Ashvin, Ashwin or Ashwan, also known as Aswayuja, is the seventh month of the lunisolar Hindu calendar, the Vikram Samvat, the solar calendar where it is known as Aipassi and the solar India’s national calender, which is the official solar calendar of modern-day Nepal and India, and the sixth month in the solar Bengali calendar and seventh in the lunar Indian national calendar of the Deccan Plateau.
It falls in the season of Shôrot, (Hindi Sharad) or Autumn. In Vedic Jyotish, Ashwin begins with the Sun’s enter in Virgo. It overlaps September and October of the Gregorian calendar and is the month preceding Diwali or Tihar, the festival of lights. In lunar religious calendars, Ashwin begins on the new moon after the autumn equinox. Ashwin is known as aipasi in Tamil and begins when the sun enters Libra in October.
Ashvini is the first star that appears in the evening sky. It is the first nakshatra (lunar mansion), or the first of the 27 Nakshatra, in Hindu astrology having a spread from 0°-0′-0″ to 13°-20′, corresponding to the head of Aries, including the stars β and γ Arietis.
It is ruled by Ketu, the descending lunar node. In electional astrology, Asvini is classified as a small constellation, meaning that it is believed to be advantageous to begin works of a precise or delicate nature while the moon is in Ashvini.
Asawin is the Thai variant of Ashvin and stands for the warrior. The term is often translated into English as “knight”. Ashvin also stands for the divine twins, the Ashvins, the gods of vision, Ayurvedic medicine, the glow of sunrise and sunset, and averting misfortune and sickness in Hindu mythology.
Asvini is ruled by the Ashvins, the heavenly twins who served as physicians to the gods. Personified, Asvini is considered to be the wife of the Asvini Kumaras. Ashvini is represented either by the head of a horse, or by honey and the bee hive. The name aśvinī is used by Varahamihira (6th century). The older name of the asterism, found in the Atharvaveda (in the dual) and in Panini was aśvayúj (“harnessing horses”).
Aries (Latin for “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°), and originates from the constellation of the same name. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign from approximately March 20 to April 21 each year. According to the tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the March equinox, which occurs on average on March 21 (by design).
Aries is the first fire sign in the zodiac, the other fire signs being Leo and Sagittarius. In Greek Mythology, the symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that rescued Phrixus and Helle, the children of the Boeotian king Athamas and provided the Golden Fleece. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship. It was strongly associated with Mars, both the planet and the god.
In the description of the Babylonian zodiac given in the clay tablets known as the MUL.APIN, the constellation, now known as Aries, was the final station along the ecliptic. The MUL.APIN was a comprehensive table of the risings and settings of stars, which likely served as an agricultural calendar. Modern-day Aries was known as MULLÚ.ḪUN.GÁ, “The Agrarian Worker” or “The Hired Man”.
Although likely compiled in the 12th or 11th century BC, the MUL.APIN reflects a tradition which marks the Pleiades as the vernal equinox, which was the case with some precision at the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age.
The earliest identifiable reference to Aries as a distinct constellation comes from the boundary stones that date from 1350 to 1000 BC. On several boundary stones, a zodiacal ram figure is distinct from the other characters present.
The shift in identification from the constellation as the Agrarian Worker to the Ram likely occurred in later Babylonian tradition because of its growing association with Dumuzi the Shepherd. By the time the MUL.APIN was created—by 1000 BC—modern Aries was identified with both Dumuzi’s ram and a hired laborer. The exact timing of this shift is difficult to determine due to the lack of images of Aries or other ram figures.
The poem Inanna Prefers the Farmer begins with a rather playful conversation between Inanna and her brother Utu, who incrementally reveals to her that it is time for her to marry. Dumuzid comes to court her, along with a farmer named Enkimdu, the Sumerian god of farming, in charge of canals and ditches, a task assigned to him by the water god Enki during his organization of the world.
At first, Inanna prefers the farmer, but Utu and Dumuzid gradually persuade her that Dumuzid is the better choice for a husband, arguing that, for every gift the farmer can give to her, the shepherd can give her something even better. In the end, Inanna marries Dumuzid.
The shepherd and the farmer reconcile their differences, offering each other gifts. Samuel Noah Kramer compares the myth to the Biblical story of Cain and Abel because both myths center around a farmer and a shepherd competing for divine favor and, in both stories, the deity in question ultimately chooses the shepherd.
Inanna in her aspect as Anunītu was associated with the eastern fish of the last of the zodiacal constellations, Pisces. Her consort Dumuzi was associated with the contiguous first constellation, Aries.
According to the scholar Samuel Noah Kramer, towards the end of the third millennium BC, kings of Uruk may have established their legitimacy by taking on the role of Dumuzid as part of a “sacred marriage” ceremony.
This ritual lasted for one night on the tenth day of the Akitu, the Sumerian new year festival, which was celebrated annually at the spring equinox. As part of the ritual, it was thought that the king would engage in ritualized sexual intercourse with the high priestess of Inanna, who took on the role of the goddess.
In the late twentieth century, the historicity of the sacred marriage ritual was treated by scholars as more-or-less an established fact, but, in the early 2000s, largely due to the writings of Pirjo Lapinkivi, many scholars began to reject the notion of an actual sex ritual, instead seeing “sacred marriage” as a symbolic rather than a physical union.
In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aries was associated with the god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. This is one of the reasons why the sign is associated with the bull. Because it was the location of the vernal equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun”.
During the times of the year when Aries was prominent, priests would process statues of Amon-Ra to temples, a practice that was modified by Persian astronomers centuries later. Aries acquired the title of “Lord of the Head” in Egypt, referring to its symbolic and mythological importance.
