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LORD SRI SATYANARAYANA

This section is meant for informing the browsers about various poojas that are performed according to the Hindu culture and tradition. Our aim is to inform fellow tradition lovers about the details of worshipping a God including the importance of the God, pooja vidhi or the method of worship and the material required for performing the pooja. We will feature the details of one God and pooja vidhi every week. You may note that there are certain differences in the pooja vidhi and the type of material used depending on the regional practices. The details  provided in these columns are general and that are based on the basic rules of worship. Watch out for more information on the basic pillar of the Indian tradition, God in these columns.

SRI SATYANARAYANA VRATA

The almighty Vishnu who is the Sustainer of the cosmic and micro-cosmic life is referred to in 'Amarakosha' the Sanskrit lexicon as Vishnu, Naraayana and Krishna.  Thus Naraayana or Aadinaaraayana or Aadipurusha, as he is alluded to in Purusha Sookta is the manifestation of Vishnu. The term 'Swami' which applies to God etymologically means the fount of Prosperity.

Lord Satyanarayana, the manifestation of Vishnu, is endearingly worshipped in the Indian homes through the much known Satyanarayana Vrata. This vrata finds mention in the Skaandha Purana penned by Bhagavan Vyaasa. It may be remembered that Skaandha Purana, one of the 18 puranas is named after 'Skandha' or Kumara Swamy. This vrata is mentioned in Reva Khanda of the said purana. 

The Skaandha Purana elucidates that the vrata was narrated to Shaunaka and other rishis of Naimishaaranya in North India by a sage called Soota. Naarada, the celestial sage, learns the significance of the vrata from Aadinaaraayana and passed it on to Soota. The Satyanarayana Vrata is said to bail out the trouble tom people of their difficulties and is considered a cure-all, an ante-dote for all evils.

The vrata is explained in five chapters. The first or the introductory chapter deals with the timing of the vrata and the procedure to go about it. The remaining four chapters contain three stories to reassert the greatness and benevolence of the Almighty. The stories weave out such anecdotes, which reveal the significance of the vrata quite effectively. The vrata is also revealed in nine chapters in some books.

According to chapter one, the vrata can be performed in the evenings on a full moon day, or on the Ekadasi or on that day when Ravi enters a particular Zodiac that month. 

On that said day of the
vrata, it is required to fast and perform the pooja towards the evening. In a cleaned pooja room, a new cloth has to be spread on a slightly elevated platform. Rice equal to about a kg has to be spread on the cloth and in the centre and a kalash capped with a new cloth piece should be placed and on that the token or a small idol of the Lord has to be positioned. A Panchaamruta (a mixture of ghee, milk, sugar, honey and curds) abhishekam has to be performed. 

Vrata begins with the lighting of the lamp, a symbolic gesture of lighting the lamp of devotion in one's heart. Then we pray to Lord Ganesha, the dispeller of obstacles, Lakshmi, the giver of prosperity, Vishnu, the sustainer, Lord Shiva and Parvathi, the primordial couple who dance their way to cosmic rhythm, Sun God, the giver of good health, the nine planets and Ashtadikpaalakaas including Lord Indra.

Lord Ganesha and Panchaloka Paalakaas should be positioned to the north of the Kalasha and can be worshipped through areca nuts or almonds or turmeric pods or dry dates. Later, the nine planets should be  worshipped by placing areca nuts on betel leaves followed by Lord Indra and other Dikpaalakaas. Later the Lord Satyanarayana's idol or image on betel leaf should be worshipped through panchamruta abhisheka. The pooja runs in ashtottara or satanaama attributes and culminates with haarathi and taamboolam. At the end of the vrata there is udvaasana, a formal way of concluding the pooja. The vrata can be performed by every devout individual by inviting brahmins, friends and relatives. The underlying spirit is to bring in as many people as possible into the divine cult.

Ripe plantains, cow ghee, wheat flour and sugar are used to prepare the prasada for the lord. After the pooja all the invitees should partake the teertha and prasada. Lord Vishnu himself explained all these details to Narada. This forms the first chapter. The other four chapters deal with the stories on the significance of the vrata. 

Pooja Material:
A book on the vrata (It is preferable to seek help of a purohit), a square
platform, mango leaves, two new cloth pieces, kalasha, lord's idol or a photograph, turmeric, kumkum, panchaamruta, six coconuts, prasada, four oil lamps, sandal paste, incense sticks, betel leaves, two garlands, areca nuts, turmeric pods, dry dates or almonds, camphor, offerings in form of cash or coins, tulsi leaves and flowers.  

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