Thursday, June 18, 2009


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. :-)


Angel's Flight said...

U are such a sweetheart. We will be celebrating the event soon! I will def send you pictures!!

love ya!

Manjula Narasimhan said...

Follow the instructions as given in my blog too ;-)

Angel's Flight said...

I will give a copy to the vadiyar!! lolz I am sure her will enjoy it!

Anonymous said...

Hello Manjula, Could you please advise me if there are any ill effects of this puja? and how? Two of my relatives passed away with in a year of celebrating Shashtiabdapoorti. Both were younger brother and younger sister of my granny.

Manjula Narasimhan said...

There are no 'ill effects' or side effects of this pooja.
The whole tradition with the customs involved as you must have read above is to only Celebrate.
If I go to a party, and eat a cake and develop stomach cramps it doesn't mean birthday parties have ill effects.
These customs are only means to increase our hope for betterment or longetivity (however you may call it).
For the children who perform the ritual for their parents, it is a good opportunity to express their love and concern to the very people who gave them this life.
More over rituals are in no way a counter measure to destiny. Mritunjaya Homa cannot bestow the boon of being deathless to anybody (though the original sanctity is that).
I hope I have clarified.

Raghavendran S Kowlagi said...

Hi Manjula,

That was a good presentation.

It is possible that in some families it is not a custom to celebrate it. In which case it is better to respect family customs and refrain from celebrating it in a grand manner. However, I would suggest,one can still go ahead and celebrate. I firmly believe life is worth celebrating daily!!

But I have a question. Whether it is to be celebrated after completion of 60 years or during the 60 th year? There is contradicting views on this.If you have an authentic source for an answer pl let me know.

Enjoy life!!

Manjula Narasimhan said...

Sashti abdha Poorthi also signifies completion of 60. Our Samvatsara Cycle consists 60 years starting from Prabhava, Vibhava, etc. In my view, on the day of completion of 60 (Where in the star and year of birth as per our vedic calendar coincide) this has to be performed, unless the day is too inauspicious or too inconvenient to perform.

Raghavendran S Kowlagi said...

Thanks. That is what the word meant. But in Bangalore where I live, there are some who insist that it must be completed before completion of 60 years.I am keen as to where from this view has come down. Perhaps there is some authentic texts available.

Manjula Narasimhan said...

You could also check