A one anna coin issued by the British-Indian government depicting Rishabhanatha, first Jain tirthankara, accepting sugarcane juice from King Shreyans
|Observed by||Hindu, Jain|
|Type||Hindu and Jain|
|Observances||prayers, distribution of sugarcane juice and festive foods, buying gold|
|Date||late April-early May|
|2020 date||26 April (Sun) IST, 25 April (Sat) EDT|
|2021 date||14 May (Fri)|
Akshaya Tritiya, also known as Akti or Akha Teej, is an annual spring time festival of the Hindus and Jains. It falls on the third Tithi (lunar day) of Bright Half (Shukla Paksha) of Vaisakha month. It is observed as an auspicious time regionally by Hindus and Jains in India and Nepal, as signifying the "third day of unending prosperity". .
In Sanskrit, the word "Akshayya" (अक्षय्य) means " never endingness " in the sense of "prosperity, hope, joy, success", while Tritiya means "third phase of the moon". It is named after the "third lunar day" of the spring month of Vaisakha in the Hindu calendar, the day it is observed.
In Jainism, it commemorates the first Tirthankara's (Rishabhdev) ending his one-year asceticism by consuming sugarcane juice poured into his cupped hands.Some Jains refer to the festival as Varshi Tapa. Fasting and ascetic austerities are marked by Jains, particularly at pilgrimage sites such as Palitana (Gujarat).
The day is considered auspicious by Hindus and Jains in many regions of India for new ventures, marriages, expensive investments such as in gold or other property, and any new beginnings. It is also a day of remembrance for the loved ones who have died. The day is regionally significant for women, married or unmarried, who pray for the well being of the men in their lives or the one they may in future get engaged to. After prayers, they distribute germinating gram (sprouts), fresh fruits and Indian sweets. If the Akshaya Tritiya falls on a Monday (Rohini), the festival is believed to be even more auspicious. Fasting, charity and helping others on this day is another festive practice.
Very important, and as related to the name of the festival itself is the presenting of Akshaya Patra, to Draupadi, by God Krishna, during the visit of sage Durvasa. During their exile in the forests, the princely Pandavas were famished for the lack of food and their wife Draupadi pained by the lack of food for customary hospitality to their numerous saintly guests. Yudishtira, who was the eldest, did penance to Lord Surya who gave him this bowl which would remain full till Draupadi had her meals. During sage Durvasa's visit, God Krishna made this bowl invincible, for Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas, so that the magical bowl called Akshaya Patram, would always remain full with food of their choice, even as to satiate the whole universe, if required.
Akshaya Tritiya is believed in Hinduism to be the birthday of Parasurama who is the sixth incarnation of Vishnu, and he is revered in Vaishnava temples. Those who observe it in the honor of Parasurama sometimes refer to the festival as Parasurama Jayanti. Alternatively, some focus their reverence to Vāsudeva avatar of Vishnu.
According to one legend, Ved Vyasa began reciting the Hindu epic Mahabharata to Ganesha on Akshaya Tritiya. Another legend states that river Ganges descended to earth on this day.Very significantly the Yamunotri Temple and Gangotri Temple are opened on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya, during the Chota Char Dham pilgrimage, after closing down, during the heavy snowfall laden winters of the Himalayan regions. The temples are opened on Abhijit Muhurat of Akshaya Tritya.
In Odisha, Akshyay Tritiya is celebrated for commencement of sowing of paddy for the ensuing Kharif season. The day starts with ritual worship of mother Earth, the bullocks, other traditional farm equipment and seeds by the farmers for blessings of a good harvest. After ploughing in the fields, sowing of paddy seeds are done as symbolic start for the most important Kharif crop of the state. This ritual is called Akhi Muthi Anukula ( Akhi - Akshyay Tritiya ; Muthi - fistful of paddy; Anukula - commencement or inauguration) and is celebrated with much fanfare throughout the state. In recent years the event has received much publicity due to ceremonial Akhi Muthi Anukula programs organized by farmers organizations and political parties. The construction of chariots for the Ratha Yatra festivities of Jagannath Temple also commences from this day at Puri.
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