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  • Sep 25 2010

    Karva Chauth Festival : Married women seeking long life of their husbands and marital bliss

    Karva Chauth sees married women fast from sunrise to moonrise for the safety and long life of their husbands. The fast is observed on the fourth day after the full moon, in the month of Kartik.

    Karva means diya and chauth means ‘fourth’ in Hindi. Women prepare by buying cosmetics, jewelry and puja items. They fast through the day. In the evening, a women-only ceremony is held. Women dress in fineries sit in a circle with their puja thalis. The story of Karva Chauth is narrated and the song is sung around an idol of Gaur Mata or Parvati.

    Once the moon is visible, the fasting woman view its reflection in a vessel filled with water, through a sieve, or cloth. Water is offered to the moon for its blessings. She then views her husband’s face in the same manner.

    On this occasion of Vrat (Fast) a Kalash (small container) is filled with either milk or water. In that Kalash Pancha Ratna (Five different pieces of  different metals (gold, silver, copper, brass and iron) then this kalash is  presented to  Brahmin and also it was exchanged with other married women. After it women offer prayers to Shree Lord Ganesh : “Let the offerings of this Karva  bring life to my husband and may my Saubhagaya be everlasting “and express such desire that ‘May my death precede that of my husband so that I can enter the chitaa (funeral pyre) as a bride (not as a widow).

    According to legends this narrative was took place between Shiva and Parvati. Shiva told its significance.

    Queen Veervati was misled into breaking her fast and the king, died. The Goddess instructed her to repeat the Karva Chauth fast and Lord Yama was forced to restored the King’s life. In another variant of the Goddess Parvati gave back the life of the King.

    In Mahabharata, i.e Dwapar Yuga, Draupadi is said to have observed this fast on the advice of Lord Krishna.  In another legend there was a woman named Karva, who was deeply devoted to her husband. While bathing at a river, her husband was caught by a crocodile. On Karva’s prayer Yama revived and blessed them with long life.

    In 2010 this festival falls on 26 Oct, Tuesday. Toshali Holidays welcomes all to be the part of Karva Chauth Festival experiencing, exclusive arrangement has been done for the guest to witness and be the part of the festival. Book your package at  http://bit.ly/d6Ap07 . For more details on customized festival package contact travel planner to metu@toshali.in

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post. We would be glad to receive your comments and conversation.

  • Sep 24 2010

    The Taste of Delhi: A Unique Food Culture

    Delhi, is an epicureans’ paradise. The diverse range of cuisines makes Delhi a gourmet’s delight. Delhi offers a mixture of North Indian,  Mughlai, Punjabi cuisine and mouth watering street fare. Where else would you find a street named after flatbreads? Parathewali Gali. By the way if you are down there try the Papad Paratha.

    Food of Delhi (Photo courtesy Delhi Tourism)

    Food of Delhi (Photo courtesy Delhi Tourism)

    Street food is the mark of any city – Sitaram Diwanchand’s chole Bhatures, Kuremal’s Kulfis since 1908, Moth Kachori of Multani Dhanda, Jain Sa’ab’s kachoris, Pakorimal Doodhwala’s Milk and Lassi, Bade Mian’s Kheer, Kinari Bazar’s Khurchan, Kulle chaat of Chawri Bazaar, Daulat Ki Chaat, Japani Samosa, Fruit Sandwiches at Jain Coffee House, Giani’s Faluda, Keema Samosa, Sutli Kababs etc. Ghantewala’s Sohan Halwa has been tickling taste buds since 1709. The royal elephant reportedly refused to budge without his daily dose of Ghantewala’s sweets and he used to shake his head to ring the bell tied to his neck to demand sweets. So the halwai got the name Ghantewala.

    The place to seek variety in Mughlai food is in the Old city area – Karim’s and Al Jawahar are famous but many an unsung Kababchi or Biryani Wala will surprise you.

    Delhi has a big migrant population from all over India. Earlier eateries at state houses served their regional delicacies. Sarvana Bhavan is particularly well known for Andhra cuisine. In CR Park at South Delhi area cuisine from Bengal dominates with cutlets, rolls and sweets having a field day with the varieties of fish on offer. In fact all the state houses have eateries – little known but tasty fare. Regional cuisine is finding its foothold slowly – in restaurants like Brown Sahib and the Gunpowder.

    If you are willing to seek out, Delhi has a lot to offer on the culinary trail. For example the Afghani food joint in Lajpat Nagar or the Russian place – Bline, Korean food at Sun and Moon or the Gung in Green park, or excellent Continental fare in the Metropolis restaurant.

