ASHADH AMAVASYA

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Ashada Amavasya or the 'No Moon Day' is a very auspicious day in the month of Ashadha and it is relevant because it marks the arrival of the monsoon season. Since it is associated with the monsoons, it is also known as Halharini Amavasya, an event associated with the farmers and the Amavasya that falls on a Saturday is called Shani Amavasya.

The arrival of the rains makes the farmers breathe a sigh of relief and hence this day has significance. Deepa Puja is the major rite to perform on Ashada Amavasya day. Thus, by offering their prayers to the Gods, the farmers hope for an abundant yield.

Small wonder that the green fields are symbols of prosperity and well-being. This day is also known as Amavasai or Amavas, the Amavasya is a significant day to pay ode to their ancestors. People perform rituals to honour their Pitru (diseased elders). People who have lost their elders do the Tarpanam to please their ancestors and get rid of Pitru Dosha.

It is also believed to be an appropriate time to reduce the effects of the Kaal Sarpa Dosha, in case a person has knowingly or unknowingly committed a sin. It is also a significant day to feed the hungry. And the gesture of donating food is not restricted to humans, but any hungry living being.

Amavasya is also an ideal day for carrying out charitable activities. One can donate food, clothes or any other item of utility to those in need. If Ashadha Amavasya coincides with Surya Grahan, then the Puja of Amavasya should be carried out only after the Grahan ends.

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Rituals

On this day, people clean and decorate their houses with colours and clean all diyas (deepas) they have in their houses . They clean and sanctify a 'Chourang' ie a table with decoration and rangoli (kolam) designs around it. All the deepas are placed on the table and lit to perform pooja. On this day farmers worship their plough and other equipments, which they use for farming.

Deepa Puja is dedicated to the deity of one's choice ie Ishta Devata and to Pancha Maha Bhootas (five primordial elements - Air, Water, Fire, Sky and the Earth). In some cases, devotees dedicate Deepa Puja to the Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Parvati or Goddess Saraswati.

On this day, all the diyas are lit once again in the evening and placed around the house just like Diwali Puja. It is beleived that the radiations of the light of the diyas drive out all the evil and bad powers and welcome new brightness into their life. It is also beleived that Deepa Puja provides them Asta Aishwarayas (8 types of wealth). The next day of Deepa Puja (Ashada Amavasya) is the holy Shravan Month.

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Gatari Amavasya

Gatari Amavasya is a very popular ritual and a festival celebrated in Maharashtra. Gatari Amavas falls on the Ashadh Amavasya day. Gatari is a celebration of joy and happiness. Ashadh Amavas is the last day of Ashad month and the begining of the holy Shravan month.

Maharashtrians abstain from different types of non-vegeterian food in Shravan month, since the monsoon is at its peak and in this period the stomach is most susceptible to different problems of digestion. So people don't consume hard liquor and non-vegetarian food in full Shravan month. Some of them neither cut the hair nor shave the beard.

Hence the Maharashtrians enjoy this amavasya day by consuming alcoholic drinks to increase the appetite and eating lot of non-vegetarian food so that they can abstain from it in the month of Shravan. Gatari Amavasya is also observed as 'Bheemana Amavasya' in Karnataka and 'Chukkala Amavasya' in Andhra Pradesh and 'Hariyali Amavas' in Gujarat state.

Ashada Amavasya is highly auspicious day for Pithru tharpan and Pinda Pradhan. Though every Amavasya day is important to pay our respect to our ancestors, Ashada Amavasya has every kind of significance for Pitru Tharpanam and Pinda Pradhan. On this day, Pitru devatas are highly active and the every good deed like charity, puja or any other auspicious ritual performed by us will definitely reaches them and provides peace to their souls.

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