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Friday, June 27, 2008

ASHADHI EKADASHI
Type : Religious Procession Festival
Celebrated at : Pandharpur
In the month of : June - July


Ashadhi Ekadashi is more of a religious procession festival and is
celebrated during the months of June- July (Aashaadh Shukla paksha).
People consider the two eleventh days, "Ekadashi", of every month to
be of special importance. But the eleventh day (bright) of Ashadh is
known as the great Ekadashi or Mahaekadashi. This Mahaekadashi is
also known as Shayani Ekadashi, because on this day Vishnu falls
asleep to wake up four months later on Prabodhini Ekadashi in the
Kartik month. This period is known as Chaturmas and coincides with
the rainy season. Ashadhi Ekadashi is the day of fast and on this
day people go walking in huge processions to Pandharpur singing the
Abhangas (chanting hymns) of Saint Tukaram and Saint Dnyaneshwar to
see their God Vitthal. The yatra starts in Allandi and ends on Guru
Poornima day at Pandharpur.


The Feast
The feast of Ashadhi Ekadashi is celebrated with great solemnity at
Pandharpur. Hundreds of thousands go in procession from different
parts of Maharashtra, some carrying palanquins with the images of
the great saints of Maharashtra. Dnaneshwar's image is carried from
Alandi, Tukaram's from Dehu, Eknath's from Paithan, Nivruttinath's
from Trimbakeshwar, Muktabai's from Edlabad, and Sopan's from
Sasvad.

Mahaekadashi
Some people consider the two eleventh days, "ekadashi", of every
month to be of special importance. But the eleventh day (bright) of
Ashadh is known as the great ekadashi or Mahaekadashi. It is a day
of fast. This is the day of the huge "yatra" or pilgrimages to the
god Vithoba of Pandharpur, a town in south Maharashtra, situated on
the banks of the Bhima River, a tributary of the Krishna River.
This Mahaekadashi is also known as Shayani Ekadashi, because on
this day Vishnu falls asleep to wake up four months later on
Prabodhini Ekadashi in the Kartik month. This period is known as
Chaturmas and coincides with the rainy season.

Mrudumanya
There was a demon called Mrudumanya. He performed austere
penance to obtain the blessings of Shankar. At the end Shankar was
pleased and offered a boon to Mrudumanya. The demon asked for the
gift of immortality. Shankar replied, "You will not die by the hands
of anyone, except of a woman."
Mrudumanya's goal was to defeat all the gods and conquer heaven.
Shankar agreed to everything, "Neither Bramha, nor Vishnu, nor
myself shall ever be able to defeat you." "That will be sufficient,"
said Mrudumanya full of satisfaction. "I got what I wanted."
Mrudumanya began to conquer heaven. Indra ran away to Bramhadev
in Satyalok (abode of truth). Mrudumanya marched towards Satyalok.
Since Bramhadev knew about the boon Mrudumanya had obtained from
Shankar, he did not want to engage him in battle. He gathered his 33
crore gods (330 million) and escaped to Vaikunth, the abode of
Vishnu, with the hope that at least Vishnu would protect them from
this demon. Satyalok fell into the hands of Mrudumanya. Bramhadev
fell at the feet of Vishnu. Then Mrudumanya reached Vaikunth. He
said to Vishnu, "Do not give protection to Bramhadev. Fall at my
feet and I shall spare Vaikunth. But if you do not listen to me, I
will conquer the three worlds."
Vishnu stood ready to fight. There was a fierce struggle without
anyone being able to establish his superiority. Then they came to a
hand to hand wrestle. Vishnu, though not defeated, felt exhausted.
Then he decided to have recourse to Shankar. All the gods then went
to Shankar, who was happily seated on Kailas mountain. Bramha and
Vishnu arrived and worshipped Shankar. Shankar was happy at seeing
all the gods coming to him.
Vishnu was angry and complained to Shankar, "You gave this boon to
this demon. He routed Jndra and Bramhadev. I too have been unable to
subdue him. Now he will rule over the three worlds. So, please, do
something about it." Then Mrudumanya arrived. He began to storm
Kailas mountain. Shankar got angry. He ordered his troops to fight.
He himself sat on his nandi (bull), took his trisul in his hand, and
marched to meet Mrudumanya. Vishnu and all the gods began to fight
against Mrudumanya. But Mrudumanya was invincible on account of
Shankar's boon.
Shankar decided to use a stratagem instead of force. Bramha,
Vishnu and Shankar retreated. They went to Trikut mountain. Then
came a storm of rain and thunder. Shankar took shelter in the hole
of a big tree. Bramha and Vishnu followed him. For 24 hours they
remained sitting, fasting and meditating in that hole. With their
breath the air became hot, and finally a bright light appeared, and
from the light the figure of a frail girl emerged. As they became
fully awake a beautiful virgin was standing before them. Shankar
understood that the virgin was the goddess Shakti, at whose hands
Mrudumanya would be killed. She said, "Be quiet, I have come to
destroy Mrudumanya."
Mrudumanya reached the place and suspected that the gods were
hiding in the hole of that big tree. As he came closer with his
sword in hand, he saw that beautiful girl at the entrance of the
hole. Mrudumanya was astonished and asked, "Who are you?" The girl's
body began to grow. She reminded him of the words of Shankar, "You
will be killed by the hand of a woman." Then the girl flew into the
sky and took the form of the goddess with four arms. In one hand she
held a sword, in the other a huge "gada" (mace or club), and two
dreadful weapons in the remaining two hands. She threw her sword on
Mrudumanya. His neck was severed and the demon collapsed to the
ground.
All the gods fell at the feet of the goddess and asked her to
declare who she was and by what method she would be pleased. Then
the goddess said, "I am the mother of the three worlds. The power of
Bramha, Vishnu, and Shankar is contained all in me. My name is
Ekadashi. To please me the ekadashi vow should be observed. I shall
forestall any calamity from those who keep this vow."

