Hindus believe in the theory of “mahurats” or auspicious timings in every step in life – be it to begin a new venture or making an important purchase. Akshaya Tritiya is one such momentous occasion, which is considered one of the most auspicious days of the Hindu Calendar. It is believed, any meaningful activity started on this day would be fruitful.
In Jain and Hindu calendars, some days of the month are absent in counting and some days (tithi in lunar calendars) come extra, but Akshay tritiya is one day which is never “absent” from the lunar calendar.
The word “Akshaya” means the never diminishing in Sanskrit and the day is believed to bring good luck and success. It is believed that if you do charity on this day you will be blessed. On Akshay Tritiya, Mrutika worshiped.
Akshaya Tritiya falls on the third day of the bright half of Vaishakh month (April-May), when the Sun and Moon are in exaltation; they are simultaneously at their peak of brightness, which happens only once every year.
As per Hindu electional astrology (Muhurta) three lunar days (tithis) are auspicious. These are called Sade-Teen Muhurtas also. These Tithis are first Tithi of Bright Half of Chaitra (starting of new year), tenth Tithi of Bright Half of Ashvina (Vijay Dashmi), third Tithi of Bright Half of Vaishakha (Akshay Tritiya- Parshu Jyanti) and first Tithi of Bright Half of Karttika are called “Sade-Teen (3 ½) Muhurt”. The first three tithis are counted as full and the last one as half Tithi and constitute Sade – Teen Muhurt. Sun and moon are astrologically believed to be at their most exalted equal brightness on this day.
Akshaya Tritiya is also called Navanna Parvam. Akshaya Tritiya falling on a Rohini star Monday is considered more auspicious.
In Hinduism, Akshay Tritiya was the day when Vyasa started writing the history of the great Bharat war in the form of an epic Mahabharata. This day is symbolized by god Vishnu, the preserver-god in the Hindu Trinity. According to Hindu mythology, on this day the Treta Yuga began and the river Ganges, the most sacred river of India, descended to the earth from the heaven.
It was on this day that Goddess Annapoorna devi was born.
Kubera received his wealth and position as custodian of wealth and property with Goddess Lakshmi on this day, by praying to Lord Shiva at Shivapuram.
It is traditionally observed as the birthday of Parashurama, the sixth incarnation of god Vishnu. The Puranic scriptures speak about how he reclaimed the land from the sea.
In Mahabharata, Yudhishtira receives the Akshaya patra, which he uses to serve food for all the needy in his kingdom.
It is on this day that poor Sudama, the best friend of Krishna visits Him (Lord Krishna) to greet Him after He became the King. With nothing to offer, Sudama takes with him Poha (puffed rice) and offers it to his friend and never discusses his poverty though he intends to. On his return he finds his hut changed to a palace.
It is on this day that Dushasana, Duryodhana’s brother, unveils Draupadi at the royal court where Krishna protects her providing the ‘unending’ veil…
In more recent history, Adi Shankara recited the Kanaka Dhara Stotr on this day for the sake of the poor couple at whose house he stopped for Bhiksha and was offered their only available gooseberry.
Goa and Kerala regions, even today, are referred to as Parushurama Kshetra. Akshaya Tritiya, the third day of the bright-half of the lunar month of Vaisakha is considered one of the most sacred days of the year.
In Odisha, on Akshay Tritiya day, farmers start ploughing their land and construction of chariots for Rath Yatra begins at Puri.
This day is generally observed by fasting and worship of Lord Vasudeva with rice grains. A dip in the river Ganges on this day is considered to be very auspicious.
The Vedic scriptures say that knowledge gained or charity done on Akshay Tritiya is very fruitful. It is considered to be a very lucky day to start new business or venture. Many people buy gold or property on this day.
Fasts are kept on this day and pujas are performed. In charity, fan, rice, salt, ghee, sugar, vegetables, tamarind, fruit, clothes, are given. The god Vishnu is worshiped. Tulsi water is sprinkled in the nearby area of the idol while performing aarti.
