranyakashypu thought to himself "I will have to match my powers to Vishnu's to rule over the three worlds".

So he began to perform severe penances and tapasya. While he was so occupied the Gods ransacked his city and destroyed his palace. Hiranyakashiapu's Queen, who was expecting a child was sent by the gods to Sage Narada's hermitage. She lived in the Ashram of the great sage and learned about religion and the glory of Vishnu from him. The child within her, Prahlad, too, absorbed all this knowledge.

Narada taught the Queen that Vishnu is the soul of all created things and is present everywhere. Meanwhile, Hiranyakashypu's austerities pleased Brahma and said: "Arise Hiranyakashypu. Any boon that you ask of me shall be yours". Hiranyakashypu said I wish that my death be not caused by man or beast, with a weapon or without a weapon, during day or night, indoors or outdoors, on earth or in the sky. Grant me the undisputed lordship over the material world.

Hiranyakashypu brought his wife back to his city where Prahlad was born. Hiranyakashypu, with his new powers renewed his hostilities against Vishnu and his followers. He declared "There is non stronger than I. I am the lord of the three worlds. I shall be worshipped as such".

Prahlad in the meanwhile was growing up and was Hiranyakashypu's delight. He asked Prahlad: "Son, tell me what do you think is the best thing in life"?

Prahlad replied: "To renounce the world and seek refuge in Vishnu".

Hiranyakashypu laughed. Then he called his Son's teacher to him, saying: "Guard him closely. I think that the followers of Vishnu are secretly influencing him. Don't let him out of your sight! After my months, his teacher said: "Prahlad, I think you are now ready to meet your father." His father asked him: "You have been with your Guru a long time! What have you learnt? Prahlad said: "I have leant that the most worthwhile occupation for anyone is the worship of Lord Vishnu". Hirnaykashypu was very angry: "O cursed child! Who taught you such perverse things?" Prahlad remained calm and said: "Vishnu. He reveals himself to all who are devoted to him."

Hiranyakashypu shouted angrily: "This boy must not live! Take him away and kill him! Kill this vilest enemy disguised as my son. Poison him or attack him when he sleeps but kill him!" The soldiers started attacking Prahlad when Prahlad was meditating on Lord Vishnu, but their weapons could not touch Prahlad. Most deadly snakes were let loose on Prahlad, but their fangs turned impotent. Mighty elephants could not trample him. Something kept them back. He was pushed off a cliff but Prahlad was unharmed. Holika, the wicked aunt of Prahlad Holika who had a boon to brave fire without hurt, sat with Prahlad in fire but Prahlad was unharmed. In desperation Hiranyakashypu had him fed with deadly poison but it turned into nectar in Prahlad's mouth.

Prahlad was sent to his teacher to try again. This time the teacher tried to get Prahlad interested in means for acquiring wealth and physical pleasures. But Prahlad thought to himself: "How can the pursuit of physical pleasures and wealth bring happiness? It will only lead to envy and anger?" The teacher eventually gave up, when Prahlad told his father that Vishnu is the soul of all created beings and is present everywhere. Hiranyakashypu roared: Where is Vishnu? If he is everywhere why is he not in this Pillar? If he is not there then I shall cut off your head with my sword. Let Vishnu, your Lord protect you." As Hiranyakashypu was striking the Pillar? With his sword, Lord Vishnu, in the form of Nara-simha(nara=man,simha=lion) emerged from the Pillar. His look was neither beast nor man. Narsinha caught Hiranyakashypu and it was the twilight hour, carried him to the threshold of the court- room which was neither indoors nor outdoors and while holding him on his lap, killed him. Prahlad was installed on the throne and he ruled wisely and well for many years.

The religious significance of the festival of Holi is to mark the burning of self-conceit, selfishness, greed, lust, hatred, in fact all the undesirable demoniac tendencies, propensities, thoughts and behaviours.The victory of righteous forces over demoniacal forces.

                                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                           
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Ugadi

The New year festival or Ugadi comes close on the heels of Holi. While the strong colors of Holi start fading away, the freshness of spring lingers on with sprightliness all around. The flame of the forest (trees with bright red flowers that blossom during holi) are in full bloom signifying an affluent season.