Aries was not fully accepted as a constellation until classical times. In Hellenistic astrology, the constellation of Aries is associated with the golden ram of Greek mythology that rescued Phrixus and Helle on orders from Hermes, taking Phrixus to the land of Colchis. Phrixos and Helle were the son and daughter of King Athamas and his first wife Nephele. The king’s second wife, Ino, was jealous and wished to kill his children.
To accomplish this, she induced a famine in Boeotia, then falsified a message from the Oracle of Delphi that said Phrixos must be sacrificed to end the famine. Athamas was about to sacrifice his son atop Mount Laphystium when Aries, sent by Nephele, arrived. Helle fell off of Aries’s back in flight and drowned in the Dardanelles, also called the Hellespont in her honor.
After arriving, Phrixus sacrificed the ram to Zeus and gave the Fleece to Aeëtes of Colchis, who rewarded him with an engagement to his daughter Chalciope. Aeëtes hung its skin in a sacred place where it became known as the Golden Fleece and was guarded by a dragon. In a later myth, this Golden Fleece was stolen by Jason and the Argonauts.
Historically, Aries has been depicted as a crouched, wingless ram with its head turned towards Taurus. Ptolemy asserted in his Almagest that Hipparchus depicted Alpha Arietis as the ram’s muzzle, though Ptolemy did not include it in his constellation figure. Instead, it was listed as an “unformed star”, and denoted as “the star over the head”. John Flamsteed, in his Atlas Coelestis, followed Ptolemy’s description by mapping it above the figure’s head. Flamsteed followed the general convention of maps by depicting Aries lying down.
The First Point of Aries, the location of the vernal equinox, is named for the constellation. This is because the Sun crossed the celestial equator from south to north in Aries more than two millennia ago. Hipparchus defined it as a point south of Gamma Arietis in 130 BC.
Because of the precession of the equinoxes, the First Point of Aries has since moved into Pisces and will move into Aquarius by around 2600 AD. The Sun now appears in Aries from late April through mid May, though the constellation is still associated with the beginning of spring.
Medieval Muslim astronomers depicted Aries in various ways. Astronomers like al-Sufi saw the constellation as a ram, modeled on the precedent of Ptolemy. However, some Islamic celestial globes depicted Aries as a nondescript four-legged animal with what may be antlers instead of horns.
Some early Bedouin observers saw a ram elsewhere in the sky; this constellation featured the Pleiades as the ram’s tail. The generally accepted Arabic formation of Aries consisted of thirteen stars in a figure along with five “unformed” stars, four of which were over the animal’s hindquarters and one of which was the disputed star over Aries’s head. Al-Sufi’s depiction differed from both other Arab astronomers’ and Flamsteed’s, in that his Aries was running and looking behind itself.
The obsolete constellations introduced in Aries (Musca Borealis, Lilium, Vespa, and Apes) have all been composed of the northern stars. Musca Borealis was created from the stars 33 Arietis, 35 Arietis, 39 Arietis, and 41 Arietis. In 1612, Petrus Plancius introduced Apes, a constellation representing a bee. In 1624, the same stars were used by Jakob Bartsch to create a constellation called Vespa, representing a wasp. In 1679 Augustin Royer used these stars for his constellation Lilium, representing the fleur-de-lis.
None of these constellation became widely accepted. Johann Hevelius renamed the constellation “Musca” in 1690 in his Firmamentum Sobiescianum. To differentiate it from Musca, the southern fly, it was later renamed Musca Borealis but it did not gain acceptance and its stars were ultimately officially reabsorbed into Aries.
In 1922, the International Astronomical Union defined its recommended three-letter abbreviation, “Ari”. The official boundaries of Aries were defined in 1930 by Eugène Delporte as a polygon of 12 segments. Its right ascension is between 1h 46.4m and 3h 29.4m and its declination is between 10.36° and 31.22° in the equatorial coordinate system.
In Hebrew astronomy Aries was named “Taleh”; it signified either Simeon or Gad, and generally symbolizes the “Lamb of the World”. The neighboring Syrians named the constellation “Amru”, and the bordering Turks named it “Kuzi”.
In traditional Chinese astronomy, stars from Aries were used in several constellations. The brightest stars—Alpha, Beta, and Gamma Arietis—formed a constellation called Lou (婁), variously translated as “bond”, “lasso”, and “sickle”, which was associated with the ritual sacrifice of cattle. This name was shared by the 16th lunar mansion, the location of the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox. The lunar mansion represented the area where animals were gathered before sacrifice around that time.
This constellation has also been associated with harvest-time as it could represent a woman carrying a basket of food on her head. 35, 39, and 41 Arietis were part of a constellation called Wei (胃), which represented a fat abdomen and was the namesake of the 17th lunar mansion, which represented granaries.
Delta and Zeta Arietis were a part of the constellation Tianyin (天陰), thought to represent the Emperor’s hunting partner. Zuogeng (左更), a constellation depicting a marsh and pond inspector, was composed of Mu, Nu, Omicron, Pi, and Sigma Arietis. He was accompanied by Yeou-kang, a constellation depicting an official in charge of pasture distribution.
In a similar system to the Chinese, the first lunar mansion in Hindu astronomy was called “Aswini”, after the traditional names for Beta and Gamma Arietis, the Aswins. Because the Hindu new year began with the vernal equinox, the Rig Veda contains over 50 new-year’s related hymns to the twins, making them some of the most prominent characters in the work. Aries itself was known as “Aja” and “Mesha”.
Meṣa, or Mesha, is a month in the Indian solar calendar. It corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Aries, and overlaps with about the second half of April and about the first half of May in the Gregorian calendar. In Vedic texts, the Mesa month is called Madhu, but in these ancient texts it has no zodiacal associations.
The Mesha is preceded by the solar month of Mīna, a month in the Indian solar calendar that corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Pisces, and overlaps with about the later half of March and about the early half of April in the Gregorian calendar.
