For the uninitiated, Jordan year is the year of being 23 years old (especially in the USA). Basket Superhero Michael Jordan wore number 23 for the Chicago Bulls and hence the reference.
It helps to do what I just did (to start with some Tidbit like the paragraph above) when one is lost for word to begin writing and looking for that creative juices to flow to start the opening lines about someone about whom anyone has so much to write.
It may be passe to keep repeating that time just flew away, but it remains a fact. When we held him for the first time on a chilly January morning in Bengaluru, India, 23 winters ago – we were excited no doubt, but never knew he would turn out to be such an amazing young man, a hero, fending for himself, all alone, far away, across Seven seas, one who keeps us excited every moment (on tenterhooks and on our feet sometimes). Whole lot of things is now ticked off his “Life’s To-do” bucket list. While on this amazing journey, he has made us all very proud presenting us with pleasant surprises galore (sometimes shockingly pleasant, like his scores in 10th or 12th Grade), today you have arrived at the threshold of an important phase of your life (not the kind that Amma keeps telling during your examination of every grade in School). And yes while you hit that milestone and as has become the norm – another pleasant surprise awaited us. Thank you Vishnu, you made us all very proud and soared to cloud nine with this one.
Congratulations on adding yet another feather in your cap and another stripe on the shoulders of every member of the family and a reason for celebration. Contrary to what you keep saying, it is not just another day in the University. This is no mean achievement. It was indeed such a Cloud-Nice moment was when Di spotted this on the University Portal
Lest the significance not be lost on all of us (including you), I am reproducing the background of what this achievement means (in the University’s words) “Centennial Student Union crafted the means for Boasting Exceptional Student Talent among those evolving leaders. Each semester since then, the BEST Board display in the CSU Hearth Lounge spotlights eight students selected for campus student leadership and CSU student staff excellence. The faces and words of these BEST students exemplify both active and quiet leadership that enhances campus life at Minnesota State Mankato. This site is dedicated to the continuing BEST Board tradition. It recognizes those students who, each semester, graced the BEST Board and welcomed visitors to the CSU. Each became the face of leadership and the example of personal reward that comes from accepting the challenge. As the tradition continues so does exemplary leadership for other students to emulate”
It is not that everyday, anyone gets to be there. You have made us all very Proudand your Jordan Birthday become even more special for us
As you head towards the home run in this phase of your Education – as always a heartfelt wishes to you and a sincere prayer to the Divine to bless you in abundance ensuring success in your chosen path.
While most would end up dishing out unwarranted advises when you turn 23, I envy the maturity you show at every step and any advice is misplaced one. You know what is to be done better than most of us and I only repeat what I said when you turned 21 “It is reassuring that you are also past advises that we can give. You grew up, learnt many lessons the hard way and any advice to you would be almost redundant. It is a happy feeling for any parent or elder sisters, to get wise counsel from the apple of their eyes who grew right from baby in cradle to a handsome 23 year old, gym going, sports loving lad”
Happy Birthday Vishnu (Ashrit), Young Handsome Man, We have tremendous faith in your abilities and you will make it big. May the year ahead bring you great news, oodles of opportunities, meaningful friendships, and a great network to help you achieve big things in life. We pray you continue to be the Gentle, every Helpful and Great Human Being. Keep exploring, stay curious, and enjoy the journey ahead.
Let me tell you, it is not easy to bid goodbye when you go back after every holiday. I am sure it is equally bad for you too. Notwithstanding technological advances that helps us be in touch unlike our days, nothing like having you around in flesh and blood. It is a huge consolation having that shoulder around us
Vasanta Panchami or Basant Panchami or Shri Panchami is celebrated on the Shuddha Panchami i.e. 5th day of waxing phase of the Moon, in Magha Maasa (month) of the Hindu Calendar. Technically this is the official beginning of the Spring with visible signs in the nature – Flowers blooming, and leaves sprouting on the trees/plants that falls during autumn, weather getting pleasant from the harsh winter chills.
