THE SIGNIFICANCE OF SASHTIABDHAPOORTHI:
Ø The word itself has its meaning as "Sashti" - 60, "abhda" - years/life and "poorthi" -completion. There are 60 years in a Hindu calendar cycle. Each year has a name. When a person reaches 60 years of age, such person enters the second cycle. Historically, because the husband would typically always be older than wife, Sashtiabdhapoorthi is celebrated when the husband (as opposed to the wife) turns 60.
Ø At sixty, man had crossed only 50% of his life because the actual span of his life is 120 years according to Vedas. A 60th year, which is just half the span of time originally given to man is considered a critical period .According to the science of Hindu numerology, 6 happens to be an uneasy number and therefore 60 is a time when the ruling planet of a person may have an adverse effect on a man's life; He performs a religious Shanti, a measure undertaken to ensure good health, peace and longevity.
Ø One Samvatsara Cycle consists of 60 years starting from Prabhava, Vibhava, etc. . . .In the cycle of years the current year is called “VIRODHI”(upto say 13th of April-2010 ) To ward off from Bhootha- Pretha – Mruthyu Bhaya and to get rid of all sins acquired till then - this Kaamyartha Sashti Abdha Poorthi karma should be performed. During this shaanthi one also seeks from the God- good health and poorna Aayu: for himself as well as for his family members.
THE CONCEPT OF RUDHRA EKADHASI:
ü The vedic tradition, the cultural richness, of our country cannot be compared to any other country in the world. The Rishis and Maha-purushas made it a star, a crest-jewel in the crown of the Universe.
ü Sri Rudram-Chamakam occupies a very important place in Vedic literature and in the practice of Vedic Religion. It is the heart of Krishna Yajurveda. Sivapanchakshari Mantram is enshrined in it. Among the Vidyas, the Vedas are supreme; in the Vedas the Rudra Ekadasi is supreme; in the Rudram the Panchakshari Mantra 'NAMASHIVAYA' is supreme; in the Mantra the two letters 'SHIVA' is supreme. As by pouring water at the root of a tree, all its branches are nourished, so also by pleasing Rudra through Rudra Japa, all the Devas are pleased. This is the best atonement (Prayaschittam) for all sins and the foremost 'Sadhana' for attainment of cherished desires.
ü The importance: Rudra is Death and Homas are done to Him as "Mrityave Swaahaa" meaning "I sacrifice unto the God of Death". But He is also the "Mrityunjaya" meaning the "Conqueror of Death, the Lord of Immortality". Rudra is also "Aashutoshin"- one who is easily pleased. And the easiest method of pleasing Him is by the Rudram.
ü A verse in the Vayu Purana says: “A person reciting and applying daily the Namakam, Chamakam and the Purusha Sooktam is honoured in the Brahma loka." The Namakam referred to in it is the Rudram, abounding in the word 'Namah'.
ü The word Rudra has got 4 root meanings:
a) Dreadful, terrific angry.
b) Great or large.
c) Driving away evil.
d) Fit to be praised.
ü Sri Rudhram occurs in the middle of the Taittiriya Samhita of Sri Krishna Yajur Veda (i.e.) in the 4th Kandam, 5th Prasnam, in 11 Anuvakas of 169 mantras in total. It speaks of Lord Siva's several forms, His omniscience, His omnipresence and omnipotence, in choice and sweet pada renderings.
ü The Rudra Prasna as well as chamaka prasna contains 11 paragraphs. We recite Rudram in multiples of eleven. If Rudra is recited 121 times (112) it is known as "Rudra Ekadasi". When chanted 1331 times (113) it is known as "Maharudra". When chanted 14641 times (114) it is known as ATHI RUDRAM. The Rithviks, who recite Sri Rudram are arranged in groups of eleven. Each group comprising of eleven, is called one "Gana". There will be eleven ganas comprising of 121 Rithviks reciting Sri Rudram for eleven days - each day eleven times, preceded by Mahanyasam.
ü Eleven forms of Lord Siva worshipped in Sri Rudra Yajnas are :
1. Mahadeva, 2.Siva, 3.Rudra, 4.Sankara, 5.Neelalohita, 6.Easana, 7.Vijaya, 8.Bhima, 9.Devadeva, 10. Bhavodhbhava and 11.Adityatmaka Rudra.
Ø The following deities and great souls and rishis are propitiated and worshipped:
Mrutyunjaya, Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Markandeya, Navagrahas, Sapata Chiranjeevins (Aswathama, mahabali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibheeshana, Krupa and Parasurama), Ayur Devata, Samvatsara Devatas, Nakshatra Devatas, Ashtadikpalas, Saapthag Rishis.
All these devatas, great souls and rishis are pleased by the repeated chanting of their mantras, offering pujas, homams in Agni with appropriate samits and they bless the person celebrating 60th birth day.
