It’s time to celebrate yet another festival: one that is dedicated to worshiping of the sacred Godavari river! Pushkaram is also known as Pushkaralu or Pushkara. Are you aware of it? If not, read on… for it will take another 144 years for this festival to come by again, and neither you, nor I will be alive then. So make room for one more Indian festival in your calendar.
India is known as the land of rivers since the Vedic age. We are part of the civilization that has worshiped rivers for ages, considering them equivalent to Goddesses. So it doesn’t remain a wonder that a festival has been dedicated for the worshiping of these holy rivers. However also associated with this festival, is the reverence of our ancestors, spiritual discourses and other cultural programs. Speaking of rivers in mainland India, there are 12 main rivers, each associated with a Zodiac sign. The sign on which Jupiter is in a year, decides the river for each year’s festival:
- Ganga represents Aries
- Narmada represents Taurus
- Saraswati for Gemini
- Yamuna for Cancer
- Godavari denoting Leo
- Krishna denoting Virgo
- Kaveri denoting Libra
- Bhima-Tamraparni denoting Scorpio
- Tapti denoting Sagittarius
- Tungabhadra for Capricorn
- Sindhu denoting Aquarius
- Penna denoting Pisces
Though the festival is said to last for as long as Jupiter remains in that Zodiac sign (approx. 1 year), it is the Adi Pushkaram (first 12 days) that attracts crowds. Similarly, the last 12 days are referred to as Anthya Pushkaram. This period of 24 days is believed to be the time when ‘Pushkar’ (the person with the power to make a river holy) travels with Jupiter from 1 Zodiac to another.
The festival of Pushkaram is celebrated at shrines located on the river banks of the earlier mentioned 12 sacred Indian rivers. It is an annual festival wherein the 12 rivers are worshiped cyclically in a period of 12 years. The festivities involve bathing in the holy water, paying homage to forefathers and giving alms, besides offering puja to the river. These activities are believed to bring prosperity to one’s life.
But what makes this year’s Godavari Pushkaralu more interesting is the fact that it is a Maha Pushkaram- the Pushkaram that corresponds to the 12th recurrence of the 12-year Godavari Pushkaram cycle. The next Godavari Maha Pushkaram will be celebrated 144 years later, in 2159. This festival attracts 40 to 50 million people from various parts of India. In accordance with the estimated crowd, the government makes arrangements for commutation, communication, sanity , water supply and security. Above all, strict restrictions are imposed to ensure that havoc is not wrought upon Mother Nature. So what is special for the Godavari Maha Pushkaram 2015… is that your question? An emblem titled “Godavari Maha Pushkaram 2015” has been adopted and special committees have been assigned for preparations. The logo is a simple design of River Godavari with a Jyoti. Symbolic events proposed to be held include ‘Sobha Yatra’ and ‘Godavari Harathi’.
This year, the Maha Pushkaram begins on 14th July 2015 at 6.26 AM, when Jupiter enters Leo and ends 12 days later, on 25th July 2015. So by the time you read this, the great festival has already started. So what are you waiting for! Go celebrate Nature while you can.