Deities
 
 
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Radhakrishna represents the unique unification of the Goddess-Gopi Radha and her idolized Lord Krishna, two highly esteemed deities in the Hindu Vaishnavi tradition. Goddess Radha is believed to be an avatar of Goddess Lakshmi. Lord Krishna is worshipped as the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that Krishna (the divine) can only be reached through Radha (devotion and love). Thus, Radha and Krishna do not exist, one without the other. They are one and only one and are represented as Radhakrishna.

 

To honor the deities, several festivals are celebrated throughout India, mostly during the monsoon months of Shravan and Bhadrapad in the Hindi calendar (July through August per the Gregorian calendar). Some of the significant ones are: ‘Radha Ashtami’ (birth of Goddess Radha), ‘Janmastami’ (birth of Lord Krishna), and Jhulan Yatra (swing festival to celebrate Radha Krishna's pastime of swinging on a golden swing). 

 

Lord Rama is considered as the seventh avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu. He is notably known for the slaying of the demon king Ravana, thus representing the victory of good over evil. Lord Rama is pictured as an ideal family man, with his wife Sita, brother Lakshman and devotee Hanuman who is sitting near Lord Rama’s feet. They represent the perfect man, wife, brother, and friend, thus forming the Shree Ram Darbar/Parivar. Goddess Sita, revered as an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, reflects the embodiment of virtue, a devoted wife, and ideal of womanhood. Sri Lakshman exemplifies sacrifice for accompanying Lord Rama in exile. Sri Hanuman, the Hindu god of Wind, is a noble hero, a true friend and agreat devotee of Lord Rama.


Festivals, such as Ram Navami, Diwali and Dussehra are celebrated to honor Lord Rama’s innumerable actions of fulfilling one’s pious duty or dharma. 

   

Mata Vaishno Devi is believed to be an expression of collective spiritual powers of the three divine deities, namely, Maa Laxmi, Maa Saraswati and Maa Kaali. The original temple dedicated to the Devi is in the state of Jammu & Kashmir in India and is located at an elevation of 5300 feet above sea level on the Trikuta Hills of the lower Himalayas. The temple is housed in a cave which enshrines the three holy deities in the form of three naturally formed stone mounds. As per the legends, the divine deity was born in the household of Ratnakar and was named Vaishnavi. By her sincere penance to Lord Rama, she was graced with his blessings and was endowed with divine power. Mata Vaishno Devi eventually resided in the Holy cave to continue to guide in times of darkness and need. It is a spiritual presumption that only the ardent devotees of Mata Vaishno Devi get the privilege of visiting her temple and getting her divine blessings.

Devotees throng the temples of Mata Vaishno Devi to seek her blessings, especially, during Navratri festival (9 days long), observed twice in the year- March to April and again, September to November.

   

Lord Shiva is a principal deity of Hinduism and is widely worshipped throughout India and the world. He is associated with the paradoxical motifs of destruction and regeneration. As per ancient Vedas, Lord Shiva is considered as the father of the complete universe. While his wife Goddess Parvathi is looked up as the mother of the universe. Therefore, together, they are considered as universal parents. The divine family of Lord Shiva, popularly known as Shiv Parivar, comprises of his wife Goddess Parvati, the two sons, Lord Kartik and Lord Ganesha, and Nandi, the celestial vehicle of Lord Shiva.

 

Shiva Parivar Puja is performed in reverence to Lord Shiva and his family. Shiv Parivar is regarded as a symbol of peace, harmony and a happy family. It is believed that praying to Lord Shiva in this form protects devotees from difficult situations and the devotee is blessed with family bliss and peace in life. Maha Shivratri is another major festival that is observed to worship Lord Shiva and seek his divine blessings.
   

Laxmi Narayan is the divine and inseparable pair of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Laxmi. Lord Narayana, also known as Vishnu, is one of the supreme Gods of the Hindu pantheons. He is the God of protection and sustenance of the universe. Goddess Lakshmi or Mahalakshmi is his divine wife. She is the Goddess of wealth, fortune and prosperity. Even though Lord Vishnu or Narayana is believed to sustain the entire earth, his 'Shakti' or strength lies in Goddess Lakshmi. Without the auspicious presence of Goddess Lakshmi, he is powerless and so he is invoked with the name Lakshmi-Narayana. It is believed that Mahalaxmi’s abode is in Shri Narayan’s heart. Thus, the term ‘Lakshmi Narayana’ denotes the single divinity of Narayana with Lakshmi and can be inferred as Lakshmi’s Narayana.

