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  • Maha Shivratri

    Maha Shivratri, translated as the great night of Shiva, is a festivity observed once every year to honour the God Shiva. Among the dualist Tantric Shaiva exegetical traditions, the festival is referred to as Har-Ratri or Herath for simplicity. There is a Shivaratri in every solar-luni month of the Hindu calendar system. This starts on the 13th night and continues to the following day. Each year towards the end of the winter season, just before the arrival of spring, Maha Shivratri is celebrated.

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    It is a significant event in the Hindu religion, this particular festival is characterised by solemnity and is meant to signify the triumph over darkness and ignorance in the world and in life itself. The festival is commemorated through fasting, yoga, chanting prayers and remembrance of Shiva. Believers also meditate on virtues and ethics like the discovery of Shiva, forgiveness, honesty and self-control.  Truly passionate devotees remain awake for the entire night. Others may embark on pilgrimages to jyotirlingas or pay a visit to one of the temples of Shiva.

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    Festivities

    The celebration includes the maintenance of a Jagran, a vigil and prayer for the entire night because Hinduism marks it a period of transcendence from ignorance and darkness in the world and in one's self through Shiva. Devotees make offerings of milk, fruits, sweets and leaves to the god Shiva, some take part in fasting with a Vedic worship of Shiva. In temples dedicated to Shiva, the revered mantra of Shiva is recited for the whole day. The Maha Shivaratri festival actually lasts for three or ten days depending on the Hindu solar-luni calendar.

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    Significance

    Scholars believe that Maha Shivaratri was the day that Shiva consumed the world's poisonous negativity to save it from destruction. This festival is mentioned in many ancient Indian texts especially the Linga Purana and Skanda Purana. These texts present varying explanations for the festival, but all call for reverence and fasting in remembrance of Shiva. There are different legends that explain the importance of the Mahashivratri festival.

    According to Shaivism, it marks the day that Shiva performed the celestial dance of preservation, destruction and creation. The sacrifices and prayers offered by worshipers join with this dance and commemorate Shiva everywhere. Another legend suggests that the festival marks the night that Parvati was wed to Shiva. A third account states that making sacrifices and offerings serves as atonement for previous sins and creates a new chance for individuals to walk a path of virtue so that they can reach liberation.

    Poompuhar wishes all our readers a very blessed Maha Shivratri. Check out our collection to select your favourite Shiv Pratima to celebrate this auspicious festival.

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  • Pongal: Significance of this beautiful harvest festival and amazing facts related to Pongal

    Pongal is a famous Hindu festival celebrated India and is observed as a harvest festival in South India. The festival is celebrated for four days where people offer their thanks to Mother Nature for peace, happiness, blessings and prosperity. “Pongal” is a Tamil word which translates into “to boil”, which symbolically signifies abundance. Hence, new rice is cooked in new earthen pots till they overflow to welcome prosperity on this auspicious day. Pongal festival is celebrated as per solar calendar. In 2018, it will be celebrated from 14th January to 17th January. The four days are known as Bhogi, Perum Pongal or Surya Pongal, Mattu Pongal and Kaanum Pongal. Each day of this four-day celebration holds a distinct religious significance; however, many people also often consider the second day as the main festival and celebrate on that day. On this day people interchange best wishes among friends and family for good luck, peace and fortune.

    When is Pongal celebrated?

    Pongal festival is celebrated in the month of January and the dates are decided as per the solar calendar. The solar calendar reads the astronomical details and tells the exact date of this enthralling and opportune festival which is celebrated all over India under different names. In South India, it is celebrated as Pongal and in rest of India, it is celebrated as Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Bihu, Hadaga and Poki. The second day of Pongal is the start of Tamil month called Thai, and it represents the start of spring season. The Sun returns to the northern hemisphere from this day and the length of the day starts increasing and winter season is considered over.

    Significance of Four days of Pongal Festivities -

    Pongal festival is celebrated for four days and each day represents a religious belief. Following is the significance of each day of Pongal –

    Bhogi Festival: 14th January

    Bhogi is the first day of the Pongal festival. It is celebrated to offer tribute to Lord Indra who is the God of Rain. As this is a harvest festival, thanks are offered to God of Rain for a good season and good harvest. On this day, people clean their homes and all the useless items are discarded in a bonfire made of cow-dung bars and wood.

    Perum Pongal or Surya Pongal: 15th January

    The second day of Pongal is known as Perum Pongal and is considered as most important day as most people celebrate only this day. It is also called Surya Pongal as Sun God is worshipped on this day. As per custom, new rice is boiled in the earthen pot in the open area as an offering to Sun God. Oil baths are custom on this day and people shop for new clothes during the festival and celebrate with family.

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    Other harvests are also offered to the God such as sugarcane, coconuts, and fruits and so on. Homes are decorated with rice flour rangolis which are called “Kolam” on this day. These drawings are considered to attract good fortune and are made at the entrance of the house.

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    Maatu Pongal: 16th January

    Maatu Pongal is the third day of the celebration and is dedicated to the cattle as they help in the farm and fields. Cattle are bathed, dressed beautifully with bells and worshipped with flower garlands. On this day of Pongal common attractions are the bull and bird fights, especially Jallikattu game in Madurai. Jallikattu is the fierce fight of bulls and it also happens in many villages also in Tamil Nadu.

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    Kaanum Pongal: 17th January

    Kaanum Pongal is the last day of Pongal festivities and on this day women ask blessings of their brothers and ask for prosperity. Another ritual which is performed on this day includes keeping the Pongal sweets on turmeric and betel leaves on the patio with sugarcane and betel nuts.

    Legends

    There are many legends associated with Pongal festival, such as -

    It is said that Lord Krishna has lifted the Govardhan Mountain on his little finger on the first day of Pongal or Bhogi, to save the people and cattle from the anger of Lord Indra.

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    Another legend associated with the third day of Pongal suggest that Lord Shiva had sent his bull ‘Nandi’ on earth with a message to have an oil bath daily and eat only once a month. However, Nandi misspoke the message and told people of earth to eat daily and take oil bath monthly. This mistake angered Lord Shiva and He ordered Nandi to stay on Earth forever to help mankind and harvest more food for them.

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    Pongal Special Recipe –

    The most famous Pongal dish is known as Venpongal. The preparation of traditional Pongal dish is the important part of festivities. The dish is made with rice and Moong pulse with Ghee and dry fruits. Another dish is known as Sakkarai Pongal which is a sweet variant of the traditional dish and is prepared with Jaggery. The Pongal food is cooked on attractively decorated earthen pots and stone stoves.

    Poompuhar Pongal Special Gift collection

    Check out our popular Pongal gift collection for your loved ones below –

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