Kurma Jayanti or Kurma Dwadashi vrat is a ritual dedicated to the Kurma avatar or incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

This vrat is celebrated on the Dwadashi of the Krishna paksha in the month of Pousha as per the traditional Hindu calendar.

According to the Gregorian calendar, this vrat is observed on the waxing phase of the moon in the month of December January. In 2019, this vrat will be observed on the May 18th.

  • Legend of Kurma Avatar
    • Long ago, the Devas were greatly weakened as Sage Durbasha, who is known for his volatile temperament, had cursed Lord Indra. Durbasha had once given a garland to Indra, who had carelessly thrown it away at his elephant. The elephant then had trampled all over it.  Greatly humiliated and Annoyed, Durbasha had cursed Indra that he would be robbed of all his power.
    • Seeing the opportunity where Indra was left almost without any power or prestige, the demons or Asuras started gaining power. The demon king, the great Bali took this opportunity and established his kingdom on all the three lokas.
    • The Devas then took refuge in the abode of Lord Vishnu, Vaikuntha and sought his immediate help. Vishnu suggested that they churn out the ocean and get the Amrita or the nectar of immortality out of the sea, so that they can defeat the Asuras.
    • Since the churning of the sea required a great deal of effort, he suggested enlisting the help of the Asuras too.
    • Thus the mountain called Mandranchal Parbat was selected to be the center for churning the sea, with Vasuki as the rope. The sea was Kshir Sagar.
    • As soon as the churning started, the Mandranchal parvat started sinking, as it did not have any kind of solid base. Seeing that the Parvat was almost sinking; Lord Vishnu took the shape of a Kurma or a tortoise. On the back of that tortoise, the mountain remained afloat and the churning continued.
    • Thus it was the Kurma who saved the Gods, as else Amrita would not have been found which made the Gods immortal.
    • Also the 14 sacred ratnas or divine gems would not have been found. Thus the Kurma avatar of Lord Vishnu was extremely important for the world.
  • Rituals of Kurma Dwadashi
    • Though the observations are on the Dwadashi or the twelfth day, preparations for the celebrations of this ritual starts on the tenth day itself.
    • Devotees take a ritual bath to cleanse themselves in the morning.
    • Devotees fast on the ekadashi day which is only broken on the Dwadashi day.
    • Devotees sing various chants and hymns for Lord Vishnu and also visit various temples.
    • Particular special puja and abhisekam are conducted on this day for the Kurma Avatar or Lord Vishnu.
    • Devotees fast on this day without a drop of water. People who can’t observe the complete fast do a partial fasting with water and fruits to be consumed.
    • People break the fast on the Dwadashi where they eat the Prasad dedicated to Lord Kurma.
  • Significance of the Kurma Dwadashi
    • It is believed that a person observing this vrat becomes absolved of all his past crimes.
    • It is also believed that a devotee observing this attains salvation or moksha.
    • It also helps devotees to lead a better life.
    • The often visited and familiar temple dedicated to Kurma is the Srikurmamkurmanatha Swami temple in the Srikakulam district.