Akshaya Tritiya or Akha Teej is celebrated on the third lunar day of Shukla Paksha in the Vaishakh month of the Hindu calendar. The Sanskrit word ‘Akshaya’ comprises of ‘A’ (not) and ‘Kshaya’ (erode). It means that which does not decay, diminish or erode.
According to Vedas, the Treta Yug commenced on Akshaya Tritiya. This day is considered extremely auspicious and sacred and it is believed that all activities, either spiritual or material, undertaken on this day will bring desired results. This is a great time to engage in spiritual practices, such as, meditation, yoga, japa (chanting), and reading scriptures.
Legend and Significance
There are numerous legends that tell of tales that either commenced on Akshaya Tritiya or gave reason for this festival to be observed.
Akshaya Patra: While in exile, the Pandavas are said to have received the Akshaya Patra (an inexhaustible vessel) from the Sun god, on this day. Once, Lord Krishna with his army visited his sister Draupadi and the Pandavas. He was received well by the five brothers, however, Draupadi remained inside the kitchen, hesitant to come out. Lord Krishna walked into the kitchen and greeted his sister. Weeping, she offered him an empty bowl of rice and regretted her inability to serve him. However, he found one grain of rice stuck at the bottom of the pot and consumed that. Lord Krishna then blessed them saying they will receive an exhaustible vessel from Surya, which will produce and offer unlimited food until Draupadi eats from it last.
The writing of Mahabharata: The great Indian epic – Mahabharata – is said to have been commenced writing on this day by Rishi Ved Vyasa and dictated by Lord Ganesh. This text contains the Bhagwad Gita, a treatise on the uselessness of the physical body, the impermanence of nature, and the importance of spiritual practices.
The descent of Maa Ganga on earth: River Ganga is one of the seven prominent sacred rivers of India. It is said that on Akshaya Tritiya, pleased with the devout meditation by King Bharath, Lord Shiva fulfilled his wish to let river Ganga flow back to earth, by untangling her from his mane and reviving the parched earth.
The birth of Lord Parashurama: The sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, Parashurama means “Rama with an axe”. It is said that Lord Parashurama took birth at a time when the earth was overwhelmed with military forces owned by ruthless, ruling classes and kings. His father was killed while resisting the confiscation of the family cow, and this made Lord Parashurama pick his axe and kill all the evil kings, twenty-one times. He is characterized not only with aggression, warfare, and valour to relieve the earth of demonic kings and restoring the earth to its natural state, but also with serenity, prudence, and patience to treat children, women, the elderly, and other weaker sections of the society.
Sudama and Lord Krishna: Sudama, a dear friend of Lord Krishna, lived a simple life and did not have great wealth. He abided by the Brahminical qualities of truthfulness, equanimity, sense control, forbearance, simplicity, transcendental knowledge, and firm faith in the Vedic wisdom. Both friends studied with Sandipani Muni and their friendship was made stronger despite the differences in their backgrounds. There came a phase when Sudama and his wife, could not afford to even have proper meals. She urged him to approach Lord Krishna for help. Despite his reluctance, he set out to meet his friend and carried a bag of puffed rice as a gift. When Sudama reached and saw Lord Krishna’s royal palace, he was awestruck and found himself hesitant to offer the paltry gift. On hearing of Sudama’s arrival, Lord Krishna rushed to receive him, hugged him, and both engaged in friendly childhood talks. Lord Krishna sensed that Sudama was hesitant to present the puffed rice to him and playfully snatched the bag from him and took a morsel. Lord Krishna’s wife, Rukmini, a personification of Goddess Lakshmi, noticed this and took one morsel for herself. Sudama took his leave without asking for the help he had come for, however, when he reached his home, he was astonished to see a grand glittering palace filled with gold and riches in place of his modest hut.
Lord Kuber: It is said that Lord Kuber received the highly opulent post of controlling unlimited heavenly treasures on this day.
Rituals and Pooja
Akshaya Tritiya is considered one of the most auspicious festivals since it is the day of manifold blessings. Buying gold on Akshaya Tritiya is believed to invite endless fortune into one’s life, which relates to the auspicious presence of Lakshmi.
This day is ruled by Lord Vishnu and he is worshipped along with Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Kuber. Worship on this day invites the divine grace of Vishnu, Lakshmi, and Kuber, in the form of undiminishing wealth and good fortune, success in career with name and fame, and spiritual upliftment and desire fulfilment.
Devotees start this day with a bath in the early hours of the morning, preferably in a river or with a mix of Gangajal in the bathing water. The puja room is cleaned and the altar is decorated with flowers and rangoli in front of the idols of Lord Vishnu, Maa Lakshmi, and Lord Kuber. An abhishekham is performed with panchamrit – a mixture of cow milk, honey, curd, ghee, and sugar. Tulsi leaves soaked in water is offered to the deities followed with akshat and sandalwood paste to Lord Vishnu and kumkum to Goddess Lakshmi.
The prasadam offering consists of barley, wheat, sesame seeds, chana dal, sweets made of milk, kheer and other home-made vegetarian food known as naivedyam. Kapur, ghee diya, and incense are lit. Throughout the Akshaya Tritiya pooja, mantras for Lord Vishnu, Goddess Lakshmi, and Lord Kuber are chanted. The pooja is concluded with an aarti.
The following mool-mantra are recited during the pooja:
While bathing in the morning
।। गंगा च यमुने चैवा गोदावरी सरस्वती
नर्मदे सिंधु कावेरी जलेस्मिन सन्निधिं कुरु ।।
For Lord Ganesh
।। ॐ गण गणपतये नमः ।।
।। वक्रतुंड महाकाय सूर्यकोटि समप्रभः
निर्विघ्नं कुरुमेदेवः सर्वकार्येषु सर्वदा ।।
For Lord Vishnu
।। ॐ नमो नारायणा ।।
।। ॐ नमो भगवते वासुदेवायः ।।
।। शांताकरम भुजगशयनम पद्मनाभम सुरेशं
विश्वधरम गगनसदृशं मेघवरनम शुभांगम
लक्ष्मीकान्तं कमलनयनं योगिभिर्ध्यानगम्यं
वंदे विष्णुं भवभयहरं सर्वलोकैकनाथं ।।
For Goddess Lakshmi
।। ॐ ह्रीं श्रीं लक्ष्मीभयो नमः ।।
।। ॐ श्री महालक्ष्मयै च विधमहे
विष्णु पत्नी च धीमहि
तन्नो लक्ष्मी प्रचोदयात ॐ ।।
For Lord Kuber
।। ॐ यक्षय कुबेरय वैश्रवणाय धनधान्यधिपतये
धनधान्यसंमृद्धिं मे देहि दपडा स्वाहा ।।