Kurma Jayanthi

Kurma Jayanthi
Kurma Jayanthi

Kurma Jayanthi is celebrated to mark the incarnation of the second Avathar of Sri Maha Vishnu in which He had taken the form of Sri Kurma (tortoise).

Kurma Jayanthi occurs on the Full moon day (Purnima) of Vaisakha month. For the Year 2022, it occurs on Sunday, 15th May 2022. The exact duration of Pournami Tithi for the observation of Kurma Jayanthi has to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.

As per another legend, Pausha Shukla Paksha Dwadashi is also considered as the day of incarnation of Sri Kurma Avathar. This day is, however, observed as Sri Kurma Dwadashi.

Kurma Jayanthi – Legend

The origination of Sri Kurma Avathar is connected with the extraction of the Amrut (nectar) from the cosmic ocean.

Cosmic ocean

Devas, the celestial beings and the asuras, the demons were always at war. The Asuras made it a point to disturb and distress the Devas at every occasion. Most of the times, it was only Sri Vishnu who came to their rescue.

Devas wanted to have proper solution to their woes so that they can live eternally. They all went to Sri Vaikunt asking for His guidance.

Sri Vishnu

Lord Maha Vishnu said, “You devas can attain eternity only if you have the Amrut(nectar) from the cosmic ocean, Ksheera Sagara. So, go and get Mandara parvata to use as the catalyst to stir the ocean.

Also, get Vasuki, the snake as the rope to churn the Mandara. You promise Vasuki that he will also be given the portion of Amrut”.

Asuras

Hearing the news about the Devas’ effort to gain the Amrut, asuras also wanted to join the churning process and if possible to take the nectar themselves.

Churning

The Devas duly brought the Mandara mountain and started churning. The asuras were holding the head side of the Vasuki and the Devas were holding the tail side. However, the Mandara kept slipping as it had no base to stand upon.

Again, Devas went to Sri Vishnu for help. He himself took the form of tortoise.

Sri Kurma
Sri Kurma

He then asked Devas to keep the Mandara on Him and do the churning. They did so.

Kurma Jayanthi
Churning of Cosmic Ocean

Upon churning, lot of things emerged.

Halahala

The first one to emerge was the Halahala, the poisonous substance. As guided by Sri Vishnu, the Devas had requested Lord Shiva to protect them from Halahala. For the universal benefit, Lord Shiva had consumed the poison.

Kurma Jayanthi
Lord Shiva after consuming poison

However, Sri Parvathi stopped it at His neck itself.

Due to the retention of the poison, Lord Shiva’s neck had become blue in colour. For this reason, He is called Sri Neela Kanta.

Though the poison stayed in His throat, it had caused too much heat in His head. To quench the heat, He had to take continuous water shower. That is why He has river Ganga in His head. That is also the reason for doing constant Abhishekams to Lord Shiva.

Other treasures

Then came Airavatha, the white elephant, the Parijatha tree, the wish granting tree, Uchchaisrava, the holy horse, Chandra, the moon, Dhanvanthri with the nectar and Sri Mahalakshmi. When Sri Mahalakshmi had emerged, they were mesmerized by Her beauty.

Asuras’ deed

The Asuras usurped the Amrut Kalash (pot of nectar) from Dhanvanthri and took it with them. Devas appealed to Sri Vishnu for help.

Sri Mohini

Sri Vishnu took the female form of Mohini. He enticed the Asuras with His looks and grabbed the Amrut Kalash from them.

He asked the Devas and Asuras to sit on either side of His Mohini form. He kept the Amrut Kalash on the dried grass named dharba and carried it. He gave the looks on the Asura side and kept pouring Amrut to Devas. On consuming Amrut, Devas were assured of the permanent position in Deva lok / Amar lok.

Rahu

One of the demons named Rahu understood the situation. He disguised himself as a Deva and joined in their group. When Sri Mohini distributed the Amrut, She guessed Rahu’s identity and gave only a portion of Amrut to him.

So, he became a snake headed and Deva bodied person. He got split into two as Rahu Deva and Ketu Deva. As they are Demi-Devas, they were angered at Indra, the King of Devas and the Surya. Hence, it is believed that they cross the paths of either Chandra / Surya causing eclipses.

Vasuki

Though Devas promised Vasuki a share of Amrut, they forgot about sharing with him. Vasuki felt forlorn. As nothing was left in the Amrut Kalash, he licked the droplets in the dharba on which the Kalash was kept.

As the dharba was dry and sharp, it had split Vasuki’s tongue into two. From then on, all the snakes were born with split tongues.

Other events

Sri Dhanvantri was made the celestial physician, Airavata, Parijatha and Uchchaisrava had become the property of Indra.

Sri Lakshmi got wedded to Sri Maha Vishnu and had been His consort ever since.

Kurma Jayanthi
Sri Maha Vishnu with Sri Maha Lakshmi

Sri Maha Vishnu had given a place for Sri Maha Lakshmi in His heart, which is called vaksha sthalam.

Kurma Jayanthi – Vrat Puja

The Puja rituals are similar to the Pujas done for Sri Narayana.

The devotees rise early in the morning and get ready for the Puja in clean clothes.

On a peet, a rangoli / kolam / muggu has to be drawn. Beside the peet, the symbols of Shank and Chakra are to be drawn. The Peet has to be covered in a red cloth.

On the cloth, Sri Ganapathi (in turmeric form) has to be kept on a betal leaf. The picture / idol of Sri Maha Vishnu either in Kurma Avatar or any other form has to be kept.

In a small vessel or enclosure, the form of tortoise or turtle in crystal is to be kept. If no crystal form is available, the form of tortoise can be drawn on a betal leaf with Chandan and kept.

Sri Kurma
Sri Kurma Puja – depiction of Sri Kurma form

Deepams and Dhups are to be lit. The picture / idol of Sri Vishnu and the tortoise are to be decorated with flowers.

A small quantity of water has to be poured on the tortoise form as Abhishekam. Then the story of the Kurma Avathar has to be chanted and listened to.

A cup of milk can be offered as Neivedyam. Arati has to be taken.

Chanting of Sri Kurma Gayathri / any other Kurma sloka is said to be beneficial. Other Vishnu Slokams are also to be recited with devotion.

Some devotees also observe fasting on this day. Those who cannot observe fasting due to medical / other reasons can partake of sattvic food.

Making daan / donation of money, food, clothes etc., to the needy and the poor is said to be auspicious.

Benefits

It is believed that following this Vrat helps in redemption of sins and also helps in the path of Moksha.

Sri Kurma Gayathti

ॐ कछ्छपेसाय विद्महे
महा बालाय धीमहि
तन्नो कूर्म प्रचोदयात्

Om kaChCha-pesaaya vidhmahae
mahaa baalaaya Dheemahi
thanno koorma prachodhayaath

ॐ तरातराय विद्महे
पास हस्ताय धीमहि
तन्नो कूर्म प्रचोदयात्

Om tharaa-tharaaya vidhmahae
paasa hasthaaya Dheemahi
thanno koorma prachodhayaath

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