    Chandni Chowk is a different dimension all together. “No ads, no frills, great food – great prices” says the nameless milk cake shop of Kucha Ghasi Ram. Kashmiri Kebabchi opposite to the Shan Masjid and Bade Mian’s are famous and  few gems in this treasure chest of good food.

    Commenting on delicious dishes like Biryani is a bit difficult. It is a touchy subject and diehard Lucknavis will pay little heed to Dilli’s fare and Hyderabad is and Kolkattans will swear by their fare but a trip at Hazi Noor Mohammed near Turkman gate or Babbu Bhai near Matka Pir might convert a few. Similarly Lucknow’s ‘Kakori Kebabs’ has a competitor in Dilli’s Gola Kabab of Mian Sahib near Jama Masjid.

    Another, landmark “Delhi Haat” Near INA Market and Netaji Subhas Place, showcases India’s rich handicrafts and regional food heritage from all the Indian states. It’s a must visit for handicraft and culinary buffs.

    Writing about a diverse and well researched subject like Delhi’s food at best is a difficult task. Eminent food critics have dedicated entire blogs on the subject but only few desperate writers would be able  to condense Saadi Dilli’s food in such a short span. It is only my fascination for food and lack of a meaningful ‘Adda’ that I am accustomed to have made a lazy fellow like me to amble across to some of these heavenly eating joints. The experience of describing a Gola Kabab dissolve in your mouth would strain my modest vocabulary and perhaps offend the non carnivorous type. But I would like to hear it from you – your experience, be it an obscure Kachori Wala or a Kulfi Wala – you know the place to tell me all about it – so I might log some more food travel miles.

    What are you thinking…. simply post your comment, if you feel we have left any food of your choice and any food courts in Delhi. Lets us know your Food experience, while you are in Delhi. For Delhi Darshan and day tour, please leave a message at metu@toshali.in

    Share this with your friends, colleagues, relatives travelling to India and you want to taken out for best cuisines in Delhi.

  • Sep 24 2010

    Delhi World Heritage Sites: A New Delhi City Tour

    Delhi is a rough triangle formed by the Aravallis in the west and river Yamuna in the east. Settlements dating back to Stone Age has been uncovered. Its magnificent monuments span a period of almost a thousand years. Different dynasties built their capitals here.  Archaeological evidence points to between 8 to 12 sites in and around Delhi, where a new city was built. Some of them are Lal Kot and Quila Rai Pithora in the early medieval period; Tughlaqabad and Kotla by the Sultanate rulers, the Mughal capital of Shahjahanabad and New Delhi, by the British. Many heritage historians have mentioned that Delhi was also the site of the capital of the Pandavas of Mahabharata – Indraprastha. Folklore goes that the present Purana Quila or Old fort of Delhi stands over the site that was once Indraprastha.

    The Tughlakabad fort built by Ghyasuddin Tughlak was once an imposing structure. The last ruler of the Tughlak dynasty Feroze Shah ruled for 37 years. He built a fort Ferozeshah Kotla, a fort which has no remnants today. The Ferozeshah Kotla – scene of many major cricketing duels stadium stands today on the erstwhile site of the fort. Feroze Shah is also credited with building the top two floors of the Qutab Minar when lightning destroyed in 1368. There are three World Heritage Sites in Delhi.

    •       Red Fort: Built by Shah Jahan, between 1638 and 1648. It houses the Diwan-i-Khas and the Diwan-i-Am, the Rang Mahal, Moti Masjid etc.

    •       Humayun’s Tomb: Built in 1570 AD by Humayun’s wife Haji Begum. It is a standout example of Mughal architecture.

    •       Jama Masjid: Constructed in 1656 AD under the guidance of the Prime Minster of Shah Jahan, Saadullah Khan.

    Besides these, the Qutub Minar and Quwwat-al-Islam (Might of Islam), the earliest extant mosque in India graces Delhi. The Jantar Mantar – an astronomical observatory was built by Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh II of Jaipur in the year 1724. Safdarjung’s tomb and Madrasa enrich Delhi’s heritage.

    There are many hidden gems of historic monuments here. The Khirki Masjid (Mosque) in Saket is a small but uniquely designed mosque. The Dargah of Sufi saint Qutubddin Bakhtiyar Kaki near the Qutab and ‘Agrasen ki  Baoli’ in the middle of Connaught Place.

    The capital is one of the greenest capitals and the gardens here reflect the eclectic taste of its erstwhile rulers. “Mughal Gardens” inside the President’s estate is one of the best laid out, the beautifully landscaped “Lodi Gardens” encloses the tombs of an imperial dynasty. The Old city has “Begam Ka Bagh” – appointed by the eldest daughter of emperor Shah Jahan – Jahan Ara – the last remnants of it are now parts of the Gandhi park near Chandhi Chowk, “Roshnara Gardens” was laid out by Jahanara’s younger sister Roshnara in 1650 – the garden would be later infamous for her amorous exploits and would bear the pathos of her slow, painful death by poisoning in 1671. “Shalimar Bagh” was appointed by Akbarbadi Begum – the favourite wife of Shah Jahan after Mumtaz Mahal. “Qudsia Garden” was named after begum Qudsia and Tees Hazari was named after the number of trees in the garden appointed by the builder emperor Shah Jahan.