It is believed that the creator of the Hindu pantheon Lord Brahma started creation on this day - Chaitra suddha padhyami or the Ugadi day. Also the great Indian Mathematician Bhaskaracharya's calculations proclaimed the Ugadi day from the sunrise on as the beginning of the new year, new month and new day. The onset of spring also marks a beginning of new life with plants (barren until now) acquiring new life, shoots and leaves. Spring is considered the first season of the year hence also heralding a new year and a new beginning. The vibrancy of life and verdent fields, meadows full of colorful blossoms signifies growth, prosperity and well-being.

With the coming of Ugadi, the naturally perfumed jasmines (mallepulu) spread a sweet fragrance which is perhaps unmatched by any other in nature's own creation! While large garlands of jasmine are offered to Gods in homes and temples, jasmine flowers woven in clusters adorn the braids of women.


                                                                                                                                            
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Maha Shivrathri

[The 14th day of the dark half of every month- Krsna Chaturdasi- is called 'Sivaratri' or 'Maha-Sivaratri'. The one in the month of Magha (February-March) is christened 'Mahasivaratri', since it is the
greatest of all.]

Of all the major Hindu festivals, Mahasivaratri is the only
one wherein the austerity part (as signified by the very word 'vrata') is predominant. There is practically no festivity, revelry or gaiety in its observance, the whole thing being one of continuous solemnity. This is but natural since Siva is the god of the ascetics, the very incarnation of vairagya or renunciation!

This vrata is open to all human beings. The basic disciplines to be kept up on this day are ahimsa (non-injury), satya (speaking the truth), Brahmacharya (continence), daya (compassion), Ksama (forgiveness) and anasuyata (absence of jealousy).

Fasting is one of the most essential aspects of this vrata. So also jagarana or keeping vigil in the night. Worship of Siva throughout the night, bathing the Sivalinga with panchamrta (five tasty things- milk, curds, ghee, sugar and honey), homa, japa of the mulamantra (basic mantra, viz., Om Namas Sivaya) and prayer for forgiveness- are the other items involved in its observance.

                                                                                                                                            
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Rama Navami

Eight days after Yugadi or on the ninth day of the bright half of the month of Chaitra, falls the birthday of Sri Rama, one of the two most popular and highly revered incarnations of Lord Vishnu. Rama is said to have been born (manifested) at noon.

The Ramanavami vrata is nitya or compulsory for the devotees of Rama and optional for others. One of the highly eulogized vrata in the Hindu calendar, it can destroy one’s sins and also confer even mukti or liberation.

Actually the vrata commences from the previous night with fasting. On the Navami day also the votary has to continue fasting, perform worship and homa to Rama in an image installed in a specially prepared shrine, do japa (repeated recitations) of Ramamantra and keep vigil in the night. After the completion of the vrata he has to donate the image to the acharya (a learned Brahmin well versed in the rites) along with other gifts made liberally.

In the modern days gifting the image of Rama is extremely rare.

People assemble in very large numbers in Rama temples and enthusiastically participate in the Ramanavami festivities. Parayana or ceremonial recitation of the Ramayana (usually spread over the nine days from Yugadi), arranging religio-cultural programmes like Hari-katha (discourse on mythological stories accompanied with music) and classical music or devotional songs are quite common.

Celebrations at places associated with Sri Rama, like Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh and Ramesvaram in Tamil Nadu attract thousands of devotees.

                                                                                                                                            
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Raksha Bhandan

Shrava purnima’s second festival is Raksha Bandhan. This is an ancient tradition. Bhavishya Purana refers to a battle between gods and demons, and Indra (the king of the gods) was feeling depressed. At that time Indra’s wife Sachi took a thread, charged it with sacred verses or Mantras for protection and tied it on Indra’s hand. Through the strength of this thread Indra conquered his enemies. Since then till today this festival is celebrated.

Through the passage of time festivals are undergoing modifications. Raksha Bandhan is also known as Rakhi. Rakhi has become a sacred festival for sisters and brothers. Sisters tie them to brothers. Priests tie them to people of his congregation. During the middle ages, if a woman tied a Rakhi on the hand of any man, then it became imperative for him, as his religious duty of the highest order, to protect that woman. That man would put his life at stake to protect the honour of that woman.