It is followed by the solar month of Vṛṣabha, or Vrishabha, that corresponds to the zodiacal sign of Taurus, and overlaps with about the second half of May and about the first half of June in the Gregorian calendar.
In Vedic texts, the Mina month is called Tapasya, but in these ancient texts it has no zodiacal associations. The solar month of Mina overlaps with its lunar month Chaitra, in Hindu lunisolar calendars. The Mina marks the spring season for the Indian subcontinent. The Mina month is called Panguni in the Tamil Hindu calendar, and is its last month in the traditional calendar.
In Vedic texts, the Vrsabha month is called Madhava, but in these ancient texts it has no zodiacal associations. The solar month of Vrsabha overlaps with its lunar month Jyeshtha, in Hindu lunisolar calendars. The Vrsabha month is called Vaikasi in the Tamil Hindu calendar.
The solar month of Mesha overlaps with its lunar month Vaisakha (Kannada: Vaiśākha; Malayalam: Vaiśākham; Marathi: Vaiśākh; Bengali: Boiśākh; Tamil: Vaikāci; Hindi: Baisākh; Nepali: Odia: Baiśākh, Bengali: boisakh, Assamese: Bohag), in Hindu lunisolar calendars that corresponds to April/May/June in the Gregorian Calendar.
Regional calendars used in the Indian subcontinent have two aspects: lunar and solar. Lunar months begin with Chaitra and solar months start with Vaisakha Sankranti. However, regional calendars mark when the official new year is celebrated.
In Indian national calendar, Vaisakha is the second month of the year. It is the first month of the Vikram Samvat calendar, Nepali calendar, Odia calendar, Punjabi calendar, Assamese calendar (where it is called Bohag) and the Bengali calendar (where it is called Boishakh). This month lies between the second half of April and the first half of May.
In regions such as Maharashtra which begin the official new year with the commencement of the lunar year, the solar year is marked by celebrating Vaisakha Sankranti. Conversely, regions starting the new year with Vaisakha Sankranti, give prominence to the start of the lunar year in Chaitra.
In the Hindu solar calendar, Vaisakha begins in mid-April in Bengal, Nepal, and Punjab. In Tamil Nadu, it is known as Vaikasi and represents the second month of the Tamil solar calendar. In the Hindu lunar calendar, Vaisakha begins with the new moon in April and represents the second month of the lunar year. The name of the month is derived from the position of the moon near the star Vishakha on full moon day.
The month of Boishakh also marks the official start of Summer. The month is notorious for the afternoon storms called Kalboishakhi (Nor’wester). The storms usually start with strong gusts from the north-western direction at the end of a hot day and cause widespread destruction.
In Vedic calendar the month of Vaisakha is called Madhav, and in Vaishnav (also called Vishnuism) calendar it is called Madhushudan month. In the Vaishnava calendar, Madhusudana, another name of Vishnu or God and is the 73rd name in the Vishnu sahasranama, governs this month. According to Adi Sankara’ s commentary on the Vishnu sahasranama, Madusudanah means the destroyer of the demon Madhu.
Madhu and Kaitabha, Rakshasas or demons of Hindu mythology, are associated with Hindu religious cosmology. They both originated from one of the ears of God Vishnu, while he was in the deep sleep of Yoganidra or yogic sleep, a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping, like the “going-to-sleep” stage, typically induced by a guided meditation. From his navel, a lotus sprouted on which Brahma, the creator, was found sitting and contemplating the creation of the cosmos.
Bhagavata Purana states that during the creation, the demons Madhu and Kaitabha stole the Vedas from Brahma and deposited them deep inside the waters of the primeval ocean. Vishnu, in his manifestation as Hayagriva, also spelt Hayagreeva (lit. ‘Horse-neck’), a horse-headed avatar of the Lord Vishnu in Hinduism, killed them, and retrieved the Vedas. The bodies of Madhu and Kaitabha disintegrated into 2 times 6 — which is twelve pieces (two heads, two torsos, four arms and four legs). These are considered to represent the twelve seismic plates of the Earth.
According to another legend, Madhu and Kaitabha are considered demons, designed to annihilate Brahma. However, Brahma spotted them, and invoked the goddess Mahamaya, or Durga. At this point, Vishnu awoke, and the two conspiring demons were killed. This led to Vishnu being called Madhusudanah – the killer of Madhu and mahamaya came to be known as kaitabhi.
In Hinduism, Lord Hayagriva is an avatar of Lord Vishnu. He is worshipped as the god of knowledge and wisdom, with a human body and a horse’s head, brilliant white in color, with white garments and seated on a white lotus. Symbolically, the story represents the triumph of pure knowledge, guided by the hand of God, over the demonic forces of passion and darkness.
Origins about the worship of Hayagriva have been researched, some of the early evidences dates back to 2,000 BCE, when people worshipped the horse for its speed, strength, intelligence. Hayagriva is one of the prominent deities in Vaikhanasas, Sri Vaishnavism and Madhwa Brahmins traditions.
His blessings are sought when beginning study of both sacred and secular subjects. Special worship is conducted on the day of the full moon in August (Śravaṇa-Paurṇamī) (his avatāra-dina) and on Mahanavami, the ninth day of the Navaratri festival. He is also hailed as “Hayasirsa”. Hayaśirṣa means haya=Horse, śirṣa=Head.
Yoga nidra is a state in which the body is completely relaxed, and the practitioner becomes systematically and increasingly aware of the inner world by following a set of verbal instructions. This state of consciousness is different from meditation, in which concentration on a single focus is required.
In yoga nidra the practitioner remains in a state of light withdrawal of the 5 senses (pratyahara) with four senses internalised, that is, withdrawn, and only hearing still connects to any instructions given. The goals of both yogic paths, yoga nidra and meditation are the same, a state of meditative consciousness called samadhi.
