04/24/2012 11:48 am ET Updated Apr 24, 2012

Akshaya Tritiya 2012: Auspicious Beginnings For Hindus And Jains (PHOTOS)


Akshaya Tritiya is a holy day observed by Hindus and Jains around the world. In 2012, Akshaya Tritiya will be observed on the 24th of April.

The word Akshaya means 'endless' in Sanskrit and the day is believed to bring good luck and success. Hindus might chose this auspicious day to embark on a new business venture, perform charity, purchase gold, enter into a relationship, or embark on a long journey.

For Hindus, the Holy day commemorates the birth of Parasurama, the sixth incarnation of Vishnu and the descent of the river Ganges to earth. It is also the day when Ganesha and Veda Vyas started writing the Indian epic, Mahabharata. Most importantly for Hindus, the day focuses on Krishna and his generosity towards Sudama, his impoverished childhood friend.

Legend has it that Sudama came to visit Krishna with the intention of asking him for financial support. Being poor, Sudama brought a few grains of puffed rice to offer to his friend, but out of embarrassment he did not ask for financial help. However, when Sudama returned to his home, he found that his humble hut had been transformed into a gleaming palace.

For Jains, Akshaya Tritiya is a time to remember how Rishavdev, the first Jain monk, established the correct way for Jain monks to receive food and drink as they do not prepare their own food, and accept whatever is given to them.

Legend has it that when Rishavdev set out to accept food after fasting that nobody understood his request. They gave him gold and jewelery but no food. Rishavdev fasted for another year until his grandson understood and offered him sugarcane juice.

Many Jains observe this day by fasting and giving to charity. Astrologically, both the sun and moon are at their brightest - a phenomena that occurs just once a year.