    Each place has its unique historic significance – “Gurdwara Sheesh Ganj” remembers a martyred Sikh Guru while “Khooni Darwaza” is where Bahadur Shah’s sons were executed.

    Every nook and corner of the old city has a tale to tell. In the walled city the “Neharwali Haveli” at Darya Ganj is where Gen. Parvez Musharraf  was born, the “Churiwali Haveli” of Begum Samroo (Begum Sombre actually) who rose from a courtesan to a Zamindar, or around the corner in Ballimaran, the haveli which saw the last days of the unparalled Urdu poet  Mirza Ghalib.

    Cutting to modern times the India Gate, Lotus temple, Akshardham stand out as landmarks.

    Toshali Resorts, welcomes all to be the part Delhi Darshan, site seeing experiencing, exclusive arrangement has been done for the guest to witness and be the part of the festival. For holiday as well as “Delhi Darshan”  Tour Package Reservation write to metu@toshali.in

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post. We would be glad to receive your comments and conversation.

  • Sep 23 2010

    Aanvla Navmi: Festival of India celebrated by Women for Success and Family Welfare

    The Festival of Aanvla Navmi is very significant festival of women. On this day women perform special Puja and pray before Indian Goose Berry for the success and welfare of their family on the day of Aanvla Navmi.  If women are not able to find Goose tree in close vicinity of the house then a small branch of the tree can be brought to the house for performing puja.

    Requirements for the Aanvla Navmi festival:

    • Indian Goose Berry Tree or Aanvla (Amla) tree or branch of the tree.
    • Water in a kalash
    • Milk
    • Roll, moli, chawal, jaggery, batasha
    • Raw white thread, moli
    • Doop, deepak, matchstick
    • Money for offering
    • Saree, blouse—piece and dakshina for Brahminis (optional)
    • Blouse piece (either red, yellow or pink in color)

    On the day of the Puja, women rise up early in the morning and then take a bath and wear new or washed clothes. This puja is performed in a particular direction. There is custom to do Puja while facing towards east direction. First, water is offered to the tree followed by Jaggery, Chawal, Batasha, Aanvala, Moli, Roli, Milk, blouse and some money is brought. All Ladies put tilak on their forehead. There is special trend of Parikrama is practiced in which women revolve around the tree for eight or 108 times while moving they wrap the raw white thread or red moli around the Aanvla tree.

    After performing Parikrama.  All women sit together and read or listens Katha associated with Aanvla Navami. Dhup (Lamp) are lit before the tree then all ladies put tilak (Auspicious red color Mark by roli) on their forehead.

    The special trend of Parikrama is practiced in which women revolve around the tree for 8 or 108 times and while moving they wrap the raw white thread or red moli (Red sacred thread) around the Aanvla tree.

    After performing Parikrama, all women sit together and read or listens Katha associated with Aanvla Navmi. Katha of Bindaayakji is read after the katha of Aanvla Navmi. There is also the practice of keeping few grains in the hand during katha and later placed in Kalash filled with water placed near Aanvla tree.

    There is also tradition of inviting the Brahmini for food and presenting clothes and money.

    In 2010, “Aanvla Navmi” is celebrated on 15th November. Toshali Resorts, welcomes all to be the part of Aanvla Navmi Festival experiencing, exclusive arrangement has been done for the guest to witness and be the part of the festival. For Hoilday Package Reservation write to metu@toshali.in

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post. We would be glad to receive your comments and conversation.. We are looking for photos of Aanvla Navmi Festival, please fell free to post.

  • Sep 21 2010

    Gandhi Jayanti : The National Festival Celebration in India

    Mahatma Gandhi in Orissa… A tribute..