It is the day where Goddess of Knowledge, Learning & Art, Maa Saraswati is honored for enriching Human lives with Her blessings. It is believed that Maa Saraswati was born on this day and hence dedicated to Her.
Vasanta Panchami has been celebrated since ages and finds mention in various ancient scriptures. Brahma was in the process of creation – Humans and all other living beings. Despite this there was some restlessness and unsettled state of his mind. An eerie silence and discomforting environment pervaded all around. He then sprinkles water from his Kamandalu (Oblong Pot) and begins his penance creating Saraswati (Saras = pool of water; Saras is also used to mean “Speech” and vati – possessing; ) on this day. Hence Maa Saraswati is often referred to as Manasa Putri of Brahma. Thereafter Brahma begins his Penance after which he was bestowed with Spiritual Knowledge. Brahma acquired the sense of awareness, comprehension, thinking and capability to speak. He also discovered and realised power of speech, melody or raaga in the mantras in the chaos of his creation – in short saw method in madness. He then named Saraswati as Vagdevi, goddess of speech and sound. When Her sound reached Human beings, they obtained the power of speech and ability to set sound to music. All living beings were bestowed with supreme consciousness (Chaitanya).
Maa Saraswati was born with a Veena (a Classical string Instrument popular in India) in one hand, Palm Leaf bunched into a Book in another. She also had a Vara-Danda (a staff that bestows boon to a seeker) and a garland of crystal beads.
It is in Her honor and as a sign of gratefulness that Vasanta/Basant Panchami is celebrated across India.
Bhagavata and other Vaishana scriptures, has mention of grand celebrations in Govardhan Hill on Vasanta Panchami during the Dwapara Yuga. It is believed that fascinated by Bhagwan Krishna’s dance on this evening, Moon keeps watching and with Moonset for a period of One night of Brahma. The location where Bhagwan Krishna danced on the Govardhan Hill is called Chandra Sarovara today.
Some Information on Vedic Time
One day of Brahma consists of a thousand cycles of four yugas, or ages: Satya, Treta, Dvapara and Kali.
Satya is 1,728,000 years.
Treta-yuga lasts 1,296,000 years.
Dvapara-yuga lasts 864,000 years.
Kali-yuga (the yuga we have now been experiencing over the past 5,000 years) lasts 432,000 years.
These four yugas, totaling 4,320,000 rotating a thousand times, comprise one day of Brahma, and the same number comprise one night. Brahma lives one hundred of such “years” and then dies. These “hundred years” by earth calculations total to 311 trillion and 40 billion earth years.
– Bhagavad Gita 8.17
There is also has a reference to Vasanta Panchami in Ramayana. It is the day Shabari, the Supreme Devotee of Bhagwan Shri Rama was liberated from her curse. After Ravana abducts Maa Sita, she strews her jewels on earth so that Her beloved can find the route she had been taken. Tracing this route, Bhagwan Shri Rama reaches Dandakaranya forest. Shabari, who was devoted to Shri Rama waited for His arrival and each day collect berry – tasting each one, discarding the bitter ones and collecting good ones in the basket. Her devotion overpowered the golden rule that anything offered to God (or any others) should not be tasted (which is then considered impure for others). Rama bypasses all other Ashrams and yogis and arrives at the humble abode of Shabari and accepts her offering, not seeing any faults due to utmost devotion. He acknowledges the efforts this devotee had taken to collect best quality of berries and accepts them despite it being considered impure otherwise (tasted food). Shabari also tells Rama to take help from Sugriva and where to find him in His pursuit to find Maa Sita. Rama then blesses her and liberates her from cycle of births and deaths and grants her moksha on Vasantha Panchami.
