Most of us do not know why festivals are celebrated. However everyone
enjoys the festivals and the extravagant celebrations. It would be
interesting to find out their background from a scientific, logical,
historical and Pauraanik points of view.
As Osho says, our life itself should be like a festival. Enjoying religiosity,
achieving physical wellbeing and mental peace and tranquility are their objectives.
So, instead of attaching too much of importance to the external aspects, it is
better to concentrate on the meaningful activities expected in each festival.
For example, Krishnaashtamee and Geetaa Jayantee can be celebrated chanting the
Geetaa, Raam Navamee by reciting the Raamaayan or doing its Paaraayan, Dushaharaa
by chanting the Devee Bhaagvat etc.
Those who first introduced these practices knew the correct reasoning behind the
celebrations. The next generations performed them correctly even if they had not
understood the background. Nowadays, some of these are being conducted without
understanding and in an incorrect way. With this background, modern generation
who need explanation for every thing may reject the whole thing. It is therefore
necessary to understand correctly and then explain them to our juniors. Let us
consider some of the practices as examples.
Chaandogya Upanishad (1.10) says,
Gavyam sumadhuram kinchiddoshaghnam krimi kushtanuth
Kandoom cha shamayeth pittham samyagdoshodare hitham
(go moothra is a little sweet, it is anti infectant, it cures leprosy).
Hom or Havan
Khushvaaha S L, a teacher in Bhopal conducted Hom when the poisonous gas, methyl
isocyanate was spreading rapidly there. In about 20 minutes, the gas vanished
from the vicinity of his house. (See The Hindu, April 7, 1985). An American
professor (psychiatrist) Barry Tathner has conducted research on Agnihotra, which
is a small Hom done everyday. He says Agnihotra is known all over the world. The
research conducted on Rudra Swaahaakaar Yagya conducted at Naagpur has been reported
in detail in Bauddhik Sampadaa, November 1999. This has been followed up at the
conference on cows at Ramachandrapur Mutt during 2007 April. The use of brass, copper
vessels, turmeric (arisina, Haldee), Neem sticks etc, have also been subjected to
tests. Beeta Ameloid, a protein causing the incurable Alzheimer disease could be
controlled by the use of turmeric - Arisina (Haldi) - see The Hindu, April 20, 2005.
Ugaadi and Neem
Neem leaves and sticks are being used from times immemorial in our Yugaadi
festival and we take a little Neem with jaggery on that day. There are about 1
crore Neem trees in the country and it is possible to earn about 1000 crores
from these. At present, we are using only a part of these and earning only about
100 crores. (See The Indian Express, June 6, 2007)
We offer the best and special dishes to God first and partake them as Prasaad.
Thus, we get the best to eat and since we fast till the Poojaa is over, it helps
in improvement of health too. The procedure followed in each festival has scientific
background. For example, during Raam Navamee which falls during summer, we offer
Kosumbaree which cools the body. Lime juice with sugar, butter milk etc., are also
distributed. Deepaavalee which falls after the harvest season is enjoyed with daughters,
sons in law and grand children. Mahaa Shiv Raatri is considered as Shiva's marriage
day to Girijaa or his birthday. The day is ideal for spiritual advancement and so,
the day and night is spent praying, worshipping. Rudra destroys sorrow and difficulties.
He is called Aashutosh, one who is pleased easily and grants any thing prayed for.
Shiv means auspicious. The ash on his body indicates Vairaagya. No one can destroy ash !
He lives in the burial ground. The serpent on his neck represents time. Since he controls
time he is called as Mahaa Kaal. His vehicle Nandee symbolizes Dharm. Shakti (energy) is
his wife. To indicate that he takes care of even those who are rejected by every one else,
he shelters Bhoot Gan. He is Nataraaj. Births and deaths, all changes taking place with
time are controlled by movements, he is engaged in Taandava Nritya. His third eye indicates
movement upwards. The three lines of Vibhooti represent Tri-Gun, Tri-Lok. If Tap-Traya are
overcome, realization of the self is possible. The combination of Shiv and Shakti is indicated
with the Ardh-Nareeshwar concept. Likewise, the Shiv-Shakti within us should merge and we
should realize the Aatmaa. This is the purpose behind the Shiv Raatri celebration.
We have to understand that if we do not wake up and take care about protecting our ancient
cultural practices, we may have to obtain permission from some multi-national companies
even to perform our festivals!