Festivals & Fasts

Festival Dates & Times

Holy Month of Shravana The Spiritual Importance of Shravna

The month of Shravana is one of the holiest months of the Hindu calendar. The month is called Shravana because the full moon in this month falls in the Shravana Nakshatra. There are two ways of calculating Sharavana. Some believe it begins on the full moon of Ashadha, which is Guru Purnima. While others regard the new moon in Sharavana as the start of a new month. You should follow the tradition as either is good. This holy month is dedicated to Lord Shiva and contains many religious festivals and ceremonies (see below) making this an extremely auspicious month. Many Hindus fast for the entire month living on fruit, nuts and milk during the day and breaking the fast with a vegetarian meal after sunset. Those unable to fast eat a plant-based diet and avoid tea, coffee. Alcohol is forbidden.

All days of Shravana month are considered Auspicious, But, Mondays or Somvars of Shravana month are especially observed with austerity and women generally fast on this day. All Mondays are devoted to the worship of Shiva as this day is sacred to Lord Shiva. No other Mondays of other months are so greatly honoured. Tuesdays are devoted to the worship of Gauri and Fridays are for Lakshmi. Saturn is worshipped on all Shravana Saturdays, with the objective of obtaining wealth and these Saturdays are known as Sampat Sanivara (wealth Saturdays). Wednesdays (Mercury or Buddh) and Thursdays (Jupiter or Guruvara) are also days for worshipping Buddha and Guru. Saturn's Fast also begins in the month of Shravana annually.

Sun was worshiped on a daily basis in the Vedic period and continues to be now. During Shravana, every Sunday it is essential to worship the Sun. The 'Chudi' Puja is also performed by married women on Fridays and Sundays through worshiping the Tulsi plant (Holy Basil) by offering the 'chudis' or tiny bouquets of flowers, vermillion and other puja items. The 'chudis' are then offered to elderly married women and their blessings are sought. Women in India take this Holy month of Shravana very seriously and observe it as strictly as their situations allow.

Some of the days of particular significance are outlined below:

Saturn Fast: Begins on the first Saturday of the Shukla Paksha of Shravana month. Click here for more on Saturn Fast.

Haryali Teej: The third day of the waxing moon celebrates the union of Shiva and Shakti. Click here for more about Hryali Teej.

Nag-Panchami: Naga-Panchami falls on the fifth day of Shravana and is held in honour of Nagas or snakes. Hindus worship snakes and regard them with the same veneration given to other deities. The King of serpents Vasuki adorns the neck of Lord Shiva forming a crest over the Lord. This day is dedicated to snakes and they are worshipped with milk and fruits. Click here for more on Nag Panchami.

Kalkyavatara: The Kalki Avatara falls on Shravan Sukla Shashti (sixth day of the waxing moon). This anticipatory incarnation is also known as Nishkalankavatara (Stainless) and is yet to occur and the month and the day are already foretold. In the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata, the coming Kalki has been hailed as when unrighteousness will leave and righteousness will be established. This day, though not celebrated, is noted for the future emancipation of mankind.

Putra-Ekadashi: falls on Shravana Shukla Ekadashi ( 11th lunar day of the waxing moon). This fast is done by those who are seeking progeny.

Hindola: Shukla eleventh to fifteenth in North India. A swing is made and is decorated with flowers. Every night idols of Lord Krishna and Radha are placed on the swing and swung by devotes with dancing and singing of the 'hindola'. This festival is believed to please Lord Krishna and gain his blessings.

Vara Lakshmi Vrata: This is a Vrata which implies the worship of Goddess of Wealth. The Vrata is observed on a Friday immediately preceding the full moon day of the month of Shravan. Maha Lakshmi is the embodiment of prosperity and auspiciousness. It seems the glory of this Vrata is eulogized in the Skanda Purana by Lord Shiva Himself. The worship of Maha Lakshmi is performed by married ladies to obtain good progeny, and for the long life of the husband. Since Mahalakshmi as Vidya Lakshmi bestows divine wisdom also, great prophets have worshipped her for success in their spiritual work.

Festivals Falling on the Full Moon in Shravana Nakshatra

Narali Purnima: On full Moon day of Shravan is celebrated by worshipping the ocean with mantras and offerings of coconuts. The name Narali comes from 'naral' which mean coconut, so Narali Purnima means the full moon on the coconut day. From this day the south-west monsoon is supposed to abate, and fisher-folks resume their trade. According to some throwing of coconuts into the sea is an offering to the “Food-giving goddess of the water” whereas others say the offering is made to Varuna the Vedic God of Ocean.

Shravani Purnima: On this day all Brahmins renew their sacred thread which they wear. It is also called Rig-Yaju Shravani as it appears only students of Vedas would renew the cord. But, actually, all Brahmins who have been initiated and wear the thread renew it. There is an elaborate ceremony where the family priest begins the function by worshipping Lord Ganesha and lights a sacrificial fire reciting mantras and prayers. Eight supari betel nuts or eight Darbha (sacrificial grass) rings are placed on a tray representing the seven Rishis and Arundhati which are worshipped with flowers etc. Tarpan or libations of water in the name of the departed spirits are offered. Then the old thread is cast off in the sacrificial fire and a new thread with a three-fold twist is worn after reciting the Gayatri Mantra. Lastly follows the worship of Brahma by an offering of rice and flowers in the fire and distributing of gifts to Priests and Brahmins.

Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi Purnima: Is a sentimental of festivals which also falls on Purnima day. A Rakhi or amulet is usually made of silk thread and is tied around the wrist of brothers by their sisters to protect brothers from harm and in return seeking protection from brothers when the sister is in trouble. The Rakhi name derives from the word 'Raksha' which means to protect. It symbolizes the abiding and chaste bond of love between the brothers and sisters. Sitala Saptami: Sitala Devi (the cool one) is the goddess who is associated with disease particularly smallpox and there are many temples and shrines in her honour. One of the days she is specially worshipped is on Shravana Krishna (Waning seventh tithi), in Gujarat. Sitala Devi worship ensures that she accepts the prayers and offerings of widows and of mothers on behalf of their children. During the day of Sitala worship, one is supposed to abstain from all hot, or cooked, food and drink. The reason may be to avoid hot thing and is more likely to be the longing for cold water on the part of smallpox patients.

— Nimsha Khatri


by Komila Sutton

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