It is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness. In lucid dreaming, one is only, or mainly, cognizant of the dream environment, and has little or no awareness of one’s actual environment. Yoga nidra results in conscious awareness of the deep sleep state, which is called prajna in the Mandukya Upanishad.
It is said that the history of yoga nidra is as old as yoga itself, as the first mention of yoga nidra is in the Upanishads. Lord Krishna is associated with yoga nidra in the epic Mahabharata: [The Ocean] becomes the bed of the lotus-naveled Vishnu when at the termination of every Yuga that deity of immeasurable power enjoys yoga-nidra, the deep sleep under the spell of spiritual meditation (Mahabharata, Book 1, section XXI).
Durga, identified as Adi Parashakti, is a principal and popular form of the Hindu Goddess. She is a goddess of war, the warrior form of Parvati, whose mythology centres around combating evils and demonic forces that threaten peace, prosperity, and Dharma the power of good over evil. Durga is also a fierce form of the protective mother goddess, who unleashes her divine wrath against the wicked for the liberation of the oppressed, and entails destruction to empower creation.
Durga is depicted in the Hindu pantheon as a Goddess riding a lion or tiger, with many arms each carrying a weapon, often defeating Mahishasura (lit. buffalo demon). The three principal forms of Durga worshiped are Maha Durga, Chandika and Aparajita. Of these, Chandika has two forms called Chandi who is of the combined power and form of Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati and of Chamunda who is a form of Kali created by the goddess for killing demons Chanda and Munda.
Maha Durga has three forms: Ugrachanda, Bhadrakali and Katyayani. Bhadrakali Durga is also worshiped in the form of her nine epithets called Navadurga. She is a central deity in Shaktism tradition of Hinduism, where she is equated with the concept of ultimate reality called Brahman. One of the most important texts of Shaktism is Devi Mahatmya, also known as Durgā Saptashatī or Chandi patha, which celebrates Durga as the goddess, declaring her as the supreme being and the creator of the universe
Navaratri[a] is a Hindu festival that spans nine nights (and ten days) and is celebrated every year in the autumn. It is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian cultural sphere. The word Navaratri means ‘nine nights’ in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights.
Theoretically, there are four seasonal Navaratri. However, in practice, it is the post-monsoon autumn festival called Sharada Navaratri that is the most observed in the honor of the divine feminine Devi (Durga). The festival is celebrated in the bright half of the Hindu calendar month Ashvin, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October.
In the eastern and northeastern states of India, the Durga Puja is synonymous with Navaratri, wherein goddess Durga battles and emerges victorious over the buffalo demon to help restore Dharma. In the northern and western states, the festival is synonymous with “Rama Lila” and Dussehra that celebrates the battle and victory of god Rama over the demon king Ravana.
In southern states, the victory of different goddesses, of Rama or Saraswati is celebrated. In all cases, the common theme is the battle and victory of Good over Evil based on a regionally famous epic or legend such as the Ramayana or the Devi Mahatmya.
Celebrations include stage decorations, recital of the legend, enacting of the story, and chanting of the scriptures of Hinduism. The nine days are also a major crop season cultural event, such as competitive design and staging of pandals, a family visit to these pandals and the public celebration of classical and folk dances of Hindu culture.
On the final day, called the Vijayadashami or Dussehra, the statues are either immersed in a water body such as river and ocean, or alternatively the statue symbolizing the evil is burnt with fireworks marking evil’s destruction.
The festival also starts the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated holidays, Diwali, the festival of lights, which is celebrated twenty days after the Vijayadashami or Dussehra or Dashain.
According to some Hindu texts such as the Shakta and Vaishnava Puranas, Navaratri theoretically falls twice or four times a year. In all cases, Navaratri falls in the bright half of the Hindu lunisolar months. The celebrations vary by region, leaving much to the creativity and preferences of the Hindu.
Of these, the Sharada Navaratri near autumn equinox (September–October) is the most celebrated and the Vasanta Navaratri near spring equinox (March–April) is the next most significant to the culture of the Indian subcontinent.
Sharada Navaratri is the most celebrated of the four Navaratri, named after Sharada which means autumn. It commences on the first day (pratipada) of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Ashvini (post-monsoon, September–October). In many regions, the festival falls after the autumn harvest, and in others during harvest.
The festival is celebrated for nine nights once every year during this month, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October. The exact dates of the festival are determined according to the Hindu lunisolar calendar, and sometimes the festival may be held for a day more or a day less depending on the adjustments for sun and moon movements and the leap year.
The festivities extend beyond goddess Durga and god Rama. Various other goddesses such as Saraswati and Lakshmi, gods such as Ganesha, Kartikeya, Shiva, and Krishna are regionally revered. For example, a notable pan-Hindu tradition during Navaratri is the adoration of Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, learning, music, and arts through Ayudha Puja.
On this day, which typically falls on the ninth day of Navaratri after the Good has won over Evil through Durga or Rama, peace and knowledge is celebrated. Warriors thank, decorate and worship their weapons, offering prayers to Saraswati. Musicians upkeep their musical instruments, play and pray to them.
Farmers, carpenters, smiths, pottery makers, shopkeepers and all sorts of tradespeople similarly decorate and worship their equipment, machinery, and tools of trade. Students visit their teachers, express respect and seek their blessings. This tradition is particularly strong in South India, but is observed elsewhere too.
Vasanta Navaratri is the second most celebrated, named after vasanta which means spring. It is observed the lunar month of Chaitra (post-winter, March–April). In many regions the festival falls after spring harvest, and in others during harvest.
