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article imageIndians celebrate the festival of Guru Purnima

By Sravanth Verma     Jul 12, 2014 in World
Hindus are celebrating the festival of Guru Purnima, in honor of their teachers and Gurus. The festival falls on the full moon of the Indian month of Ashada which corresponds to June-July in the Gregorian calendar. This year the festival falls on July 12.
Various traditions exist regarding the festival. For some, Guru Purnima is celebrated in honor of Lord Shiva, who is considered the first yogi and first guru. This day is seen as the day when Shiva began the transmission of the yogic sciences to his first seven disciples, the Saptarishis. For others, it is a festival for the sage Vyasa, the author of the Mahabharat, who is also closely associated with the Vedas. The day is also very significant for Buddhists, who celebrate it as the day Gautama the Buddha gave his first sermon at Sarnath.
Various ashrams are commemorating the event in various ways. At the Isha Yoga Center in South India, the festivities include the unveiling of an Adiyogi statue, in honor of Shiva as the first yogi or Adiyogi, which will be webcast live. At the Patanjali Yogpeeth, established by Baba Ramdev, a Guru Purnima Mahotsav is underway, which will also be telecast live.
Across the country, shishyas or disciples in the fields of yoga, spirituality, music and dance pay homage to their gurus or teachers. In the Hindu and Buddhist way of life, a Guru or a teacher is held as the highest entity in one’s life, and is seen as the bridge between an individual and the Divine. Among the general public, meat and alcohol consumption are generally avoided. The traditional song or chant associated with the festival is the Guru Paduka Stotram, composed by Adi Shanakaracharya about 1,200 years ago.
Traditionally, the rituals involved during the festival include a puja at various temples with flowers and symbolic gifts given in honor of both the guru and the supreme divinity. Disciples also symbolically wash the feet of their guru. Monks and ascetics go into various meditations and intense yogic practices to make use of this day for their spiritual growth. A unique custom exists at the astronomical observatory of Jantar Mantar in Jaipur. Astrologers climb to the top of a large gnomon and fly a white flag in the wind. Based on the direction the flag blows, the duration, intensity, and outcome of the monsoons are predicted!
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