Anant Chaturthi 2017: Date and Time, Puja Vidhi, Vrat Katha and Significance
Anant Chaturdashi or Chaturthi (September 5, 2017 Tuesday) is one of the highly auspicious festivals observed and celebrated by Jain and Hindus. It is also the last day of Ganeshotsav or Ganesh Chaturthi. It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu who is worshipped in His Anant (Infinite) form. People observe Anant Vrat to get rid of karmic reactions, sorrows and sufferings. The word ‘Anant’ means ‘endless’ and Vishnu’s reclining posture signifies the state of spiritual rest and is the form of Narayana before the evolution of the Cosmos.
This day reminds us that just as Lord Vishnu rests calmly on a snake bed, one should remain undisturbed by happiness and sorrow and remain steady in both. Only a person who remains in equilibrium realizes his true self. Ganesha represents the body consciousness which comes as a temple for the soul. Body has to finally dissolve in the Ocean of Paramatma and hence Ganesha is submerged in water.
What to do on Chaturdashi: Rituals and Puja Vidhi
The main ritual on the day is the tying of the sacred thread called Anant Daram. This is actually a cotton band of fourteen threads and in some places the band consists of fourteen knots. Women tie the Anant Daram on their left hand and men on their right.
One can fast throughout the day from morning to evening. If not possible, one can have fruits once in a day. However, rigid fasting is suggested for higher devotees who completely dedicate themselves to the service of Lord Vishnu.
You may visit a Vishnu/Krishna temple and offer prayers. If a temple is not around, you may offer prayers at your home in the morning. The idols of Lord Vishnu should be worshipped with sandalwood, flowers, fruits and dhoop.
You can be in a quiet room and meditate on Lord Vishnu with His mantra: ‘Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya’. This powerful mantra was given by Sage Narada to Dhruva Maharaja as described in the Bhagavat Purana (4.8.54).
You can also chant the Hare Krishna Maha-Mantra on the Tulasi bead.
You can offer flowers and chant Vishnu Sahasranamam (Thousands name of Lord Vishnu). Chanting thousand names of Vishnu or Vishnu Strotram has a purifying effect on the mind and the body. You can also play it in the morning while you engage in daily works. More details here.
You can also perform a Vishnu Sahasranama Puja under qualified Brahmins. It is a highly recommended activity on this day. The puja includes Vishnu- Lakshmi Abhishek and Pujan, Vishnu mantra Japa- 1100 times, Vishnu Sahasranama Strotra followed by Homa and Aarti.
You can wear a Ten Mukhi and a Nineteen Mukhi Rudrasksha for they are ruled by Lord Krishna and Narayana, respectively. Wearing these Rudraksha beads on this day purifies your inner self and strengthens your will power. They work like a shield on one's body and the wearer gets immense protection from negative energies, evil eye and psychic attacks.
Donate clothes, food grains, umbrellas, hand-fans, pitchers filled with water and any other items to Brahmins.
Why does Lord Vishnu sleep on Ananta Shesha?
When living beings rest (sleep), their physical activities come to a standstill although other activities such heart beats, blood circulation, thought processes and breathing are active. The sleeping state or slumber of Lord Vishnu is not ordinary; it is yoga nidra which is a mysterious quality of the Lord that even demigods like Brahma, Indra and others are unable to comprehend. It is a quality of being unconscious which is manifested in the living beings on Earth who are under the spell of Maya. Being unconscious means being ignorant of spiritual knowledge; it is the constitutional state of living beings. It represents the covering of intellectual, scientific, and quasi-spiritual knowledge that guides the waking activities of living beings. However, yog nidra of the Lord must not be taken as ignorance. He is omnipotent; He can see with His ears, hear with His eyes, and speak with His eyes and so on. While in slumber, He creates innumerable universes through the pores of His skin by breathing in and out.
Ananta Shesha is a plenary portion of the Lord. He is called ananta, limitless. His primary job is to render a personal service to the Lord who rests on His body. After the Lord creates universes, filling them with planets, the immediate task is performed by Shesha. And the task is holding all the created planets up by placing them on His hoods; it is He who generates gravitational force. He is limitless as His name Ananta suggests. It means when He continues to exist even after the dissolution of the cosmic creations, serving the Lord in His all capacities.
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