    “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram, patit pavan Sita Ram Sita Ram Sita Ram,

    Bhaj pyare tu Sitaram Ishwar Allah tero naam, Saab ko Sanmti de Bhagavan”

    ~ Mahatma Gandhi ~ ‘Bapu’

    It means.. Lord Rama, Chief of the house of Raghu, Uplifters of those who have fallen, (O divine couple) Sita and Rama, Beloved, praise Sita and Rama God or Allah is your name, Lord, bless everyone with wisdom. Before he became Mahatma, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, travelled throughout India to understand the people of this country. On Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 we honour the memory of this ‘Mahatma’. There is a temple in Bhatra village, in Sambalpur. Mahatma Gandhi is worshipped there. The priest is a Dalit. The temple was the brain-child of ex MLA Abhimanyu Kumar. When he became MLA in 1971, the idea of a temple dedicated to the man who abolished untouchability inspired him. Between 1921 and 1946, Gandhiji visited Orissa eight times. The response was spontaneous and overwhelming. He along with Kasturba Gandhi arrived in Cuttack on Dola Purnima (Holi) March 23, 1921 and addressed three meeting – at Kadam-i-Rasool, at Binod Bihari and a mammoth meeting on the riverbed of the Kathjodi.

    He travelled to Bhadrak, Sakshigopal and Puri. Accompanied by Gopabandhu, he left for Berhampur on March 29, 1921. Gandhi’s second visit to Orissa was on the request of Madhusudan Das on August 19, 1925. Gandhi would influence people like Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das and Madhusudan Das greatly. His fortnight long tour of Orissa for the propagation of khadi started on December 4, 1927. He had high blood pressure and he rested in the house of Madhusudan Das. He left Cuttack on December 21 to attend the Congress session at Madras. In 1934, Gandhiji began his celebrated “Padayatra” with the mission of harijan upliftment and abolition of untouchability. He visited Orissa twice in this connection. During his visit of March 25, 1938, Kasturba, Durgaben, Sardar Patel, Maulana Azad, Rajendra Prasad, Acharya Kripalini, Mahadev Desai accompanied him. They addressed the annual conference of Gandhi Seva Sangha and the Utkal Khadi and Village Industry exhibition at Berboi, near Delang in Puri. On January 20, 1946, Gandhiji passed through Orissa on his way from Calcutta to Madras. He addressed the assembled crowds at Cuttack and Berhampur. This was his last visit to Orissa.

    Gandhiji was moved to tears when the famine-stricken people of Puri contributed a paise or an anna for the Tilak Swaraj Fund. Gandhiji said, “The famine-stricken skeletons of men and women in Orissa haunt me in my waking hours and in my dreams. Whatever can be useful to those starving millions is beautiful to my mind. Let us give today first the vital things of life and all the graces and ornaments of life will follow”. In a fitting coincidence the Mahatma’s ashes were preserved in Orissa for long. An urn with his ashes was kept in the Puri Raj Bhavan from February 12, 1948 to June 27, 1948. Then the urn was preserved in Cuttack, at the Imperial Bank of India – later the State Bank of India till his great grandson, Tushar Gandhi, immersed them in the Ganges at Allahabad in 1997 – on the Mahatma’s 49th death anniversary. Gandhiji is Mahatma because he taught the country pride; his ideals stand out in a world torn by strife. He was not god, neither had he claimed such. He practiced what he preached and ended the journey as the Mahatma – a long way from a young lawyer treated inhumanly in foreign soil. With his life he taught us that to be superman you need have only humanity and humility. Does not some scripture say “the meek shall inherit the earth”. His life shall be a lesson for all for ages to come and India shall be proud of the Mahatma who imbued the ideal of oneness in multiplicity.

    To Commerate and Celebrate Gandhi Jayanti on 2nd October’2010 (Saturday) – the Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. Toshali Resorts invites you to Gandhi Jayanti, the National holiday Weekend Getaway at Toshali Sands, Puri India. For Reservation click on http://bit.ly/9R2Sda . You can also contact your travel consultant metu@toshali.in to plan you weekend getaway vacation. If you feel, we have missed out on any information, do post in your comments, and we would be glad, if you can share this blog with you friends at Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, Myspace, and other Social Networking Sites.

  • Sep 20 2010

    World Tourism Day : Celebrated on 27th September

    Many people around celebrate the United Nations’ (UN) World Tourism Day, every year on 27th September, World Tourism Day is celebrated. This day aims to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its cultural.

    The institution of World Tourism Day (WTD), decided by the General Assembly in 1979, has the aim,through a series of appropriate events, freely organized by each member and other authorities wishing to become associated, of heightening public awareness of the social, cultural, political and economic values of travel and tourism.

    Since 1980, worldwide annual event began – has, applauds to members’ initiatives over the years, allowed a list to be drawn of activities at many levels that could be carried out to mark World Tourism Day.

    Many tourism enterprises and organizations as well as government agencies with special interest in tourism celebrate the event with various special events and festivals.

    Different types of competition held there such as photo competitions promoting tourism, as well as tourist award presentations in areas like ecotourism, free tourism.

