Indian Fast & Festivals

Baikuntha Chaturdashi

05 Nov (Wednesday), 2014

24 Nov (Tuesday), 2015

13 Nov (Sunday), 2016

Significance

Vaikuntha Chaturdashi is a Hindu holy day, which is observed on chaturdashi, the 14th lunar day of the waxing moon fortnight (shukla paksha) of the Hindu month of Kartik (November–December). The day is sacred to the deities Vishnu and Shiva. They are worshipped individually or together in different temples in Varanasi, Rishikesh, Gaya and Maharashtra.

The holy day Vaikuntha Chaturdashi is also observed in Maharashtra by the Marathas as per the custom set by Shivaji and his mother Jijabai for this occasion and by the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins, though in a slightly different format.

History

According to Shiva Purana, Once, the god Vishnu, the Lord of Vaikuntha, left his abode Vaikuntha and went to Varanasi to worship the god Shiva on this day. He pledged to worship Shiva with a thousand lotuses. While singing hymns to Shiva, Vishnu finds the thousandth lotus missing. Vishnu, whose eyes are often compared to lotuses, plucks one of them and offers it to Shiva. A pleased Shiva restores Vishnu's eye and rewards him the Sudarshana chakra, Vishnu's discus and sacred weapon.

According to legend of Vaikuntha Chaturdashi related to the Varanasi festivities, a Brahmin named Dhaneshwar who had spent his life time committing several sins, visited the bank of the Godavari River to take a bath and wash off his sins, when Vaikuntha Chaturdashi was being observed by a large number of devotees by offering earthen lighted lamps and batti (wick) to the sacred river. Dhaneshwar mingled with the crowd. When he died, his soul was taken by Yama, the god of death, to hell for punishment. However, Shiva intervened and told Yama that Dhaneshwar's sins were cleansed due to the touch of the devotees on Vaikuntha Chaturdashi. Then Dhaneshwar was released from hell and got a place in the Vaikuntha.

How to Celebrate

Devotees of Vishnu offer the god a thousand lotuses while reciting the Vishnu sahasranama, the thousand names of Vishnu. The Vishnupada Temple, which is believed to have footprints of Vishnu, celebrates its main temple festival in this period. The festival is also celebrated as kartik snan (bathing in a river or stream during the kaartik maas) by Vishnu devotees. In Rishikesh, this day is observed as Deep Daan Mahotsav to mark the occasion of Vishnu waking up, out of his deep sleep. As a mark of environmental awareness, the deeps or lamps are made of flour (which would disintegrate in water) instead of burnt earthen lamps. The lighted lamps are floated in the holy Ganges River in the evening. This is accompanied by several cultural festivities.

On this occasion, Vishnu is given a special place of honour in the sanctum of Kashi Vishwanath temple, a prominent Shiva temple in Varanasi. The temple is described as Vaikuntha on this day. Both the deities are ritually worshipped as though they are worshipping each other. Vishnu offers tulsi (holy basil) leaves (traditionally used in Vishnu worship) to Shiva, and Shiva in turn offers Bael leaves (traditionally offered to Shiva) to Vishnu, which is taboo otherwise, to each other. Devotees start the pujas after taking baths, fasting for the whole day, and offering akshat ( turmeric mixed rice), sandalwood (Chandan) paste, sacred water of the Ganges, flowers, incense and camphor to both the deities. Then they offer lighted deeps (earthen lamps) and batti (cotton wick) as a special offering for the day. In Varanasi, women, particularly old women, outnumber others in offering prayers on this occasion. Over the years, the number of devotees participating in this festival has increased. It is also said that old Brahmin ladies who are specialized in making cotton wicks offer 125,000 battis to the two gods on this occasion.

At the Grishneshwar temple of Shiva, Vishnu is offered Bael leaves and Shiva is offered Tulsi leaves. It is considered to portray the union of Vishnu and Shiva. In the Tilbhandeshvar temple in Nashik, the 2 feet (0.61 m) linga - aniconic form of Shiva - is dressed up in finery and a silver mask, as Ardhanarishvara, the half-male, half-female form of Shiva. Thousands of people worship the Tilbhandeshvar and Shiva Kampaleshvar temples in Nashik. The festival is one of the three important festivals of these temples.

Another observance is by celebrating avail bhojan (means a dinner) taken under the Phyllanthus emblica tree (Indian gooseberry).

It is also prominently celebrated in Vishnu temples like SriRanga (Tamil Nadu), Tirupati Srinivasa temple (Andra Pradesh), Udupi Sri Krishna Mutt (Karnataka) and many more. It is a custom to light lamps in a cut summer squash, after removing its core, thus fashioning a lamp (others use earthen lamps) and using 360 wicks, that some make by them especially for this occasion. These wicks are customarily as long as the pod of a cereal (moong dal)

Baikunth Chaturdashi Vrat

(For getting salvation and for reaching heaven)

Method of Observing Fast:

This fast is observed on the Shukla Chaturdashi of the month of Kartik. Shukla Chaturdashi is celebrated by having bath in a river on this day. At night when stars start shining 14 lamps should be lit on the bank of river. Worship Lord Vishnu and offer oblation. Some people offer 1 lakh 25 thousand leaves of Tulsi (Basil) in the temple of Lord Vishnu. Serve oblation (Prasad) among devotees. Offer food, gifts and money to Brahmins. Chant Bhajans on the day of fast. Read Baikunth Chaturdashi Vrata Katha and sleep near idol of God at night.

Mantra :

"Om Namo Narayanaay"

Asrti shri vishnu ji ki :

Om jay jagdish hare, svami jay jagdish hare|

bhaktajanon ke sankat, kshan men dur kare||

jo dhyave fal pave, duahkh binse man ka|

sukh sampatti ghar ave, kasht mite tan ka|| Om jay .....

matpita tum mere sharan gahun kiski|

tum bin aur n duja, ash karun jiski|| Om jay .....

tum puran parmatma, tum antaryami|

par brahm parmeshvar, tum sabke svami|| Om jay .....

tum karuna ke sagar, tum palanakatrta|

main murakh khal kami, kripa karo bharta|| Om jay .....

tum ho ek agochar, sabke pranpti| kis vidhi milun dayamay, tumko main kumti|| Om jay .....

din bandhu duahkh harta, tum rakshak mere|

karuna hast uthao, dvar para tere|| Om jay .....

vishy-vikar mitao, pap haro deva|

shraddha bhakti barhao, santan ki seva|| Om jay .....

tan-man-dhan sab kuch hai tera|

tera tujhko arpan kya lage mera|| Om jay .....

jay jagdish hare, svami jay jagdish hare|

bhaktajanon ke sankat, kshan men dur kare|| Om jay .....

shri vishnu stuti

shantakaran bhujgshynan padmanabhan sureshan, vishvadharan gagnsdrishan meghavarnan shubhangam|

lakshmikantan kamlnynan yogibhidhryanagamyan, vande vishnu bhavbhyhran sarvalokaiknatham||




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