Amavasya (Sanskrit: अमावस्या) means new moon night in Sanskrit. The word Amavasya is common to almost all Indian languages as they are all heavily influenced by Sanskrit, even the Dravidian languages of the South which are not considered by modern linguists to derive from Sanskrit.
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 considered part of Amavasya. In the pūrṇimānta māna Hindu lunar calendar used in most parts of the Indian subcontinent, the lunar month starts on the day following the full moon or purnima and therefore Amavasya always falls in the middle of the month. However, in the amānta māna calendar used in some places, the lunar month starts on the day after the new moon, making Amavasya 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 Krishna 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.[clarification needed]
In old Indian culture and beliefs, irrespective of religions, Amavasya is considered a time of great power. In Tamil, though Amavasya is commonly used in religious spheres, the pure Tamil scholars prefer the term Puthuppi Rai Fast is observed to propitiate both the Sun and Moon Gods. Except for the Karttika Amavasya (Amavasya of Diwali), the Amavasya is considered inauspicious.
Amavasya in 1992
|Month||Amavasya Date (2015)||Festivals|
|Paush||20 January (Tuesday)||Mauni Amavasya|
|Magha||18 February (Wednesday)|
|Phalguna||20 March (Friday)||Shani Amavasya|
|Chaitra||18 April (Saturday)|
|Vaishakha||17 May (Sunday)|
|Jyeshtha||16 June (Tuesday)||Shani Jayanti|
|Ashadha||15 July (Wednesday)|
|Shravana||14 August (Friday)||Shani Amavasya / Hariyali Amavasya|
|Bhadrapada||12 September (Saturday)||Somvati Amavasya|
|Ashwin||12 October (Monday)||Mahalaya Amavasya / Sarvapitri Amavasya|
|Kartik||11 November (Wednesday)||Lakshmi Puja|
|Margashirsha||11 December (Friday)||Shani Amavasya|
- Lakshmi Puja (30 Ashvin or 15 Krishna Paksha Ashvin; the Diwali after Naraka Chaturdashi): 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 obstacles, and then light deeyas (little clay pots) in the streets and homes to welcome prosperity and well-being.
Tradition and Belief
An Amavasya falling on a Monday has a special significance. It is believed that a fast on this particular Amavasya would ward off widow-hood in women and ensure bearing of progeny. It is also believed that all desires could be fulfilled if one fasts on this Amavasya.
Worship of Forefathers (Pitra)
Every month, the new-moon day is considered auspicious for the worship of forefathers and poojas are made. Religious people are not supposed to travel or work, and instead concentrate on the rites of Amavasyas, typically at home in the afternoon. Even today, traditional workers like masons do not work on Amavasya in India. However, they will work on Saturdays and Sundays. Even High Court judges of 18th century India used to observe Amavasya as a day off. It was the British Rule that brought the Christian Sunday-off principle to Indian industry.
On Amavasyas, Shraadh is done to forefathers by Brahmins whose fathers have died. In modern times, 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, grandfather, great-grandfather, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. Similarly this is done to mother's side of the family also.[clarification needed] 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.
The dark fortnight of Aswayuja (September–October) is known as the Pitru Paksha (Mahalaya), which is especially sacred for offering oblations to departed ancestors. The last day of this period, the new moon day, called mahalaya Amavasya, is considered 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.
- 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.