Following the festival of Diwali 2015 comes Indian New Year 2015 in Vedic astrology or Jyotish. This is also the first day of the Vikram Samvat calendar used in India. The year is 2072. According to mypanchang.com, Indian new year 2015 falls on November 12 worldwide. This is the Gujarati and Marwadi new year, as different regions of India will celebrate the new year at varying times.
Govardhan Puja or Annakut is performed on this day, especially at Krishna temples. This commemorates Shri Krishna’s victory over Lord Indra. Indra was using his thunderbolt excessively to display his power and thus endangering many lives by creating a great deal of rain. To save the lives of people, Krishna lifted Govardhan Mountain, which created rain, with one finger. Krishna told his devotees to worship Govardhan Mountain so that they could honor nature. Temples create a mountain of grains or food for Govardhan puja.
The name for the festival following Diwali in the state of Maharashtra is Bali Pratipada. It celebrates the return of King Bali to the earth. Bali Pratipada. Shri Vivekshatri Godbole, the head acharya of Shri Krishna Yajurveda Pathashala in Maharshatra relates the story of King Bali. King Bali was the grandson of Prahlada. He was a great devotee. Although he was a demon, he was very generous. His capital was Multan, which is located in present day Pakistan. Bali was going to perform 100 ashwamedha yajnas, or horse sacrifices, to attain the throne of India. Only kings can perform these yajnas. They let a horse run wild and the whole army follows it. If anyone tries to stop the horse, then a battle ensues with that town, and the army eventually conquers the capital of the region. Lord Rama and his father Dasharatha had performed this yajna.
Bali had completed 99 yajnas and was about to do the 100th to attain Lord Indra’s throne, Indra was worried that if Bali completed the 100th ritual, then he would have to abdicate his throne. Thus, Indra asked Vishnu for help. Indra expressed his concern that demons will take over the throne.
Vishnu obliged Indra. Vishnu took the form of a dwarf Brahmin named Vamana. Vamana was good looking and talented at chanting. King Bali was impressed by Vamana. Bali asked Vamana what he wanted. Vamana replied that he just wanted three feet of land. Bali’s guru was Shukracharya. Shukracharya knew that Vamana was just an avatar of Vishnu. Shurkacharya advised King Bali not to grant Vamana’s request but King Bali did not heed his words. He agreed to Vamana’s seemingly simple request.
Then, Vamana took his regular universal form (Vishwarupa). With his first step, Bali covered the entire earth. With his second step, he circled the sky. Vamana asked aloud, “Where can I put my third footstep?”
Bali conceded, “You are great. You are all mighty. Put your foot on my head.” This way, Vishnu sent Bali to pathala loka (the underworld) and Bali became king of that realm. Vishnu promised Bali that he would stay in his area and act as his security guard at the gate. He said to Bali, “The next Indra will be you when Indra’s reign is complete.” Vishnu also gave Bali a boon that he could return to earth one day of each year. People light lamps on Bali Pratipada to remove darkness and spread light and generosity.
Bali pratipada is a day of great generosity. Generosity can be created by Bali. When Bali is happy, there is prosperity and peace. On Indian new year 2015, people pray to Bali and Vishnu and ask them to come to their home and teach them generosity. They also worship Saraswati, the goddess of speech, learning, and wisdom. Students worship their school books and notebooks. Business people do puja to their accounting books. Drik Panchang gives the auspicious times to perform Bali puja for Bali Pratipada.
Bali pratipada is also known as Diwali padwa in Maharashatra. On Diwali padwa, the wife applies fragrant oil to her husband’s body This is usually gulab (rose), hina, mogra, jasmine, or gardenia infused in coconut oil. The essence of the flowers comes to the coconut oil. The wife will put water on his head and give him a good bath. She will offer him food which she has made, and in the evening, she will perform arati to him. She will put kumkum (red sandalwood) on his forehead. The husband will offer his wife a gift of either jewelry, clothing or money. Indian new year 2015 is an important day for husbands and wives. Friends and relatives normally ask the wife what she received as a gift. It is a day for enjoying what has been received generously.
Vivekji advised that we pray to Saraswati on New Year’s day for good knowledge and wise thinking. Chant the Kundalini Stavah for Saraswati; this chant comes from Rudryamala. Pray and worship your Guru. Guru will give you proper knowledge. Chant the Guru Paduka Panchakam which comes from the Skanda Purana. Go to the temple, pray there, and offer dakshina.
Traditionally, Indians celebrate new year’s day by going to their local temple first thing in the morning, starting off the year on a reverential note and receiving blessings for the coming year. The first money spent that year is an offering to a temple or some charity, to begin the year with an act of giving. Women cook and share sweets with friends and family. Sweets stand for the sweetness in life, which we all savor. Sukhadi (soo-khuh-dee), a sweet made from ghee, jaggery and wheat flour is usually cooked and offered for the New Year in Gujarat. Nuts and cardamom are also added.
On the first day of the Indian new year, the first four items purchased in a traditional Indian household are mung dahl, yogurt, salt, and flowers. Shri Vivekji explained that mung dahl is wholesome for the body. Without salt, there is no taste to food. There is plenty of salt in the ocean. Lakshmi arose from the ocean as one of the gems during the samudra manthan. Salt is her brother. Krishna liked yogurt a lot. In Ayurveda, yogurt has good properties when used properly.
If you would like to know how to optimize the year ahead both personally and professionally, you may schedule a Vedic astrology reading.
Nutan varshabhinandan and saal mubarak from me to you for Indian New Year 2015! May you feel the abundance of Lakshmi, speak as sweetly as Saraswati, be as devotional as Krishna.