In those days, many Rajputs sacrificed their lives to protect their spiritual sisters. Humayun received a Rakhi from the queen Karmavati of Chittor and for that, Humayun carried out his sacred brotherly duty and protected her by opposing his own soldiers.

According to ancient traditions, it is customary to have protection threads that are charged with sacred verses (Mantras) and sanctified with rice, durva grass etc.; to have these tied by people who know the Vedas or by near and dear ones. This protection thread saves from sins on the one hand and removes diseases on the other hand. By tying this thread, protection is afforded for a full one year and all kinds of fears are removed.

Nowadays Rakhis are decorated with soft silky threads of various colours, and also with ornaments, pictures, gold and silver threads etc. These Rakhis enhance the artistry of the people. Within these Rakhis reside sacred feelings and well wishes. It is also a great sacred verse of unity. Acting as a symbol of life's advancement and a leading messenger of togetherness.

Each person should celebrate with enthusiasm this sacred festival of Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan. (Raksha = protection. Bandhan = tie).

Shrava purnima’s second festival is Raksha Bandhan. This is an ancient tradition. Bhavishya Purana refers to a battle between gods and demons, and Indra (the king of the gods) was feeling depressed. At that time Indra’s wife Sachi took a thread, charged it with sacred verses or Mantras for protection and tied it on Indra’s hand. Through the strength of this thread Indra conquered his enemies. Since then till today this festival is celebrated.

Through the passage of time festivals are undergoing modifications. Raksha Bandhan is also known as Rakhi. Rakhi has become a sacred festival for sisters and brothers. Sisters tie them to brothers. Priests tie them to people of his congregation. During the middle ages, if a woman tied a Rakhi on the hand of any man, then it became imperative for him, as his religious duty of the highest order, to protect that woman. That man would put his life at stake to protect the honour of that woman.

In those days, many Rajputs sacrificed their lives to protect their spiritual sisters. Humayun received a Rakhi from the queen Karmavati of Chittor and for that, Humayun carried out his sacred brotherly duty and protected her by opposing his own soldiers.

According to ancient traditions, it is customary to have protection threads that are charged with sacred verses (Mantras) and sanctified with rice, durva grass etc.; to have these tied by people who know the Vedas or by near and dear ones. This protection thread saves from sins on the one hand and removes diseases on the other hand. By tying this thread, protection is afforded for a full one year and all kinds of fears are removed.

Nowadays Rakhis are decorated with soft silky threads of various colours, and also with ornaments, pictures, gold and silver threads etc. These Rakhis enhance the artistry of the people. Within these Rakhis reside sacred feelings and well wishes. It is also a great sacred verse of unity. Acting as a symbol of life's advancement and a leading messenger of togetherness.

Each person should celebrate with enthusiasm this sacred festival of Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan. (Raksha = protection. Bandhan = tie).

                                                                                                                                            
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Krishna Janmashtami

King Kansa was the most absolute and tyrannical monarch of the period; the bare mention of whose name was sufficient to send fear through the hearts of all good and peace-loving people. His sister's name was Devaki upon whom his brother Kansa showered brotherly love. And that is the reason why, on the day of Devaki's marriage to Vasudev, when the time came for Devaki to travel to her husband's house, that king Kansa wanted to drive the carriage himself as a token of his brotherly love.

The newly married couple were simple and beautiful, yet noble and majestic to look at. They were really very happy. The royal carriage richly decorated with precious gems and ornaments, was being followed by a large retinue of people wearing colourful gala dresses. Everything was pleasant all round.

Suddenly the face of nature changed. The birds stopped singing; the sun was obscured by a cloud; the soft breeze became a howling wind creating dust storms. Ill omens were pointing to imminent danger. An unaccountable fear suddenly gripped the minds of all in the procession. At such a time, an unseen voice, an oracle, was heard from above which said:

"Oh you foolish one, whom are you driving so merrily? Would you not know that the eighth issue of her womb shall be the cause of your death?"

