Jaya Parvati Vrat is a religious observance where married as well as unmarried women fast for six days. This year, the Vrat begins on 23rd July and concludes on 28th July. The vrat is observed across India under different names. In Gujarat, it is widely observed with pomp and grandeur. The six-day festival incorporates in itself many other important religious and social occasions.
On 23rd July this year, the first day of the Vrat, women will observe Pradosh Vrat associated with Raviyog, which assumes greater astrological significance; on the second day Sivasayan Chaturdashi, which is observed widely in Orissa as Shiva Chaturdashi and on the third day Purnima Vrata and Kokila Vrata. Kokila Vrata is widely observed in South India. In Kashmir, the Jwalamukhi Mela too starts on this day. On the fifth day, Ashunya Shayan and Mangal Gauri Vrat is observed with an exception in which men and women, i.e. husband and wife participate in order to get the blessings of God for a long and happy conjugal life. Goddess Mangalagauri is worshipped and the devotees have to remain awake the whole night, which is called Jaya-Parvati Vrat Jagaran. People observe this Vrat for affluence and riches. They must observe strict penance, fast and keep their mind free from evil thoughts and desires. The husband and wife will refrain from conjugal life. The devotees must bathe in pure water mixed with ten aromatic herbs like jatamashi, turmeric, shilajeet, sandal etc., which are to be drenched in water much earlier.
By observing this vrat, unmarried girls get rid of the obstacles in the way of their marriage. The main obstacle, the Bhaumadosh, is removed by this Vrat. Married women can earn the virtue of happy conjugal life and long life of their husbands. On 28th July this year the six-day observance concludes.
A female cuckoo's image is made out of rice paste in this Vrat. But why worship this bird? Our Puranas have a mention of the legend behind this fact.
Goddess Parvati appeared in different forms during different periods by different names. One such form is Sati, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati. She chose Lord Shiva as her husband in the Swayamvar. But that was against the wish of her father who disliked Shiva and put him on low esteem. He used to abuse Shiva as barbarian and Lord of evil elements like Bhoot, Pret and Pishach.
Later, Daksha Prajapati arranged one Mahayagna in which he invited all the Gods and Goddesses but not Shiva and Sati. However, Sati decided to attend the occasion in spite of her husband's strong disapproval. Shiva got annoyed. At the altar of Yagna, Daksha received all the Gods and Goddesses and eulogised them, but at the same time abused, censured and spoke ill of Shiva in the strongest language. It was too much for Sati, the devout wife, who could not stand that and jumped in to the sacrificial fire and ended her life.
Shiva came to know about the happenings at Daksha's Yagna and became so furious that he sent of his attendant Veerbhadra to Daksha's Yagna and ordered him to destroy it. The Yagna was in shambles and the Gods who tried to resist Veerbhadra and save the Yagna fell flat with broken limbs and numerous injuries. This made Lord Vishnu appear at the scene. He came to Shiva to pacify him and requested him to bring the deformed Gods to their original form and grace. Shiva responded to Vishnu's request and the Gods got back to their original form. But he did not pardon his wife. Instead he cursed Sati to take the form of a female cuckoo and remain the same for many years. For years the cursed Sati had to stay in the heavenly garden, the Nandan Kanan, and later on she was born as Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayas and observed month-long Kokila Vrat. As a result she got back Shiva as her husband.
From that time, Kokila Vrat is in vogue with the belief that if any married woman on the day of Shravan Purnima, worships Kokila's idol bedecked with ornaments and jewellery and offers it to the Brahmin or her superior in-laws, she can earn good fortune with health, wealth, husband and son. As per the legend, at least one married woman of each family should follow this Jaya Parvati Vrat niyam for the safety and prosperity of the entire family.
Last but not the least, this religious practice has achieved immense importance due to the fact that this falls during the chaturmaas.
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