Meaning of Amavasya
In Sanskrit, "Ama" means "together" and "vasya' means "to dwell" or "cohabit".
The new moon day (all 24 hours and not just the night) is called Amavasya (अमावस्या). The Hindu calendar is a lunar calendar. In most parts of the Indian subcontinent, the Hindu lunar month always starts on the day following the Full Moon or Purnima and therefore Amavasya always falls in the middle of Hindu lunar calendar. However, in some parts of the Indian subcontinent, the Hindu calendar month starts on the day after the new moon or Amavasya and therefore Amavasya is the last day of the lunar month in those places. Many festivals, the most famous being Diwali (the festival of lights), are observed on Amavasya.
Many Hindus fast on Amavasya.
Few Pancha-Gauda Brahmins have month from next day of Purnima (day) to Purnima (day), that is Purnima is last 29/30 days (Purnimanta). Pancha-Dravida have month from next day of Amavasya to Amavasya . Amavasya is last 29/30 days (Amanta). Śhukla paksha is called as the bright half as the Moon changes from No Moon to Full Moon while in Kṛiṣhṇa paksha it changes from Full Moon to New Moon. Hence it is seen that same Amavasya has same festival all over the country. Ujjain, Allahabad, Orissa, Bihar Brahmins are one few Pancha-Gauda Brahmins have month from 1 day after Purnima (day) to Purnima (day)(Purnimanta), While the people of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh the Pancha-Dravida have month from 1 day after Amavasya to Amavasya. Amavasya is last 29/30 days (Amanta)..Since Kanchipuram Mutt where the Adi Shankara lived and all the Pancha-Gauda and Pancha-Dravida use to visit hence Tamil Nadu developed a mixture of Panchangam and saka calendar. Similarly the place where Pancha-Gauda and Pancha-Dravida are living together as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Southern Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh also show the mixtures. Also the people following Jainism follow Pancha-Dravida calendar, Amavasya is last 29/30 days.
In old Indian culture and beliefs, irrespective of religions, it is considered a time of great power. In Tamil, though amavasya is commonly used in religious spheres, the pure Tamil scholars prefer the term "PuthuppiRai" Fast is observed to propitiate both the Sun and The Moon Gods. Except for the Karttika Amavasya (Amavasya of Diwali or Deepawali), the Amavasya is considered inauspicious The Amavasya is the day for the passed ancestors Template:Pitra and donations are done for the sake of happiness of the departed souls of the family.
Amavasya in 2014
|Month||Amavasya Date (2014)||Festivals|
|Paush||1 January (Wednesday)|
|Magha||30 January (Thursday)||Mauni Amavasya|
|Phalguna||1 March (Saturday)||Shani Amavasya|
|Chaitra||30 March (Sunday)|
|Vaishakha||29 April (Tuesday)|
|Jyeshtha||28 May (Wednesday)||Shani Jayanti|
|Ashadha||27 June (Friday)|
|Shravana||26 July (Saturday)||Shani Amavasya / Hariyali Amavasya|
|Bhadrapada||25 August (Monday)||Somvati Amavasya|
|Ashwin||23 September (Tuesday)||Mahalaya Amavasya / Sarvapitri Amavasya|
|Kartik||23 October (Thursday)||Lakshmi Puja|
|Margashirsha||22 November (Saturday)||Shani Amavasya|
|Paush||21 December (Sunday)|
- Lakshmi Puja (30 Ashvin or 15 Krishna Paksha Ashvin): Lakshmi Puja marks the most important day of Diwali celebrations in North India. Hindu homes worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, and Ganesh, the God of auspicious beginnings also known as the remover of obastacles, and then light deeyas (little clay pots) in the streets and homes to welcome prosperity and well-being. This is the day of Diwali after Naraka Chaturdashi. It is the Amavasya in the month of Asvina.
Tradition and Belief
An Amavasya falling on a Monday has a special significance in Hindu Religion. It is believed that a fast on this particular Amavasys would ward off widow-hood in women and to ensure Progeny. It is also believed that all desires could be fulfilled if one fasts on such an Amavasya.
Worship of Forefathers (Pitra)
Every month, the new-moon day is considered auspicious for the worship of forefathers and poojas are made. However, no travel ought to be scheduled the first day of the new moon. Religious people are supposed to not work and concentrate on the rites function on Amavasyas. Even today traditional workers like masons do not work on Amavasyas in India. However they will work on Saturdays and Sundays. Amavasya was traditionally monthly off day. The Amavasya function is usually done in the afternoon at home (hence travel and daily work are postponed). Even High Court judges of 18th century in India used to observe Amavasya as off day. It was the British Rule that brought Sunday off principle to Indian industry.
On Amavasyas Shraadh is done to forefathers by Brahmins whose father has died earlier. Nowadays a short 20-minute version of the ceremony is done—offering black sesame and water as oblation to departed souls. This oblation is offered to father, grand father and great grand father - 3 levels. Then to mother, grandmother and great grandmother—3 levels. Similarly this is done to mother's side of the family also. If one of these persons are still alive, their name is skipped and the corresponding earlier generation person is offered oblation. Then a final oblation is offered to those anonymous souls which died and have nobody in their lineage offering oblation. These oblations are believed to give birth to good children without mental or physical challenges (so say the prayers in this function).
The dark fortnight of Aswayuja (September–October) is known as the Pitru Paksha (Mahalaya) or the fortnight specially sacred for offering oblations to the departed ancestors. The last day of this period, the new moon day, called mahalaya amavasya, is considered as the most important day in the year for performing obsequies and rites. The manes return to their abode on the evening of Deepavali. Due to the grace of the Yama, it has been ordained that offerings made during this period benefit all the departed souls, whether they are connected to you or not.
In India a full day is from one sunrise to next sunrise. A dinamaan (daytime) is from sunrise to sunset. A raatrikaal (nighttime) is from sunset to next sunrise.
Daytime is divided into 5 equal parts as follows (assuming sunrise at 6 a.m. and sunset at 6 p.m.):
- Praatha – 06:00 to 08:24
- Sanghava – 08:25 to 10:48
- Maadhyaanha – 10:49 to 13:12
- Aparaanha – 13:13 to 15:36
- Saayankaal – 15:37 to 18:00
Shraadh is to be done in Aparaanha kaal. But the 30 food items preparation might start as early as 5:00 a.m. By the time the function finishes it would be 3:00 p.m. It is a tiring 10 hours continuous work for both husband and wife. But nowadays only a short cut 20-minute offering of oblation is done on Amavasya. Due to pressure of time in fast paced lives of cities, this function is done in (wrong time) Praatha kaal.
- B. K. Chaturvedi (2002). Garuda Purana. Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd. pp. 82–. ISBN 978-81-288-0155-6. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- Bibek Debroy, Dipavali Debroy. The Garuda Purana. Lulu.com. pp. 151–. ISBN 978-0-9793051-1-5. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
- Gaṅgā Rām Garg, Ganga Ram Garg (1992). Encyclopaedia of the Hindu World: Ak-Aq. Concept Publishing Company. pp. 370–. ISBN 978-81-7022-375-7. Retrieved 13 November 2012.
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