 

Lakshmi Narayana worship is a very popular form of puja and is performed during several auspicious occasions. It is performed for getting peace, happiness and bonding in one’s home as well as success and prosperity in a business or place of work too.
   

Shree Ganesh is one of the most popular and loved deities amongst the Hindu Gods. Ganesh is the Lord of Good Fortune who provides prosperity, success and protection against adversity. Shree Ganesh is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and has an elephant head with a curved trunk and large ears and a human body. Shree Ganesh is widely revered by devotees in all parts of India and outside, regardless of any other spiritual affiliations. He is worshipped as the Lord of Beginnings and the Remover of Obstacles. Devotees believe that by worshipping Lord Ganesh, they can be blessed with success, prosperity and protection against adversity.  It is believed that the epic Mahabharata has been written by Lord Ganesh.

 

As the God of beginnings, Shree Ganesh is celebrated at events whether it is big or small. Hindus worship Lord Ganesh before starting any puja or important task. One of the major festivals of Lord Ganesh is called Ganesh Chaturthi. It is typically a 10-day festival celebrating the birth of baby Ganesh and takes place each August or September of the Gregorian calendar.

   

Sai Baba is amongst the most popular of Indian saints and has a large following of devotees throughout India and abroad. Sai Baba arrived in Shirdi in the year around 1858, in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, and remained there until his demise in 1918. His samadhi in Shirdi is a well-known place of pilgrimage. He lived a very ascetic life and without any preaching or attempt to attract followers, people were drawn to his presence, regardless of caste, creed or religion. One of his most famous sayings was “God is the Owner of us All”. Sai Baba of Shirdi taught that all religions led to the same goal. He was known for performing miracles to alleviate the suffering of poor people.

 

Sai Baba is revered as the spiritual teacher by his devotees. During ‘Guru Purnima’, special prayers are offered to him as a mark of respect and gratitude. Vijayadashami is also a major festival in Shirdi, venerated as a holy day when Sai Baba left his mortal body for heavenly abode.

   

Guru Dattatreya is a well-known saint mentioned in the Puranas. He is the son of great Sage Atri Muni, and his wife Ansuiya Mata. The name “Dattatreya” is derived from two Sanskrit words, Datta (which means “given”) and Atreya (which refers to the sage “Atri”, his father). Guru Dattatreya is also referred to as a Hindu deity having the aspect of the Divine Trinity or Trimurti of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. He is seen as having three heads that symbolize his identity as the Devas of the Trinity. Also, he is depicted as having six hands each holding an item that portrays a holy significance. Guru Dattatreya is regarded as a highly esteemed teacher of Yoga, with clear Tantric traits. Today, he is worshiped by a multitude of Hindus from all walks of life, spanning the entire globe.

 

Datta Jayanti, the celebration of Guru’s birthday is observed on the full moon day of Margashirsha month of the Hindu calendar. On this day, puja and vrat (fasting) is observed mainly by the devotees in Maharashtra, a western state in India.

 
   

Modeshwari Mata is an aspect of the Goddess Durga. She is regarded as the ‘Kuldevi’ (family/clan deity) of the Modh community of Gujarat. Modeshwari is also regarded as the chief goddess of Gujarat and there are numerous temples dedicated to the goddess all over the state. A renowned temple dedicated to the goddess is located west of the town of Mehsana, 15km from Modhera. The legendary story behind the temple narrates about a demon Karnat who was savaging everything in the region. The saints of the region turned to Goddess Parvati and prayed for her divine intervention, and Modeshwari Mata was manifested to destroy the demon and bring peace to the region. The sculpture of the goddess in the temple has 18 arms, each bearing a weapon representing a divine significance. She is most often seen seated on a lion.

 

Every year on the thirteenth day of Maha Month per the Gujarati calendar, the Modh Brahmins celebrate Modeshwari Mata’s birthday and offer their prayers and devotion.

 
   

Veer Hanuman is one of the most important and revered Gods in Hinduism. Son of Vayu, the Hindu god of Wind and believed to be an avatar (incarnation) of Lord Shiva, he is known worldwide for his immense devotion to Lord Rama. Lord Hanuman is one of the main characters of the epic Ramayana, who played a very crucial role in the liberation of Sita and destruction of the demon king, Ravana. His surrender to the divine cause and his devotion to Lord Rama is exemplary and unconditional. Apart from Ramayana and Mahabharata, Veer Hanuman is mentioned in several other religious texts; he is worshipped not only in India but also in Southeast Asia, in different mythological forms and with varying legends. He is described as the best among intelligent people and the first among the spiritual evolvers. According to legends, Lord Hanuman is one of the four people to have heard the Bhagwad Gita directly from Lord Krishna.

