Kartik Purnima – One day, Myriad celebrations

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Kartik Poornima is the full moon day or the fifteenth lunar day of Kartik month. This year it was celebrated on 10th November. This day is of immense significance to different religions of India, but due to different reasons.

Hindus celebrate it as Tripuri poornima or Deva-Diwali – the festival of lights of the gods.  The Kartik Purnima festival also coincides with the Sikh festival of Guru Nanak Jayanti. For the Jains, it is the day of ‘Nirvana’ of Lord Mahavira, the twenty-fourth Tirthankara.

Dev Diwali, or Dev Deepavali, as the name indicates is the Diwali celebration of the Devas. It is believed that Lord Vishnu returned to Vaikunta, his abode on this day after the Vamana incarnation. Another legend has it that Lord Shiva killed the three demons, Taraksha, Kamalaksha and Vidyunmali, and destroyed the three cities built by them on this day.

It is a major event in Gujarat and other parts of North India. It forms part of a five day Ganga Mahotsav festival, which is held to showcase Varanasi’s cultural heritage. More than a million clay lamps are floated down the Ganges River at dusk amidst chanting of Vedic hymns. Kartik Poornima is also the last day to perform Tulsi Vivah ceremony. This day is also dedicated to the pitrs, dead ancestors.

Every year during the month of Kartik, the long-lost maritime glory of Kalinga is commemorated with what has come to be known as Bali Yatra. The celebrations last over a week, beginning with Kartik Purnima. Sadhabas (traders) of Odisha, or what was once the kingdom of Kalinga, chose to begin their journey to foreign shores on Kartik Purnima from the banks of Mahanadi.Traders of Odisha no longer set sail for Bali using the ancient sea route. But to this day the rituals survive and are observed on Kartik Purnima to commemorate what was once an annual event.

Kartik Poornima is an important religious day for Jains.Thousands of Jain pilgrims flock to the foothills of Shatrunjay hills of Palitana taluka( Gujarat) on the day of Kartik Poornima to undertake the auspicious yatra. Also known as the Shri Shantrunjay Teerth Yatra, this walk is an important religious event in the life of a Jain devotee, who cover 216 km of rough mountainous terrain by foot to worship the Lord Adinath temple atop the hill. According to Jainism , Adinath, the first tirthankara, sanctified the hills by visiting it to deliver his first sermon.

Guru Nanak Gurpurab , also known as Guru Nanak Birthday, is the birthday of the first Sikh Guru, Guru Nanak, and one of the most sacred festivals in Sikhism. The festivities in the Sikh religion revolve around the anniversaries of the 10 Sikh Gurus. These Gurus were responsible for shaping the beliefs of the Sikhs. Their birthdays, known as Gurpurab (or Gurpurb), are occasions for celebration and prayer among the Sikhs.

The birthday celebration usually lasts three days. Generally two days before the birthday, Akhand Path (a forty-eight-hour non-stop reading of the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs) is held in the Gurdwaras.

The day prior to the birthday, a procession is organised which is led by the Panj Pyaras (Five Beloved Ones). They head the procession carrying the Sikh flag, known as the Nishan Sahib and the Palki (Palanquin) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. They are followed by teams of singers singing hymns, brass bands playing different tunes, ‘Gatka’ teams (martial arts) display their swordmanship, and devotees sing the chorus.

On the day of the Gurpurab, the day begins early in the morning with the singing of Asa-di-Var (morning hymns) and hymns from the Sikh scriptures followed by Katha (exposition of the scripture) together with lectures and recitation of poems in the praise of the Guru. Following that is the Langar ,which is arranged at the Gurudwaras by volunteers. The idea behind the free communal lunch is that people should be offered food in the spirit of seva (service) and bhakti (devotion).

Three festivals,three religions but one country. It is the different flavours lent by different communities that add the charm to being an Indian!

Note by Author: The details of the festivals have been collected by online research. In case of any discrepancy please let me know. Feel free to let everyone know about your rituals!

Sources:

http://www.hindu-blog.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/

http://in.ygoy.com/

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