Guru Purnima is a festival which is celebrated in India and Nepal and not only celebrates the memory of Maharshi Veda Vyasa but is also a time dedicated to teachers – both spiritual ones and academic ones. It is observed on the full moon day, Purnima, in the Hindu month of Ashad – which falls around July or August on the Gregorian calendar.
History of Guru Purnima
According to Hindu legend, Maharishi Veda Vyasa gathered together the Vedic hymns of his time and divided them into 4 parts – Sumantu, Vaisampayana, Jaimini and Paila. This dividing up of the texts and their editing led to him being granted the name “Vyasa”, which means to edit. According to yogic lore, Lord Shiva made Adiyogi the first guru of the Hinduism.
Guru Purnima Customs & Celebrations
Guru Purnima is often celebrated by devotees presenting gifts to their spiritual teachers. These gifts can be in the form of sweets or flowers. During this time, devotees also spend considerable amount of time chanting and praying. Early in the morning, around 4 am, devotees meditate on their gurus and offer their prayers. Later on that same day, a ritual worshiping of the guru’s feet is done by the devotees. Sadhus’ (holy men) and Sannyasins (ascetics or mendicants) are offered a large feast around noon and worshiped as well. Devotees which are deserving are then initiated into the Holy Order of Sannya, later that day. The whole day is often seen as an extremely joyous event.
While many Hindus choose to fast on this day, many people do choose to eat. They will eat foods such as halwa, chole, ladoo, poori,soan papdi and other vegetarian dishes. It is often customary for temples to offer sweet curds prepared with dried fruits called charanamrita to devotees. Some of the devotees who choose to spend the day fasting will often break their fast after their evening worship.