Akshaya Trithiya or Akha Teej, is a highly auspicious day which falls on the third day after Amavasya (no moon) in the Hindu calendar month of Vaishakha.
This traditional festival seems insignificant in comparison to some of the more glamorous festivals of the land.
For whatever reason this festival came into being, today Akshaya Trithiya day is being marketed as a day for buying gold, even better platinum now. Advertisements are being splashed all over urging one and all to buy gold.
Gold and Platinum
Is this festival Akshaya Trithiya, a festival for buying gold or better platinum? We have also heard our parents telling us to start things on this day because anything started on this day is expected to grow.
So, what is this Akshaya Trithiya all about?
Let us examine the word Akshaya first.
We would have heard of the phrase Akshaya Pathra, for the vessel that provided unending supply of food, during the Mahabaratha period. Draupadi has this vessel with her to feed her husbands the Pandavas, while they were in exile. It was given to her on this day by Lord Krishna.
Kshaya is something that diminishes. Akshaya is one that never diminishes.
Draupadi with Akshaya Pathra
So the word Akshaya denotes endless limitless provision of food, prosperity and wealth, wealth that never diminishes.
Why is this festival celebrated as that of limitless prosperity, Akshaya?
What is the event which gave this land this limitless prosperity, that is being commemorated as this festival?
There are quite a few reasons why this festival is celebrated, some of them being:
The day the Treta Yuga started.
Birthday of Parasurama the 6th avatara of Vishnu.
The sun and moon are seen at their brightest best from the west coast of India.
The day Krishna gave the Akshaya Pathra to the Pandavas and Draupadi.
The day Sudama, the poor childhood friend of Krishna met Krishna with just a handful of puffed rice and received a lot of wealth in exchange without asking.
The day Krishna Dwaipayana, whom we reverentially call as Veda Vyasa, started dictating his family biography called Jaya, which is now known to us popularly as the Mahabharata.
Vyasa dictating Mahabharata
While all these are reasons enough to celebrate a festival, it still does not provide us any answers as to what is the limitless prosperity, that we are celebrating on this day.
In the Purana, the legends of ancient India, we have the story of Bhagiratha, an ancient king of this land belonging to the Surya Vamsa, Solar Dynasty. He was the illustrious forefather to Rama and Dasaratha, illustrious because he diverted the waters of the Ganga by his extraordinary effort, to the present day Gangetic plains.
This effort of Bhagiratha is celebrated in the legends as Bhagiratha Prayathna, the extraordinary or superhuman effort of Bhagiratha in bringing the waters to his parched kingdom.
Once the river Ganga was brought this side of the Himalaya and started flowing through the land, the waters gave prosperity to the land through the ages. So Ganga, with its waters has been giving unending prosperity to a civilisation for generations and generations to come.
Akshaya Trithiya is the day Bhagiratha cut through the rocks in the upper Himalaya and brought the waters of the Ganga, this side to give unending prosperity to his land, kingdom and people.
It is this event of bringing prosperity with the waters, that has been commemorated with the Akshaya Trithiya day.
Unfortunately today our thought has diverted from waters to gold and platinum.
Gold and platinum are only a result of prosperity and not the cause of prosperity itself.
Unending water supply is the cause of prosperity.
This is a key thought this civilisation seems to have forgotten in its hurtling haste.
Festivals like this are celebrated by us every year to recollect the yeomen efforts of our forefathers, to make our lives better in this world.
Ganga, the object of Akshaya Trithiya, today is being polluted by us continuously and is also on the verge of vanishing due to climatic changes, being hastened by our lack of concern and action.
Now, apart from appreciating their effort in providing for us a better life, the true way to honour them for their effort and surely a better way of celebrating, would be to safeguard our water sources – Ganga and all other sources, big and small, for ourselves and the future generations to come.
This would be a harbinger of everlasting prosperity.
A true way to celebrate Akshaya Trithiya, apart from just buying gold and platinum!