In Modern History
When Muhammad Ghori invaded India, Legendary Rajput King Prithviraj Chauhan repulsed 16 times handing him sound defeating. Though Prithviraj Chauhan forgave Muhammed Ghori each of these 16 times. On his 17th attempt, Mohammed Ghori was successful and defeated Prithviraj Chauhan, whom he apprehends and takes him to Afghanistan. Coward Mohammed Ghori gouges Prithviraj eyes out to reduce his riskand sprinkles it with spices and chilli powder, torturing brave Rajput King who still doesn’t seek pardon despite most inhuman and relentless attrocities. Contrast it with the Raj Dharma that a Hindu King Prithviraj Chauhan displayed towards a routed enemy for 16 times, when he could have harmed or even killed him, but ethical rules of war was honored on an undeserving enemy.
A few days later, Prithviraj Chauhan’s childhood friend and Poet Chand Bardai went to Afghanistan to meet Prithviraj in the prison. Upon arriving in Afghanistan, he meets Mohammed Ghori and extols virtue of Prithviraj Chauhan’s Shabdbedhi Dhanurvidya (Archery Skill where Target is Struck based on Source of Sound) ability. As anticipated by the Poet, Mohammed Ghori refused to believe and wanted to see that in action. Poet then invites, Mohammed Ghori to witness it in action and seeks permission to provide a Bow and Arrow to Prithviraj Chauhan which the stupid Sultan agrees to. A bow and arrow was given to blind Prithviraj Chauhan and the poet sings four lines of a verse as follows.
चार बांस चौबीस गज,अंगुल अष्ट प्रमाण, ता ऊपर सुल्तान है,मत चूको चौहान.
Purport of the above Verse: It describes exact location of Sultan exhorting him not to miss this golden opportunity to kill him. The location was revealed using the measures of those times. 4 Bans (1 Bans = 1 Bamboo length, approx 20’5.25″, 4 Bans rounded to 66 feet) 24 Gaj (1 Gaj = 3 feet) 8 Angula (~0.7 inch)
Master in Shabdbedhi Dhanurvidya that Prithviraj Chauhan was estimated it and shot right through the chest of Mohammed Ghori killing him instantly. Immediately thereafer both Prithviraj Chauhan and Chand Bardai stabbed each other killing themselves. It was Basant Panchami in the year 1192 when this incident happened
Saraswati Puja (For detailed Puja Vidhi – Please check the following section)
Wake up early in the morning and bathe with neem and turmeric.
Install Maa Saraswati’s Murti or Picture in a clean central location on a Peeth(pedestal) or table covered with Yellow or white cloth.
The Murti or Photograph will be clad with Yellow colored cloth
Since Maa Saraswati’s favourite color is white or Yellow, offer her yellow or white flowers as garland or for worship. Yellow is the color that dominates on the Vasanta Panchami. Use of yellow is attributed to harvesting of Mustard during this time. Yellow is also the color of knowledge and learning in Hinduism. White represents purity, peace, and knowledge
All prasada (offerings) also shall be of yellow color.
Yellow chandan (sandal paste) is an essential offering that should not be missed.
Since Maa Saraswati is Goddess of Learning and Art, one of the essential offerings has to be a book
It is believed that since it is closely related to Budha Graha (Planet) those affected by this planet will get relief
Puja offering shall also essentially include Singing songs in praise, dance recital and other art forms (including Instrumentals)
Mantra for removing Obstacles ॐ ऐं ह्रीं श्रीं अंतरिक्ष सरस्वती परम रक्षिणी। मम सर्व विघ्न बाधा निवारय निवारय स्वाहा।।
This festival is not limited to celebrations at home but celebrated as a community especially in Educational institutions, community halls and open grounds where elaborate arrangements are made for Saraswati Puja.
It is considered auspicious day to start anything new and hence a good Muhurta for Grihapravesha (House Warming), or starting a new business. The festival is considered a symbol of progress and fortune. It also is a precursor to the spring season after harsh winter and time for sowing the next harvest season. For an agrarian country like India, this festival is held very close to the heart of most Indians.
