Hindu Festival: Shravan - The Holy Month
A time of rain storms and rain-drenched earth, Shravan is the holiest month of the year for Hindus. Each Monday of this month, known as Shravan Somvar, is a special day in Shiva temples where the dharapatra hangs over the linga or the idol to bathe it with water, day and night. Devotees pile the linga high with Bel leaves and flowers and fast till sundown, eating only root vegetables and fruit. The nanda deep, or a 24 hour lamp, burns steadily in the temples signifying the eternal prayers of devotees ascending to heaven.
On Tuesdays, Gauri is worshipped in every home, specially by newly married women. Wednesdays are dedicated to Vithala, a form of Vishnu or Krishna and the favourite deity of Maharashtra. On Fridays, every home worships Lakshmi and Tulsi, and Saturdays are for Hanuman and Balaji.
The month of Shravan is also associated with the swing, which has a very special place in Indian celebrations. It is variously called Jhoola, dola or hindola. Deities are portrayed sitting on decorated swings during rituals of worship. The to and fro movement symbolises a state of joy and a flight away from the mundane worries of the world. The swinging motion is said to create ecstasy and identification with divinity. Placing a deity on a swing is an act of veneration.
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