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Under this heeding we will be discussing the following ceremonies and festivals.

1. Kartika Snan

2. Tulsi Vivahotsava

3. Devuthani Ekadashi

4. Kartika Purnima

Kartika Snan

Among the twelve months of the year, some are regarded specially holy and sacred, and as such they are most suitable for the acts of piety. These are Vaisakha, Kartika and Magha. All through the month of Kartika, the early morning bath in some sacred river, stream, pond or at a well is considered highly meritorious. On the sacred rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, etc., a month long bathing festival is held. Some people specially set up their tents on their banks for this purpose, and at the termination of month long bathing festival they return to their distant homes. During the month, the aspirants observe strict continence, have regular morning bath in the sacred streams, take a single simple meal every day and spend their time in prayer, meditation and such other acts of piety and devotion.

Women-folk in villages and towns get up quite early in the morning, and go to the sacred streams in groups, singing hymns, and after ablutions visit the nearby temples. They observe fast and hang lamps in the sky in small baskets from the bamboo tops at their houses or on the river banks. These sky lamps are kept burning all through Kartika to light the path of departed souls across the sky. Tulsi is also worshipped in the evening, and an earthen lamp is placed near it.

Tulsi Vivahotsava

Tulsi plant is sacred and cultivated specially in homes and temples. It is considered wife of Vishnu and shown respect accordingly. It is offered daily puja by the women in the evening with lamps. Tulsi leaf is put in the mouth of a dying person along with Gangajal and this fecilitates easy departure. Watering, cultivating and worship of Tulsi plant ensures happiness. When its leaves are put into any water it becomes as good as Gangajal. Tulsi leaves offered to Vishnu in Kartika (November) pleases him more than the gift of a thousand cows.

Tulsi is generally grown on a small square pillar, hollow at the top, with its four sides facing the four cardinal directions. Since Tulsi is Vishnupriya (beloved of Vishnu), their marriage is celebrated in Kartika Shukla Ekadashi, i.e. the eleventh day of the bright half of Kartika (October-November). In Padma Purana, we find the details of the ceremony. On this day, sh - married to Vishnu. The image of Vishnu is richly decorated and thin carried to the place where Tulsi plant is grown, and there the marriage is ritually solemnized. Fast is observed on this day.

Devuthani Ekadashi

Vishnu slumbers for four months from the eleventh day of the bright half of Ashadha (June-July) till the tenth day of the bright half o. Kartika (October-November). And then, he gets up on the eleventh day, which is known as Devuthani Ekadashi. During these four months, all other gods sleep and so auspicious ceremonies like marriage, thread ceremony, etc. are not observed. On this day, ladies observe fast, worship Vishnu and sing hymns in praise of various gods and goddesses around a cowdung cake-fire. It also marks the beginning of eating new products of the fields for the time in the season. These include especially sugarcane and waternuts. It is obviously a rural festival, and is observed with much gaiety and festivity in the countryside. From this day onward marriages, etc. can be held as it marks again the beginning of auspicious time. It is believed that Vishnu got tired in killing the great demon Shankhasura, and so he went sleep for a period of four months and with him also slumbered the other deities.

Kartika Purnima

Sikhs celebrate Kartika Purnima as Guru Parab and Nanak's birthday, but the Hindus celebrate it as a day when God incarnated himself as Matsya Avtar or in Fish-formation. The aim of Fish Incarnation was to save Vavaswata, the seventh Manu, and the progenitor of the human race from destruction by a deluge. Charities done and piety observed on this day are believed to earn high religious merit. Bathing in the Ganges, or in other holy water is considered of special religious significance. People keep fast, practice charities and meditate on God.

It is also believed that Shankara killed demon Tripurasura on this day and so he is also called Tripurari. Shiva is worshipped on this occasion and giving away of the bull, the mount of Shiva, as a gift to a Brahmin, is thought to be of great religious significance. Big cattle fairs are also held on this day at various places. For example, a Cattle Fair held at the sacred Pushkar Lake, near Ajmer, is a great draw, which transforms the scene into a seething sea of colour and gaiety, tempered by the presence of the devout. Thousands of camels, cows, bulls, buffaloes, sheep, goats, etc., are brought there for sale. Camel races are held and there is a lot of fun and merry making Over a hundred thousand pilgrims take bath here on this day in thr sacred lake.