    Activities done on World Tourism Day

    • Declaration of World Tourism Day (WTD) as a “Special Day for the entire national territory” around the World.
    • Heads of State and government messages addressed to their fellow citizens, suggesting that they should specially think about the theme chosen for, making the most of this occasion, of WTO activities in favour of tourism development and promotion.
    • Marking World Tourism Day, the Head of State or government in their Messages, with conferences, distribution of prizes  to the best contribution on tourism (composition, photography, drawing, film, video cassette, poster).
    • Free entry for tourists and citizens to museums, national parks and other sites of tourism interest.
    • Public transport special tours, fares and decorations to highlight on the World Tourism Day activity.
    • Organizing a competition to increase public awareness.
    • Organizing tourism fairs and meetings to coincide with World Tourism Day.
    • Special welcome reception for tourists during the Day, with the cooperation of  hoteliers, restaurateurs and tourist guides:  special attention to tourists.
    • Printing stickers, flags and banners as a reminder of the theme of World Tourism Day
    • The issue of commemorative postage stamps and medals.
    • Poster and craft exhibitions to commemorate the Day

    Book your travel package for an exclusive World Tourism package at metu@toshali.in

  • Sep 13 2010

    Dussehra festival vacation at Shimla & Kullu, Himachal Pradesh

    Ayigiri Nandhini Nandhitha Medhini
    Viswa Vinodhini Nandhanuthe
    Girivara Vindhya Sirodhini Vasini
    Vishnu Vilasini Jishnunuthe
    Baghavathy He Sithi Kanda Kudumbhini
    Boori Kudumbhini Boorikruthe
    Jaya Jaya He Mahishasura Mardhini
    Ramyaka Bardhini Sailasuthe.

    ~ Maa Durga Sloka

    Dussehra is dreived from Dasha-Hara “remover of bad fate”. It is celebrated on the tenth day of the bright fortnight (Shukla Paksha)Durga Pujaof the Hindu autumn month of Ashvin. Lord Rama appeased Devi Chandika seeking to defeat and kill Ravana. On Dussehra day Ravana was killed in the battlefield and this day celebrates the victory of good over evil. In another mythology Devi Durga killed mahisasura on Dussehra day.

    It marks the traditional season of autumn. Soma Yajnas are performed with the Maha Surya Mantras and the Aruna Prapathaka of the Yajurveda. The effect of these mantras is to keep the heart, brain and digestive functions of the body in balance. The imbalances in these occur in the absence of adequate sunlight in the winter months.

    In parts of Northern India it is traditional to plant barley seeds in earthen pots on the first day of Navrathri. On the day of Dussehra,
    the nine-day old sprouts (called noratras or nortas) are used as symbols of luck.

    In Uttarakhand, Dasshera festival starts with the performance of Ramlila which is itself unique as it is based on the musical rendering of the katha or story of Lord Ram based on the theatrical traditions set by Uday Shankar while on his stay in Almora these traditions were further enriched by Mohan Upreti and Brijendra Lal Sah. Known as the Almora or Kumaon style Ramlila has been recognised by UNESCO in its 2008 report as one of the representative styles of Ramlila in India.

    Actor Pran, the Bollywood villain started his ‘acting’ career on Shimla where he played Sita to Madan Puri’s Ram in the local staging of “Ramlila” :)

    Kullu dussehra at the Dhalpur maidan is now famous for the spectacular procession and fairs. The Gaddis – semi nomadic shepherds comes down to perform. In Himachal Gods are carried in palanquins to local fair grounds. During the Kullu festival some 22 deities make their way to the fair grounds. The history of this festival goes back to 17th century when king Jaganand installed an idol of Lord Rama on his throne. Since then Lord Raghunath is the presiding deity of the valley. Dussehra in Kullu begins after celebrations are over elsewhere in the country, because, the legend has it that “Lanka Dahan” was done on the day after a full moon night, which according to the Hindu calendar falls after the seventh day of the Vijyadashmi. Chamba and Nurpur also has similar celebrations.

    However, Dussehra is not celebrated in Baijnath dham of Lord Shiva. It is believed that Ravana put a consecrated Linga on his  journey back to Lanka. Lord Shiva had actually asked him not to put it down anywhere. Ravana inadverently put it down in Baijnath and it is there ever since. The current temple was constructed sometimes around 1204 AD.

    In autumn the hills are a riot of colours. In Kinnaur there is a festivall of flowers – ‘Fuleich’ and ‘Sair’ in the Kangra area. Traditional fairs with buffalo duels take place in Mashorba near Shimla. You can simply put up your feet and see days go by, take a local tour for attractions that are not part of usual tourist calendar – it would be an unforgettable experience and memory to cherish.

