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  • The Legends of Lord Shiva

    Lord Shiva is a widely revered god with many followers in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. In Shaivism, which is one of the main traditions of Hinduism, Shiva is the Supreme being who creates, protects and transforms the universe. He is depicted with the holy river Ganga flowing through his hair, a blue neck wrapped with a serpent and his weapons — the trident or “trishul” and the small drum or “damaru”. It is said that the damaru was created by Shiva to produce sounds that ultimately created and controlled the universe. Lord Shiva is often known as the “creator” and “destroyer” — an attribute that is displayed through “tandava”, a vigorous dance performed by him.

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    The Story of Neelkanth

    According to mythology, there was once a time when the Devas (gods) and Asuras (demons) were at war with each other. Upon being advised by Lord Vishnu to handle the demons diplomatically, the gods joined hands with the demons to churn the ocean to obtain the nectar of immortality. Secretly, it was decided between the gods that they would not share the nectar with the evil demons.

    The ocean was churned using Mount Mandara as the rod and the King of Snakes as a rope. During this process, known as “SamudraMathan”, many things emerged from the ocean including Sura, Apsaras, Kaustubha, Uchhaishravas, Kalpavriksha, Kamadhenu, Airavata, Lakshmiand Haalaa-Hala — the Poison. This poison was extremely potent for destroying the entire universe. The gods had to think of something fast so they requested Lord Shiva to drink the poison because only he was strong enough to be able to take it. Out of compassion for the world, Lord Shiva drank the poison. His consort, Parvati pressed his neck to prevent the poison from reaching his stomach. Thus the world was saved, but the toxic poison turned his neck blue. Neelkanth, which means the blue necked one became a title of Lord Shiva after this episode.

    Descent of the Ganga on Lord Shiva’s Hair

    According to a legend in the Ramayana, an enraged Kapila Muni erroneously burnt 60,000 princes to ashes. King Bhagiratha was the son of one of those princes. On King Bhagiratha’s request to save his father and uncles, Kapila Muni advised that the water of the holy Ganga alone could bring back the princes. King Bhagiratha meditated and prayed for a thousand years for the salvation of his ancestors before Lord Brahma finally granted his wish for the descent of the Ganga from the heaven. However, the gushing force of the river could destroy everything, and Lord Shiva alone could bear the weight of it. Therefore, he spread out his thick matted hair to catch and slow down the descending river. The water was then flown over the princes’ ashes to bring them back alive. During the process the Ganga became a part of Lord Shiva’s hair and came to the earth in the form of the holy river.

    Legend of the Third Eye

    Lord Shiva is often identified with his third eye which is also a symbol of his wisdom as well as destructive side. There are various legends in which Shiva used his third eye to punish or destroy. For example, when he went into solitude and deep meditation following the demise of his wife Sati, the gods sent Kamadeva — the god of love — to bring him out of his meditation. Angered by the intervention, Lord Shiva opened his third eye and burnt Kamadeva to ashes.

  • The 5 Most Popular Hindu Festivals in India

    India is known as a country of many festivals as it has many traditions and customs. Festivals are in the hearts of the people of India. Regardless of the diverse traditions, there are festivals that are shared and celebrated across the country. Below is a glimpse of five most popular Hindu festivals celebrated across India -

    • Diwali
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    This is the biggest festival in India. It is also called the Festival of Lights. It is a five day festival in celebration of the victory of light over darkness, good over evil. It usually falls in in the October or November month. It is called the festival of lights as people light small clay lamps, candles, and fireworks during the festival.

    In North India, it is celebrated to remember the arrival of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after victory over Ravana. In South India, it is a celebrated to honor the victory of Lord Krishna over Narakasura demon.

    • Holi
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    Holi is a two-day festival and is popular among foreigners. It is referred to as the Festival of Colors and is usually celebrated in March. It celebrates the abundance of the spring harvest season.