The following procedures is after Maa Saraswati’s murti/photo is installed in the identified. Read as Murti as Photo, in case Photograph of Maa Sarasawati is installed.
Shuddheekarana Before we begin Shodashopachara Puja, purification has to be done. Chant the following shloka, sprinkling the Teertha on the puja sthala, peetha, all offerings and participants including self.
Dhyanam Chant the mantra below while meditating on Maa Saraswati Ya Kundendu-Tushara-Hara-Dhavala, Ya Shubhra-Vastravrita, Ya Vina-Vara-Danda-Mandita-Kara, Ya Shveta-Padmasana॥ Ya Brahmachyuta-Shankara-Prabhritibhir Devaih Sada Vandita, Sa Mam Patu Saraswati Bhagawati Nihshesha-Jadyapaha॥
Avahanam (Invitation or Invocation) Join Chant following Mantra in front of the Murti, by showing Avahana Mudra (Avahana Mudra is formed by joining both palms and folding both thumbs as shown in the picture below).
Hari Om। Sahastrashirsha Purusha Sahastrakshah Sahastrapat। Sa Bhumim Savvetaspprttvattyatishtha Ddashangulam॥ Agachchha Saraswatidevi Sthane Chatra Sthirobhava। Yavatpujam Karishyami Tavattvam Sannidhau Bhava॥ Om Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Avahayami Sthapayami॥
Asanam (Peetha) After avahana invocation, offer Maa Saraswati the sacred Peetha (or seating) by offering Her some flowers, dropping them at the Peetha, while chanting the mantra
Ramyam Sushobhana Divyam Sarva Saukhyakaram Shubham। Asanam Cha Mayadattam Grihana Parameshwari॥ Om Idamasanam Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥
Padyam (Washing Feet) After Asanam, dip a flower into the Teertha and sprinkle it at the feet of the Murti, chanting the following mantra
Gangodakam Nirmalam Cha Sarvasaugandha Samyutam। Pada Prakshalanarthaya Dattam Te Pratigrihyatam॥ Om Padayoh Padyam Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥
Arghyam After Padyam, dip a flower into the Teertha and sprinkle the same at the Head of the Murti (or alternately pour a spoon of Teertha into the Panchapatre Plate). Chant the following mantra
Arghyam Grihana Deveshi Gandhapushpakshataih Saha। Karunakara Me Devi Grihanarghya Namoastu Te॥ Om Hastayorarghya Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥
Achamaniyam Aachamanam is a purification ritual, wherein one sips some water three times from the Brahma Theertham (base of the right thumb) while reciting divine names of Bhagavan Sri Maha Vishnu. This is the prelude to any vedic practices. This is performed to remove any deficiencies in Karta at all three levels: ‘Kayika’ (physical), ‘Vachika’ (verbal) and ‘Manasika’ (mental).
Keshavaya Swaha Narayanaya Swaha Madhavaya Swaha (While Chanting the above, Drink a spoon of water each time from the base of your right hand.)
