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Dattatreya, the incarnation of the trimurtis, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva
|Also called||Dattatreya Jayanti|
|Significance||Fasting, meditation and prayers day|
|Observances||Prayers and religious rituals, including puja to Dattatreya|
|Date||Decided by the lunar calendar|
|2014 date||5 December (other regions) or 6 December (Maharashtra)|
|2015 date||25 December|
Datta Jayanti, also known as Dattatreya Jayanti, is a Hindu holy day, commemorating the birth day celebration of the Hindu god Dattatreya (Datta), a combined form of the Hindu male divine trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the Margashirsha (Agrahayana) month according to the Hindu Calendar (December/January) throughout the country, and in particular in Maharashtra.
Dattatreya was the son of the sage Atri and his wife Anasuya. Anasuya, an archetypal chaste and virtuous wife, did severe Tapas (austerities) to beget a son equal in merits as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the Hindu male trinity (Trimurti). Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati, the goddess trinity (Tridevi) and consorts of the male trinity, became jealous. They deputed their husbands to test her virtuousness. The three gods appeared before Anasuya in the disguise of sanyasis (ascetics) and asked her to give them alms naked. Anasuya was perplexed for a while, but soon regained composure. She uttered a mantra and sprinkled water on the three mendicants, turning them into babies. She then breast fed them with her milk naked, as they wished. When Atri returned to his ashram (hermitage), Anasuya narrated the event, which he already knew through his psychic powers. He hugged the three babies to his heart, transforming them into a single baby with three heads and six arms. As the triad of gods did not return, their wives got worried and rushed to Anasuya. The goddesses begged her forgiveness and requested her to return their husbands. Anasuya accepted their request. The Trimurti then appeared in their true form, before Atri and Anasuya, and blessed them with a son Dattatreya. Though Dattatreya is considered a form of all the three deities, he is especially considered an avatar of Vishnu, while his siblings the moon-god Chandra and the sage Durvasa are regarded forms of Brahma and Shiva respectively.
On Datta Jayanti, people take bath early in the morning in holy rivers or streams, and observe fast. A puja of Dattatreya is performed with flowers, incense, lamps and camphor. Devotees mediate on his image and pray to Dattatreya with a vow to follow in his footsteps. They remember Dattatreya's work and read the sacred books Avadhuta Gita and Jivanmukta Gita, which contain the god's discourse. Other sacred texts like the Datta Prabodh (1860) by Kavadi Baba and the Datta Mahatmya by Param Pujya Vasudevananda Saraswati (Tembe Swami Maharaj), both of which are based on Dattatreya's life, as well as the Guru-charita based on the life of Narasimha Saraswati (1378−1458), considered an avatar of Dattatreya, are read by devotees. Bhajans (devotional songs) are also sung on this day.
Some temples like Manik Prabhu Temple, Manik Nagar host an annual 7-day festival in honour of the deity in this period. In this temple, Datta Jayanti is celebrated for 5 days from Ekadasi to Poornima. People from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Telangana come here to have darshan of the deity. The saint Manik Prabhu, who is also regarded as an incarnation of Dattatreya by the people of Datta Sampraday, was born on Datta Jayanti.
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