    People engage in throwing colored powder and water all over each other. They light bonfires, have parties, and dance while drenching each other with water balloons and water sprinklers. Holi is the festival to participate in if you don’t mind getting wet and dirty. It is great fun.

    • Ganesh Chaturthi
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    The Ganesh Chaturthi festival honors the birth of the Hindu elephant-headed god, Lord Ganesha. Elaborately crafted idols made from clay and metal of Lord Ganesha are installed in homes at the start of the festival.

    People then worship the idol for eleven days. After which they are paraded through streets in extravagant processions and then submerged in the river or ocean.

    • Mata Shivaratri

    Shivaratri means the Great Night of Shiva or the Night of Shiva. Devotees gatherat Shiva temples to offer Bael leaves to the God. Some devotes follow fasting for the whole day while some take only one meal.

    People gather around the Shiva temples and putholy ash ontheir bodies after bath. They then recite prayers to Lord Shiva. Singing and dancing take place all night long.

    • Krishna Janmashtami
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    Krishna Janmashtami is a festival that commemorates the birthday of Lord Krishna. It is celebrated on the 8th day of the Krishna Paksha in August-September.

    Krishna is believed to have been a mischievous and naughty kid who loved milk and butter. Women make sweets made from milk and offer it to the Lord. One custom of the festival is ‘Dahi Handi’. A clay pot is normally filled with buttermilk and hung at an elevated height. During the festival, teams of guys form human pyramid and then try and break open Handi (clay pots) filled with curd by hitting with a blunt object. Curd or milk spilling over the group symbolizes achievement through unity.

  • 7 Scientific Reasons behind Indian Traditions

    Indians have been known over time to observe many rituals and traditions daily in their household. Some of these traditions are practiced outside India, where Indians reside. It has been discovered that some of these rituals are mentioned in Vedic scriptures and Brahman scriptures.

    We have put together some traditions and the scientific reasons behind them. Below is the list:

    1. Namaste

    Nameste, also known as Namaskar is a way of greeting and showing respect to others by the Hindus. It is done by joining the two palms together in a way that all the fingertips are together which creates pressure on points of the mind, eyes, and ears. It is believed that it helps us remember the person on the other end for a long time and not shaking hands helps prevent transmission of germs.

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    1. Toe ring

    This is popular among married Indian women, and the ring is mostly silver, worn on the second toes. There is a connection between the second toe and the heart through the uterus and it is believed that wearing a silver ring on the second toe helps in the effective management of menstrual cycle in the body of the woman. It also strengthens the uterus by regulating the blood flow to it.

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    1. Tilak on the forehead

    There is a spot which is considered as a major nerve point in our body and it is the small spot between the two eyebrows on the forehead. The Tilak is believed to give and retain energy at different degrees. When the Tilak is applied on the forehead between the two eyebrows, the Andaya-chakra is also pressed and this facilitates blood supply to the facial muscles.

    1. Henna

    Henna, also referred to as Mehndi is a medicinal herb which is applied on the feet and hands of Indian brides and grooms on weddings. It is believed to prevent stress, tension, fever, and headache too since weddings include various stressful activities.

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    1. Piercing the ears

    This tradition is practiced everywhere across the globe but in India, it is believed that piercing the ears boosts the power of decision making, the power of thinking and also increases the intellect. Piercing of the ears prevents contemptuous behaviours by restricting our speech.

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    1. Surya Namaskar

    Surya Namaskar is an early morning ritual by the Indians that serves as a way of paying respect to the Sun god, the god of energy. Indians offer prayers to the Sun through the use of water and also offer prayers to the Sun god by looking at the Sun through the water. It is believed that it helps the eyes by improving one's vision and making us appreciate the sunlight more.

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    1. CharanSparsh

    Charan Sparsh is also known as touching the feet of our elders. It is believed that there is a connection between two minds and hearts by the flow of cosmic energy in our body. This energy is concentrated at our fingers of both hands and feet. This energy can be transmitted through hugs and handshakes. So when you touch the feet of the elderly, you receive this emission of positive thoughts and energy.

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