Anant Chaturdashi is an observance which is celebrated with equal fervor by both Hindus and Jains. It is the last day of the 10 day long Ganesh Chaturdashi. It is generally observed on the tenth day after the Ganesh Chaturthi.
Etymologically Anant Chaturdashi means the eternal fourteenth day, as Ananta in Sanskrit means eternal and Chaturdashi means the fourteenth day. As the name suggests this ritual is observed on the chaturdashi of the Shukla paksha of the Bhadrapada month as per the traditional Hindu calendar and as per Gregorian calendar, this Is observed in the waxing phase of the moon in the month of September.
In 2016, this observance will be held on the 15th of September, a Thursday. It is one of the most significant and auspicious days to worship Lord Vishnu.
Legend behind Anant Chaturdashi
Long ago there was a Brahman called Sumant who had a small family of his wife Diksha and his daughter Sushila. When Diksha died, Sumant married a woman called Karkash, who was an extremely ill behaved woman and started torturing Sushila at every pretext. To avoid the ill treatment Sushila ran away from the house and married Kaundinya. While going away they came across a river, where Kaundinya went for a bath and Sushila noticed a group of women who were performing a vrat or ritual. Upon enquiring she found out that they were performing the vrat of Anant Chaturdashi and learnt the importance of the vrat.
For the vrat Some fried Gharga and a special food called anarase is prepared. A snake like figure has to be prepared with Durba grass, and has to be put inside a bamboo basket. Then this snake like idol is worshipped with lamp, incense sticks, scented flowers etc. food is also offered to the snake God and silken threads are also offered during the puja. This is the thread which is called Anant and which has to be tied in the wrist. The Anant has 14 knots in all, and is colored with Kumkum. Women observing anant tie it in their left hand and men tie it in their right hand. The Anant has to be kept tied in the hands for 14 years and is observed for ushering in wealth and divinity. Sushila also took the Anant Vow.
Kaundinya started prospering from that day and one day noticed the Anant thread in Sushila’s wrist and asked her what it was. Upon hearing the explanation he was annoyed and maintained that they had prospered because of his hard work and not due to some vrat. In the end, he took it off from her wrist and threw in into the fire.
From that day their fortunes declined and they were reduced to poverty. Kaundinya understood that it was all because he had dishonored Anant and went in search of it to restore his life.
Kaundinya went to a forest and saw a mango tree, which was full of mangoes and full of worms too. Thus no one was eating it. Upon asking he was told that the Mango tree hadn’t heard of Anant. Next he saw a cow with her calf and next a bull standing in the field; but not eating the grass. He saw two lakes joining one another and he saw an elephant, donkey etc. but none had seen the Anant or knew anything.
Out of desperation, he took a rope and was about to end his life when an old Brahmin appeared in front of his and took Kaundinya away into a cave. The cave was dark but a light appeared and he could see lot of men and women and ahuge throne. The old men went towards the throne an ddisappeared. Kaundinya realized that Lord Vishnu himself had saved him and confessed of his son of disbelieving the Anant vrat. Lord Vishnu, Anant blessed Kaundinya that if he took the Vrat everything will be restored to him and also explained the symbolism behind the sights Kaundinya had seen.
The Ananta Vrat Puja
- The prayer for recovery of lost prosperity is made
- Yamuna devi is worshipped with 16 substances
- Arghya or offering is given
- After the Yamuna Pujan, the Anant Nag is worshipped.
- Shesh Nag is invoked and his seven hoods are worshipped
- Sandalwood paste, vermillion, incense, lamp and turmeric are kept in front of the shesh Nag.
- Sweets, milk, fruits etc are offered as Prasad to the shesh nag
The Anant Sutra
The Anant sutra is a sacred thread which has 14 knots and is colored with kumkum and turmeric. The men wear it in their right wrist and the women in their left. It is supposedly a protection from all evils by Lord Vishnu himself. Thus it is also called Raksha sutra too.
Scientifically, there are 14 main knots or granthis in out body. These are interconnected. It is believed that the action of invoking Lord Vishnu results in him being attracted to these knots and thus the body becomes charged with the flow of chetana shakti or will power and gains momentum.
Anant Chaturdashi Fasting
Women keep fast on this day for the well being of their families. Men also keep this vrat for 14 years to regain lost wealth and prosperity. Devotees observing this vrat wake in the morning, take a ritual bath and observe the rituals of this vrat. Post the puja, they can have fruits, milk or sweets. They should avoid the consumption of salt.
Performing the Anant Chaturdashi vrat is a way of realizing the ultimate realization of God.
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