The other two Navratris are observed regionally or by individuals: Magha Navaratri: in Magha (January–February), winter season. Ashada Navaratri: in Ashadha (June–July), the start of the monsoon season.
The fifth day of Magha Navaratri is often independently observed as Vasant Panchami or Basant Panchami, the official start of spring in the Hindu tradition wherein goddess Saraswati is revered through arts, music, writing, kite flying. In some regions, the Hindu god of love, Kama is revered.
In Bengali, the word Pahela means ‘first’ and Baishakh. Pahela Baishakh or Bangla Nabobarsho is the first month of the Bengali calendar. The first day of Baishakh, the first day of Bengali Calendar, is celebrated as the Pahela Baishakh or Bangla Nabobarsho, New Year’s Day. The traditional greeting for Bengali New Year is “Shubho Nabobarsho” which is literally “Happy New Year”.
Bengali people of India have historically celebrated Pahela Baishakh, and it is an official regional holiday in its states of West Bengal and Tripura. The festival date is set according to the lunisolar Bengali calendar as the first day of its first month Baishakh. It therefore almost always falls on or about 14 April every year on the Gregorian calendar.
It is celebrated on 14 April as a national holiday in Bangladesh, and on 14 or 15 April in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and part of Assam by people of Bengali heritage, irrespective of their religious faith. The day is observed with cultural programs, festivals and carnivals all around the country. The day of is also the beginning of all business activities in Bangladesh and neighboring Indian state of West Bengal.
The festival is celebrated with processions, fairs and family time. The traders starts new fiscal account book called Halkhata. The accounting in the Halkhata begins only after this day. It is celebrated with sweets and gifts with customers. The festive Mangal Shobhajatra is organized in Bangladesh. In 2016, the UNESCO declared this festivity organized by the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka as a cultural heritage of humanity.
The same day is observed elsewhere as the traditional solar new year and a harvest festival, and is known by other names such as Vaisakhi in central and north India, Vishu in Kerala and Puthandu in Tamil Nadu.
Vaisakha sukla chaturdasi is celebrated as Narasimha Jayanthi Festival in Sri Varaha Lakshmi Narasimha Swamivari Temple at Simhachalam. Narasimha (Sanskrit: Narasiṃha, consisting of the two words “nara” which means man, and “simha” which means lion; lit. man-lion) is a fierce avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, one who incarnates in the form of part lion and part man to destroy evil and end religious persecution and calamity on Earth, thereby restoring Dharma.
Narasimha is a significant iconic symbol of creative resistance, hope against odds, victory over persecution, and destruction of evil. He is the destructor of not only external evil, but also one’s own inner evil of “body, speech, and mind” states Pratapaditya Pal.
In South Indian art – sculptures, bronzes and paintings – Viṣṇu’s incarnation as Narasiṃha is one of the most chosen themes and amongst Avatāras perhaps next only to Rāma and Kṛṣṇa in popularity. Lord Narasiṃha also appears as one of Hanuman’s 5 faces, who is a significant character in the Rāmāyaṇa as Lord (Rāma’s) devotee.
Narasimha is known primarily as the ‘Great Protector’ who specifically defends and protects his devotees from evil. Narasimha iconography shows him with a human torso and lower body, with a lion face and claws, typically with a demon Hiranyakashipu in his lap whom he is in the process of killing.
The most popular Narasimha mythology is the legend that protects his devotee Prahlada, and creatively destroys Prahlada’s demonic father and tyrant Hiranyakashipu. The demon is powerful brother of evil Hiranyaksha who had been previously killed by Vishnu, who hated Vishnu for killing his brother.
Hiranyakashipu gains special powers by which he could not be killed during the day or night, inside or outside, by any weapon, and by man or animal. Endowed with new powers, Hiranyakashipu creates chaos, persecutes all devotees of Vishnu including his own son. Vishnu understands the demon’s power, then creatively adapts into a mixed avatar that is neither man nor animal and kills the demon at the junction of day and night, inside and outside.
Narasimha legends are revered in Vaikhanasas, Sri Vaishnavism, Madhwa Brahmins but he is a popular deity beyond these Vaishnava traditions such as in Shaivism. He is celebrated in many regional Hindu temples, texts, performance arts and festivals such as Holika prior to the Hindu spring festival of colors called Holi.
The oldest known artwork of Narasimha has been found at several sites across Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, such as at the Mathura archaeological site. These have been variously dated between 2nd and 4th-century CE.
Vaisakha Purnima is celebrated as Buddha Purnima or the birthday of Gautama Buddha amongst Buddhists of South and Southeast Asia, Tibet and Mongolia. Purnima refers to the Full Moon. Known in Sinhalese as Vesak, it is observed in the full moon of May.
Vaishakha Purnima is known as “vaikasi vishakam” in Tamil Nadu which is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Murugan. Kartikeya, also known as Murugan, Skanda, Kumara, and Subrahmanya, is the Hindu god of war. He is the son of Parvati and Shiva, brother of Ganesha, and a god whose life story has many versions in Hinduism.
Kartikeya is an ancient god, traceable to the Vedic era. Archaeological evidence from 1st-century CE and earlier, where he is found with Hindu god Agni (fire), suggest that he was a significant deity in early Hinduism. He is found in many medieval temples all over India, such as at the Ellora Caves and Elephanta Caves.
The iconography of Kartikeya varies significantly; he is typically represented as an ever-youthful man, riding or near a peacock, dressed with weapons sometimes near a rooster. According to the Talmudists, his emblem was a cockerel and Nergal means a “dunghill cock”, although standard iconography pictured Nergal as a lion.
Most icons show him with one head, but some show him with six heads reflecting the legend surrounding his birth where six mothers symbolizing the six stars of Pleiades cluster who took care of newly born baby Kartikeya. He grows up quickly into a philosopher-warrior, destroys evil in the form of demon Taraka, teaches the pursuit of ethical life and the theology of Shaiva Siddhanta.
