Guru Purnima Celebrations this Year on the Day of the 'Blue Moon': Guru Purnima, the day to remember one's 'Guru, the Dispeller of darkness!

by Elizabeth Menon

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Guru Purnima Celebrations this Year on the Day of the 'Blue Moon': Guru Purnima, the day to remember one's 'Guru, the Dispeller of darkness!

The first Full Moon after the Summer Solstice on 21 June that falls in the month of Ashadam/Mithunam in the Hindu Calendar (July as per the Gregorian Calendar) is celebrated as 'Guru Purnima', a day to celebrate one's Guru/Teacher. But this year 'Guru Purnima' falls in the month of Shravanam/Karkkidakam and is celebrated on the day of the 'Blue moon', the 2nd full moon in July, on 31 July – the month of July this year had two full moons, 2 July and 31 July. Days accumulate every year in relation to the Gregorian calendar due to the short lunar months (29.5 days) leading to two full moons in one month, which occurs every 2.7 years and that year will have 13 full moons, in stead of the usual 12 – the second moon in the same month is called the 'Blue moon', or the 3rd of the four full moons in a season – the last Blue moon was in 2012 and the next in 2018!

It has been documented that there are seven blue moons in 19 years (One in 2.7 years), but there are different theories why the second moon in the same month is called the 'Blue moon', when the moon is not actually blue in colour, though it could happen due to the ash in the atmosphere from forest fires or Volcanic eruptions making it to appear blue! Or perhaps to mean a rare event, as in “Once in a blue moon”, but then it is not that rare as it occurs every three years or so! Whatever the theory is, nothing could take away the blissful beauty of the 'Blue moon' that was revealed in the sky tonight, though I had to wait till around 10:30 PM tonight due to the dark clouds! The celestial beauty was still visible, just as beautiful in the morning sky at 5:30 AM, just starting its descend and finally took its exit by 5:45 AM – and my thoughts were with Neil Armstrong, Edwin Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins who set foot on its surface on 21 July 1969 – "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.", as Neil Armstrong said!

Summer Solstice on 21 June is the longest day for people in the northern hemisphere -- the sun appears to stand still at the same height because of the Earth's tilt -- the sun shines directly on the Tropic of Cancer, the 'Summer Solstice' and the opposite happens in December when the Solstice is in the southern hemisphere with the sun shining on the Tropic of Capricorn, while the northern hemisphere has the 'Winter Solstice'! The sun is at the highest point in the sky at noon during the summer solstice, making it the longest day, and the sun is at its lowest in winter, making it the shortest day! The Sun starts its 'Southern journey' the day after the Summer solstice, the 'Dakshinayan', time for meditation, reinvention and purification for us, and the Sun's 'Southern journey', starts the day after the 'Winter solstice' in December, the 'Utharayan', time of enlightenment. According to the Hindu Belief, Utharayan is Daytime for the gods and Dakshinyan is night, as our one year is one day for the gods, six months of day and six months of night!

The word 'Guru' is derived from two words in Sanskrit, 'Gu' meaning darkness, and 'Ru' meaning dispeller, 'Dispeller of darkness or the one who removes darkness of ignorance leading the students/aspirants on to the path of enlightenment! The day of Guru Purnima is considered one of the greatest moments, the day when 'Adiyogi, Lord Shiva', after 84 years of meditation on the banks of Kanthisarovar in the Himalayas started his teaching to the 'Saptharshis' (Seven Sages), around 15,000 years ago ! The Saptharshis took the knowledge, the 'Yoga teaching' that offered the possibility of attaining greater knowledge beyond what physical nature can achieve, and how to evolve consciously by meditation and yoga practice, to all corners of India! Lord Shiva is generally considered the 'First Guru or the 'Adiyogi', and this day is also celebrated by many to honour Sage Vyasa, who edited the four Vedas (Rigveda,Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharva veda), who also wrote the 18 Puranas, the Mahabharata and the Srimad Bhagavata; and the Buddhists honour Buddha on this day.

The day of the first full moon after the Summer solstice is a time when Earth and all life upon it are most receptive to the cosmic energy and its possibilities. In addition to having religious importance, this festival has great importance for Indian academics and scholars, irrespective of their religion or social status. Indian academics celebrate this day by offering gratitude to their teachers and receive their blessing, and it is also a day to remember past teachers and scholars, or read their books or teachings, especially for those away from their teachers. It is considered the best time to begin one's spiritual lessons and traditionally, the aspirants start their spiritual 'sadhana' and meditation from this day. This day is of deep significance to the farmers too, as it heralds the setting in of the much-needed rains, that ushers in fresh life in the fields – it is believed that potatoes and other vegetables planted on the night of the Full Moon give the best harvest!

The day of 'Guru Purnima' is also a time for self-assessments, to throw away the negative vibes, to have pure thoughts always and a decision to improve one's own life, and to help fellow beings in need, which must include protecting women and children and the elderly in our society! The righteousness of Shiva and his Yogic Virtues, and teachings of our Gurus (Mother, Father and Teachers) should be looked on as a 'Focus' in life, drawing energy from the 'Shivam' and the teachings of others to achieve greater things in our lives. The next six months during the 'Dakshinaayan' is time for meditation, reinvention and purification for us, and also to strive for evolving and experiencing the 'Divine' in each of us which may be dormant in us, to better one's life on this planet Earth! On this day more than any other day, I pay homage to all my teachers, my parents who started me on my journey and all those from whom I have learned over the years through their books, articles or even conversations!
Have a Peaceful day, taking stock of one's life and paying tribute to our parents and teachers!

© E Menon



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