The holy significance of Kartik month vrata
One of the highest vratas – Kartik Month
Kartik month which falls under the Dakshinayana period is regarded as the most pious month for sadahana or prayers. When the planet Sun enters in the sign of Tula, the lunar month of Kartik begins. The month of Kartik which is also known as the Damodar maas or month is suggested as being one of the best months for observing austerities. Religious acts performed during this month is said to provide results equivalent to a visit to all pilgrimages. The month of Kartik is known to be a period for the welfare of mankind. It is believed that there is no other month as Kartik, no other era like Satyayuga, no other religious scripture as Veda, and no pilgrimage as a dip in the holy Ganga.
Significant occasions in the Kartik month
Auspicious holy occasions of Dev Prabodhini Ekadashi, Tulsi vivah, Vaikuntha chaturdashi and Kartik Poornima fall in the month of Kartik. Dev Prabodhini Ekadashi brings the inauspicious four month period known as Chaturmaas to an end. Lord Vishnu is believed to get into a state of yoga nidra on Devshayani Ekadashi and wakes up after four months on Dev Prabodhini Ekadashi in Kartik month. Devotees observe many rituals in order to rejoice at the occasion of awakening of Lord Vishnu. This holy day is significant for many reasons; it not only marks the beginning of an auspicious period but also helps devotees to get rid of all their sins, even those that were done in past life.
Sacred ritual of Tulsi vivah in Kartik Month
The sacred ritual of Tulsi vivah is observed from the ekadashi (11th day of the bright fortnight) to poornima (full moon) of the Kartik month. It is the day to commemorate the ceremonial marriage of the holy basil plant (tulsi) to Lord Vishnu.
This day has a special significance
Vaikuntha Chaturdashi is a sacred day which is observed a day before Kartik poornima. This day has a special significance as devotees get an opportunity to offer their prayers to both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva together. While Lord Vishnu is worshipped at midnight (nishitha), Lord Shiva is worshipped at dawn (arunodaya). It is a belief that on this day both the deities had paid homage to each other; Lord Vishnu had offered tulsi leaves to Lord Shiva while Lord Shiva had offered Bael leaves to Lord Vishnu.
The day when the gods celebrate the win of virtue over vice
Kartik Poornima also known as Dev Diwali is believed to be the day when the gods celebrate the win of virtue over vice. It is the day associated with significant occasions such as birth of Kartikeya, Lord Vishnu’s incarnation as Matsya avatar and birth of Vrunda, the personification of holy basil plant. This year, Dev Prabodhini Ekadashi falls on 10th November, Tulsi vivah falls on 11th November, Vaikuntha Chaturdashi falls on 13th November and Kartik Poornima falls on 14th November.
Kartik Month Helps to achieve all the four goals of life
In Kaliyuga, Kartik month vrata is said to the best means for salvation. Women offer prayers to Radha-Damodar after bathing at the Brahma Muhurta during this month. In the Puranas, this month is said to provide all the four goals of life (purusharthas)- Dharma (righteousness), arth (wealth), kaam (worldly pleasures) and moksha (liberation). It is a period in which people attain the best of health. The religious significance of this month was explained by Narayaana to Brahma who in turn, narrated it to Naarada, who then explained it to King Prithu. It is said that Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva visit earth during this sacred month.
Helps to attain health, wealth and peace
Everyone wishes a happy, comfortable and peaceful life for himself and his near and dear ones and this is what is said to be provided by Kartik month vrata. In our religious scriptures, the glory of Kartik month vrata has been vividly described. People have been advised to follow strict rules and worship God with devotion.
A holy dip in Kartik Month
One should practice waking up before sunrise (Brahma Muhurta), take bath in a nearby pond, river or lake and offer prayers to the Almighty in the entire month of Kartik. The first ritual of Kartik vrata is to remember Ganga, Vishnu, Shiva and Surya as one starts his bath in a river or pond. It is highly auspicious and rewarding to take bath in any of the seven holy rivers- Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Narmada, Kshipra, Godavari or Kaveri on this day. However, if it is not possible to do so, one can remember any of the holy rivers while bathing.
Rituals to observe for the vrata
A married person should apply paste of black sesame seeds and gooseberry powder while a saintly person or widower should apply the clay of Tulsi roots (mrittika). Offering tarpan to the deceased ancestors is a beneficial ritual while bathing. After finishing the bath and tarpan ritual, one should wear clean clothes and worship Lord Vishnu.
Charity as a ritual in Kartik Month
Women who perform the Kartik maas vrata listen to the Kartik vrata katha sitting under a gooseberry tree on Akshaynavami. It is a tradition to offer donations throughout the month of Kartik. But on this day, apart from donating to the Brahmins, there is also a tradition of secret donation in which the things to be donated are hidden in an ash gourd. After performing the rituals, the Brahmins and unmarried boys and girls are served food under the tree.
The festival of lights falls in this holy month
The month of Kartik is special than the other months for many reasons. The Amavasya of Kartik month is celebrated as the festival of lights in the entire nation. This day is known as Deepavali and is observed with a lot of enthusiasm. It is believed that on this auspicious day, Mata Lakshmi roams around everywhere and blesses her devotees with a prosperous life. It is a ritual to light lamps at the entrance of the house, near the Tulsi plant at sunrise or sunset during the month of Kartik. A ritual known as Akash Deep is also observed in which oil lamps are lit at night or twilight dedicated to the dead ancestors.
Offering prayers to Mata Tulsi
Another important ritual of this month is worshipping the Tulsi plant. Early morning, one needs to pour water on the tulsi plant and offer prayers to the goddess. Planting a tulsi plant on this day gives highly auspicious results. Tulsi is not only said to free one from diseases but also liberate a person from the fears of the messengers of death (Yamdoots). One gets maximum results by performing puja with Tulsi leaves and its flowers (manjari).
Leading a simple and pure life
The next important ritual to be followed in this month is sleeping on the floor. This act increases the Sattvik qualities of a person. Sleeping on the floor which is similar to resting at God’s feet liberates a person of all fears. Practicing a life of celibacy (Brahmacharya) is vital in this month for completion of the spiritual progress. Sankirtan and listening to the verses of Gita and Ramcharitmanas destroys all sins and provides wisdom. Apart from these, donating cows and rice is also considered beneficial. Worshipping Lord Vishnu forms one of the integral rituals of this vrata.
Foods to be avoided during this holy month
One should refrain from eating excessive salt, sesame seeds, eggplant, bottle gourd, honey, red lentil, black gram, bengal gram, pigeon pea, split peas, green gram, garlic and onion. One should avoid eating stale or impure food. Consumption of tobacco or betel leaf is prohibited during this period. One should also exhibit virtues of honesty, kindness, helpfulness and avoid negative emotions. One should apply oil only on Narak chaturdashi.
Establishes the connect of man with nature
All the rituals such as worshipping the cow, offering prayers to different trees, and bathing in the Ganges have a deep relevance in the modern life too. It highlights the importance of nature and the immediate need to conserve our natural environment. Observing the Kartik month vrata enables a man to attain prosperity, knowledge, strength, wealth and good company not only during the life in this world but even in the next world. Hence, it can be concluded that a person who observes the Kartik month vrata with full devotion and faith is blessed with complete happiness.