Festivals of India: Akshaya Trithiya

A holy day for Hindus and Jains, Akshaya Tritiya or Akha Teej falls on the third lunar day of the Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the pan-Indian month of Vaishakha.

In Jain and Hindu calendars, some days of the month are absent in counting and some days (tithi in lunar calendars) come extra, but Akshay tritiya is one day which is never “absent” from the lunar calendar.

The word “Akshaya” means the never diminishing in Sanskrit and the day is believed to bring good luck and success. It is believed that if you do charity on this day you will be blessed. On Akshay Tritiya, Mrutika worshiped.

 

The day is considered auspicious for starting new ventures. The legend is that any venture initiated on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya continues to grow and bring prosperity. Hence, new ventures, like starting a business, construction, etc. is performed on Akshaya Tritiya. Akshaya Tritiya is also called Navanna Parvam. Akshaya Tritiya falling on a Rohini star Monday is considered more auspicious.

In Hinduism, Akshay Tritiya is a day rife with symbolisms. This was the day when the great sage Vyasa started writing the history of the great Bharat war in the form of an epic Mahabharata. According to Hindu mythology, on this day the Treta Yuga began and the river Ganges, the most sacred river of India, descended to the earth from the heaven. This day is also said to be the birthdays of Goddess Annapoorna (the giver of food and nourishment, an avatar of Goddess Parvati) and Lord Parsuram, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, of whom the Puranic scriptures say reclaimed the land which is now known as the state of Kerala from the sea. This day is symbolized by god Vishnu, the preserver-god in the Hindu Trinity. It is said Lord Kubera received his wealth and position as custodian of wealth and property with Goddess Lakshmi on this day, by praying to Lord Shiva at Shivapuram. In Mahabharata, Yudhishtira receives the Akshaya patra, which he uses to serve food for all the needy in his kingdom on this day. It is on this day that poor Sudama, the best friend of Krishna visits Him (Lord Krishna) to greet Him after He became the King. With nothing to offer, Sudama takes with him Poha (puffed rice) and offers it to his friend and never discusses his poverty though he intends to. On his return he finds his hut changed to a palace. It is on this day that Dushasana, Duryodhana’s brother, unveils Draupadi at the royal court where Krishna protects her providing the ‘unending’ veil…

In more recent history, Adi Shankara recited the Kanaka Dhara Stotra on this day for the sake of the poor couple at whose house he stopped for Bhiksha and was offered their only available gooseberry.

This day is generally observed by fasting and worship of Lord Vasudeva with rice grains. A dip in the river Ganges on this day is considered to be very auspicious.

Even though Akshaya Trithiya has been around for centuries, it is only in recent years (maybe the last decade or so) that it has suddenly gained prominence. Much like the Valentine’s Day, this is a festival which has been driven purely by marketing efforts. Jewellers advertise the festival and since it’s auspicious to buy gold on that day, you can guess where the prices of gold would have been yesterday

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