This day, considered to be one of the four most sacred days in the Hindu calendar, falls on the third day after Amavasi (no moon) in the Hindu lunar month of Vaishakha. This is also the third day of the bright half (the waxing phase of the moon) of the month. The Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) that falls on a Monday under the Rohini star is considered more auspicious than the others.
The word tritiya means third and refers to this position on the calendar. On this day, both the sun and the moon are considered to be at their radiant best. Altogether, there are three and a half lunar days when the sun and moon are equally bright.
In 2011, Akshaya Tritiya, also known as Navanna Parvam, falls on the sixth of May. Last year, it was the 16th of May.
‘Akshaya’ – that which never diminishes
Akshaya means that which never diminishes. According to Hindu astrology and almanac, every second of this special day is considered to be auspicious. Except for three and a half special days, all other days have a muhurat – an auspicious time, and a ‘raahukaalam’ – a bad time of the day which has to be avoided for important events.
Akshaya Tritiya, on account of its day-long ‘goodness’ is considered to be perfect for new beginnings - like weddings, new business ventures like firms, shops and factories, long journeys, ground breaking for construction, investments – especially in gold and diamond, and so on. Many temples, especially in North India, have been inaugurated on Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) days.
Hindu Gold Rush Day
In India, gold is regarded as the ultimate symbol of wealth and prosperity. Being the most auspicious and perfect time Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) is credited as a perfect time for buying and wearing gold. The ‘never diminishing, always appreciating’ principle of Akshaya lures the people to go on a spending spree for gold on this day.
On the day of Akshaya Tritiya or Akha Teej, jewellery stores are open late into the night to meet the huge customer turnout. Most stores stock new designs of jewellery on the occasion. Gold coins inscribed with the pictures of Goddess Lakshmi, and jewellery that have the images of gods and goddesses on them are popular buys during this time.
The festival days of Diwali, Dussehra and Gudi Padva are some of the other days considered auspicious for buying gold and other jewellery.
A decade ago or maybe even half a decade ago, the day was not one that held much significance for the average Hindu. Only devout Hindus and those well-versed in the scriptures observed the sanctity of Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej) by engaging in special pujas and by giving food and alms to the poor.
The Hindu religious texts called the Puranas specifically mention that annadanam – offering food to the poor – is the greatest thing that one can do on Akshaya Tritiya (Akha Teej). For the Hindu, no danam – donation or gifting – is greater than the offering of food for the have-nots.