Auspicious Days and Observances
Ekadasi observance propitiates Gods and Goddesses including Vishnu. Ekadasi associated with dasami at sunrise is called Bhooripaksham and Ekadasi associated with dwadasi is called Anandapaksham. They are also called Pithrupaksha and Devapaksha respectively. Bhooripaksha or Pithrupaksha ekadasi is more suitable to perform paternal rites and Anandapaksha or Devapaksha more suited for those who seek salvation.
The last phase of Ekadasi (one fourth of thithi) consisting of 15 nazhikas and the first phase of dwadasi consisting of 15 nazhikas (total 30 nazhikas) is known as Harivasara. Though all Ekadasis have their own importance the Vaikunda, Sayana, and Uthana Ekadasis and the Ekadasis of Guruvayur, Thiruvilwamala, Nelluvai, Thripayar and Kadavallur temple are considered to have special significance.
Among dwadasis, Vaisakha and Sravana dwadasi are considered more important. All observances bring blessings, but not observing Ekadasi may bring harm.
Arkavratham is observed to please Aadithya (sun). Must get up before sunrise on Sunday and worship Aadithya, silently chanting Gayathri manthram or Sooryasthuthi. Only one meal during daytime and no food after sunset. This observance promotes dharma in whole humanity and gives deliverance from all evils.
Dhakshinamurthy turned ascetic when his wife Dhakshayani gave up her life. Parvathi was able to make Dhakshinamurthy to take her as his wife by observing Somavaravratham (fasting on Monday). The widowhood of princess Seemanthini came to an end by observing Somavaravratham. It is particularly pleasing to the Siva family: Siva, Parvathi, Ganapathi and Skandamurthy. When Amavasi coincides with Monday it is known as Amosomavaram and that day is particularly suitable for fasting.
Shashteevratham appeases Lord Subramanya. The legend says that Sreeskandhan after imprisoning Brahmavu became conscious of the magnitude of his crime and turned himself into a horrible serpent and vanished. Lord Siva advised Parvathi to observe Sukla shshteevratham to regain her son. Accordingly Parvathi observed Shashti for 108 days. During the observance she ate only once a day, slept on bare floor, woke up early morning and continued to pray Subrahmanya.On the last day Vishnu and other Gods appeared before Parvathi. She had a vision of Subramhanyan in the shape of a horrible serpent. When Mahavishnu touched the serpent it regained the form of Subramanya. That is why we offer the idol of serpent when we worship Subramhanya. It is believed that Subrahmanya appeared to Parvathi on the shashti in the month of Vaisakha at a place called Subrahmanayam. There is another legend, which says that Shashteevratham was observed by the Gods when they lost sight of Skandha in the middle of war. Shashti is also observed for deliverance from the disease of leprosy.
It is observed on Astami day in the Karutha Paksha. The day is observed just as Ekadasi.It was on the Ashtami day in Krishna paksha that Vyaghra pada maharshi sighted Lord Siva in the sanctum sactorum of Vaikkom temple.
Pradosham is sacred to Lord Siva. It marks the beginning of the dusk of Thrayodashi day. Not only human beings but also Gods like Vishnu worship and perform dance to pray Pradosha rudra on the day. It is also the day Lord Siva seats the Goddess on a pedestal and dances around to please her.
Navarathri may fall in the month of Kanni or Thulam. It is observed for 9 days in Kerala after the vavu of Kanni.
After Navarathri pooja girls between two and ten years of age must be worshipped as the representatives of the Goddess as Kumari, Thrimurthi, Kalyani, Rohini, Kali, Chandika, Sambhavi, Durga and Subhadra. The Ashtami day when Durga appeared to the Gods is called Durgashtami and the day Durgaman, the evil spirit was assassinated is known as Vijayadasami. It was Lord Sreerama who first observed Navarathri. Devi bhagavatham says that he observed Sivarathri at Kishkindha after Seetha was stolen. Some people conceive Bhuvaneswari as Saraswathi and worship books for 9 days starting on Durgashtami and ending with Vijayadasami. Vijayadasami is the auspicious day to initiate children to education. Goddess Saraswathi is known by different names in different aspects: Veena Saraswathi, Dancing Saraswathi, Bharathi, Brahmi, Vageeswari and Gayathri.
The Chadurdasi coming in between the amavasi of Makara and Kumbha is known as Mahasivarathri. The day Chadurdasi touches the midnight is the beginning of Sivarathri. If it happens on two days the first day is taken as Sivarathri. Navarathri associated with Thrayodasi is considered more auspicious. Legend says that when Palazhi was churned a very dangerous poison Halahal came out and Lord Mahadeva consumed it. To prevent the poison from entering the stomach all Gods kept awake, fasted and prayed throughout the night. The poison stayed at the throat of Lord Siva and after that he came to be called as “Blue throat”, Neelakanda. Persons who do not observe any other fast, if they observe Sivarathri will get the benefit of observing all other fasts.
Sivarathri observance at Gokarnum in Karnataka, Thripangote in Vettathunadu, Kallekkulangara in Palakkad, Aluva in Ernakulam and Vadakkumnatha in Thrissur are considered to be more important.
This observance appeases Umamaheshwara. Thoruvathira of the month of Dhanu is considered more auspicious. Devotees observe Ardravratham, Ardradarasanam and Ardrajagaranam. If Thiruvathira falls on daytime, fast should be observed. Rice should not be eaten. Married women will be blessed if they observe fast and pray to God chanting hymns.
Lord Mahavishnu was incarnated as Sreekrishna on the day Ashtamy and Rohini conjoined in the month of Chingam. People should keep awake till midnight observing fast. When the moon rises fast can be broken after worshipping God. Rice should not be eaten for the whole day and Bhagavad-geetha had to be recited day and night.
Deepavali is celebrated in memory of the assassination of Narakasura, who was a curse to humanity. It begins with the Chathurdasi in the month of Thulam. It is known as Narakachadurdasi. In some places deepavali starts on the day of Trayodasi.Early morning on Trayodasi all anoint their bodies with oil and take bath. Worship of Goddess Lakshmi is more gainful during deepavali. Jains also observe deepavali as the death anniversary of Mahaveera. In Bengal deepavali is considered suitable for rites to please forefathers. Sree Lakshmi and Mahakali are worshiped during deepavali.
The thritheeya on the veluthapaksha of the month of Medam is celebrated as Akshaya thritheeya. Sukhlapaksha dwadasi in the month of Vaisakha, Thritheeya and Pournami are believed to have more importance than other days. Observing fast on these three days amounts to observing Vaisakha dharma on all other days.