Anant Chaturdashi of Bhadrapad shukla paksha has two main significances. The first is that it is the day of the immersion of Ganapati (also called Ganapati Visarjan). Thus Lord Ganesha is given farewell, only to be welcomed the next year with equal excitement.
The second significance is that this puja is basically that of Shri Vishnu or Shri Krishna Puja. On this day people recite and listen to the stories and legends of God Vishnu who is Anant, the infinite and recite hymns from the Vedas. This is sometimes also called Ananta Vrat. It is an expanded form of the Satyanarayana Puja.
When is it observed?
Anant Chaturdashi puja falls on the 14th day of Bhadrapad shukla paksha (first fortnight) of the Hindu calendar year.
In 2014, Anantha Chaturdashi falls on Monday the 8th of September.
The 14th day of the bright half of Bhadrapad (Aug-Sep) is called Anant Chaturdashi. On this auspicious day Lord Vishnu sleeping on the bed Anant (the serpent shesh), in the milky ocean is worshipped and meditated upon. People also observe a vow in honour of Vishnu, which if kept for 14 years is supposed to bring wealth.
There are references about the Vrata in Mahabharata. Shri Krishna advised Yudhishtara to observe Ananta Vrata for 14 years to get back his kingdom when Pandava kings were banished for 12 years from their kingdom, and were in the jungle. Ananta Vrata will destroy all your sins, removes all your difficulties, promotes your material prosperity and will give you eventually moksha (liberation).
Another legend is about a sage Koundinya who went everywhere in search of Shri Anant. He had to undergo much agony and came across mysterious events before Shri Anant gave him Darshan. By performing this puja, it is believed that a person is relieved of all sins committed during his lifetime.
It is believed that Lord Vishnu appeared on this day as Anantapadmanabha – Lord Vishnu’s Ananta Shayana form – reclining on Snake Ananta. The Vratam is also known as Ananta chaturdasi Vrata and Anandapadmanabha Vrata.
The observance of Ananta Vrata is believed to secure freedom from all sorrows. The word ‘Ananta’ means endless and devotees believe that Lord Narayana will clear all the difficulties in one’s life, if the Ananta Vrata is observed with utmost devotion.
The reclining posture represents the state of inactivity and is the form of Narayana prior to the evolution of the worlds and creation of the living beings.
The 14 knotted thread in this Vrata is known as Thread of Ananata (Anantacha Dora) which symbolizes God.
God is infinite even if all the creatures (i.e. Shrishti) are destroyed, God is immortal in the form of ‘Shesh’ (Remainder) His powerful image is this fourteen knotted thread. There are 14 images of the god, which are known to be with supernatural power without the mercy and favor of God, human being does not get anything. There is no success for him. If a man believes in this concept, then only he would get the right fruit of his life. To remember Anant, all the time, it is suggested to tie 14 knotted thread around the neck.
The main ritual on the day is the tying of a sacred thread. This vrat is to be performed on Bhadrapada shukla chaturdashi. After bathing and attiring in red, decorate the altar with devotion. Keep a kalash on the south of the altar in which you invite the Lord. Keep 7 darbhas tied to each other to represent ananta. Keep a red thread with 14 knots on the altar. Worship lord with 14 varieties of flowers and 14 varieties of leaves. The prasad for this vrat is Atiras. Make 28 of them and serve them to brahmins. Those attending should be given food and respect. Do this vrat for 14 years each year replacing the thread that was worn in the earlier year. 15th year do the udyapana.
This pooja consists of Yamuna (river) puja, shesha (cobra) Puja and Anant Puja. The water kalash (pot) is assumed to be yamuna, cobra made of grass is Shesha and Anant consists of 14 knotted threads.
For the puja 14 items are of relevance – 14 flowers, 14 fresh and dry fruits separately, 14 leaves of various trees. Even the food prepared and offered to God as prasad consists of 14 vegetables.
Worshippers chant the Vishnu prayer “Om Anantay Namoh Namaha” during the ritual.
The ‘Ananta Sutra’ – a sacred thread colored with kumkum and turmeric and knotted at 14 places is consecrated during the ritual – to be cut and worn by males on their right wrist and by women on their left as a mark of protection from Vishnu. So, this string is also called ‘Raksha Sutra’ and should be worn while chanting the mantra:
“Ananta Sansar Maha Samudre Magnan Samabhyuddhar Vasudeva
Ananta Rupey Viniyojitatmamahya Ananta Rupey Namoh Namastute”
Most women fast on this day for the wellbeing of their family. Some men keep a vow to observe the Ananta Chaturthi Vrat or fast for 14 years in a row in order to get the blessings of Vishnu and regain lost wealth. Devotees wake up at dawn, take bath and take part in the puja. After the fast, they can have fruits and milk and avoid taking salt.
Those who are the Upasakas (Devotees) of lord Vishnu have a strong faith in this Vrata and perform the same meticulously.
Jain religious observance
This is an important day in the Jain calendar of festivities too. Jains observe Paryushana in the last 10 days of the bhado month; Anant Chaudas is the last day of Paryushana. Kshamavani, the day the Jains ask for forgiveness for any mistakes they have made intentionally or otherwise, is observed one day after Anant Chaudas.
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