    In 2010, Dussehra festival will be celebrated from October 13th to -18th’ in Himachal Pradesh, INDIA. Toshali Royal View Resort, welcomes all to be the part of Dussehra a Festival experiencing, exclusive arrangement has been done for the guest to witness and be the part of the festival. For Dussehra Package Reservation click on http://bit.ly/9H62lF For more details write to metu@toshali.in

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post. We would be glad to receive your comments and conversation.. Happy Dusshera festival.

  • Sep 08 2010

    Durga Puja and Dushera : A Festive Vacation at Puri, India

    “Yaa Devii Sarvabhuuteshhu Maatrirupena Sansthitah
    Yaa Devii Sarvabhuuteshhu Shaktirupena Sansthitah
    Yaa Devii Sarvabhuuteshhu Shaantirupena Sansthitah
    Namastasyaih Namastasyaih Namastasyaih Namo Namah”

    It means… Goddess Durga is omnipresent. She is the personification of Universal Mother. She is a Mother, who is present everywhere and who is embodiment of power and energy. Great mother, who is present everywhere and who is embodiment of Peace. I bow to that mother, I bow to Mother Durga, I bow to Shakti.

    Lord Rama prayed to Devi Chandika seeking victory over Ravana. One blue lotus short he offered his eye to please the Goddess. In Mahabharata Pandavas ended their year of anonymity on Dussehra. According to the Puranas, King Suratha worshipped Durga in the spring.

    Durga’s ten hands represent ten directions. Her three eyes represents – left eye desire (the moon), right eye represents action (the sun), and the central eye knowledge (fire).

    Her weapons are symbolic too:

    •       She rides the lion, representative of power, will and determination.

    •       Conch symbolizes the ‘Om’.

    •       Bow and arrows represent energy.

    •       Thunderbolt signifies firmness.

    •       Lotus symbolizes certainty of success but not finality.

    •       “Sudarshan-Chakra” of Lord Vishnu signifies that the entire world is subservient to her will.

    •       Sword symbolizes knowledge.

    •       Trident or “trishul” is symbol of three cardinal qualities – Satva (inactivity), Rajas (activity) and Tamas (non-activity).

    The rendition of Shri Chandika- in Mahalaya, reveals the coming of this primeval, divine mother “Yah Devi Sharbabhutesu…… Matri Rupini Samasthita.

    In Orissa and Bengal Mother Durga is the married daughter, on an annual visit to her father’s place, with children. The puja in its present form started by Raja Nabakrishna Deb of the Shobhabazar Rajbari of Kolkata in honor of Lord Clive in 1757. Clive wished to pay thanks for his victory in the Battle of Plassey and the only church in Calcutta was destroyed by Siraj-ud-Daulah :). With changing times the pujas have become community affairs.

    In Orissa and Bengal, Durga Puja is the principal festival. People come home on vacations. On Vijaya Dashami, which coincides with Dusserah the idols are taken out for ceremonial immersion. Before she leaves maidens and housewives gives her a sendoff with sweets and betel leaves and nuts. Along with the sendoff there is also an entreaty to return early the next year.

    As per Markandeya Purana Chedi King Suratha started Durga Puja around 300 BCE. The Chedi dynasty belonged to Kalinga (modern Orissa). A sculpture in the Jagannath temple also shows the Goddess being in the same pedestal along with Lord Jagannath and a king kneeling before them. The present form of worship started during the reign of Ganga King Chodaganga Dev in the 11th century at Puri. Sometimes around 1512 (some say 1517, others 1505) Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu had come to Cuttack during the reign of emperor Gajapati Pratap Rudra Dev. He started Durga puja at Binod Bihari temple, now known as Balu Bazar.

    The first recorded Sarbojonin Durga Puja in Orissa dates back to 1832 in the Kazi Bazaar area of Cuttack. The Kar family of Balasore started Durga Puja in 1852. The Puja is celebrated in two different ways. In Shakti peethas (temples) it is observed with strict rituals laid down by the scriptures for 10 or 16 days known as Shodasa Upachara or Shohala dinatmaka. It starts 7 days before mahalaya called as mulastami and ends on Vijaya Dashami. In communal puja mandaps rituals are followed on a lesser scale.

    A pandal in Oriya is called “Medho”. The most expensive installation was the ChaandiMerrha (Silver plated) of Choudhuri Bajaar, Cuttack. These days it is all gold plated, so the new name “Suna Medho” (Suna=Gold). The Durga Puja festivities are also prominent in Maa Katak Chandi Temple. She is the presiding deity of Cuttack. People believe her to be ‘The Living Goddess’.