Lahamu and Lahmu
Lahamu (also Lakhamu, Lachos, Lumasi, or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu), meaning parent star or constellation, was the name of a protective and beneficent deity, the first-born daughter of Tiamat and Abzu in Akkadian mythology. With her brother Lahmu (also called Lakhmu, Lache, Lumasi or Assyro-Akkadian Lammasu) she is the mother of Anshar and Kishar, who were in turn parents of the first gods.
Lahamu is sometimes seen as a serpent, and sometimes as a woman with a red sash and six curls on her head. It is suggested that the pair were represented by the silt of the sea-bed, but more accurately are known to be the representations of the zodiac, parent-stars, or constellations.
They are the parents of Anshar and Kishar, the sky father and earth mother, who birthed the gods of the Mesopotamian Pantheon. Laḫmu is depicted as a bearded man with a red sash – usually with three strands – and four to six curls on his head and they are also depicted as monsters, which each encompasses a specific constellation. He is often associated with the Kusarikku or “Bull-Man”.
In Sumerian times Laḫmu may have meant “the muddy one”. Lahmu guarded the gates of the Abzu temple of Enki at Eridu. He and his sister Laḫamu are primordial deities in the Babylonian Epic of Creation Enuma Elis and Lahmu may be related to or identical with “Lahamu”, one of Tiamat’s creatures in that epic.
Some scholars, such as William F. Albright, have speculated that the name of Bethlehem (“house of lehem”) originally referred to a Canaanite fertility deity cognate with Laḫmu and Laḫamu, rather than to the Canaanite word lehem, “bread”.
Abzu (or Apsû) fathered upon Tiamat the elder deities Lahmu and Lahamu (masc. the “hairy”), a title given to the gatekeepers at Enki’s Abzu/E’engurra-temple in Eridu. Lahmu and Lahamu, in turn, were the parents of the ‘ends’ of the heavens (Anshar, from an-šar = heaven-totality/end) and the earth (Kishar); Anshar and Kishar were considered to meet at the horizon, becoming, thereby, the parents of Anu (Heaven) and Ki (Earth).
Tiamat was the “shining” personification of salt water who roared and smote in the chaos of original creation. She and Apsu filled the cosmic abyss with the primeval waters. She is “Ummu-Hubur who formed all things”.
In the myth recorded on cuneiform tablets, the deity Enki (later Ea) believed correctly that Apsu was planning to murder the younger deities, upset with the noisy tumult they created, and so captured him and held him prisoner beneath his temple, the E-Abzu (“temple of Abzu”).
This angered Kingu, their son, who reported the event to Tiamat, whereupon she fashioned eleven monsters to battle the deities in order to avenge Apsu’s death. These were her own offspring: Bašmu (“Venomous Snake”), Ušumgallu (“Great Dragon”), Mušmaḫḫū (“Exalted Serpent”), Mušḫuššu (“Furious Snake”), Laḫmu (the “Hairy One”), Ugallu (the “Big Weather-Beast”), Uridimmu (“Mad Lion”), Girtablullû (“Scorpion-Man”), Umū dabrūtu (“Violent Storms”), Kulullû (“Fish-Man”) and Kusarikku (“Bull-Man”).
Tiamat possessed the Tablet of Destinies and in the primordial battle she gave them to Kingu, the deity she had chosen as her lover and the leader of her host, and who was also one of her children.
The deities gathered in terror, but Anu first extracting a promise that he would be revered as “king of the gods”, overcame her, armed with the arrows of the winds, a net, a club, and an invincible spear. Anu was later replaced by Enlil and, in the late version that has survived after the First Dynasty of Babylon, by Marduk, the son of Ea.
Slicing Tiamat in half, he made from her ribs the vault of heaven and earth. Her weeping eyes became the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates, her tail became the Milky Way. With the approval of the elder deities, he took from Kingu the Tablet of Destinies, installing himself as the head of the Babylonian pantheon. Kingu was captured and later was slain: his red blood mixed with the red clay of the Earth would make the body of humankind, created to act as the servant of the younger Igigi deities.
A lamassu (Cuneiform: an.kal; Sumerian: dlammař; Akkadian: lamassu; sometimes called a lamassus) is a Sumerian protective deity, often depicted as having a human head, the body of a bull or a lion, and bird wings. In some writings, it is portrayed to represent a female deity. A less frequently used name is shedu (Cuneiform: an.kal×bad; Sumerian: dalad; Akkadian, šēdu), which refers to the male counterpart of a lamassu. Lammasu represent the zodiacs, parent-stars or constellations.
The motif of a winged animal with a human head is common to the Near East, first recorded in Ebla around 3000 BCE. The first distinct lamassu motif appeared in Assyria during the reign of Tiglath-Pileser II as a symbol of power. In Hittite, the Sumerian form dlamma is used both as a name for the so-called “tutelary deity”, identified in certain later texts with Inara, and a title given to similar protective gods.
Lamassu represent the zodiacs, parent-stars, or constellations. They are depicted as protective deities because they encompass all life within them. In the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh, they are depicted as physical deities as well, which is where the lammasu iconography originates, these deities could be microcosms of their microcosmic zodiac, parent-star, or constellation.
To protect houses, the lamassu were engraved in clay tablets, which were then buried under the door’s threshold. They were often placed as a pair at the entrance of palaces. At the entrance of cities, they were sculpted in colossal size, and placed as a pair, one at each side of the door of the city, that generally had doors in the surrounding wall, each one looking towards one of the cardinal points.
The ancient Jewish people were influenced by the iconography of Assyrian culture. The prophet Ezekiel wrote about a fantastic being made up of aspects of a human being, a lion, an eagle and a bull. Later, in the early Christian period, the four Gospels were ascribed to each of these components. When it was depicted in art, this image was called the Tetramorph.