On hearing this, the terrible Kansa sprang up from his seat, drew his sword, and was about to kill his sister on the spot, had not Vasudev intervened. Falling upon his feet, on behalf of his newly married wife, reminding Kansa that not Devaki but her eighth child would be the cause of his death. So he requested Kansa most humbly, to spare her life, she being fully innocent, and promised, since he had fear from her children, that each and everyone of them would be given over to him. Kansa felt the force of the reason and agreed to the proposal of Vasudev.

Besides his newly married bride Devaki, Vasudev had another good wife, named Rohini and with these two loving and dutiful wives he managed to live in peace and comfort.

In the course of time, the first male child was born to Devaki. Vasudev, true to his word, sent the news to King Kansa, who sent his servants to fetch the child whom he instantly killed with his own hands. Six children were thus killed by the cruel king, who foolishly wanted to avert the course of fate.

In the case of the seventh child, somehow or other the womb appeared to be fruitless, although it was really transferred, through divine agency, from Devaki to Rohini, who in due course of time, brought forth a child that, on account of its transference from one womb to another came to be known by the name of Sankarshana.

Now when the time for the birth of her eighth child was approaching, Kansa ordered Vasudeva and Devaki to be cast into his prison, bound with the same chain.

Both the wife and husband did not know what to do. Every minute of their lives they called upon their only hope, their only deliverance, God. The solace of the unhappy, ardent prayers proceeding from the very bottom of their souls, incessantly flowed out of their hearts; and the almighty Lord of the universe, in His own mysterious ways, was infilling their souls with infinite power of endurance which kept the fragile vessels of their delicate frames steady and safe in that gloomy and stormy sea of life.

For us, there is a lesson to be derived from this. We can draw great comfort from the Gita where the Lord tells us: Ch.8,verse 58-"Fixing your mind on Me, you shall by my grace, overcome all obstacles..."

Devaki was about to usher into the world its saviour, and she along with her husband, bewailed her lot and beating her forehead said: "O darling, be not born of me to be smashed to death by the cruel king Kansa". And with this, both Devaki and Vasudeva fell into a swoon. In the gloom of that unconsciousness, suddenly a light flashed, and a beautiful youth of sixteen, holding mace and discus, conch shell and lotus in his four hands, rose above the horizon of their mental firmament, healing all their mental wounds, cheering and exhilarating them with his sweet smile."Father and mother, weep no more. I have come at last to your rescue and to the rescue of all the good people. Open your eyes and see me as your child. Carry me father to the house of your friend Nanda in Gokula. His wife Yashoda has given birth to a daughter just now. Exchange me for that daughter. Bring her back to this prison leaving me on the lap of Yashoda who will be sleeping at the time. Nothing shall bar your path".

With these words, the soul-solacing charming youth vanished.

When Devaki and Vasudeva opened their eyes, they saw the most charming and beautiful baby ever a parent was blessed with. That was at midnight of Ashtami-Rohini day, the divine baby was born in Prison. The earth and the heavens were filled with joy. Flowers blossomed, rains fell from the sky, peacocks danced, the gods rained flowers, and divine music was heard. Devaki and Vasudeva forgot their miserable condition for a while, looking at the smiling baby playing with its tiny limbs. The mother kissed the sweet face and forgot her danger. Then after a while, they realised the real state of affairs and both the husband and wife shuddered. Then the sweet instructions of the fascinating youth in the vision flashed into their minds. Vasudeva clasped the child at once in his bosom to start for Gokula, but found that his legs were in chains. He did not know what to do. In his haste he gave a jerk, and his legs were released! He sprang upon his feet and ran towards the door of his dungeon. The massive iron-barred doors were locked with three fold locks; but the guards were all asleep, and therefore fearlessly he gave a push forward and the gates were unlocked and flew open of their own accord. The crossing over the river Yamuna was just as miraculous. Vasudeva reached Gokula and to his astonishment found the door of Nanda's house open. He exchanged the babies and hurried back to the prison of Kansa. Early in the morning, all the people at Gokula came to know that a beautiful male child, a prince had been born the previous night at midnight to Nanda's wife, and their simple hearts were filled with unbounded joy.

                                                                                                                                            
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Ganesh Chaturthi

In Sanskrit language, there are more than one meaning attached to a word. For example, the word GO means cow as well as sense organs. Gopal means cowherd. Gopal also means a yogi whose sense organs are completely under his control. This dual meaning enables poets to bring out their best on the physical plane as well as on the spiritual plane.