In Bengal, on the day of the Akshay Tritiya, “HalKhata” – a ceremony to start the new audit book is performed – with the worship of Ganesha and goddess Lakshmi. Bengalis perform many rites and rituals on this day.
This day is most auspicious day for the Jat farming community. Early morning, a male member of a Jat family goes to the field with a shovel. All the animals and birds encountered on the way to the field are omens and predictions for rains and crops. Akshay Tritiiya is an occasion for weddings, which are conducted in mass ceremonies. It is considered an unboojha muhurat.
It is believed that god Kubera, the treasurer of the gods, is the richest deity. Lakshmi Tantram says that even Kubera will pray to goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and consort of Vishnu, on Akshay Tritiya. A day-long Kubera Lakshmi Puja is performed in which an image of Lakshmi is worshiped with Sudarsana Kubera Yantra, symbolising Kubera.
On Akshay Trutiya, a king or those who have the responsibility of taking care of the subjects, should perform ‘puja’, with gratitude and devotion, of the picture of ‘Vaibhav-Lakshmi’ with Sree Vishnu as it helps to make the subjects happy and prosperous. “We are not graced by ‘Goddess Lakshmi’ as she is the divine energy (shakti) of Sree Vishnu. How can His ‘divine energy’ come here and bless us if Sree Vishnu is not invited? Therefore, before worshiping Sree Lakshmi in any of her forms, first invite Sree Vishnu and then invite Sree Lakshmi as the worshiper gets maximum benefit of Lakshmi-tattva” (principle).
Followers of the Jain religion consider Akshaya Tritiiya to be a holy and supremely auspicious day. It is associated with Lord Adinatha, also known as Rishabhadeva, first of the twenty-four Tīrthankaras. On this day people who observe the year-long alternative day fasting known as Varshi-tap finish their Tapasya by doing parana by drinking sugarcane juice.
The day of Akshaya Tritiya is worshiped and said to be auspicious in Jainism because it is said to have established the very first “ahara charya”: a methodology to prepare and serve food to Jain monks. Lord Rishabhadeva denounced the worldly pleasures after dividing his vast kingdom amongst his 101 sons, prominent of whom are Gommateshvara Bahubali (whose world’s tallest monolithic statue stands at Shravanbelgola and Chakravarti Bharata; it is known today as “Bharat”).
Lord Rishabhadeva meditated without any food and water for six months and after that set out to accept food (ahara). He was the first monk of this era. Jain monks do not own anything. They do not even cook food for themselves. When hungry or thirsty, (maximum once in a day), they set out to accept ahara. They do not ask for it and accept where it is offered. Tirthankara Rishabhadeva went to people to accept food. However, the people of that time did not know anything about the lives and disciplines of monks, as he was the first monk of this era. The people of Ayodhya offered him gold, jewellery, gemstones, elephants, horses, expensive garments and even their daughters to honour their beloved king.
But Rishabhadeva was not in search of these things. He sought only a morsel of food, but nobody offered it to him. Nobody understood that their king was looking for food to ensure that the monks who would come after him get food and water in the purest form needed to lead an ascetic life. As there was no choice, he had to fast for one year until King Shreyansa understood his need due to his “purva-bhava-smarana”. Shreyansa Kumar offered him sugarcane juice and thus Rishabhadeva ended his fast. This was on the day of Akshaya Tritiya. Hence, sugarcane juice is considered by Jains to be one of the best offerings.
It is further believed that religious gifts bestowed on Akshaya Tritiya become inexhaustible. Jains today observe a fast to commemorate their first Tirthankara Rishabhadeva on Akshaya Tritiya and end their fast with sugarcane juice.
In Hastinapur, there is a fair held on Akshaya Tritiya. Jains arrive from all over India in large numbers to end their fasts. The ritual ending of a fast by Jains is called parana (पारणा).