In art, lamassu were depicted as hybrids, with bodies of either winged bulls or lions and heads of human males. In Assyro-Babylonian ecclesiastical art the great lion-headed colossi serving as guardians to the temples and palaces seem to symbolise Nergal, just as the bull-headed colossi probably typify Ninurta.
The Akkadians associated the god Papsukkal with a lamassu and the god Išum with shedu. Papsukkal is the messenger god in the Akkadian pantheon. He is identified in late Akkadian texts and is known chiefly from the Hellenistic period. His consort is Amasagnul, and he acts as both messenger and gatekeeper for the rest of the pantheon.
A sanctuary, the E-akkil is identified from the Mesopotamian site of Mkish. Papsukkal was syncretized with Ninshubur, the messenger of the goddess Inanna. Papsukkal was the regent of the tenth month in the Babylonian calendar.
Ishum is a minor god in Akkadian mythology, the brother of Shamash and an attendant of Erra. He may have been a god of fire and, according to texts, led the gods in war as a herald but was nonetheless generally regarded as benevolent.
Ishum is known particularly from the Babylonian legend of Erra and Ishum. He developed from the Sumerian figure of Endursaga, the herald god in the Sumerian mythology who leads the pantheon, particularly in times of conflict.
Erra (sometimes called Irra) is an Akkadian plague god known from an ‘epos’ of the eighth century BCE. Erra is the god of mayhem and pestilence who is responsible for periods of political confusion. In the epic that is given the modern title Erra, the writer Kabti-ilani-Marduk, a descendant, he says, of Dabibi, presents himself in a colophon following the text as simply the transcriber of a visionary dream in which Erra himself revealed the text.
The poem opens with an invocation. The god Erra is sleeping fitfully with his consort (identified with Mamītum and not with the mother goddess Mami) but is roused by his advisor Išum and the Seven (Sibitti or Sebetti), who are the sons of heaven and earth “champions without peer” is the repeated formula—and are each assigned a destructive destiny by Anu. Machinist and Sasson (1983) call them “personified weapons”.
The Sibitti call on Erra to lead the destruction of mankind. Išum tries to mollify Erra’s wakened violence, to no avail. Foreign peoples invade Babylonia, but are struck down by plague. Even Marduk, the patron of Babylon, relinquishes his throne to Erra for a time.
Tablets II and III are occupied with a debate between Erra and Išum. Erra goes to battle in Babylon, Sippar, Uruk, Dūr-Kurigalzu and Dēr. The world is turned upside down: righteous and unrighteous are killed alike. Erra orders Išum to complete the work by defeating Babylon’s enemies. Then the god withdraws to his own seat in Emeslam with the terrifying Seven, and mankind is saved. A propitiatory prayer ends the work.
Nergal, Nirgal, or Nirgali (Sumerian: dKIŠ.UNU or dGÌR-UNUG-GAL) is a deity that was worshipped throughout ancient Mesopotamia (Akkad, Assyria, and Babylonia) with the main seat of his worship at Cuthah represented by the mound of Tell-Ibrahim. Other names for him are Erra and Irra.
Shivini (also known as Siuini, Artinis, Ardinis) was a solar god in the mythology of the Armenian kingdom of Urartu. He is the third god in a triad with Khaldi and Theispas. The Assyrian god Shamash is a counterpart to Shivini. He was depicted as a man on his knees, holding up a solar disc. His wife was most likely a goddess called Tushpuea who is listed as the third goddess on the Mheri-Dur inscription.
Shiva (Sanskrit: Śiva, lit. the auspicious one) also known as Mahadeva (lit. the great god) is one of the principal deities of Hinduism. He is one of the supreme beings within Shaivism, one of the major traditions within contemporary Hinduism.
In the Skanda Purana, a Hindu religious text, Mars is known as the deity Mangala and was born from the sweat of Shiva. The planet is called Angaraka in Sanskrit, after the celibate god of war who possesses the signs of Aries and Scorpio, and teaches the occult sciences.Mars is the traditional ruling planet of Aries and Scorpio and is exalted in Capricorn.
Shiva is known as “The Destroyer” within the Trimurti, the Hindu trinity that includes Brahma and Vishnu. In Shaivism tradition, Shiva is one of the supreme beings who creates, protects and transforms the universe. According to the Shaivism sect, the highest form of Ishvar is formless, limitless, transcendent and unchanging absolute Brahman, and the primal Atman (soul, self) of the universe.
In the Shaktism tradition, the Goddess, or Devi, is described as one of the supreme, yet Shiva is revered along with Vishnu and Brahma. A goddess is stated to be the energy and creative power (Shakti) of each, with Parvati (Sati) the equal complementary partner of Shiva. He is one of the five equivalent deities in Panchayatana puja of the Smarta tradition of Hinduism.
There are many both benevolent and fearsome depictions of Shiva. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya. In his fierce aspects, he is often depicted slaying demons. Shiva is also known as Adiyogi Shiva, regarded as the patron god of yoga, meditation and arts.
The iconographical attributes of Shiva are the serpent around his neck, the adorning crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his matted hair, the third eye on his forehead, the trishula or trident, as his weapon, and the damaru drum. He is usually worshipped in the aniconic form of Lingam. Shiva is a pan-Hindu deity, revered widely by Hindus, in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Mars in culture is about the planet Mars in culture. For example, the planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war Mars. In Babylonian astronomy, the planet was named after Nergal, their deity of fire, war, and destruction, most likely due to the planet’s reddish appearance. The planet was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”.
