Festivals of India: Akshaya Tritiya

Also known as Akti or Akha Teej, Akshaya Tritiya is an annual spring time festival celebrated by Hindus and Jains. It falls on the third Tithi or lunar day of bright half or Shukla Paksha of the Vaisakha month which falls every year between April and May according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar. It is observed as an auspicious time regionally by Hindus and Jains in India and Nepal, as signifying the “third day of unending prosperity”. The word Akshaya means “never diminishing” as the festival is associated with wealth, prosperity and happiness and Tritiya means third day. This year’s Akshaya Tritiya fell yesterday, April 26. This day is said to be very auspicious if you are planning on starting a new venture as anything started on this day will be successful.

Akshaya Tritiya has lot of religious significance for both Hindus and Jains. This day is the birthday of Lord Parashurama, one of the ten Dashavataras of Lord Vishnu and is also the starting day of Treta Yuga after Satya Yuga. It was on Akshaya Tritiya that the poor Brahmin Sudama offered flattened rice or aval to Lord Krishna, who in turn blessed him with bountiful wealth and happiness. On this day, it is said Lord Krishna gave the Akshaya Patra to Draupadi when the Pandavas started for the Vanavasa, so that they always have food in abundance. The sage Veda Vyasa started writing the epic Mahabharata on this day and it was the day when the holy river Ganges descended upon the Earth. The annual Puri Jagannath Rath Yatra also begins on this day.

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It is also belived that the God of Wealth and the treasurer of all deities ‘Kubera’ received his riches and position by praying to Lord Shiva at Shivapuram on Akshaya Tritiya. For the Jains, this day commemorates the day the first Tirthankara, Rishabhdev ended his year-long asceticism by consuming sugarcane juice poured into his cupped hands. Some Jains refer to the festival as Varshi Tapa and on this day, fasting and ascetic austerities are marked by Jains, particularly at pilgrimage sites such as Palitana in Gujarat.

Akshaya Tritiya is considered a very auspicious day because it is a day of manifold blessings. People believe that any good work done on this day will give exponential returns. This is why this day is considered very auspicious to buy gold, silver and precious stones. Goddess Lakshmi signifies wealth and it is said that if one invests in gold, silver or precious stones silver on this day, she will bless you with prosperity and wealth.

This year’s festivities are bound to be very muted because of the COVID-19 panademic worldwide, but if there is just one thing I would pray for on this way would be that we find a cure to this virus soon and things get back to normal!

Leaving you with this Kanakadhara Stotram which Adi Shankaracharya recited for a poor couple on this day at whose house he stopped for Bhiksha or alms and was offered their only available gooseberry. This version of the stotram is sung by the unparalleled M.S Subbalakshmi and is my favourite version.

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