click this link to get a detailed definition of each symbol drawn in this frame.
Do read the below article written by by Mr.Pavan Kashyap, my friend’s son in paajaka.blogspot.com for more understanding of the vrat, it’s significance and method of following the tradition.
Subhadra is Krishna’s sister, Arjuna’s wife and child warrior Abhimanyu’s mother and related by marriage to the mighty Pandava clan. In her outer as well as her inner self, she always worshipped Krishna. She felt, if she worshipped Krishna no other form of worship is really necessary. I am reminded of the purandaradAsa kriti “kR^ishNA eMdare kashTavu baMdite kR^ishNA enabArade”. You may be wondering what all this introduction has to do with rangOli as these blogs are always rangOli related in some way.
Once the beautiful dancer Rambha was dancing in Indra’s court. The dance was celestial, the music was celestial and everything was celestial. After all, it is the celestial capital amarAvati, is it not? Even for the gods, sometimes things can go wrong. Alas, suddenly a drum cracked and the rhythm was utterly wrong. Indra requested Yama, the god of Death, to get the drum reconstructed using the skin of a living being who never practised a vow (the sanskrit word for vow is also yama). So Yama and his men were on the lookout for people on the wrong side of worship. His men came back and told him – Ganga has a rangOli, Gauri has a rangOli, Savitri and Sarasvati too. But there is no rangOli at Krishna’s sister Subhadra’s place. He ordered to bring back Subhadra, cut her skin and fit it to a drum.
After waking up in the morning, Krishna went to Subhadra’s house and asked her why she had not drawn a rangOli in front of her house and not observing the vrata. I have brothers like Indra and Chandra, a husband like Arjuna, parents like Vasudeva and Devaki and of course you, Krishna. Krishna told her that inspite of all this, she must draw a rangOli that had the eagle, the feet of Vishnu, Sankha, chakra, mace, lotus, svAstiaka, brindAvana, flute, lute, drum, cow, calf and thirty-three (is it a numerical symbol for the thirty-three crore gods) lotus symbols, Rama’s cradle, Sita’s saree end, tulasi leaf, elephants and guards. This must be drawn in cowsheds, where sacred rivers and ponds are, in front of God’s images and tulasi brindAvana. Then she obtained hard rock from a hill and mixed it with pearls and corals and made powder of them and drew the rangOli. She also offered turmeric, kuMkuma and other offerings. She drew all rangOlis due for five years in just one year.
Subhadra escaped the punishment of gods and they finally found an elephant calf that was sleeping with its head towards north. They took the skin from the back of the animal and made their drums. Who said the gods are always kind? The gOpadma vrata is observed by all women for health, wealth, prosperity, marriage, children, etc. Normally, a dinner in the first year with tAMbUla, a dinner in the second year with bangles, a dinner in the third year with banana fruits, a dinner in the fourth year with sugarcane and a dinner in the fifth year with clothes to an unmarried girl are also prescribed. However, there are variations to this.
The chAturmAsya vrata (four-month vow) starts in the month of aashADha (tenth day in the brighter half, this year on July 3) and lasts till kArtika paurNami. Besides the gOpadma vrata described above, this period is full of festivals in the Hindu calendar. In fact, during these four months, the God is supposed to be sleeping (yOga nidra) and therefore no ceremonies like marriages are performed by some. The first two months of this period is the monsoon period.
The saints of the Hindu order stay at one place during this time. Even though ancient India has a fantastic record in architectural wonders, with a few exceptions, it is quite poor in the construction of bridges over rivers. Thus during the rainy season they had to depend only on boats to cross rivers and that is tricky. That is why, in my opinion, the chAturmASya custom exists because of the difficulty in travel due to inclement weather. During this period, there are food restrictions too. Vegetables in the first month (any plant based food – SAkha), curd (dadhi – buttermilk allowed though 🙂 in the second month, milk (kshIra – including cheese, cream, but excluding curd) in the third month and pulses (dvidaLa – all dhals and fruits with more than one seed and also protein rich fish and meat) in the fourth month are forbidden in food preparation. These restrictions are supposed to impose discipline.
One of my childhood memories of the chAturmASya is attending such ceremonial dinners and eating food that tasted, shall we say, a bit unusual. Another memory is of my parents with their hands imprinted with the marks of a hot Sankha or chakra!