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The Relevance of Muhurat for KP Diasporas

Piyaray Lal Raina

For a Kashmiri Pandit observance of muhurat (saath) is an essential part of his life. Be it time for undertaking a journey, performance of religious duties, observing a fast on auspicious days, shradda of an ancestor, celebrations such as birthday, marriage or any other auspicious function such as making or entering a new house. In short, observance of muhurat is a sin qua non for us. It is for this reason that we always keeps an annual almanac (jantary) handy in our surroundings and eagerly await for the arrival of its new annual edition.

Keeping up with these traditions is building a wall between seniors and juniors in our biradari. Currently, our youth are living in a very different situation than their ancestor. He cannot take the liberty of observing these traditions even if he wants to continue with these traditions. He is a world traveler and has to face many challenges in his career. Life style has changed and is changing rapidly. Twenty-first century is very different from any thing we have seen so far.

 Muhurat is linked with tithi and nakshatra. Tithi is a lunar day that is determined by the waxing and waning of the Moon. The path of the Moon in reference to our earth is an elliptic path. Its movement is variable. While the mean duration of its movement in a day is 23 hours 37 minutes and 28 seconds, it varies from less than 16 hours to a maximum of 36 hours at times, depending upon the position of Moon in its journey round the earth. When it is nearest to earth (perigee) it is fastest and travels in less time that at times results in abandonment of a tithi and when it is farthest from earth (apogee) Moon has reduced speed thus it may take more than one day to cover a tithi (devadev). All the panchangs register these details.

Nakshatras are a group of small stars in the sky that fall in the path of the lunar motion as observed from earth. In our astrology, these nanshatras play an important role as they are considered the resting places of the Moon in its journey around the earth. They are called as lunar mansions. There are 27 nakshtras viz: Ashwini, Bharani ,Kritika, Rohini, Mrigashira, Ardra, Punarvasu, Pushya, Ashlesha, Magha, Purva phalguni, Uttara Phalguni, Hasta , Chitra, Swati, Vishakha, Anuradha, Jyeshtha, Mula, Purva Ashadha, Uttara Ashdha , Shravana, Dhanishtha, Shatabhisha, Purva Bhadrapada, Uttara Bhadrapada,  Revati. In the Vedic astrology the position of the Moon in these nakshatras is considered important for determining the characteristics and timing of events.

These nakshatras have been divided into three groups of nine planets each for determining their influence on the timing of events. These are rajsic, tamsic, and sattwic nakshatras. While rajsic nakshatras are considered to influence the individuals with high-energy activities, tamsic nakshatras create dullness, and sattwic nakshatras influence by inducing one into spirituality, purity and harmony.

It is important to understand that all observations regarding tithi are made in India and while preparing annual almanac the position on earth from which the observations have been made is recorded. Observation of a tithi in our jantary is made from Jammu (Lat 32 deg 44 min and Long 74 deg and 54 min). Since there is difference in the timings of day in various parts of the globe the observations made at Jammu will not apply all over the globe. Technically speaking, to find the muhurat for all the places where we are now settled there has to be a different jantary based on observations made from some central position in that area or we need to make local adjustments based on where we live corresponding to the observation made in Jammu.

The purpose of this writing is not to mislead my biradari into non-observance of our traditions but rather to make all aware of the importance of these practices in the changed situations.  It was a non-issue while we were all living in Kashmir but now when all of us are scattered all over the globe observance of our traditions with a blind faith is not practicable. It will help us if we know the correct background of our traditions.

* The author is a regular contributor of articles regarding Kashmir Pandit traditions. He has recently authored a book Socio-Cultural and Religious Traditions of Kashmiri Pandits (http://kp-culture-and-religion.blogspot.com) He lives in Alpharetta, Georgia and DLF City, India He can be contacted by email at pl_raina@yahoo.com.  

Kashmiri Writers P.L. Raina

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