We have Krishna the cowherd boy in Vraj and Vrindavan, and we have Gopalnanda Krishna, the yogeshwar, milking the Upanishads, and the milk is the great nectar of the Bhagavad Gita.(Gita Dhyanam, verse 4, usually found at the beginning of Bhagavad Gita books). The maakhan (cream) or the gist or essence of the Upanishads is presented in the Bhagavad Gita. This is what the `makkhan chor' took from the Upanishads and distributed for the benefit of mankind.

Similarly, a common Sanskrit word to denote elephant is GAJA. Here Gajanan means elephant faced - a name for Ganapati. But the word Gaja has a much deeper connotation. GA indicates gati, the final goal towards which the entire creation is moving, whether knowingly or unknowingly. JA stands for janma, birth or origin. Hence GAJA signifies GOD from whom worlds have come out and towards whom they are progressing, to be ultimately dissolved in Him. The elephant head is thus purely symbolical.

We observe creation in its two fold manifestation as the microcosm (sukshmanda) and the macrocosm (brahmanda). Each is a replica of the other. They are one in two and two in one. The elephant head stands for the macrocosm (representing vastness or bigness), and the human body for the microcosm. The two form one unit. Since the macrocosm is the goal of the microcosm, the elephant part has been given greater prominence by making it a head.

The Chandogya Upanishad has pronounced a philisophical truth as TAT-TVAM-ASI, THAT- THOU -ART. It simply means "You, the apparently limited individual, are in essence, the cosmic Truth, the Absolute". The elephant-human form of Ganapati is the iconographical representation of this great Vedantic dictum. the elephant stands for the cosmic whereas the human stands for the individual. The single image reflects their identity.

Vedanta is the synthesis of the `within' and the `without'; the macrocosm and the microcosm. The study of this `within' of nature through an inquiry into the `within' of man, who is the unique product of nature`s evolution, is religion according to Indian thought. The synthesis of the knowledge of the `without' , which the physical sciences give, and the `within' which religion gives, is what India achieved in her Vedanta. This she calls BRAHMA - VIDYA or philosophy; God or Brahman(`BRAHMAN' is the Upanishdic term for the Supreme Reality, God) standing for the totality of reality, physical and non-physical. Brahma - vidya is Sarva - vidya- pratishtha (philosophy is the basis and support of all knowledge) says the Mundaka Upanishad (i.i.i.).

The Ganapati Upanishad identifies Lord Ganesh with the Supreme Self. Lord Ganesh represents the Pranava (AUM) which is the symbol of the Supreme Self. Taitiriya Upanishad (1.8.1.) states: "AUM ITI BRAHMAN -AUM is Brahman (GOD). AUM is all this . Nothing can be done without uttering it. This explains the practice of invokong Lord Ganesh before beginning any rite or undertaking any project.

Lord Ganesh removes all obstacles on the path of the spiritual aspirant, and bestows upon him worldly as well as spiritual success. So he is called VIGNA VINAYAKA or VIGHNESHWAR.

                                                                                                                                            
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Navarathri

The Ken Upanishad, part three, known as Yaksha Prashna says:
"The supreme power of God is manifested as KNOWLEDGE, ACTIVITY and STRENGTH".

The Bhagavad Gita describes the same in different words.
Ch14,Verse 5."Purity, passion and inertia- these qualities, born of nature, bind fast in the body".

These three qualities are known as gunas - Sattwa- Rajas and Tamas.

Each of these three gunas is represented by a colour. Sattwa is white (colour of purity). Sattwa is represented by that aspect of mother Durga we worship as goddess Saraswati. Saraswati wears white. Sattwa binds by attachment to happines and knowledge. Sattwa is luminous and healthy.
(Gita Ch.14-Verse 6.)

The colour of Rajas is red, represented by that aspect of mother Durga we worship as goddess Lakshmi. She wears red. Rajas is of the nature of activity, passion and ambition, the source of thirst for physical enjoyment. Rajas binds fast one by attachment to action.
-(Gita Ch.14. Verse 7.)

