Ananta-caturdaśī

(‘the fourteenth day connected with Ananta’)

Vratas (religious vows) and utsavas (celebrations) have become an integral part of Hindu religious, cultural and social life. If vratas stress the need for personal religious vows and discipline, utsavas provide an opportunity for rejoicing with the other members of the community.

One of several such vratas is Ananta-caturdaśī vrata, which is celebrated on the caturdaśī (14th day) of the bright fortnight of the month Bhādrapada (August-September). It consists chiefly in the worship of Lord Viṣṇu as Ananta (‘the Infinite One’) and in the wearing of a holy strap of thread dyed with saffron, on the hand (on the right hand in the case of men and on the left in the case of women). The thread should be of cotton or silk and should have 14 knots. It should be worn after keeping it on a jar of water duly established on a maṇḍala (ritual diagram) and worshipping it. The Agnipurāṇa (192.9) gives the mantra to be recited on this occasion.

It is an individual vrata which is normally performed on the bank of a river. Salt is forbidden in this vrata. Gaining happiness is the result promised. It is believed that if it is performed regularly for 14 years, one can reach the abode of Viṣṇu.