|This article needs additional citations for verification. (April 2012)|
|Observed by||Hindus and Jains|
|Observances||Hindus worship Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi and purchase gold whereas with Jains the image of Lord Rishabhadeva is bathed with sugarcane juice and a special worship ritual is performed to commemorate Lord Rishabha's ending his one-year fast by consuming sugarcane juice poured into his cupped hands.|
|Date||late April-early May|
|2014 date||2 May|
|2015 date||21 April|
Akshaya Tritiya, also known as Akha Teej, is a holy day for Hindus and Jains. It falls on the third Tithi (lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of the pan-Indian month of Vaishakha and one of the four most important days for Hindus. It is an auspicious day of the birthday of Lord Parasurama who is the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. On this day Veda Vyas and Lord Ganesha began to write Mahabharata.
In Jain and Hindu calendars, some days of the month are absent in counting and some days (tithi in lunar calendars) come extra, but Akshay tritiya is one day which is never "absent" from the lunar calendar.
The word "Akshaya" means the never diminishing in Sanskrit and the day is believed to bring good luck and success. It is believed that if you do charity on this day you will be blessed. On Akshay Tritiya, Mrutika worshiped.
Nowadays jewellers have turned the purity into a marketing gimmick. The day is considered auspicious for starting new ventures. The legend is that any venture initiated on the auspicious day of Akshaya Tritiya continues to grow and bring prosperity. Hence, new ventures, like starting a business, construction, etc. is performed on Akshaya Tritiya.
As per Hindu electional astrology (Muhurta) three lunar days (tithis) are auspicious. These are called Sade-Teen Muhurtas also. These Tithis are first Tithi of Bright Half of Chaitra (starting of new year), tenth Tithi of Bright Half of Ashvina (Vijay Dashmi), third Tithi of Bright Half of Vaishakha (Akshay Tritiya- Parshu Jyanti) and first Tithi of Bright Half of Karttika are called “Sade-Teen (3 ½) Muhurt”. The first three tithis are counted as full and the last one as half Tithi and constitute Sade - Teen Muhurt. Sun and moon are astrologically believed to be at their most exalted equal brightness on this day.
In Hinduism, Akshay Tritiya was the day when Ganesha (Vinayaka), the god of wisdom and obstacle removal, started writing the epic Mahabharata to Ved Vyasa's dictation. This day is ruled by god Vishnu, the preserver-god in the Hindu Trinity. According to Hindu mythology, on this day the Treta Yuga began and the river Ganges, the most sacred river of India, descended to the earth from the heaven.
It was on this day that Goddess Annapoorna devi was born.
In Mahabharata, Yudhishtira receives the Akshaya patra, which he uses to serve food for all the needy in his kingdom.
It is on this day that poor Sudama, the best friend of Krishna visits Him (Lord Krishna) to greet Him after He became the King. With nothing to offer, Sudama takes with him Poha (puffed rice) and offers it to his friend and never discusses his poverty though he intends to. On his return he finds his hut changed to a palace.
In more recent history, Adi Shankara recited the Kanaka Dhara Stotr on this day for the sake of the poor couple at whose house he stopped for Bhiksha and was offered their only available gooseberry.
Goa and Kerala regions, even today, are referred to as Parushurama Kshetra. Akshaya Tritiya, the third day of the bright-half of the lunar month of Vaisakha is considered one of the most sacred days of the year.
This day is generally observed by fasting and worship of Lord Vasudeva with rice grains. A dip in the river Ganges on this day is considered to be very auspicious.
The Vedic scriptures[where?] say that knowledge gained or charity done on Akshay Tritiya is very fruitful. It is considered to be a very lucky day to start new business or venture. Many people buy gold or property on this day.
Fasts are kept on this day and pujas are performed. In charity, fan, rice, salt, ghee, sugar, vegetables, tamarind, fruit, clothes, are given. The god Vishnu is worshiped. Tulsi water is sprinkled in the nearby area of the idol while performing aarti.
In Bengal, on the day of the Akshay Tritiya, "HalKhata" - a ceremony to start the new audit book is performed - with the worship of Ganesha and goddess Lakshmi. Bengalis perform many rites and rituals on this day.
This day is most auspicious day for the Jat farming community. Early morning, a male member of a Jat family goes to the field with a shovel. All the animals and birds encountered on the way to the field are omens and predictions for rains and crops. Akshay Tritiiya is an occasion for weddings, which are conducted in mass ceremonies. It is considered an unboojha muhurat.
It is believed that god Kubera, the treasurer of the gods, is the richest deity. Lakshmi Tantram says that even Kubera will pray to goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and consort of Vishnu, on Akshay Tritiya. A day-long Kubera Lakshmi Puja is performed in which an image of Lakshmi is worshiped with Sudarsana Kubera Yantra, symbolising Kubera.
On Akshay Trutiya, a king or those who have the responsibility of taking care of the subjects, should perform ‘puja’, with gratitude and devotion, of the picture of ‘Vaibhav-Lakshmi’ with Sree Vishnu as it helps to make the subjects happy and prosperous. "We are not graced by ‘Goddess Lakshmi’ as she is the divine energy (shakti) of Sree Vishnu. How can His ‘divine energy’ come here and bless us if Sree Vishnu is not invited? Therefore, before worshiping Sree Lakshmi in any of her forms, first invite Sree Vishnu and then invite Sree Lakshmi as the worshiper gets maximum benefit of Lakshmi-tattva" (principle).