Govindaya namaha (pour a spoon of water in the Panchapatra Plate, from the tip of the right hand)
Vishnave Namaha (Touch Left Palm with Right Palm) Madhusudhanaya Namaha (Touch Right Palm with Left Palm) Trivikramaya Namaha (Touch the middle of Chin) Vamanaya Namaha (Touch Right Chin) Sridharaya Namaha (Touch Left Chin) Hrishikeshaya Namaha (Hold palms together near heart) Padmanabhaya Namaha (Touch both the crossed legs) Damodaraya Namaha (Touch your head) Sankarshanaya Namaha (Touch tip of Nose) Vasudevaya Namaha (Touch right Nostril) Pradumnaya Namaha (Touch left Nostril) Anirudhaya Namaha (Touch Right Eye) Purushotamaya Namaha (Touch left Eye) Adhokshajaya Namaha (Touch Right Ear) Naarashimaya Namaha (Touch Left Ear) Achutaya Namaha (Touch your Navel) Janardanaya Namaha (Touch Your Heart Upendraya Namaha (Touch back of your Neck) Haraye Namaha (Touch Right Shoulder by right hand) Sri Krishnaya Namaha (Touch left shoulder by right hand)
Ganga Saraswati Revapayoshni Narmada Jalaih। Snapitoasi Maya Devi Tatha Shanti Kurushva Me॥ Om Snanartha Jalam Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥
Panchamrita Snana (Ritualistic Abhisheka or Showering of 5 items) Shower 5 items (Milk, Curds, Ghee, Honey and Sugar) individually to the Abhishekha Murti of Maa Saraswati. In case it is not done to the Murti for any reason, dip a flower into all these items and offer it to Her. Chant the following mantra
Payo Dadhi Ghritam Chaiva Madhu Cha Sharkarayutam। Panchamritam Mayanitam Snanartham Pratigrihyatam॥ Om Panchamritena Snapayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥
Shudhodaka Snanam (Post Abhisheka Cleansing bath) Use fresh, clean water and bathe (clean) the Abhisheka Murti completely (or if Panchamrita Abhishekam was not done to Murti, dip in clean water and offer it to Her). Chant the following mantra
Saubhagyadravyam (Items for Blessings of Good Fortune) Offer Haldi, Kumkum, Sindoor (Saubhagya Dravya) to Maa Saraswati. Generally in the South India, only Kumkum, Turmeric and Sandal Powder is what is used for the Puja Chant following Mantra
Alankara (Decoration or Ornaments) After Saubhagyadravya offering, offer jewellery (Alankara) to Maa Saraswati (if it is already done during preliminary alankara, offer Akshata-Turmeric/Kumkum coated rice) while chanting following Mantra.
Pushpa (Flowers) Offer various kinds of flowers to Maa Saraswati while chanting Mantra given below. Use predominantly, white or yellow flowers which is Her favourite colors and also it suits Vasanta Panchami Theme:
Saraswati Pushpa Samarpan Mantra in Hindi Malyadini Sugandhini Malyadini Vai Prabho। Mayaanitani Pushpani Grihana Parameshwari॥ Om Pushpam Pushpamalam Cha Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥
Dhupam (Incense Stick) Next offer Dhupa (Incense stick) to Maa Saraswati. Chant the Mantra below.
Deepam (Lamp) Light a lamp Deepa to Maa Saraswati while chanting following Mantra.
Sajyam Cha Vartisamyuktam Vahnina Yojitam Maya। Deepam Grihana Deveshi Trailokyatimirapaham॥ Om Deepam Darshayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥
Naivedya (Food/Eatables Offered to God) Offer Naivedhya – food or eatables like Fruits, Payasa (Kheer), Sweetmeats (Laddu, Kesar Sweets etc) to Maa Saraswati. Once again ensure that it is predominantly yellow or white offerings. Chant
Tambulam (Beter leaf with Nuts) Place Tambula (Betee leaf with betel nuts) in front of Maa Saraswati. Tambula is expression of appreciation of the person/God, to whom it is offered. It is generally given to all guests visiting home and in Puja it is expression of gratitude to God. Chanting Mantra below while offering the same during Saraswati Puja.
Pugi Phalam Mahadivyam Nagavallidalairyutam। Ela Churnadi Samyuktam Tambulam Pratigrihyatam॥ Om Elalavanga Tambula Samarpayami Bhagawati Shri Saraswatyai Namah॥
Dakshina (Symbolic Gift) After Tambula, offer Dakshina (gift) to Maa Saraswati. Chant the following Mantra.
Sashtanga Namaskaara (Prostration) Offer Sashtanga or Uddanda Namaskaara is complete state of surrender, entire body lying down on stomach on the floor. – prostrating before the Maa Saraswati with atleast Eight parts of the body essentially touching the floor – Toes, Knees, Palms, Chest & Forehead. Ladies do not offer Sashtanga Namaskaara instead offer Panchanga Namaskaara. The panchanga namaskara is done when the woman kneels down with palms joined together or touching the feet of the revered one in front. According to the scriptures the Sashtanga Namaskara is not done because the womb and the breasts of women should not touch the ground. The breast is a part of the woman’s body which creates within itself the nourishment for the foetus and the womb holds the life of the foetus. Therefore, it should not come in contact with the ground. Chant Mantra below.
