Anant Chaturdashi - Significance And Rituals
Anant Chaturdashi holds immense significance in the Hindu religion. The occasion is also popularly known as Anant Chaudas. The sacred day is dedicated to Lord Vishnu who is called as the Lord of several avatars and the preserver of the universe. Lord Anant is one of the incarnations (avatar) of Lord Vishnu.
The festivity of Ananta Chaturdashi is celebrated on the 14th day in the Bhadrapada month during the Shukla Paksha as per the Hindu calendar. The festival commemorates common brotherhood and the spirit of oneness as a sacred thread of cotton or silk with 14 knots is tied on the arm of the devotees. The same day is also famous for the ritual of Ganesha Visarjan.
What is the story of Anant Chaturdashi?
As per the Hindu Mythology and the Hindu scriptures, the Pandavas lost all their wealth and glory in the gambling game played with Kauravas. As a result of which, they had to experience an exile of twelve long years. King Yudhisthira asked Lord Krishna for the remedy to get out of the hardship period. Lord Krishna told King Yudhisthira to worship and observe a fast of Lord Anant as it will help in getting his lost wealth, glory and kingdom back.
A story of Sage Koundinya and Sushila was shared by Lord Krishna with the King which is as follows:
Legend of Sushila and Koundinya
In the ancient times, there was a Brahmin named Sumant. He had a daughter named Sushila. Sushila was married with sage Koundinya. When Sage Koundinya took Sushila with him to his home, the night grew up and the sage started performing evening prayers near the bank of the river. Meanwhile, Sushila saw that a lot of women were worshipping and offering prayers. She asked the women that to whom they are offering their prayers. They told her about the importance of worshipping Lord Anant and observing a fast for the day. After hearing about the significance of the fast, Sushila also wished to observe the fast of Anant Chaturdashi and tied a sacred thread on her arm comprising of 14 knots.
Kaundinya asked Sushila about the mystery of the thread tied on her arm. She told the complete story and also the significance of worshipping Lord Anant. Kaundinya rejected everything and pulled the sacred thread and put it into the fire. His act of dishonoring Lord Anant and resulted in they losing all their wealth. Soon, sage Kaundinya realized his mistake and regretted his actions. To apologize and rectify his mistakes, he decided to go through a strict penance till the time Lord Ananta appears in front of him. In spite of doing all the efforts and facing enormous hardships, Kaundinya was not able to see the deity.
When he realized that all his efforts are going in vain, he decided to commit suicide. But when he was hanging himself, suddenly he was saved by a hermit, who took the sage to a cave. Lord Vishnu appeared in front of Kaundaniya in the cave and advised him to observe a 14-year long vow to worship Lord Anant and keep a fast of Anant Chaturdashi in order to regain his lost wealth. Kaundinya promised and started observing an Anant Chaturdashi fast for 14 consecutive years with utmost sincerity. Therefore, since that day people observe a fast and offer prayers to Lord Vishnu on the day of Anant Chaturdashi with keen devotion.
What is the significance of Anant Chaturdashi?
Lord Vishnu is also popular with its another name Anant which signifies eternal and the word Chaturdashi means fourteen. On the eve of Anant Chaturdashi, usually, men keep an Anant Chaturdashi fast for getting relieved from all their past sins and for the wellbeing of their children and family. The fast is observed for a continuous period of 14 years in a row to get bestowed with the divine blessings of Lord Vishnu and to achieve their lost prosperity and wealth.
Significance of Anant Chaturdashi in Jainism
Anant Chaturdashi holds vital significance in Jainism. As per the Hindu calendar, Digambar Jains observe the rituals of Paryushana Parva in the last 10 days of the Bhado month. The last day of the Paryushan is celebrated on the eve of Anant Chaturdashi. The devotees observe a strict fast on this day. On this particular day, the 12th Tirthankara of Jains named Lord Vasupujya had also attained nirvana. Thus, the sacred day of Anant Chaturdashi is much important for Jain people.
How to do Anant Chaturdashi Puja?
In the parts of Eastern UP and Bihar, the occasion of Anant Chaturdashi is specifically linked to the Anant Roopa of Lord Vishnu and Ocean of Milk (kshirsagar). There are certain rituals and customs associated with this festival.
- First, the devotees take a wooden plank on which they mark fourteen tilaks (small vertical strips) with vermilion.
- 14 puas (sweet wheat bread which is deep fried) and fourteen puris (wheat bread which is deep-fried) are then placed on the tilaks made.
- The devotees then place Panchamrit which symbolizes ‘Ocean Of Milk’ (kshirsagar) on the plank.
- A sacred thread comprising of 14 knots which represents Lord Anant is tied on a cucumber and then is swirled in the ‘Ocean of milk’ for five times.
- The devotees observe a fast and then tie the sacred thread colored with turmeric and kumkum called as the Ananta Sutra on their arm (right arm of the men and left arm of the women). After a period of 14 days, the sacred thread is removed.