    Puri wears a festive look during the Durga Pujas and Dushera. Roads are illuminated and large pandals are extensively decorated. On Panchami preparations arealmost over. The Goddess is established in the mandap on Sasthi. Asper mythology the final stages of the battle was fought during Ashtamiand Navami. Ritual worship is done. It is nothing sort of ecstacy. Everyone is dressed in new dresses, fineries. Community Pujas see huge crowds. Cultural programmes are dished out. The earthen idol of Mahishamardini Durga is known as Gosani and the Dussehra fesival is known as Gosani Yatra. The co-worship of Mahisamardini Durga with Lord Jagannath is prevalent from 11th century, in Puri. Gosanis are aspects of Durga during her battle with mahisasura and have their origins in the folk culture. On the following day of Dusshera the Goshanis from all the sahis (streets) come together in procession in front of Shree  Jagannath Temple to pay tribute to lord Jagannath. This is known as ‘Bhasani Yatra’. Huge crowd gather to celebrate Bhasanai Yatra. In late night the idols are taken for immersion. Puri witnesses an unique scene of over 150 idols lined up for immersion. Is this the largest known congregation of Durga idols anywhere? The world famous sand artist Sudarshan Pattanaik creates his own idol of sand in the Puri beach every year.

    Durga Pujas means festive holidays, vacation and a time to travel. Other than the summer vacations this is the longest vacation in the region. People from Bengal, Bihar, and Jharkhand have visited Puri for millennia.  The abode of Lord Jagannath is thronged with visitors throughout the year and other than the Rath Yatra the number is highest during the Durga Pujas. Puri is rediscovering itself a new with plush new resorts and inns and added modern comfort and amenities for visitors, tourist and guests.

    In Western India, especially Gujarat, the navaratras see performanceof Garba and Dandiya. Women dressed in traditionally, dance around an earthen pot with a lamp inside. The pot symbolises the womb – “Garba” and the lamp inside – life. In Dandia men and women participate in pairs.

    In Northern India navratras sees the “Ramlila” – a traditional rendition of the Ramayana. Dusshera sees burning effigies of Ravana,
    Kumbhaklaran and Meghnad symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.

    During Dusshera celebration of Mysore Devi Chamundi, the presiding family deity of the Maharaja of Mysore is taken in a grand procession to the hilltop temple.

    Special Trains for Durga Puja 2010 between Puri and Howrah New Delhi and rest of India. To clear the extra rush of passengers during Durga Puja 2010, Indian Railways will run two pairs of weekly Puja special trains between Puri and Howrah. These special trains will start running on 7th September 2010 and will end on 29th December 2010.

    Durga Puja itinerary followed with Laxmi Puja as per Kohinoor Panjika of Orissa  of 2010-11.

    Durga Puja 2010

    In 2010 Durga Puja festival will be celebrated from October 8th to -18th’ 2010. Toshali Sands welcomes all to be the part of Durga Puja Festival experiencing, exclusive arrangement has been done for the guest to witness and be the part of the festival. For Durga Puja Package Reservation click on http://bit.ly/biSkc6 For more details write to metu@toshali.in

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post. We would be glad to receive your comments and conversation.

  • Sep 07 2010

    Gaja Lakshmi Puja : The Festival of Prosperity, Good Luck and Abundance.

     

    “Maha Lakshmi Namastute Divya Kamala Lochane,

    Sankha Chakra Gada Haste Maha Lakshmi Namastute”.

    ~ Lakhmi Puran

    Gaja Lakshmi, is a manifestation of Goddess Lakshmi – as Gaja Lakshmi she is the Goddess of Elephants – symbol of represents Power, Strength, Grace and Fertility.

    Gajalakshmi Puja starts from Ashwin Purnima or Kumar Purnima (Full Moon day in Ashwin month). However at a few places it is also observed on Shukla Paksha Dasami in Bhadra.

    Goddess Gajalakshmi is one of the Ashtalakshmi (eight aspects of Goddess Lakshmi). The others being – Adi Lakshmi, Dhana Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Santana Lakshmi, Veera or Dhairya Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi and Vidya Lakshmi. She is the most powerful Goddess among the eight aspects. She is the one who brought back all the wealth lost by Indra. She is also the Goddess of cattle. The festival is also associated with the birth of Goddess Lakshmi. There is a popular belief that whoever keeps awake during night would be blessed with wealth and prosperity. Card games are particularly popular method of staying awake. She is four-armed, clad in red garments, she carries two lotuses, other two arms in abhaya mudra and varada mudra and she is flanked by two elephants bathing her with water pots.

    Gaja Lakshmi is believed to be the giver of animal wealth like cattle and elephants. Swami Chidananda interprets Gaja Lakshmi as giver of power of royalty. According to Hindu mythology, Gaja Lakshmi brought back the wealth lost by Indra (king of demi-gods) from the ocean.

    In Orissa this day coincided with Kumar Purnima. According to the mythology, “Kumar” or “Kartikeya” was an extremely handsome of Lord Shiva. He was born on the full moon day in the month of Ashwin. maidens seek the blessings of Lord Kartikeya to have a handsome life partner in life.

