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New Year is welcomed all over the world on different dates, drenched in multifarious colors of traditions. This is because the World is an assorted basket of different communities and they heterogeneously follow their own calendars. Gregorian calendar is used globally for civil purposes. It is also known as Western calendar/ Christian calendar and is based on solar cycle. Most of the calendars synchronize months and year with sun or moon cycles. Persians follow solar-calendar, where as an Islamic Calendar is of lunar-type. An amalgam of both solar and lunar reckonings is conceived as a luni-solar calendar, which is followed by Hindus.
Gregorian calendar has 365 days in a year. The days are divided into twelve months. Most of the countries across the globe follow the Gregorian calendar and celebrate their New Year’s Day on 1st of January. Whereas some countries like India, Bangladesh, Israel and Myanmar use their own calendar alongside to mark the cycles of religious and astrological events. In India, the “Indian National calendar or Saka calendar” along with Gregorian calendar is used as the official civil calendar by The Gazette of India and for calendars and communications issued by the Government of India. The Indian National calendar ambivalently refers to the Hindu calendar.
In India, Shalivahana or Saka calendar and Vikrama calendar is used. The story behind the calendars date backs to 56 BCE when the Emperor Vikramaditya of Ujjain founded Vikrama Samvat era to mark his victory over Sakas as a revenge of his father’s death. Later in the year 78 CE, Gautamiputra Satakarni who was a Satavahana king initiated the Saka Era to celebrate his victory against the Sakas.
India flamboyantly celebrates the International/ English New Year on 1st of January. They welcome New Year at mid-night with fireworks and parties. Some people also organize bhajan sandhyas. However, no specific traditions are followed to celebrate it.
Hindu New Year is celebrated according to Panchanga. Most of the states follow Shalivahana calendar and celebrate the Nav Varsh Samwat which starts on first day of Chaitra month and is also known as Chaitra Shukladi. The Hindu New Year Samvat 2070 is on 11th April, 2013. The Vikrama calendar begins with the month of “Baisakha / Vaisakha” or “Kartak” (in Gujarat) and is also called as Vikram Samwat. The accustomed New Year celebrations vary from state to state. Not just the traditions but also the time of celebration varies. The day is anthologized by different names in different states.
# GUDI PADWA: It is celebrated as New Year’s Day in Maharashtra on first day of Chaitra month.
# UGADI: It is also celebrated on first day of the month of Chaitra and marks the onset of spring. Ugadi is derived from the name “Yuga Adi” which means the beginning of a new age.
# CHEIRAOBA: It is the festival of Manipur and it falls on same day as Ugadi. “Cheirao-ba” means the announcement of the coming year.
# NAVREH: It is the lunar New Year which coincides with the first day of the Chaitra Navratras and is celebrated in Kashmir.
# CHAITTI: Himachal Pradesh celebrates its new year as Chaitti on first day of Chaitra month.
# CHAITRA PRATIPADA: It is celebrated in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkand and Uttar Pradesh with the beginning of Chaitra month.
According to Hindu Astrological system, 13/14th April is the day when the Sun will start its new cycle in the traditional zodiac number one. On this day, Tamils celebrate Puthandu, Punjabis ceremonialize it as Vaishaki, Bengalis welcome it as Bohaag Bihu and Malayalees feast the New Year as Vishu. Gujaratis celebrate Bestu Varas as New Year’s Day which falls on the day next to Diwali.
It is believed that Lord Brahma, the creator of Universe began with the nexus of miraculous creations including all forms of life. Apart from this, the day also incites the flux of new astronomical cycle. This day also evince the beginning of first season of the year, that is, the spring season. This season emblematize the fresh start of life in the form of out-spurt of shoots from the plants.
This day also marks the commencement of the Vasant Navratri festival with first day of Chaitra Month. Shri Rama and Shri Lakshmana worshipped Devi during Navratris to seek her blessings that helped them in recovery of Mata Sita. The Vasant Navratri is celebrated for nine tithis and culminates with Ram Navami. According to Election Astrology this day is one of the four auspicious days and is known as “Saade Teen Muhurtha”. This day is fortunate to perform any ritual or activity.
The ebullience with which we welcome the International New Year is missing in the people while celebrating Hindu New Year. The speed with which we are drifting towards the western culture is disuniting us from our tradition and culture. Hinduism is the most primitive religion of the World with its origin as far as pre-historic times. All other religions have emerged from it. Hinduism is affluent enough to fascinate and allure people around the planet. The flavorful cultures, variegated customs and people make the religion unique in itself.
Religion is the rope between humanity and spirituality. The sacred histories of the festival convey their meaning and explain their origin and morality. New Year is considered to be magnanimous for new ventures and success. It symbolizes the vestibule of positivity and new hopes. We should perform the ritualistic pujas and seek the divine blessings on the sacred day. The ethos, mighty ethics and purity of our culture should not be adumbrated in the glamour of modernized World. Some say it a moral obligation but we should never bisect from our foundation, our religion. Religion and its spirituality is the nucleus of our soul.
Hindu Nav-Varsh ki Hardik Shubhkaamnayein !!
Author : Dr Shweta Puri | Follow the writer twitter.com/DrShwetaPuri
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