Anant Chaturdashi~अनंतचतुर्दशी in 2019 will be
celebrated on Friday, 13th September 2019
This vowed religious observance ofAnant
Chaturdashiis performed on the fourteenth day (Chaturdashi) of the bright fortnight of Bhadrapad. The principal
deity of this observance is Lord Anant, that is Lord Vishnuwhile the subordinate deities are Shesh and Yamuna. This vowed
religious observance is mainly performed to acquire lost opulence. It is
generally of a duration of fourteen years.
This religious observance of vow is begun if recommended by
someone or if the thread of the anant tree is easily procured. Then it is carried forward in that
family. It proves specially beneficial if thefourteenth day(chaturdashi)
happens to be the full moon (pournima) day. Anant Chaturdashi
is also thelast day of the Hindu
festival of Ganeshotsav. It is generally the tenth or eleventh dayafter Ganesh Chaturthi, and all the Ganesh
idols brought into homes and communities are immersed in the sea or nearby lakes and rivers.
On this day, people travel to the waterfront with the idols,
large and small, dancing and singing in large processions. Lord Ganesha is departed, only to be welcomed the next year with equal
excitement. In parts of Bihar and Eastern UP, the festival is
closely linked to Kshirsagar (Ocean of Milk) and Anant Roopa of Lord
Vishnu. Fourteen tilaks (small vertical
strips) of vermilion are made on a wooden
plank. Fourteen puri(fried wheat bread) and fourteen pua(deep fried sweet wheat bread) are placed on thesevermilion strips.
A bowl containing Panchamrit (made of Milk, Curd, Jaggery, Honey and Ghee) symbolizing Kshirsagar (Ocean of Milk) is placed on this
wooden plank. A thread having
fourteen knots, symbolizing Lord Anantis wrapped on a cucumber and is swirledfive times in this Ocean
of Milk. Later this Anant thread is tied on the right arm above the elbow by
men. Women tie this on their left arm. This Anant thread is removed afterfourteen days.
The Story Behind the Festival :(Sushila and Kaundinya) There was a
Brahmin named Sumant. From his wife Diksha he had a daughter named Sushila. After the death
of Diksha Sumant married Karkash, who began to give a lot of trouble to Sushila. Sushila married Kaundinya, and both decided
to leave the house to avoid the harassment of thestep-mother. On the way they
stopped near a river. Kaundinya went to take bath, and Sushila joined a group
of women who were performing worship. They told Sushila
that they wereworshipping Anant.
What kind of worship is this? Sushila asked. They
told her that it was Anants vow. Then they explained to her the importance of that vow. Someone fried Gharga (made of flour) and Anarase (special food) are prepared. Half of them have to be given to
the Brahmins. A hooded snake (cobra) made of darbha (sacred grass) is
put in a bamboo basket. Then the snake (shesh) is worshipped
with scented flowers, oil lampand incense sticks. Food is offered
to the snake and a silk string is kept before the god, and tied to the wrist. This string is called Anant, it has 14 knots, and is coloured
with Kunkum. Women tie the anant on
their left hand and men on their right.
The purpose of this vow is to obtain divinity and wealth, and is kept for 14 years. After listening
to this explanation Sushila decided to take theAnant vow. From that day she
and her husband Kaundinya began to prosper and became very rich. One day
Kaundinya, noticed the Anant string on
Sushila left hand. When he heard the story of the Anant vow, he was displeased and maintained that they had
become rich, notbecause of any power of
Anant, but because of the wisdom he had acquired by
his own efforts. A heated argument
followed, and at the end Kaundinya took the Anant string from Sushilas hand and threw it into the fire.
After this all sorts of calamities
happened in their life, and finally they were reduced to extreme poverty. Kaundinya
understood that it was the punishment for having dishonoured Anant, and decided
that he would undergo rigorous
penance until God Himself appeared to him. In Search of Anant,
Kaundinya went into the forest. There he saw a
tree full of mangoes, but no one was
eating the mangoes. The entire tree was attacked by worms. He asked the tree
if he had seen Anant, but got a negative reply.
Then Kaundinya saw a cow with her calf, then a bull standing on a field
of grass without eating the grass. Then he saw two
big lakes joined to each
other with their waters mixing with one another.
Further he saw a donkey and an elephant. To every one
Kaundinya asked about Anant, but no one had even heard this name. Then he became
desperate and prepared a rope to hang himself. Then suddenly an old venerable
Brahmin appeared before him. He
removed the rope from Kaundinyas neck and led him
into a cave.
At first it was very dark. But then a bright light appeared and they
reached a big palace. A great assembly of men and women had gathered. The old Brahmin
went straight towards the throne. Then Kaundinya
could no longer see the Brahmin, but only Vishnu instead. Kaundinya
realized that Vishnu himself had come to save him, and that
Vishnu was Anant, the Eternal One.
He confessed his sin in failing
to recognize the Eternal in the string on
Sushilas hand. Anant promised Kaundinya that if
he made the 14-year-vow, he would be free from all his sins, and would obtain wealth, children and happiness.
Then Anant disclosed the meaning of what Kaundinya had seen
during the search. Anant explained
that the mango tree was a Brahmin, who in a previous
life had acquired plenty of knowledge, but had not communicated it to
anyone. The cow was the earth, which at the
beginning had eaten all the seeds of plants. The bull was religion itself. Now he was
standing on a field of green grass. The two Lakes were two sisters who loved each
other very much, but all their alms were spent on eachother only. The donkey was cruelty and anger. Finally the elephant Kaundinyas pride.