Akshaya Tritiya, also known as "Akha Teej", is a very auspicious festival celebrated by Hindus and Jains alike. Along with being the birthday of Lord Parsurama, the sixth "avatar" of Lord Vishnu, Akshaya Tritiya is also considered to be a blessed day for everyone. The term Akshaya refers to "eternal" which means something which never ends. People worship Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Ganesha on this day, make charitable donations and bathe in holy water. Many weddings also take place on this day.
Akshay Tritiya is celebrated in the month of "Baisakh" according to the Hindu calendar. This festival is considered to be a very lucky day by Hindus. They look forward to starting a new construction or a new business on this day.
As far as Jains are concerned, Akshaya Tritiya marks the end of the "Varshi tap". The "Varshi tap" is a fast which takes place on alternate days for a year. The Jains fast on this day and celebrate by drinking sugarcane juice at the end of the day. This day starts the "ahara charya" or the process of cooking and serving food to Jain monks. According to Jain legend, Lord Rishabadeva, who was the first Jain monk, had meditated for a long period of six months without accepting anything to eat or to drink. After the six months had ended, he went out to look for and accept food. After a long search, he was finally offered sugarcane juice by King Shreyansa. The Jain monks of today still continue this tradition and they don't ask for anything to eat. They only eat food if it is offered to them. They lead a frugal life without any material possessions, essentially carrying on the legacy of Lord Tirthankara.
Hindus believe that buying gold on this day is a sign of good fortune. For them, it points towards the fact that their wealth will never finish. Akshaya Tritiya is usually celebrated either at the end of April or at the start of May. It is a one day festival, encompassing many important facets of Hinduism. It is believed that Ved Vyasa started writing his epic "Mahabharata" on this day. It is also believed that Goddess Ganges had come down to earth on this day.
The importance of Akshaya Tritiya doesn't end there. This day is also of astronomical and astrological significance. The Sun and the Moon are at their brightest on this day and this happens only once every year! Not just that, Akshaya Tritiya also finds in Hindy mythology. It is believed that in Mahabharata when the Pandavas were in exile, they were presented with an "Akshaya Patra" bowl by Lord Krishna. This bowl was imperishable and always provided food. Akshaya Tritiya is essentially a celebration of prosperity and happiness.
Astrological & Religious Significance of Akshya Tritiya
Along with being a religiously significant day, Akshaya Tritiya has astrological significance as well. Astrologically, each and every second of this day is considered as auspicious. It is also believed that this day is the "brightest day". The word brightest refers to the Sun and the Moon being at their brightest best. On this day, the Sun enters the house of Aries and the Moon is placed in the house of Taurus. Their positions on this day make all the difference to the brightness emitted by them. Astrology is essentially a study of the universe, of which nature is a part. So, the Sun and the Moon being at their brightest are of immense significance to astrology.
The Legend of Krishna and Sudama
Lord Krishna had a poor friend named Sudama. When the latter fell through difficult times, he thought of approaching his friend for help. With this plan in mind, Sudama went to his friend with a small bowl of Poha or "flattened rice". He had nothing else which he could possibly offer to his friend. After reaching his friend's house, Sudama was welcomed in such a manner that he felt embarrassed immediately. He was reluctant to offer the food which he had brought. But Lord Krishna not only made his friend feel welcome, but also ate the Poha with great enjoyment on his face. Feeling too embarrassed to ask for help, Sudama went back home without asking for anything. When he reached home, he found out that everything had been turned into a grand opulence. Since that day, Akshaya Tritiya is celebrated.
This story encompasses the core belief behind Akshaya Tritiya. The charitable donations which are made on this day essentially celebrate the help extended by Krishna towards his friend. Gaining wealth and donating it at the same time may seem to be extreme opposite but the festival of Akshaya Tritiya beautifully brings them together on the same day.
Things You Must Do on Akshaya Tritiya
This is probably the most important thing to do on Akshaya Tritiya. Regardless of whether a person actually celebrates this festival or not, everybody buys gold on this day. It is the one thing which everybody plans to do on this day.
Start a Business
As mentioned above, there can be no better day to start a business than the day of Akshaya Tritiya. It is believed that if you start a new venture or a business on this day, it will never fail. Most people first perform a puja of Lord Ganesha and Goddess Lakshmi before starting a new business on Akshaya Tritiya.
Being the very auspicious day that it is, Akshaya Tritiya is the best day for anybody to get married. Thousands of people choose to get married on this day.
Start a Construction
Starting a new construction or investing on an existing one is also a must-do on Akshaya Tritiya. Staying in one such house will make you prosperous forever.
Donate to Charity
Choose a charitable organization or even an individual in need and give away. The more you give, the more you will be blessed. Even feeding animals is considered to be a charitable activity. Some people worship the cow on Akshaya Tritiya.
Things Prohibited on Akshaya Tritiya
Although Akshaya Tritiya is a very auspicious day, there are still some things which shouldn't be done. Travelling is one such thing which is a strict no-no on the day of Akshaya Tritiya. While Jains end their fast on this day, Hindus don't consider starting or ending a fast on this day. Some people also believe that indulging in worldly activities shouldn't take place on Akshaya Tritiya.
There is not one single belief system which tells us what not to do on Akshaya Tritiya. While a lot of people think buying a new property on this day will bring them success, some of them also believe that entering a new house on this day will bring them bad luck. Even planting of trees is not considered a good thing to do on Akshaya Tritiya by some people.