 

A major festival, Hanuman Jayanti is celebrated to commemorate the birth of Lord Hanuman. In most states of India, the festival is observed either in the month of Chaitra or in the month of Vaishakha per Hindu calendar. 
   

Jalaram Bapa, popularly known as Bapa (meaning, ‘great Dad) is a Hindu saint in Virpur, Gujarat, India. Born in 1799 to a family belonging to the Thakkar clan, he showed signs of piousness and devotedness to Lord Rama from childhood. Bapa was married to Virbai at a young age, however, he preferred to become an ascetic and withdrew from materialistic life. Along with his wife, he followed the path of serving mankind. Bapa is revered by many people around the world for his saintly qualities and his ability to work miracles but most of all he is remembered for his selfless acts of charity. He served people irrespective of caste, creed and religion. Bapa started a feeding center, named "Sadavrat", a place where the needy could have food any time. This tradition of feeding people continues to this day in his birthplace, Virpur.

Jalaram Jayanti, the birth of Bapa Jalaram is celebrated on Satam (Day of Seven) during the Kartik month per Gujarati calendar. This festival is celebrated in a grand manner in temples dedicated to the worship of Jalaram Bapa.

   

Lord Jhulelal, meaning ‘the Lord of the Swing’ is the prime deity (Ishta Dev) of the Sindhi community of India and Pakistan. He is believed to have been born during the 10thcentury A.D. in the province of Sindh (erstwhile known as the land of seven rivers). As per legends, the oppressed Hindus tired of the atrocities of the then Turkish ruler prayed to Lord Varuna (Lord of the River) incessantly for 40 days; thereby prompting Lord Jhulelal to commence as the incarnation of Lord Varuna to save the Sindh dwellers and bestow peace to them. Even today, Jhulelal continues to be the unifying force and the center of all cultural activities of the Sindhi community. When Sindhi men venture out to sea, womenfolk pray to him for their safe return by offering a traditional Sindhi offering. Folks in Sindhi community greet each other with the phrase, “Jhulelal Bera Hee Paar” (meaning Jhulelal will resolve all problems), thus signifying their immense faith and adoration for their community deity, Jhulelal.

Jhulelal Jayanti (birthday of Jhulelal) is celebrated in the Hindu month of Chaitra and is also commemorated as the Sindhi New Year.

 

Shree Jagannath (Lord of the Universe), the all-mighty Lord along with his siblings, Balabhadra and Subhadra are the prime deities of the temple of Puri. Originally, Jagannatha was worshipped as Nila Madhava by an aboriginal chief. Indradyumna, a king in central India as per divine direction, made him a public deity. Shree Jagannath’s arms are parallel, denoting His willingness to embrace the devotees from all over the world and his eyes are round devoid of eyelids, signifying that He looks after the welfare of his devotees without any sleep. The integral ritual of the temple is the offering of ‘Chappan Bhog’ (56 food items) to the Lord and serving of Mahaprashad (Lord’s offering) to the devotees.

 

‘Nabakalebara’, a religious ceremony that takes place in a gap of 12 to 19 years, is observed for the re-embodiment of the three deities when they relinquish their old bodies and assume a new one. Once a year, in June/July, Ratha-yatra, the Festival of Chariots, is celebrated, when the three deities are taken out from the temple for a ritual procession and it represents the Lord’s longing to reunite with His devotees.

   


In Hindu Astrology, Navgraha is based upon the configuration of the nine planets and their influence on the world and on an individual. The Navgrahas or nine planetary gods in Hinduism are Ravi (Sun), Som (Moon), Mangal (Mars), Budh (Mercury), Brihaspati (Jupiter), Shukra (Venus), Shani (Saturn), Rahu (Northern planetary node) and Ketu (Southern planetary node). Of the nine deities, seven are named after the planets in the solar system and correspond with the names of the seven week-days and remaining two deities are deemed as demons and correspond to shadow planets. Hindu astrologers draw the birth charts of individuals based upon their position at the time of their birth. They are worshipped in Hinduism for good luck or to overcome adversity, misfortune arising from past karmas or birth-related defects (doshas). It is believed that by offering their favorite food items, one can please them and get their blessings.
Navgraha Puja is performed to reduce the negative effects of malefic planets and improve the positive energies of the benefic planet. This puja can be performed either at the temple or at the benefactor’s home.
 
 
     
     
     

 

























 


 

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