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Ananta Chaturdashi Vrata or Sri Anantha Padmanabha Vratha

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Ananta Chaturdashi Vrata or Sri Anantha Padmanabha Vratha
Ananta Vratam is dedicated to Lord Ananta Padmanabha Swamy, who is Lord Vishnu appears in Anant Sayana form, reclines on Ananta (Aadi Seshu – Snake Anant). Anant vrata is performed by married couple for marital bliss.

Of all the vratas assigned to Chaturdasi, the Ananthachaturdashi-vrata (Bhadrapada shukla Chaturdasi) is the most important and widely observed. It is also called ‘Ananthapadmanabha-vrata’. Lord Vishnu appeared on this day as Padmanabha lying on the couch of Anantha (the thousand-hooded serpent).

Anantha vrata is observed with the intention of fulfillment of worldly desires (‘kamya vrata’). This vrata is mainly observed for regaining lost prosperity. On the day of Anantha Chaturdashi, the frequencies of Sri Vishnu are active in the Universe. It is easy for average people to attract and absorb these frequencies on this day. Doing Ananta puja means absorbing the action-energy of Sri Vishnu.

The presiding Deity of Anantha vrata is Anantha, that is, Sri Vishnu. The Deities Yamuna and Shesha also accompany Sri Vishnu.

Anantha Vrata, is dedicated to Lord Anantha Padmanabha Swamy. It is observed on the fourteenth day in Shukla Paksha during Bhadrapada month (Bhadra Shukla Chaturdashi). Anantha means the infinite and endless. Anantha Padmanabha is Lord Vishnu reclining on the snake Anantha in Anantha Shayana posture. This posture of Lord Vishnu resembles his concern and thoughts about the Universe and its prosperity.

Anantha Padmanabha puja makes devotees free from all their sorrows and keeps them in readiness to challenge any attack from their enemies. Throughout India, Anantha Chaturdashi vrata is observed with utmost devotion. In South India, Anantha Vratha is observed in a festive atmosphere. Special sweets and other dishes are prepared on the day and a portion of it is offered to Brahmins. Anantha Vratha is observed for 14 consecutive years for marital bliss and prosperity of the family.

Devotees of Lord Vishnu believe that worship of Lord Vishnu in the form of Ananta Padmanabha, will remove their sorrows. The word ‘Ananta itself gives the meaning – endless. Endless joy and happiness is provided by performing Anantha Vratham. Ananta Vratam has to be observed for 14 consecutive years by married couple for their long and everlasting bond of love and affection.

The legend and the Anant Vrat Katha are mentioned in several Puranas. According to some legends, Lord Krishna suggested King Yudhishtira to observe Anant Vrata for 14 continuous years to get rid of his sorrows and to bring back his wealth and kingdom that he lost in gambling game of Kauravas.

In this vratha, Lord Sri Maha Vishnu is worshipped in the form of Anantha with shodasa upachaara pooja. Seven Dharbha (Kusa grass) are tied together representing Lord Anantha with seven hoods. Goddess Yamuna Devi is also worshipped along with Lord Anantha on this day. In Anantha Padmanabha vratha there is significance for # 14. It is performed on the 14th day in the Lunar Calendar. This vratha is performed for 14 years before it is concluded with Udyapana. Lord Vishnu is worshipped with 14 varieties of flowers, fruits and dishes. A special sweet dish made with wheat flour and jaggery is prepared in 28 # and half of it is given as charity to a Brahmin after neivedyam to Lord Anantha.

The important ritual of Anant Vrata is tying the Sacred Thread, Anant Daara, to hand. The performers of Anant Vrata place the Anant Daaram along with the idol of Anant Padmanabha to sanctify the thread. Anant Daara is worshipped along with the Lord by showering turmeric powder, kumkum and akshata and all other pujas. Ananta Daara is made of 14 strands which indicate the 14 years of the observance of Anantha Vratha. In some places people prepare it of 14 knots.

Anantha Chaturdashi katha:

There was a brahmin called Sumanta born in Vasishtha Gotra and who had married Brighu's daughter Dheeksha. They had a charming daughter called Susheela. When Susheela was a young girl, she lost her mother. Her father married a woman called Karkashe who was a hard hearted and quarrelsome. She made the life of Susheela miserable. In spite of these difficulties at home, Susheela grew to be a fine lady ready to be married. When Sumanta was worried over her marriage, there came to his house looking for a bride, a rishi called Kaundinya. Sumanta gives his daughter to Kaundinya rishi in marriage. With his wife being uncooperative, he could give to his son in law as a marriage gift a little of fried wheat flour.

Kaundinya accompanied by his wife Susheela travels and by afternoon reaches the bank of a river. That day being Bhadrapada shukla Chaturdashi many brahmins and their wives who were wearing red dress, were worshipping Ananta Padmanabha. Curious Susheela approaches these ladies and asks them for details of the vrata. They say that the vrata is called Anantha vrata and the fruits are infinite (anantha); when Susheela showed interest to do the vrata, they tell Susheela the details as follows :-

The vrata is to be performed on Bhadrapada shukla Chaturdashi. Having taken bath and wearing a clean dress, decorate the altar with devotion. Keep a kalasha on the south of the altar in which you invite the Lord. Keep 7 darbhas tied to each other to represent Ananta. Keep a red thread with 14 knots on the altar. Worship lord with 14 variety of flowers and 14 variety of leaves. The prasad for this vrata is Atiras. Make 28 of them and serve them to brahmanas. Those attending should be given food and respect. Do this vrata for 14 years each year replacing the thread that was worn in the earlier year. 15th year do the udyapana (conclusion with donation of gifts to brahmanas).

Having listened to the narration with attention, faith and devotion, Susheela performed the puja with those gathered there, distributed half of the fried wheat flour to brahmanas, wore the red thread and with the thoughts of Ananta Padmanabha accompanied her husband to his ashram. Because of the power of Anantha vrata, Kaundinya's ashram acquired beauty and wealth. All his relatives were eagerly waiting to do the Anantha vrata. Susheela had acquired an aura of brilliance.
One day Kaundinya sees the red thread on Susheela's hand and asks for an explanation; In spite of her telling him the truth, in a fit of anger and jealousy, Kaundinya forcibly removes the thread and throws it in the fire. Susheela picks up the half burnt thread and immerses it in milk. His behavior proved very dear to Kaundinya; pretty soon all his wealth was lost; his relatives desert him; his cattle died and he now knows that this was on account of his rudeness to Ananta Padmanabha swami in the form of red thread.

Kaundinya leaves his house in search of Anantha Padmanabha. Like a demented person he enters the jungle. After some days he falls down. The Lord in His infinite compassion comes there in the form an old brahman, revives him and takes him to a palace where he shows him his four armed form along with Mahalakshmi. Kaundinya praises the Lord in many stotras. The Lord pleased, gives him three boons viz., removal of poverty, ability to follow dharma, mukti saubhagya.

Kaundinya returned home and did the puja with shraddha and bhakti. He lived a life of wealth and happiness. In the bygone days, sages like Agastya, kings like Janaka, Sagara, Dilipa, and Harishchandra have performed this vrata.


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