Ø The main aspect of celebration is Kumbha or Kalasa stapanam. There are rules governing how and where these Kalasas are to be placed, and this will be guided to the householder by the Vedic scholars conducting the rituals and the sanctification process is religiously observed.
The kodam that is placed on the rice is like God Himself. The rice platform acts like a throne for him. The wrapping of the kodam with a vastram, thus, signifies the clothing of Him. The water that is held in the kodam is very holy for the same reason.
Ø The following 11-mangala dravyas are to be applied.
1. Gorochana: To be applied on the heads of Husband and wife for longevity, health, fame, courage and prosperity.
2. Cow’s milk curd: smear a small quantity on their foreheads (for prosperity, sweet, fragrance and comforts around forever).
3. Cow’s Ghee: Smear a little amount of cow's ghee on their eyelids. (For brightness, good appearance and good conduct.)
4. Green grass: Keep few grasses on their heads (Longevity, devoid of diseases and for very strong body).
5. Cow’s milk: A spoonful of cow's milk should be sprinkled on their heads (for strength and longevity).
6. Fruits: Touch fruits with hands.
7. Flowers: wear flowers on the heads with veneration. (Religious zeal)
8. Mirror: see the faces in the mirror (for disappearance of poverty evil devatas and ugliness).
9. Lighted Lamp: See the lighted lamp (Let there not be darkness, and lack of knowledge).
10. Earth soil: Touch the earth brought from beneath the Tulsi plant.
11. Gold: Keep a gold coin or an ornament on the head. The gold removes all sins and brings comforts.
Ø In the Sooktha Japa Rakshogni Mantras, Paavamana Sooktha, Varuna Sooktha, Thryambaka and Rudra Gayathri Mantras, Dik Palaka mantras, Brahma Vishnu Rudra/Durga/Sree/Bhoo/Mruthyu/Ayushya/Baagya etc. sookthams are chanted. Sri Rudram/Chamakam and Purusha Sooktham are also chanted This Japa conclude with Nakshatra Sooktham, Grutha Sooktham, Pancha Shaanthi and Ghosha Shaanthi. If possible, first panchathi from each of the 44 anuvakas from the Yajur Veda Samhitha are also chanted.
Ø Next to completion of the japam, Homam would be performed with 108 aahuthees chanting Thrayambaka Mantras. .Samith, Ghee (Aajyam) Havis (in some places til seed is also used). Homam is concluded with Swishta Krutha and Jayanthi Homam.
Ø After mangala dravyas are applied the couples take bath in sanctified water from the Kalasa wherein rituals are already performed.
The water collected in the kodam has been now strengthened by the vedas and is even more holy, powerful and all healing. So by showering it onto my parents, it is like transferring the power and strength to them. A little water is left behind for others too.
Ø Phaladhanam is to be given to all the participants towards mutual wish of gratitude. The giver pleases the receiver and the receiver blesses the giver.
Ø The Dasa Dhaanams (10 types of gifts) that can be given to Vedic experts are as follows:
1. Cow Dhaana is given praying for peace/prosperity etc. Generally substituted by a Coconut and Go Moolya (that is price of a cow- Uttaranga Go Dhaana)
2. Bhoo Dhaana: Land for cultivation or dwelling should be given.( Generally substituted by Sandal Wood piece).This Dhaana is given praying for comfortable living.
3. Sesame in a copper vessel or iron vessel is given praying for removal of all sins.
4. Hiranya (Gold) Dhaana is given again praying for removal all acquired sins.
5. Ghee in a bronze Vessel for pleasing of all devathas and praying for removal of all aarjitha papas.
6. Vastram (Veshti-Uthareeyam) – Praying for good health and prosperity.
7. Food grains (Paddy/Rice/Wheat etc) Praying for Subhiksham in life.
8. Jaggery: To Please Goddess Lakshmi and seeking all prosperity
9. Silver: To please piturs/ Maha Vishnu seeking their blessings.
10. Lavanam (Salt) To Please Sri Rudra seeking good health.
Some people give Pancha Dhaana also (Gift of 5 items) apart from the above. They are Deepam, A religious book, a bell, Vastram, and Udhaka Kumba
(Brass or Copper vessel with water). These Dhaanas are made seeking the Blessings of all Devathas/ purohits etc.
Ø Bhoori Dhakshina is given to all Scholars and other elders who have graced the occasion. Finally Pala Dhaana to be given to one and all who has come for the function. The above two Dhaanas are given seeking their good wishes.
THE MAANGALYA POOJA:
Finally maangalya pooja is performed with chanting of mantra. The wife is seated facing eastwards and the husband stand facing north. He ties the “Thirumangaalyam’ around the neck of his wife with the blessings of all Gods, Goddesses and Rishis. Function would be concluded by Maha Aashirvadams from Vedic experts and the elders present there. Thus the celebration comes to an auspicious end.
It’s a real blessing to see one's parents' wedding. :-)
80th. birthday is the next milestone when he is felicitated for having seen “a thousand full -moons (Sahasra Chandra Darshanam)”.