    Actually the legend of Goddess Lakshmi is the legend of Samudra manthan. Rishi Durbasha cursed Indra to lose all his wealth and when Indra apologized he said that Lord Vishnu would undo the damage. With Lakshmi power, wealth, enthusiasm and radiance left the demi gods. In time the gods lost their immortality and valour. As demonic power occupied the heavens sage Brihaspati with Lord Brahma appealed to Lord Vishnu. He suggested churning the sea of milk. Cutting long story short ambrosia appeared which gave the gods immortality and extremely beautiful and radiant Goddess Lakshmi emerged and restored Indra to his position. She is Gaja Lakshmi.

    Gaja Lakshmi Puja is the longest festival celebrated in the Dhenkanal and Kendrapara, Orissa. Here Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi are worshipped. It continues for eleven days. The practice started in 1923 at Kunjasahu Chowk (now Ganesh Bazaar). The entire town is decorated. The Polishree Mela organized by the district administration and cultural programs add charm to the festival. In 2010 Gajalakshmi Puja will be celebrated in October 22nd in Orissa.

    Idols of the Goddess are installed and worshipped. Devotees observe fast on this day. Offerings are made to the Sun God. And in the evening, food offerings are made to Moon and the fast is broken. The festival has special significance for maidens. They play a special game called ‘Puchi on Kumar Purnima day.

    Toshali Resorts invites you to witness and celebrate this year Gaja Lakshmi Puja Festival on October 22nd in Orissa, which is observed for 11-days. For Gaja Lakshmi Puja Festival Reservation Package  You can also  contact your travel consultant for more details.

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post your comments and conversation.

  • Sep 06 2010

    Guru Purnima Festival: Devotional Worship of the Guru – the preceptor.

    Gururbrahmaa Gururvishnuh Gururdevo Maheswarah |

    Guruh-Saakshaat Parabrahma Tasmai Shrigurave Namah ||

    Ishaa Vaasyamidam sarvam, yatkincha jagatyaam jagat |

    Tena tyaktena bhunjeethaah maa gridhah kasyaswiddhanam ||

    In Hinduism Gurus are often equated with God and always regarded as a link between the individual and the Immortal. Just as the moon shines in Sun light so can disciples dazzle in the reflected glory of their Gurus.

     

    The full moon day in the month of Ashad (July-August) is observed as the auspicious day of Guru Purnima, a day sacred to the memory of the great sage Vyasa. It is believed that on this day Krishna-dwaipayana Vyasa – author of the Mahabharata – was born to sage Parashara and fisher woman Satyavati. Veda Vyasa, did yeoman service to the cause of Vedic studies by gathering all the Vedic hymns extant during his times, dividing them into four parts based on their use in the sacrificial rites, and teaching them to his four chief disciples – Paila, Vaisampayana, Jaimini and Sumantu. It was this dividing and editing that earned him the honorific “Vyasa” (vyas = to edit, to divide).

     

     

     

     

    He divided the Veda into four, namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva and wrote the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata. Vyasa even taught Dattatreya, who is regarded as the Guru of Gurus.

     

     

     

    On this day, all spiritual aspirants and devotees worship Vyasa in honor of his divine personage and all disciples perform a ‘puja’ of their respective spiritual preceptor or ‘Gurudevs’. Traditionally, spiritual seekers commence to intensify their spiritual ‘sadhana’ from this day.

     

     

     

    The period ‘Chaturmas’ (“four months”) begins from this day. In the past, wandering spiritual masters and their disciples used to settle down at a place to study and discourse on the Brahma Sutras composed by Vyasa, and engage themselves in Vedantic discussions.

     

     

     

    Swami Sivananda asks: “Do you realize now the sacred significance and the supreme importance of the Guru’s role in the evolution of man? It was not without reason that the India of the past carefully tended and kept alive the lamp of Guru-Tattva. The Guru is seen as the only guarantee for the individual to transcend the bondage of sorrow and death, and experience the Consciousness of the Reality.”

     

     

     

    The Buddhist celebrate it in the honor the lord Buddha who gave his first sermon on this day at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh. The sermon Buddha gave to the five monks was his first sermon, called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. Buddhists observe on this day uposatha i.e. to observe eight precepts. Vipassana meditators practice meditation on this day under the guidance of their teachers.

     

     

     

    According to Jain traditions, it was on this day, Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, after attaining Kaivalya, made Indrabhuti Gautam, later known as Gautam Swami his first disciple, thus becoming a Guru himself.

     

    If you feel, we have missed any information that is helpful for your friends visiting this blog, do post. We would be glad to receive your comments and conversation to make it better



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