Pandharpur
The feast of Ashadhi Ekadashi is celebrated with great solemnity
at Pandharpur. Hundreds of thousands go in procession from different
parts of Maharashtra, some carrying palanquins with the images of
the great saints of Maharashtra. Dnaneshwar's image is carried from
Alandi, Tukaram's from Dehu, Eknath's from Paithan, Nivruttinath's
from Trimbakeshwar, Muktabai's from Edlabad, and Sopan's from
Sasvad. At Pandharpur the devotees worship the god Vithoba and his
consort Rukhmmi.
Pundalik was giving his parents a lot of trouble. But one day
listening to a rishi's sermon he realised his folly, and thereafter
devoted himself to the service of his parents. One-day god Vithoba
came to see him while he was engaged in massaging the feet of his
old parents. Pundalik threw a brick and told god Vithoba to stand on
the brick and wait. God Vithoba stood on the brick and he is still
there with his arms akimbo, waiting. Vishnu is believed to have
taken the form of Vithoba for the sake of Pundalik, as a reward for
his wonderful devotion to his parents.

palkhi festival 1000 years old tradition
PALKHI FESTIVAL

Celebration of : 1000 years old Tradition

Two Palkhis : Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu and The Dayaneshwar Palkhi
from Alandi.

Duration : 22 days

In the month of : Ashadh (June - July) and Kartik (November -
December)
Palkhi, a unique feature of Maharashtrian culture, is a 1000-year-
old tradition followed by the warkaris (people who follow the wari,
a fundamental ritual). People collectively go singing and dancing,
chanting Dnyanba-Tukaram in what are called as Dindis (organised
group of warkaris) to the holy town of Pandharpur in Hindu months of
Ashadh (June-July) and Karthik (November-December). The Palkhi
starts in the month of Jyeshth (June) and the whole process lasts a
total of 22 days. Every year on the eleventh day of the first half
of the month of Ashadh, the Palkhi reaches Pandharpur. Every saint,
right from Sant Dnyaneshwar to Sant Tukaram was following the wari
tradition.
The History
In the year 1685, Narayan baba, the youngest son of Tukaram was a
man of innovative spirit and decided to bring about a change in the
dindi-wari tradition by introducing the Palkhi, which is a sign of
social respect. He put the silver padukas (footsteps) of Tukaram in
the Palkhi and proceeded with his dindi to Alandi where he put the
padukas of Dnyaneshwar in the same Palkhi. This tradition of twin
Palkhis went on every year, but in 1830 there were some disputes in
the family of Tukaram, concerned with rights and privileges.
Following this, some thoughtful persons decided to break-up the
tradition of twin Palkhis and organise here after, two separate
Palkhis - Tukaram Palkhi from Dehu and the Dnyaneshwar Palkhi from
Alandi. From that time till date, both the Palkhis meet in Pune for
a brief halt and then diverge at Hadapsar to meet again at Wakhri, a
village nearby to Pandharpur. Along with times, the popularity of
this ancient tradition has soared immensely. A total of
approximately 1.5 lakh devotees proceed along with the Sant Tukaram
Palkhi from Dehu village, while a total of 2.25 lakh devotees march
along with the Sant Dnyaneshwar Palkhi. At present a total of 43
Palkhis including the above two visit Pandharpur every year.