Sankranti depicts transition of the Sun from one rashi (constellation) to the next. Thus there are 12 Sankrantis every year. Makara Sankranti is considered the most pious and this is generally a festival that is aligned to the solar cycle (most of the other festivals are aligned to the Lunar cycle)
The Makara Sankranti festival marks official end of the winter season and signals beginning of the spring, from harsher chillness to moderate climate – a sign of hope and prosperity as described by Pujya Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji of The Art of Living.
It also marks a change in season, as from this day the Sun begins its Northern Hemishperic (Uttarayana) movement from Southern Hemispheric movement (Dakshinayana). Uttaryana is considered a phase for Divinity where are important events of the life are planned and carried out. Which signficance of Makara Sankranti is seasonal (change of season from winter to sprin) it also marks sun’s transit into Makar Raashi (Capricorn). It also has religious significance as it is the day Humans pay their respects to Bhagwan Surya (Sun) as it is His energy that enables, nourishes and sustains life on earth. While many region observe it as harvest festival, it also is the time to celebrate abundance when they reap the fruits of their labour.
According to our scriptures, it is on Makar Sankranti that Bhagwan Vishnu defeated demons, beheaded and buried them under a mountain. Significance of this act is exterminating all negativities of one’s life and giving way to Dharma paving way to live well and prosper. Makara Sankranti is considered suitable for Sadhana (spiritual practices like Yoga, Bhajans, Meditation) as the Chetana (consciousness) is considered high during this period.
Another belief is that Maa Sankranti, a Deity killed Sankarasur on this day and the day after killing Sankrasura, She kills another asura, Kinkarasur. This is why this day is known as Kinkrant.
Significance of Ellu-Bella (Sesame seed and Jaggery)
In Karnataka (and in Maharashtra) and possibly many other states, it is important to give Sesame seed and Jaggery along with Peanuts and wish everyone saying “ಎಳ್ಳು ಬೆಲ್ಲಾ ತಿಂದು ಒಳ್ಳೆ ಮಾತಾಡೋನ (Ellu-Bella tindu Olle maataadona) which means, let us have Sesame seeds and Jaggery and speak good/ nice words. In Marathi the same wish is तिळगुळ घ्या आणि गोड गोड बोला (Til Gul Ghya aani god god bola)
Sesame seed is black on the outside, and white on the inside. The message it gives us is, ‘Maintain purity inside’. If you scrub the sesame seed, it becomes white outside also. We are like a sesame seed with respect to this universe. If you see, what is our significance in this universe, what is life? Next to nothing, like a sesame seed – a mere speck! We are minuscule. We are tiny and sweet; delightful like sesame seeds with jaggery. So, stay small and sweet and you will truly become big. – Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Yet another significance as explained by an elderly relative, this festival is also the time to forget the differences, bury hatchets and come together. Sesame seeds representing individual and Jaggery that is sticky, bonding it together.
Sankranti festival is celebrated towards the end of winter, all the food prepared for this festival are such that it provides warmth and energy to our body. Jaggery, Sesame seeds peanuts keeps the body warm and gives energy.
Rituals and Observances
General practice (this is specifically by us and predominantly a South India based, especially Karnataka practice
Wake up early in the morning before sunrise and offer Arghya (oblations) to Bhagwan Surya. For those access to any Holy river, this holy ritualistic bath along with Arghya Pradhana is performed there.
We then perform Arati to Bhagwan Surya after which Puja is performed and Naivedya offered to the God. After which it is generally having food that suits the climatic conditions which is in transitory phase. The mantra in praise of Bhagwan Surya as below is chanted.