Y'day "Ammumma" (Grand mom) called up to remind me that my uncle is completing 60 years of his presence on this earth today. "Sasthi-Abda-Poorthi", She said.
I knew the meaning, but not its significance. So I searched for some info, and Look what I found..
Turning sixty is a social-religious event in India especially in south. Shashtiabdapoorthi is a family event, when a 're-marriage 'of the couple, is performed .This unusual custom marked by rituals, reverberating with the 'mantras ' is spiritually and mentally rejuvenating for a couple who are 'graduageing'. Witnessed by the next generaton,it is a social event that reflects continuity. When a person reaches 60, he is in the year of the same name as in which he was born and hence the successful completion of one cycle. So, we give thanks for this longivity and pray for a trouble-free old age.
The social, religious and spiritual connotations of this function
When a man turns sixty it is not just another birthday that is to be celebrated with usual greetings,,gifts,cards,flowers,cake and candles. While it may include all that ,it also calls for no less than a sacred Vedic celebration called Sashtiabdapoorti:'Shasti' being 60,'Abdam' the year, with 'Poorti' signifying the completion of 60 years in a man's lifetime.
It is also a happy event that reinforces the existing bond between the man and his wife and is expressed in the unusual custom of a remarriage of the couple watched fondly by a retinue of children grandchildren ,relations and friends.
At sixty ,man had crossed only 50% of his life because the actual span of his life is 120 years according to Vedas. A 60th year, which is just half the span of time originally given to man is considered a critical period .According to the science of Hindu numerology, 6 happens to be an uneasy number and therefore 60 is a time when the ruling planet of a person may have an adverse effect on a man's life; He performs a religious Shanti, a measure undertaken to ensure good health, peace and longevity.
The following deities and great souls and rishis are propitiated and worshipped.
Mrutyunjaya, Brahma, Vishnu, Rudra, Markandeya, Navagrahas (The Sun, Angaraka, ukra, Soma (Moon), Budha, Brihaspati, Saniswara, Rahu & Kethu), Sapata Chiranjeevins (Aswathama, mahabali, Vyasa, Hanuman, Vibheeshana, Krupa and Parasurama), Ayur Devata, Samvatsara Devatas, Nakshatra Devatas, Ashtadikpalas, Saaptha Rishis.
All these devatas, great souls and rishis are pleased by the repeated chanting of their mantras, offering pujas, homams in Agni with appropriate samits and they bless the person celebrating 60th birth day.
The main aspect of celebration is Kumbha or Kalasa stapanam. There are rules governing how and where these Kalasas are to be placed, and this will be guided to the householder by the Vedic scholars conducting the rituals and the sanctification process is religiously observed. The following 11-mangala dravyas are to be applied.
Gorochana: To be applied on the heads of Husband and wife for longevity, health, fame, courage and prosperity.
Cow's milk curd: To smear a small quantity on their foreheads (for prosperity, sweet, fragrance and comforts around for ever).
Cow's Ghee: Smeara little amount of cow's ghee on their eyelids. (For brightness, good appearance and good conduct.)
Green grass: Keep few grass on their heads (Longevity, devoid of diseases and for very strong body).
Cow's milk: A spoonful of cow's milk should be sprinkled on their heads (for strength and longevity).
Fruits: Touch fruits with hands.
Flowers: wear flowers on the heads with veneration.
Mirror: see the faces in the mirror (for disappearance of poverty evil devatas and ugliness).
Lighted Lamp: See the lighted lamp (Let there not be darkness, intelligence and lack of knowledge).
Earth soil: Touch the earth brought from beneath the Tulsi plant.
Gold: Keep a gold coin or an ornament on the head. The gold removes all sins and brings comforts.
After mangala dravyas are applied the couple take bath in sanctified water from the Kalasa wherein rituals are already performed.
The Japas to be chanted during the rituals are: Rudra Gayathri, Tryambakam, Yaajamahe, Vedas, Dikpala mantras, Apo Hisshta, Hiranya varnaPavamanye, Varuna, Braahman, Vishnu, Rudra, Durga, Sri Bhoosuktani, Rudram, Chamakam, Putrushasooktham, Gruthasooktham, Panchasanthi and Navagraha Mantras.
Homam include mainly Svishtakrita homam and Jayathi Homam.The ardra vastra and Kumbha Vastra are to be offered to Brahmins. The clothes worn during the time of Abhishekam i.e the Dhoti and upper cloth, the sari and the blouse worn by the consort of the performer and the cloth wrapped around the Kumbhas as well icons kept in the Kumbha should be offerred to the priests who performed the rituals.
Now comes Dhana (give aways to the priests). Phaladhanam is to be given to all the participants towards mutual wish of gratitude. The giver pleases the receiver and the receiver blesses the giver.
Finally mangalya puja is performed with chanting of mantra. Then the wife is seated facing eastwards and the husband stand facing north. He ties the mangaalya around the neck of his wife with the blessings of all Gods, Goddesses and Rishis. Thus the celebration comes to an auspicious end.
Its a real blessing to see one's parents' wedding. :-)
80th. birthday is the next milestone when a person is felicitated for having seen " a thousand full -moons ( sahasra Chandra Darshanam)".
I wish my cousins would perform his 80th B'day too.
In another 4 years, my father is headed towards his Sasthi-abda-poorthi. Let me see, what I do then. :-)