Traditionally, on Akshay Trithiya, Char Dham opens for darshan after the long winters. In 2023, the temples of Yamunotri and Gangotri open on Akshaya Trithiya, and Kedarnath opens on 25th April and Badrinath on 27th April.
Significance of Akshay Trithiya
Akshay Trithiya, is astrologically one of three most auspicious tithis in the year, and is associated with several legends through different periods of time. The other two being the first tithi of the Shukla Paksha of Chaitra, celebrated as the New Year, and the tenth tithi of the Shukla Paksha of Ashvina celebrated as Vijay Dashami.
Akshay Trithiya is the day that marks the beginning of the Treta Yuga, during which period Sri Rama manifested. It is also the day on which Sri Parashuram, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, incarnated. Lakshminarayana, or the aspect of Lord Vishnu along with His Shakti, Lakshmi, is worshipped on this day. It is also believed to be the day when Veda Vyasa began reciting the epic Mahabharata to Sri Ganesha, who recorded it.
After prolonged penance, on this auspicious occasion, the earth itself was blessed by the descent of the sacred Ganga. King Bhagirath had perfomed tapasya for an age without a name in seeking the Ganga for the salvation of his ancestors. In remembering them, we receive their blessings. It is a day that reminds us that shudh sankalpa or pure intent and tapasya or austerities performed for the welfare of all, bears fruit. At this time of climate change, we need to be deeply aware that we have plundered the Earth and desecrated rivers we once held sacred. It is time to seek deeper understanding of the significance of festivals that we have recently celebrated with ostentation and abandon.
Akshay Trithiya & Char Dham
Traditionally, the temples of Char Dham open for darshan on Akshay Trithiya, after the long hard Himalayan winters. The teerth to the Char Dham was with the bhav of sadhana and tapasya; the long and arduous journey, without comforts, undertaken on foot, was the worship we offered. And through this, we sought darshan, and the Truth was revealed to us.
It is a good day for new beginnings, for daan, for puja, yagya, spiritual practice and auspicious activities. In an age when material welfare has dominated the mind, people have bought the concept that Akshay Trithiya is celebrated by buying gold, silver and precious gems. The blessings of Sri Lakshmi were never associated with monetary wealth. In earlier ages, when one was more in tune with balance and harmony in all aspects of life, one recognised that one must earn merit. And one sought the blessings of Sri Lakshmi, so one could use wealth for the welfare of all. Giving was the reason to receive.
The story of Lord Krishna and Sudama is often related in context of the day. Sri Krishna’s childhood friend, Sudama, plagued by hard times and poverty, at the behest of his wife, arrives at Sri Krishna’s palace gates at Dwarka, where he is refused entry. Sri Krishna Himself comes to greet him, welcomes him as a dear childhood friend, snatches the gift of puffed rice Sudama is embarrassed to offer. He delights in it, and takes pleasure in his friend’s company. When Sudama leaves joyous and fulfilled, though seemingly empty-handed, and approaches home, he starts worrying about what he will tell his wife. He sees in place of his dilapidated kutia, a palace awaiting him. What we offer the Lord with a generous heart, seeking nothing in return, earns merit. Sudama prays simply that his mind and actions be engaged in the continual service of the Lord, in divine surrender and love.