Foundation Day Shri Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the most famous Hindu temples which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is located in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India, and the holiest existing place of Hindus. The temple stands on the western bank of the holy river Ganges and is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanatha or Vishweshwara meaning Ruler of the universe. The temple town, which claims to be the oldest living city in the world, with 3500 years of documented history, is also called Kashi and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishwanath Temple.
The temple has been referred to in Hindu scriptures for a very long time and as a central part of worship in the Shaiva philosophy. It has been destroyed and re-constructed a number of times in the history. The last structure was demolished by Aurganzeb, who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site. The current structure was built on an adjacent site by the Maratha monarch, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780. Since 1983, the temple has been managed by the government of Uttar Pradesh. During the religious occasion of Shivratri, which is celebrated with great festivities, the Kashi Naresh (King of Kashi) is the chief officiating priest and no other person or priest is allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum. It is only after he performs his religious functions that others are allowed to enter.
Makar Sankranti is one of the most auspicious day for the Hindus and is celebrated in almost all parts of the country in myriad cultural forms, with great devotion, fervor & gaiety. Lakhs of people take a dip in places like Ganga Sagar & Prayag and pray to Lord Sun. It is celebrated with pomp in southern parts of the country as Pongal, and in Punjab it is celebrated as Lohri & Maghi. Gujarati's not only look reverentially up to the sun on Makar Sankranti, but also offer thousands of their colorful oblations in the form of beautiful kites, flying all over the skyline. They may be trying to reach up to their glorious God or bring about greater proximity with the one who represents the best. It is a day for which Bhishma Pitamah kept waiting to leave his mortal coil to attain salvation.
Makar Sankranti is the day when the glorious Sun-God of Hindus, begins its ascendancy and enter into the Northern Hemisphere. Sun, for the Hindus stands for Pratyaksha-Brahman - the manifest God, who symbolizes, the one, non-dual, self-effulgent, glorious divinity, blessing one & all tirelessly. Sun is the one who transcends time and also the one who rotates the proverbial Wheel of Time. The famous Gayatri Mantra, which is chanted everyday by every faithful Hindu, is directed to Sun God, to bless them with intelligence & wisdom. Sun not only represents God, but, also stands for an embodiment of knowledge & wisdom. Lord Krishna reveals in Gita that this manifested divinity was his first disciple, and we all know it to be indeed a worthy one too. No Sundays for the Sun may be because one who revels in its very 'being', the very essence of his own Self, is always in the Sunday mood.
The co-relation of cosmic events with individual life and values is one of the most astounding traits of Hindu Masters. Once this co-relation is brought about thereafter, these cosmic events become instrumental to remind us the best which we cherish & value. Of all the cosmic bodies, Sun is the most glorious & important, thus every sun-centric cosmic event becomes very important spiritual, religious & cultural event. On Makar Sankranti the Sun begins its ascendancy and journey into the Northern Hemisphere, and thus it signifies an event wherein the Gods seem to remind their children that 'Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya'- May you go higher & higher - to more & more Light and never to darkness.
Shivaratri is celebrated on the 6th night of the Shukla paksh of Phalgun (Feb or March) every year. On the auspicious day, devotees observe fast and keep vigil all night. Mahashivaratri marks the night when Lord Shiva performed the 'Tandava'. It is also believed that on this day Lord Shiva was married to Parvati Ma. On this day Shiva devotees observe fast and offer fruits, flowers, milk and bel leaves on Shiva Linga. At the Kashi Vishwanath temple, this festival celebrated with great spiritualism and festivities Devotees from all across the nation and overseas, come to Kashi Vishwanath Temple to visit the shrine and get the pious darshan of the Baba.
Shrawan Maah is highly auspicious month for the lord Shiva devotees. Special decoration is done on every Monday of the month as it is considered as the day dedicated to Lord Shiva and his excellence. On first Monday of the Shrawan month lord Shiva is decorated to its full glory, , on second Monday lord Bhagwa Shankar and mother Parvati’s moveable statues are decorated. On the third and fourth Monday, shri Ardhyanarishwar and Shri Rudrakshay, decoration is is done par excellence respectively. The whole month of Shrawan Maah is celebrated with great enthusiasm, it is highly auspicious as every member of the Lord Shiva’s family are decorated and special 'Jhoola Sringar' isperformed by the shastris and other experts.
The Dev Deepavali ("the Diwali of the Gods" or "Festival of Lights of the Gods") is an auspicious festival celebrated on of the Kartik Poornima with great festivities in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. It falls on the day of full moon in the Hindu month of Kartika (November - December), usually fifteen days after Diwali. The steps of all the ghats on the riverfront of the Ganges River, from Ravidas Ghat at the southern end to Rajghat, are lit with more than a million earthen lamps (diyas) in honour of the Ganges, and its presiding goddess. The gods are believed to descend to Earth to bathe in the Ganges on this day. The festival is also observed as Tripura Purnima Snan. The tradition of lighting the lamps on the Dev Deepawali festival day was first started at the Panchganga Ghat in 1985.During Dev Deepawali, houses are decorated with oil lamps and colored designs on their front doors also known as rangolis. Firecrackers are burnt at night,following the processions of decorated deities taken out into the streets of Varanasi, and oil lamps are set afloat on the river by the devotees.
Annakoot is celebrated in observance of an episode in Sri Krishna's childhood, in which Lord Krishna gave protection to the cowherd clan of Vrindavan from the wrath of Indra and humbled Indra in that process. The cowherds, their wives, children, and cattle jubilantly surrounded Sri Krishna. They were awed by His superhuman accomplishment and celebrated Sri Krishna's feat with a sumptuous feast. Thus began the tradition of Annakoot. After the prayers, traditional worship & Aarti, innumerable varieties of delicious sweets/ all cookings / 56 bhogs are ceremoniously raised in the form of a mountain and presented before the deity as "Bhog".After the Lord had it full, the bhog is then available for the citizens who take turns to approach the Mountain of Food and take Prasad from it. It is a Great Feast which is enjoyed thoroughly by the Lord as well as the devotees, every year.
Rangbhari ( Aamlaki) Ekadashi
Once, in the month of Phalguna (February - March), the holy fast of Amalakii Ekadasii arrives, conjoined with Dvadasi. This particular fast bestows great benefit of high value & regard. Amalakii is offspring of Lord Brahma, who has the powers to destroy all kinds of sinful reactions. Amalakii is actually a form of Brahman and was once worshiped by Lord Ramachandra Himself. Whoever circumambulates her is therefore immediately freed of all his sins.
The devotees take a holy dip into the water of Ganga after which they offer a pot filled of Jal to the Amalakii tree, as well as garlands and various aromatic incense. Then worships & prayers of Lord Parashurama are offered while the devotees enchant : 'Oh Lord ParashurAma, Oh son of Renuka, Oh all-pleasing one, Oh liberator of the worlds, kindly come beneath this holy Amalakii tree and accept our humble obeisance.
If the Amarlaki tree isn't available then one can worship the sacred Tulsi tree (the holy basil). Also, plant the sacred Tulasi seeds, and offer lamps to her.
Akshya Tritiya is considered one of the four most auspicious days of the Vedic Calendar. It is the third day of the new moon of Vaishakh month (April-May). The day is celebrated with great festivities in Kashi Vishwanath temple, where men and women of all ages come to offer their prayers and offering. Akshya Tritiya is also considered as a prime day to do daan and the rich donate money, food, blankets, clothes, etc. to the needy and poor people.The day is considered important for purchasing gold and other luxuries as it is also a day devoted to Goddess Lakshmi, who brings dhan and samridhi.