A month of festive fervour

Come Shravanam the mood sets in, in terms of religious fervour. This is the most important month for women, particularly `sumangalis', who perform pujas for welfare of their family, particularly their husband. As per the Hindu calendar, when moon is in concert with Shravana Nakshatram, the month is called Shravanam. It is during this month that Goddess Lakshmi, along with Chandra (moon), her brother, rose from `ksheerasagara madhanam' i.e. churning of the Ocean of Milk. Lakshmi emerged in all her richness with nine gems. Unlike `Karthika', it is not the month of fasts but of feasts, of course, with pujas unparalleled for womenfolk.

Quoting from the puranas, the noted poet, Kondepudi Subba Rao, says, "Lakshmi is no different from Krishna. Lakshmi, who was cursed to grow as a plant on the earth, took birth during this month as the holy Tulasi. The plant took birth with an assurance that wherever she be, she should be near Lord Vishnu.

The mythology is replete with innumerable stories concerning almost all fairies particularly the Trimurtis in one way or the other signifying the auspicious Shravanam.

Particularly on the Varalakshmi puja day, kalasam is worshipped in a deeply religious and devotional mode. According to mythology it is believed that the kalasam not just houses various gods but designates their place as well in it.

Kalasasche mukhe Vishnu Kanthe Rudra Samasritah Moole tatra stitho Brahma Madhe Matru Samasmrutha Kukshutu sagara sarve sapta dweepa Vasundara Rig vedo Yajur vedo Sama vedo Atharvana Angaische sahita sarve Kalasambu samasritha.

While Lord Vishnu resides in the face of the kalasam, Rudra dwells in the throat with Brahma lying at the base and in the middle the Mother Goddess pervades. In its belly lie the seven oceans and the earth with seven islands and four Vedas. Thus the kalasam embodies Goddess Lakshmi with all human anatomical features.

While Fridays are reserved for worshipping Goddess Lakshmi, Tuesdays are marked for worship of the Goddess Gowri or Parvati. Virgins and sumangalis equally take part in Mangala Gowri Puja (Sravana Mangala vara vratam) in equal measure. It is not just an elaborate puja performed in all religiosity in the morning. It also entails a grand `parentam' (a sacred get-together of womenfolk in every household in their evening best).

Except for the `parentam' part, the ways of modern lifestyle in no way could diminish the pomp and significance of this month for women.

In some parts of the country particularly in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, West Bengal Nagula Chaviti/Panchami is celebrated during this month.

The other festivals that fall during this month are Raksha Bandhan or Jandhyala Pournami and Goklusthami.

On the Full Moon of Karkataka or Cancer, sisters tie `rakhi' around the wrist of their brothers. It not only signifies the matchless bondage of love and affection between the brother and the sister not necessarily born in the same family. This day is also celebrated as Jandhalya Poornima, the ceremony of changing the sacred thread among different sections of society, particularly Brahmins.

Moreover, Shravanam adds to the extravagance of shopping malls. The purchase of gold, at least `kasu', is a must, thus jacking up bullion prices. Gold merchants do brisk business, leave alone silk sarees that add colour to the festivity, i.e., Shravanam.