One of the oldest religions in the world, what sets Hinduism apart from that of all others is the fact that it does not believe in the supremely of one single God. For the Hindus, there are 33 million Gods and all of them are important.
As most of us are well aware, Hindus believe in the triage of creation of something new, protecting the same from harm and ultimately, when the time is right, destroying of the same. There is always a reason for the creation.
This justification for the same is beyond the control of us mortals. For the same reason, the responsibility of the same falls on Brahma, the Creator. Once he has created the things the way they are supposed to be, the next major thing that comes into the picture is protecting the same.
That is the job of Vishnu, the Protector. Whenever, things down here were in for the bad and a change was needed, Lord Vishnu took up different forms (or Avatars) and saved the planet. Ultimately, when the period of existence of something was over, Lord Maheshwara, the Destroyer, destroyed the same.
Thus, from the spiritual point of view, the nine incarnations of Lord Vishnu have a major significance in Hinduism. Among all other avatars, the Matsya Avatar is of particular importance. That is why to commemorate this day, Matsya Jayanti is celebrated. This year, the Matsya Jayanti falls on the 20th of March. Read on to know more about this unique festival.
• When Is It Celebrated
This year, the Matsya Jayanti falls on the 20th of March. It is celebrated on the third day of the Shukla Paksha of the month of Chaitra, as per the traditional Saki calendar of India. It is believed that on this day, Lord Vishnu appeared as a one-horned fish to rescue the Vedas. Some scriptures dictate that this particular avatar of Vishnu appeared on the earth to warn about the great Mahapralaya that will befall the earth in the centuries to come.
• Observing Matsya Jayanti
Since this day is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, offering prayers in the temple are an absolute must. If one is able to keep a dawn to dusk fast on this particular day, it is said to earn him good luck and set him on the path to Moksha. This Moksha, or salvation, is the ultimate goal of Hinduism. However, during this particular fast, one does not have to starve themselves completely and can gorge on fruits and milk.
• What Sets It Apart
Since this day is associated with Matsya, cleaning up of ponds, lakes, rivers and other water bodies is believed to bring in good luck. Feeding fish and other aquatic animals also form a part of the routine. Any form of charity is encouraged on this day. That is why a lot of people are seen donating food and old clothing to the poor and deprived sections of the society on this day. Other than this, if one wants to set on a path of sin redemption, they can consider listening to stories associated with this avatar or reading the Matsya Purana themselves. Doing so will give them the peace of mind that they need.
• Associated Stories And Lore
Many of us are familiar with the story that Matsya was rescued by Satyavrata or Manu. As a reward for this kind gesture, the divine fish warns Manu of an impending deluge. The deluge was supposed to be so huge that it would have destroyed human existence in general. Matsya requests Manu to carry the Vedas. He was further instructed to gather the seeds of all plants and a pair of each living being. Manu did as instructed and in this way was able to save humankind from one of the greatest tragedies of all times.
• Matsya Purana
Most of what we know about the Matsya avatar is from the Matsya Purana. This Purana has stories associated with Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Goddess Shakti. Quite a number of chapters here are dedicated to the festivals and rituals associated with Hinduism. This Purana speaks about the duties of various sections of the society (from that of kings and ministers to that of mere citizens). Being one of the 18 most important Puranas of Hinduism, this scripture goes on to describe the different architectural designs that a house can possibly have and also the rituals and ceremonies that are associated with construction of the same.
• Matsya Temple
Near the temple town of Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, there is the famous Sri. Veda Narayanaswami Temple that is dedicated to the Matsya avatar of Vishnu. As stated earlier, the architectural details that are described in the Matsya Purana are very precise. The same has been used in the design and creation of this temple. Every year, the sun's rays fall directly on the idol on the 25th, 26th and 27th of March. Considering that this year the Matsya Jayanti is on the 20th of March, it is fair on our part to assume that the coming ten days will be filled with a lot of activity (as people are expected to visit the temple in large numbers). Other than the main idol of the Matsya avatar of Vishnu, consorts of Vishnu (namely Sridevi and Bhudevi) flank the main murti that is present in the sanctum sanctorum.
• Taking It A Notch Higher
For people who are interested in celebrating this festival, Matsya Dwadarshi is another similar festival that is dedicated to the Matsya avatar that they would like to know about. Unlike the Matsya Jayanti, that is popular all over the country, this festival is popular mainly in North India. Some communities observe it on the 12th day of Kartik, whereas others do it on the 12th day of the month of Margasheersh. Rituals associated with this festival are very similar to that of Matsya Jayanti and if you have enjoyed yourself this Matsya Jayanti, this is one festival you might want to participate in.
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