Interesting story about Balsam and Apaamaarga Plant worship in Hinduism (Post No.11,917)


Post No. 11,917

Date uploaded in London – –  19 APRIL 2023                  

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Gauri festival is celebrated on the seventh, eighth and ninth (Saptami, Ashtami, Navami) of Bhadrapada Suklapaksha (bright half of the month). This goddess, wife of Shiva and mother of Ganesh, is considered the goddess of harvest and the protectress of women. Her festival, chiefly observed by women, closely follows Ganesh Chaturthi. Her festival, celebrated especially in Maharashtra, consists of three parts.

1.On the first day a bundle of aghaada (Achyranthes aspera or apamaarga in Sanskrit) is brought into house.

In some parts balsam or touch me not plants are used.

The plants are ceremoniously collected by maid servants, brought home and placed in the veranda on a low stool with the roots towards the main entrance of the house. Under the stool is drawn the Swastika, Devi’s footprint and other auspicious symbols. While the plants are collected, maid servants worship them and wrap them in a silk cloth.

On the first day evening it is placed on the lap of an unmarried girl and she is worshipped as goddess (devi). A priest recites mantras at that time.

The girl who carries the bundle representing Gauri is regarded as her agent for movement and speech, and is lead by the women of the house from room to room, in each being seated on a stool and having lamps waved around her.

In each she is asked: What have you brought? And she answers according to the nature of each room,

Treasure to fill a city,

Delicious food,

Beautiful children and so on.

Balsam Plant with flowers

The woman replies, “Come on golden feet, and stay for ever.” This is believed to bring good fortune to each room. The bundle is then placed on a stool, offered sweets, milk etc. and the night is spent by young girls in singing before her.

Her husband, Shiva is supposed to have followed her secretly, and is represented by a pot of rice and a coconut hidden under a fold of her cloth.

2.On the second day she is offered food, and worshipped, and at noon a big feast is held.  At night there is singing before her, and sometimes dancing in her praise.

3.On the third day she is put into a winnowing tray (Suurpa) and carried by a woman servant to a nearby tank or river. The women are told not to look back. At the water source the plants are taken from the silk cloth and thrown into the water, the winnowing tray and the cloth are brought home and the festival is over.

An important piece of ritual is this :

The woman servant must bring home from the bank of the river or tank a handful of gravel, which is thrown over the house to bring luck and over the trees to protect them from vermin, after being worshipped.

The girl who represented as Gauri is given money and the priest is also given Dakshina/fees. Women who participated get basket full of auspicious objects and sweets.

Number 16

On the middle day of the festival , women take lengths of  cotton cloths sixteen times f their height, fold them into skeins and lay them before the goddess for her to bless.

In some places sixteen knots are made in thread, sixteen Laddus (sweet dish) are offered to Goddes. In Devi hymns Goddess Lalitha is called Shodasi (16). This is explained as her Mantra is 16 syllabled or is ever sweet sixteen in age.

This Gauri festival is celebrated in different parts of the country at different months and in different ways. Slight changes are made from the above ritual.

There is along story about the origin of this festival. A poor man who saw such Pooja could not do it when his little daughter asked him to do it, so that she can also enjoy the fun, but goddess herself came and helped him.


My comments on the festival:

Even a small plant like Achyrnthes is given importance and elevated to divine status. This is because of the medicinal properties of Apaamaarga (in Tamil Naayuruvi). Four or five research papers are published in medical journals about the use of this plant.they described that this plant can cure several diseases including cancer Even Charaka and others have referred to this plant and its medical uses.

There is much psychology is also involved in the festival. From young age, children are asked to think positively. They learn it with fun an frolics and singing and dancing.

More over youngsters involvement in this will be in their mind for ever green. It will strengthen their belief in religion.

In those days such festivals with positive thoughts helped Hindus to survive and surmount difficulties and obstacles. It reduced divorces, mental sickness, depression and suicides. And above all, the festivals focussed on one or two medicinal herbs which helped to preserve them. It is not just Tulsi and Bilva but also plants like achyranthes also saved from extinction.

Botanical Information  

Achyranthes aspera (common names: chaff-flower,[1] prickly chaff flower,  devil’s horsewhip,[3] Sanskrit: अपामार्ग apāmārga) is a species of plant in the family Amaranthaceae. It is distributed throughout the tropical world.[ 


Tags- Gauri, festival, Balsam, Apamarga plant, Achyranthes, Number 16, Shodasi, girls, positive thought

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