Shravan Month Festivals

Naga-Panchami One of the first main important day is the Naga-Panchami which falls on the fifth day of Shravan and is held in honour of Nagas or snakes. Hindus deify snakes and regard them with veneration. This may be due to their association with the Gods. Shesha or Ananta, the thousand hooded king of serpents forms the couch for Lord Vishnu. The King of serpents Vasuki adorns the neck of Lord Shiva forming a crest over the Lord. This day is dedicated to snakes and they are worshipped with milk and fruits. Snake worship is quite common specially in South India where there are shrines in many houses where the householder feed the serpents.

Kalkyavatara The Kalki Avatara falls on Shravan sukla (the light half) sixth. This anticipatory incarnation is also known as Nishkalankavatara (Stainless) and is yet to occur and the month and the day is already foretold. In the Vana Parva of the Mahabharata, the coming Kalki has been hailed as when unrighteousness will leave and righteousness will be established. This day, though not celebrated, is noted for the future emancipation of mankind.

Putradaikadashi(Son giving eleventh) falls on Shravan sukla (light half). King Mahijit was sonless due to which all were distressed. The King consults a learned sage who tells him that in his previous birth the Kind was a Vasya merchant and had committed some wrong. The sage advises the King to observe fast on this Shravan sukla Ekadashi day by which the demerit would be cancelled. The King obeys and is blessed with a son.

Hindola or SwingingSukla eleventh to fifteenth in North India. A swing is made an is decorated with flowers and hangings. Every night idols of Lord Krishna and Radha are placed on it and swung, rejoining with dancing and singing of a special metre the 'hindola'. The main purpose is to please Krishna to gain his blessings and merit.In this month the Shravan Full Moon day is very prominent as a number of festivals ensemble on this day.

Narali PurnimaOn full day of this Shravan (July-August), is celebrated by worshipping the ocean with mantras and offering of coconuts into it. Hence the name Narali from 'naral' meaning coconut, the coconut day. From this day the south-west monsoon is supposed to abate, and fisher-folks resume their trade. According to some throwing of coconuts into the sea is an offering to the "Food-giving goddess of the water" whereas other say the offering is made to Varuna the Vedic God of Ocean.

Shravani Purnima Image On this day all Brahmins renew their sacred thread which they wear. It is also called Rig-Yaju Shravani as it appears only students of Vedas would renew the cord. But, actually all Brahmans who have been initiated and wear the thread renew it. There is an elaborate ceremony where the family priest begins the function by worshipping Lord Ganesha and lights a sacrificial fire reciting mantras and prayers. Eight supari betelnuts or eight Darbha (sacrificial grass) rings are placed on a tray representing the seven Rishis and Arundhati which are worshipped with flowers etc. Again, Tarpan or libations of water in the name of the departed spirits is offered. Then the old thread is cast off in the sacrificial fire and a new thread with a three-fold twist is worn after reciting the Gayatri Mantra. Lastly follows the worship of Brahma by offering of rice and flowers in the fire and distributing of gifts to Priests and Brahmans.

Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi PurnimaImage Is perhaps the most sublime and sentimental of festivals which also falls on Purnima day. A Rakhi or amulet, may be of silk thread, or of more costly make according to one's means, is tied round the wrist of brothers by their sisters as a charm protecting them from evil or harm and, consequently in return seeking their help when in trouble. The Rakhi name derives from the word 'raksha' that is to protect. It symbolizes the abiding and chaste bond of love between the brothers and the sisters. There are abounding episodes of women seeking protection for their husbands' lives even from rival heroes through Rakhi. It is said Alexander's wife tied Rakhi on their mighty adversary Pururuvas seeking assurance of her husband's life. The great King, true to the Kshatriya tradition and word, restrained from striking the fatal blow when he saw the Rakhi on his hand.