Indian Traditions, Customs, Religions, Festivals, Pooja
Bathing is an integral part of daily routine in every Indian's life. Special occasions call for holy dips in sacred rivers and lakes as enumerated by the scriptures. That a bath keeps us healthy through personal hygiene is a well known fact. But there are other aspects as well that are not well known. Polygraphic studies proved that water enhances electro-magnetic activity. In the context of this finding, the religious practices like washing hands and feet before entering temples and taking bath every day, worshipping with wet clothes and offering prayer standing in the middle of water chest-deep in rivers and tanks etc., seem to be more scientific than a mere act of cleanliness. Human body is centre of electric currents and impulses.
A continuous process of generation and consumption of electric energy takes place in the human body. Maharshi Vaatsyaayana has described the various power centres in human body. More energy is generated in our body whenever we are excited and battle various emotions as well as indulge in intense physical activity. However, at night when we retire until the next morning this generation and consumption level of power drops drastically. This is the reason why we feel so lethargic on waking up in the morning. We are neither active physically non mentally. Washing our face immediately clears the cobwebs of drowsiness. A bath certainly freshens up completely and puts us in our best shape. This happens due to the fact that water consumes the electricity in our body. This is known as Electro-magnetic activity. Physics describes this in detail. Therefore, taking bath has more to do with such scientific reasoning than merely cleanliness.
The time 90 minutes prior to sunrise is called Braahmi Muhurtham. This time is good for academics, purohits and the time where in the later hours, the night the last 48 mins. (2 ghadi) is called Braahmi Muhurtham. 'Braahmi' means Saraswathi, the Goddess of intellect. The above specified time is auspicious for gaining and sustaining intelligence and knowledge, owing to which it is called Braahmi Muhurtham. It is during Braahmi muhurtham that Sun god spreads his rays just as a peacock spreading its feathers. He starts spreading his light and energy throughout the world. The light rays from the Galaxies influence the human brain.
The nascent sun spreads thousand arms in the form of rays across the sky, which emit light-blue divine rays. These rays bring to life the cells and the brain. Lord Surya or the sun god is also the god of life. If the man can synchronise his senses with these rays during this hour he will be empowered with unchallengeable energy. This observation was endorsed by sages. This is the time when the life under the sun still remains in deep sleep supported by the tranquil and pleasant environment, the sages and munis spread the power of penance, which comes out in the form of high powered electrical and magnetic charge, for the upliftment of the living creatures on the earth. If one keep awake during these hours, it is possible to benefit from this charge.
One should apply the sacred religious marks (Tilakam) after performing aachamana(sipping water sanctified and fortified with mantras). The sacred texts enjoin that the forehead must never be left unannointed. It has been a tradition in all Hindu families, irrespective of caste and creed to mark the body with some sacred sign. It is an ancient practice still in use wherein women, men and children of all castes apply such signs according to their traditions to this date. It is decreed imperative in case of women.
Any woman who sports a Tilakam on her forehead anywhere in world appears to owe her roots to bharatavarsha, i.e, India. It is our tradition to invite people to any auspicious ritual by applying a "Tilakam", vermilon dot on the forehead. It also signifies pleasantly the subsistence of her beloved husband. Even the most poverty sticken bid their relatives, friends, etc. farewell by applying a Tilakam. The have mores and the have not, all commonly sport Tilakam. The splendour of a Tilakam is compared with that of Goddess Laxmi Devi herself and therefore, Indians paint even the portal of their residence with beautiful bindies lending unparalleled grace to it. Tilakam is not only a beautifying aid for women but also a charm to ward off evil, the elders opine. Beginning with a child in a cradle to a grandma, all women wear a Tilak.
Pooja is a part of Indian tradition. However, pooja in the Indian context is not just as simple as reading something from a holy book. All those performing the pooja are involved in the process of worship. This is considered to be a direct way communicating with the god. Indians have a practice of worshipping god in different forms. It is said that there are about 30 million forms of god. It is also believed that there is only one sole supreme. There are different schools of worship. Some advocate worshipping the supreme god without a form or a shape since god is considered to be the cosmic power. Others give a form or a shape to the god. It is reflected in the idols they pray. Worshiping Yantras or the algebric forms of mantras encrypted on a variety of surfaces like metal, wood and stone is also a popular form. However, worshiping idols of different gods are the most followed.
Ghantaa or bell is a common sight in any temple. Bell has a significant place in the process of worship. While the bell made of gold and silver produce mild sound it is said that the bells made of copper, brass help in controlling the evils and germs.
Abhishekam is an important part of idol worship. Normally, abhishekam, or bathing the idol, is performed to the gods (in the form of idols) with Panchaamrita. It is a mixture of cow milk, curds, pure ghee, sugar and honey. Devotees also mix banana and coconut water in Panchaamrita. After completing the abhisheka, the
panchaamrita used for the purpose is consumed by the devotees as teertha.It is said that panchaamrita, being the mixture of various milk products, has
medicinal values and will provide health and nourishment to the body. However, since it is used for worshipping the god, there are spiritual values too
attached to this teertha. For non-believers, the fact that it adds to the
health would convince them to consume it.
Festoon (Toranam) decorating the main door of the houses, temples or any other place, where some ritual is performed, with a festoon (Toranam or a string of mango leaves) is part of the Indian culture. Normally, this kind of decoration is done during festivals or celebrations. Though there is a scientific reason behind this festoon decoration, this has become a part of the tradition and majority does not even bother to know the actual reason behind doing so.
Indians use a festoon made of fresh and green mango leaves. However, leaves of other species like Neem are also used for this purpose. Most of us know that the green leaves absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen. This helps in keeping the surrounding atmosphere clean and hygienic. Keeping, the aesthetics in view, mango leaves are preferred, since their shape adds to the ambience.
However, all other advantages of having a festoon revolve around this basic reason. According to a theory, the air filled with carbon dioxide, which is lighter than the pure air, gets purified immediately while passing through the festoon. In addition, insects get attracted to the green leaves. This stops the insects from entering the room.
Even this is an age-old practice in every house according to the Hindu culture and tradition. Applying Turmeric on the threshold is as important as having bath in every Indian house. Again, everyone knows the reason. But the modern Indian has a habit of ridiculing all such practices and branding them as blind beliefs or meaningless practices.
It is beyond doubt that turmeric has anti-septic characters. It is an anti-bacterial too. While the green festoon hanging on the top of the main door frame stops insects and other visible but small flying objects from entering the room, turmeric applied on the door sill stops bacteria or other microscopic organisms from making their way into the house. Turmeric checks every invisible organism. In addition, the yellow color makes the main door colorful and is an aesthetic combination for the green festoon on the top of the doorframe.