jargon need to know

Brick:
This has been used as a proper noun because it refers to "the Brick"
on which the image of Vitthal at Pandharpur stands and is an
integral part of the iconography of Vitthal; the Marathi word for
brick is "veet", and some folk-etymologists would derive the word
Vitthal itself from it; the mythological significance of "the
Brick" , is the following story: Pundalik, a resident of Pandharpur
and a devotee of VishnuNitthal was visited by God Himself, who had
heard of Pundalik's total dedication; Pundalik was so absorbed in
his own work that he threw a brick that was handy in the direction
of his divine visitor, asking him to stand; after that, Pundalik
forgot all about God whom he had kept waiting, while he remained
absorbed in his own work; God would not leave without Pundalik's
permission; he has remained standing on the brick ever since; twenty-
eight eons are said to have elapsed since Pundalik asked God to wait
on the brick; this is how God is found in Pandharpur where his
devotees can visit Him; "the Brick" may mean Vitthal Himself in
Tukaram's poetry; Tukaram worships Vitthal's feet, which are placed
on "the Brick", in humility; because God stands on it "the Brick"
itself is sacred. "the Brick" is also the "base" or "foundation" of
God in this world, and as such it is a symbol of Bhakti itself,
which is the foundation of the Whole Being or Brahman for the
Bhakta; "the Brick" is also a symbol of God's patient, obedient, and
respectful attitude towards a true Bhakta,epitomized by the story of
Pundalik; the Varkari Bhakta-poets consider Pundalik as the arch-
Bhakta and founder of the sacred site and image at Pandharpur.
Chandal:
another term designating a low-caste, a Shudra; originally, a mixed
caste of illegitimate progeny of Shudra male and Brahmin female
parents; as such, bastards born of prohibited intercaste liasons; a
derogatory term used for the lowest born, for the unscrupulous,
the sinful, the wicked, the corrupt, and the criminal-minded.
Colour:
the colour of Vishnu is dark blue, the colour of the sky itself,
which is the colour of his avatara, Krishna; Krishna literally
means "the dark one" or even "the black one"; sometimes, in poetry,
the colour of Krishna is compared to "a dark blue rain cloud", a
monsoonal association with its evocative effect on the Indian mind
and its pastoral significance for herdsmen; Krishna was a herdsman,
too; the colour of the image of Vitthal is black; the dhotar or loin-
garment of Vitthal is yellow silk; the name Pandurang, used for
Vithoba or Vitthal was first used in 1270 according to Deleury: its
origin is obscure; but Pandurang is close to the Sanskrit
word "pandura", which means "yellowish-white" or "fawn-coloured"; in
both Sanskrit and Marathi, "anga" means body, Another significance
of colour needs to be pointed out in the context of Tukaram's visual
imagery, especially when he is describing his experience of
beatitude: when Tukaram meditates on Vitthal's form, the image
becomes a formless expanse of luminous blue that turns into an
intense incandescence; but when he describes the effect of his
initiation into the state of beatitude induced by his Guru Babaji,
Tukaram describes a state of ecstasy in which he begins to see
luminous ripples in five colours: red, yellow, blue, white, and
black: these colours vibrate, pulsate, and keep changing from one
into the other in a rhythmic manner.
One more thing to remember is that in Marathi the verb "rangane"
which means "to be coloured" also refers to the experience of being
absorbed in any activity in such a way that one's very appearance
is "coloured" by it; this applies to devotion, worship, the act of
singing and dancing, the act of chanting the names of God, and in
Tukaram's case, the act of creating poetry or "speaking" in that
special sense; in all these, "one is coloured by what one thinks of
and does" or "one's very being is coloured by one's awareness"; any
performance that becomes increasingly exciting or absorbing is
described in Marathi, literally, as something "that is becoming more
and more colourful" or "is gaining colour"; "getting coloured by
Bhakti- rasa" is another typical expression.


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