new moon/full moon ceremonies
   New moon (amavasya) and full moon (purnima) observances and rituals have been held in India since VEDIC times at least. Many festivals and holy days occur on these days in contemporary India.
   The following are some of the full moon celebrations: (1) Chaitra (or Chitra) Purnima is celebrated to recognize Chitragupta, assistant to the god of death YAMA. It is thought that if he is honored while people are alive he may be more lenient with them after death. (2) The full moon of the month of Ashvina (September–October) is a day for worshipping LAKSHMI for wealth. A vow is taken on that day to stay awake all night. (3) The full moon in the month of Shravana (July–August) is the time when certain BRAHMINS change their sacred threads. In the celebration of RAKSHABANDHAN sisters generally put a thread wristlet on brothers for good luck. (4) On the full moon in the month of Jyeshtha (May–June) occur the bathing of the images of the Jagannatha for the festival at Puri, and the observance of a fast day by married women in recognition of the devotion of SAVITRI, who retrieved her husband from the jaws of death. (5) In Chaitra (March–April) the birth-day of HANUMAN, the monkey god, is observed on the full moon.
   The following are some of the new moon observances: (1) In the month of Bhadrapada (August–September) the 15 days of the dark half of the Moon are for worshipping ancestors. (2) During the month of Magha (January–February) a day of silence is observed on the new Moon day; it is one of the important days of the Maha KUMBHA Mela (festival) at ALLAHABAD.
   Further reading: Swami Harshananda, Hindu Festivals and Sacred Days (Bangalore: Ramakrishna Math, 1994); Hindu Festivals (Bombay: Central Chinmaya Mission Trust, 1989).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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