Ashvin also stands for the divine twins, the Ashvins, or Ashwini Kumaras (“horse possessors”; also spelled Ashvins), the twin Vedic gods of vision, Ayurvedic medicine, in Hindu mythology, the glow of sunrise and sunset, and averting misfortune and sickness in Hindu mythology.
The Aśvins are associated with the dawn and are described as youthful divine twin horsemen in the Rigveda, travelling in a chariot drawn by horses that are never weary.
They are an instance of the Proto-Indo-European divine horse twins. Their cognates in other Indo-European mythologies include the Baltic Ašvieniai, the Greek Castor and Polux; and possibly the English Hengist and Horsa, and the Welsh Bran and Manawydan.
The epithet Nasatya (possibly “saviours”; a derivate of nasatí, “safe return home”), a name that appears 99 times in the Rigveda, likely derives from the Proto-Indo-European root *nes-, “to return home (safely)”, with cognates in Avestan Nā̊ŋhaiθya, the name of a demon in the Zoroastrian religious system, in Greek Nestor and in Gothic nasjan (“save, heal”).
The first mention of the Nasatya twins is from the Mitanni documents of the second millennium BCE, where they are invoked in a treaty between Suppiluliuma and Shattiwaza, respectively kings of the Hittites and the Mitanni.
Medicine and healing are associated with Apollo, whether through the god himself or mediated through his son Asclepius, and he delivered men from epidemics, yet Apollo is also a god who could bring ill-health and deadly plague with his arrows.
Amongst the Hurrians and later Hittites Nergal was known as Aplu, a name derived from the Akkadian Apal Enlil, (Apal being the construct state of Aplu) meaning “the son of Enlil”. Aplu may be related with Apaliunas who is considered to be the Hittite reflex of *Apeljōn, an early form of the name Apollo.
In Babylonian astronomy, the stars Castor and Pollux were known as the Great Twins. The Twins were regarded as minor gods and were called Meshlamtaea and Lugalirra, meaning respectively ‘The One who has arisen from the Underworld’ and the ‘Mighty King’. Both names can be understood as titles of Nergal, the major Babylonian god of plague and pestilence, who was king of the Underworld.
Nergal’s chief temple at Cuthah bore the name Meslam, from which the god receives the designation of Meslamtaeda or Meslamtaea, “the one that rises up from Meslam”. The name Meslamtaeda/Meslamtaea indeed is found as early as the list of gods from Fara while the name Nergal only begins to appear in the Akkadian period.
Gemini is one of the constellations of the zodiac. Its name is Latin for “twins,” and in Greek mythology it is associated with the two Dioscuri, or heavenly twins, Castor and Pollux, the children of Leda and Argonauts both. Pollux was the son of Zeus, who seduced Leda, while Castor was the son of Tyndareus, king of Sparta and Leda’s husband.
Mercury is the ruling planet of both Virgo and Gemini and is exalted in Virgo and Aquarius. Uranus is the modern ruling planet of Aquarius and is exalted in Scorpio. Pluto is the modern ruling planet of Scorpio and is exalted in Virgo. Saturn is the traditional ruling planet of Capricorn and Aquarius and is exalted in Libra. Mars is the traditional ruling planet of Aries and Scorpio and is exalted in Capricorn.
Before the discovery of Uranus, Saturn was regarded as the ruling planet of Aquarius alongside Capricorn, which is the preceding sign. Anyway many traditional types of astrologers refer to Saturn as the planetary ruler for both Capricorn and Aquarius.
Isimud (also Isinu; Usmû; Usumu (Akkadian)) is a minor god, the messenger of the god Enki, in Sumerian mythology. In ancient Sumerian artwork, Isimud is easily identifiable because he is always depicted with two faces facing in opposite directions in a way that is similar to the ancient Roman god Janus.
Isimud appears in the legend of Inanna and Enki, in which he is the one who greets Inanna upon her arrival to the E-Abzu temple in Eridu. He also is the one who informs Enki that the mes have been stolen. In the myth, Isimud also serves as a messenger, telling Inanna to return the mes to Enki or face the consequences.
Isimud plays a similar role to Ninshubur (also known as Ninshubar, Nincubura or Ninšubur), Inanna’s sukkal. Isimud also appears in the myth of Enki and Ninhursag, in which he acts as Enki’s messenger and emissary.
Ninshubur was the sukkal or second-in-command of the goddess Inanna in Sumerian mythology. Her name means “Queen of the East” in ancient Sumerian. Much like Iris or Hermes in later Greek mythology, Ninshubur served as a messenger to the other gods.
Ninshubur accompanied Inanna as a vassal and friend throughout Inanna’s many exploits. She helped Inanna fight Enki’s demons after Inanna’s theft of the sacred me. Later, when Inanna became trapped in the Underworld, it was Ninshubur who pleaded with Enki for her mistress’s release.
Janus and Jana
According to Macrobius who cites Nigidius Figulus and Cicero, Janus and Jana (Diana) are a pair of divinities, worshipped as Apollo or the sun and moon, whence Janus received sacrifices before all the others, because through him is apparent the way of access to the desired deity. Numa in his regulation of the Roman calendar called the first month Januarius after Janus, according to tradition considered the highest divinity at the time.
A similar solar interpretation has been offered by A. Audin who interprets the god as the issue of a long process of development, starting with the Sumeric cultures, from the two solar pillars located on the eastern side of temples, each of them marking the direction of the rising sun at the dates of the two solstices: the southeastern corresponding to the Winter and the northeastern to the Summer solstice.
These two pillars would be at the origin of the theology of the divine twins, one of whom is mortal (related to the NE pillar, as confining with the region where the sun does not shine) and the other is immortal (related to the SE pillar and the region where the sun always shines). Later these iconographic models evolved in the Middle East and Egypt into a single column representing two torsos and finally a single body with two heads looking at opposite directions.