Followers of the Jain religion consider Akshaya Tritiiya to be a holy and supremely auspicious day. It is associated with Lord Adinatha, also known as Rishabhadeva, first of the twenty-four Tīrthankaras. On this day people who observe the year-long alternative day fasting known as Varshi-tap finish their Tapasya by doing parana by drinking sugarcane juice.
The day of Akshaya Tritiya is worshiped and said to be auspicious in Jainism because it is said to have established the very first "ahara charya": a methodology to prepare and serve food to Jain monks. Lord Rishabhadeva denounced the worldly pleasures after dividing his vast kingdom amongst his 101 sons, prominent of whom are Gommateshvara Bahubali (whose world's tallest monolithic statue stands at Shravanbelgola and Chakravarti Bharata; it is known today as "Bharat").
Lord Rishabhadeva meditated without any food and water for six months and after that set out to accept food (ahara). He was the first monk of this era. Jain monks do not own anything. They do not even cook food for themselves. When hungry or thirsty, (maximum once in a day), they set out to accept ahara. They do not ask for it and accept where it is offered. Tirthankara Rishabhadeva went to people to accept food. However, the people of that time did not know anything about the lives and disciplines of monks, as he was the first monk of this era. The people of Ayodhya offered him gold, jewellery, gemstones, elephants, horses, expensive garments and even their daughters to honour their beloved king.
But Rishabhadeva was not in search of these things. He sought only a morsel of food, but nobody offered it to him. Nobody understood that their king was looking for food to ensure that the monks who would come after him get food and water in the purest form needed to lead an ascetic life. As there was no choice, he had to fast for one year until King Shreyansa understood his need due to his "purva-bhava-smarana". Shreyansa Kumar offered him sugarcane juice and thus Rishabhadeva ended his fast. This was on the day of Akshaya Tritiya. Hence, sugarcane juice is considered by Jains to be one of the best offerings.
It is further believed that religious gifts bestowed on Akshaya Tritiya become inexhaustible. Jains today observe a fast to commemorate their first Tirthankara Rishabhadeva on Akshaya Tritiya and end their fast with sugarcane juice.
In Hastinapur, there is a fair held on Akshaya Tritiya. Jains arrive from all over India in large numbers to end their fasts. The ritual ending of a fast by Jains is called parana (पारणा).
Works recommended and prohibited during Akshay Tritiya
Being Yugadi Tithi, it is most beneficial for performing meritorious (Punya Karma) deeds such as recitations (Japa), penance (Tapa), donations (Dana) ritual bathing (Snaana), sacrifices (Havan), burnt oblations to fire (Hooma). But initiation / conducting of activities like wearing sacred thread (Upnayana), ending of fast, house construction and entering thereof, traveling and plantation is prohibited in certain communities, while most look forward to start/restart relationships, purchases and commitments on this auspicious day. To some, it is beneficial for spiritual and not worldly activities.
Worldly activities can be initiated during currency of this Tithi, however, aspirants must ensure that duration is not sullied by concurrence of malefic times observed according to the Hindu electional principles, and the moments are favourable to the doer by transits of the planets and the like. Aspirants are cautioned against using this Tithi blindly for initiating and conducting all types of life activities. Auspiciousness of the Tithis for specific activity depends upon simultaneous presence of Panchangam Shuddhi, Muhurt Yogas and host of other elements of Hindu electional astrology.
Starting a new activity or buying valuables on Akshaya Tritiya is considered to bring luck and success. The religious merit that is acquired by giving gifts on this day is considered inexhaustible. Many buy new gold jewelry on Akshaya Tritiya.
Most jewelry stores stock in new models for this occasion with "Lakshmi-inscribed" gold coins, diamond jewelry and golden dollars with the pictures of many gods and goddesses. There are vigorous campaign conducted by banks, jewelry shops and financial institutions, thus Akshay Tritiya has gained prominence. Although modern retailers are exploiting the materialistic urge in people, there is today a very high awareness regarding Akshaya Tritiya or Akha Teej.
On Akshaya Tritiya, Big Yatra at Shirwal (Khandal, Satara) start one day from Shivjayanti.
- Gupte 1994, p. 5
- Importance of worshipping the picture of ‘Vaibhav-Lakshmi’ with Sree Vishnu, on the day of ‘Akshay Trutiya
- "Hindus and Jains celebrate Akshaya Tritiya for their own reasons". Merinews. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- "It's Akshaya Tritiya today". DNAIndia. Retrieved May 13, 2013.
- Bhargava, Gopal K.; Shankarlal C. Bhatt (2006), Land and people of Indian states and union territories. 33. Daman & Diu, Delhi: Kalpaz Publications, ISBN 81-7835-389-X (First Edition).
- Gupte, B.A. (1994), Hindu Holidays and Ceremonials, Delhi: Asian Educational Services, ISBN 81-206-0953-0 (AES reprint).