The Rajasic person runs after power, position, name, fame and comforts, and involves himself in endless activities to acquire material wealth.

When we worship goddess Lakshmi for spiritual wealth, she bestows on her devotees the inexhaustible divine wealth or Daivi Sampat (which is described in the Gita, Ch.16, Verses 1,2 and 3). Divine wealth or the wealth of 26 divine qualities,brings with it material prosperity as well.
[ Visit page Daivi Sampat - Divine Wealth <Click here]


Tamas is black, represented by that aspect of mother Durga we worship as goddess Kali. She is sometimes depicted in dark blue.

Tamas is born of ignorance, deluding all embodied beings. Tamas binds fast in heedlessness, sleep, indolence, laziness (Gita Ch.14 Verse 8). Tamas is that binding force with a tendency to lethargy (lack of energy, vitality), sloth and foolish actions. It causes non-discrimination or delusion. It binds one who associates the Self with the body. A tamasic person acts under the compulsion of the body. He has no power of judgment. His actions are not guided by reasons. His senses are dull.

These are all baser animal qualities, the lower diabolical nature in man.We pray to mother Kali, as Durga the terrible, as supreme power and force, to destroy all our impurities, our vices, our defects. She is to fight and annihilate these demons. This is the 'strength' aspect of shakti as mentioned in the Upanishad. Mother Kali is the power that guides and protects the devotee's spiritual practice from its many dangers and pitfalls.
Mother Kali represents the ferocious and destructive aspect
of TIME.

In contrast with creative force in nature, this power is ever active disintegrating forms and structures. It drives heavenly bodies back into their nebulous state.

In the Kenopanishad, part three, (Yaksha Prashna), 12th Mantra, the Divine Mother is described as a woman wonderously fair, daughter of the snowy mountain Himavat, her name Hemavati or Uma.

She is the energy aspect of the Lord. Her other name is Durga. This cosmic energy or shakti is the omnipotent power of the Lord. We call her Durga, the Divine Mother.

Lower states of ignorance and egoism are typified by or personified as demons with such names as Dhumralochan, Chanda and Munda, which should be destroyed by the sudden burst of energy and rough handling. Dumralochan (the smoky-eyed, a person whose understanding is clouded by ignorance) stands for the grosser state of ignorance and egoism. Munda means the low. Munda is the low profile of our egoism. Chanda means fierce. Chanda is the more horrible and fierce side of it. Shumbha and Nishumbha signify more enlightened aspects of egoism. Shumbh means to shine.

Mahishasur stands for ignorance and stubborn egoism. Raktabij represents the more subtle states of desire which multiply endlessly to create more problems.

                                                                                                                                            
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Vijayadasmi

The tenth day, Vijaydashmi, is the day of victory, representing the day of enlightenment when all vasanas are destroyed and the knowledge of the Self has dawned in the individual. The individual is said to have attained God-realisation. The triumph of having moved from the ignorant state of JIVAHOOD (embodied soul) to the enlightened state of SHIVAHOOD. This day marks the triumph of spirit over matter, of victory of divine qualities over evil qualities, of the removal of ignorance by the light of wisdom and knowledge.

The victory of Durga is the triumph of the aggressive good over evil, the destruction of vasanas / subtle impressions, desires, and the realisation of the divine Self.

In modern language, Saraswati represents pure science and Lakshmi represents applied science. Thus Lakshmi flows from Saraswati. First comes the worship of Saraswati through scientific research and then acquisition, assimilation and distribution of knowledge. This is followed by the worship of Lakshmi through the application of knowledge in all fields of human development and welfare.

                                                                                                                                            
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Deepavali

Throughout the world all Hindus celebrate Deepawali with great pomp and enthusiasm. This is the great festival honouring Mother Lakshmi (goddess of wealth).

The historic origins of some of the various Hindu festivals revolve around their special significance for each of the four castes. Sravan is primarily a festive month for the Brahmins (priests). Dassera (Vijay Dashmi) is a festival primarily for the Kshatriyas (warriors). Holi is a festival primarily for the Sudras and Deepawali is a festival primarily for the Vaisyas.

These distinctions are not rigid and generally all Hindus participate and celebrate all these festivals.

                                                                                                                                                    
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