In Hindu culture, a guru holds a very significant place in the life of a student. This is so as it is via the shared wisdom of a guru that a disciple or a student becomes ready to face the world.
The word Guru is a combination of two specific words Gu and Ru. Gu means darkness or ignorance and Ru means the remover of darkness. Thus, the guru is someone who removes darkness from the life of their students and disciples. To celebrate the teachings of a guru, the festival of Guru Purnima is celebrated by the Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists all across India along with neighbouring countries like Bhutan and Nepal.
As the name suggests, this festival is traditionally celebrated on a full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashadha. In many places, Guru Purnima is also known as the Vyasa Purnima as it marks the birthday of the great rishi Ved Vyasa. He finds mention in many of our ancient scriptures like Puranas, Mahabharata, etc. This sage is responsible for structuring four Vedas, creating Puranas and its foundation, creating the epic of the Mahabharata, and vast Hindu encyclopedias. It is on this day when Lord Shiva or the Ultimate Guru, the Adi Guru taught the seven rishis or seven seers of the Vedas. As per Yoga Sutras, Om or Ishwara is considered as the Adi Guru of Yoga. As per Buddhist texts, it is on this day that Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon at Sarnath. The festival is celebrated to commemorate teachers, saints, sages, or anyone who teaches us or the one who frees us of our ignorance. Although it is celebrated all across the country, Varanasi is one place where you will get to experience the true nuances of the Guru Purnima celebration. The date of this festival varies as per Hindu Calendar. Guru Purnima 2023 was celebrated on July 3rd.
According to the Hindu legend, Ved Vyasa, who was also the author of Mahabharata was born to sage Parashara and a fisherman’s daughter named Satyavati on this day. Due to this, Guru Purnima is also celebrated as Vyasa Purnima. The great sage is majorly known for dividing the Holy Vedas into four distinct parts namely Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharva Veda in the Hindu culture.
After Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment, he found his five former companions, who had left him in between while seeking the ultimate nature of life, and taught them the true meaning of dharma. With this, he passed on his teachings and made them enlightened.
With this, the Buddhist sangha was established on the full moon day of the Asahdha month. It is said that soon this Buddhist sangha grew to 60 members. This was when Lord Buddha sent them in every direction possible for spreading the divine message of Dharma.
The celebrations of Guru Poornima include various spiritual activities as well as rituals. Guru Pooja is also conducted at various temples and places.
There is a close association between Guru Poornima and Vishnu Pooja. Devotees recite Vishnu Sahastranam or thousand names of Lord Vishnu on this auspicious day. It helps channelise energies and sync soul with self.
Many cultural performances are also held at various places as well. In several ashrams and monasteries, chanting and prayers are offered by the students and disciples in the honor of their respective gurus. Many disciples recite Vishnu Sahatranam a thousand times.
Many people also fast on this day. At temples, feasts are organized which include the Charnamrit (a combination of sweet curd and dry fruits) along with other simple yet delicious delicacies which include Ladoos, Gulab jamuns, khichdi, Puri Choley, Barfi, and few other things.
The highlight of Guru Purnima is the disciples meditating and dedicating themselves to follow the teachings and principles of Guru and put them to practice.
Though Guru Purnima is celebrated with utmost reverence and devotion all over India, there are some special temples and places in different regions where this festival is uniquely celebrated at a very grand scale. Check out the major places in India where the Guru Purnima festival can be witnessed along with its distinctive rituals.
Varanasi, the city of temples, witnesses crowds thronging at various temples where devotees gather to offer their prayers to saints, sages, and deities. Long queues can be seen outside the temples on this day. The enthusiasm of devotees is worth watching and it strikes a chord with the onlookers to see the height of respect people have for their Gurus. Baba Keenaram Sthal in Varanasi also witnesses huge crowds of devotees on this day.
Sai Temple in Nagpur is another place where devotees gather in large numbers to offer their prayers and respects to the deity. Sai Baba is revered all over the country, even in different parts of the world but Nagpur is one step ahead when it comes to Guru Purnima celebrations.
Hyderabad also witnesses Guru Purnima celebrations at a very vast scale at Mata Amritanandamayi Math where devotees gather in huge numbers. They wait hours to attend Maha Aarti and Maha Prasadam.
Ques 1. Why is Guru Purnima celebrated?
Ans 1. The festival is celebrated to commemorate teachers, saints, sages, or anyone who teaches us or the one who frees us of our ignorance.
Ques 2. What is the major highlight of Guru Purnima celebrations?
Ans 2. The major highlights of Guru Purnima celebrations are fasting, feasting, meditation, cultural programs, offering prayers, and respects to the gurus, saints, seers, mentors, and teachers.
Ques 3. What is the significance of meditation on Guru Purnima?
Ans 3. The highlight of Guru Purnima is the disciples meditating and dedicating themselves to follow the teachings and principles of Guru and put them to practice.
Ques 4. When is Guru Purnima celebrated?
Ans 4. This festival is traditionally celebrated on a full moon day in the Hindu month of Ashadha. In many places, Guru Purnima is also known as the Vyasa Purnima as it marks the birthday of the great rishi Ved Vyasa.
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