For any important event, Hindus go through the Hindu Panchang (calendar) to find the muhurat (auspicious periods) to hold the event on. Usually the auspicious periods last only for a bunch of hours on specific days, however there are three and half days in the Hindu Panchang which are considered to be auspicious all day. Any significant occasion or venture can be held anytime on those days. Akshaya Tritiya is one of those three and half auspicious days. (A typical Hindu calendar month is shown in picture)
Akshaya Tritiya is the third day in the bright fortnight of Vaishakha month of the Hindu Panchang, which comes around April-May timeframe. Hindus do not have to check the Panchang for the muhurats on these days. The other two and half days are Vijayadashami (Dussehra), Yugadi (Varsha Pratipada) and a half day of Bali Pratipada which is the 4th day of Deepavali. The word “Akshaya” means non-perishable or eternal. Any auspicious religious activities, personal and business activities started on this day would be fruitful. It is said that Treta Yuga (one of the Hindu periods or eras) or Satya Yuga began on this day. This is the day when Ved- Vyasa along with Lord Ganesha started writing the Mahabharata; one of the great epics of Hindu Dharma.
On this day, Hindus bathe in a sacred river, give charity, perform Japa (meditation) and offer barley in a sacred fire to the deity. They worship Lord Ganesha. Business people start the new account/audit books with the worship of Lord Ganesha and Devi Lakshmi. These traditional rituals are then followed with welcoming customers and holding dinner. Sweets and new year calendars are distributed to guests.
Story of a Brahmana
Here is a story of a poor, childless brahmana who lived with his wife in a small hut. Whatever little money they would somehow get spent and so their suffering would be extended. His wife urged him to visit the great Sage Vashishta who held the power to free the brahmana from their sufferings.
Influenced by his wife, the brahmna went to sage Vashishta to understand the reason behind his suffering. Sage Vashishta told him that in his previous life the brahmana was very rich and had many children. Despite his great wealth, he was a miser and would not even spend his money for his own children. This was the reason why he was poor and did not have children. Then the brahmana asked Sage Vashishta why he got a good wife. The sage replied that he had observed vrata (fast) in the last 5 days of Vaishakha month which is why he got a good wife and a healthy birth. Then the brahmana requested the sage to show him a way to get rid of his current sufferings. The sage advised him to follow the last 7 days left of Vaishakha month with devotion to Lord Krishna.
The brahmana observed the vrata of Vaishakha month for the last 7 days, his family grew, and he became rich. Ultimately with the blessings of the supreme divine nature, he went back to the spiritual world!
The Story from Puranas
In the Puranas, the holy Hindu scriptures, there is a story where Ved Vyasa once requested Lord Ganesha to help him compose the Mahabharata (picture on the right). Lord Ganesha accepted the offer but he had his own reservations. He told Ved Vyasa that he would write the Shlokas only if Ved Vyasa would tally with his speed. If he had to stop due to Ved Vyasa, he would discontinue writing. Ved Vyasa accepted the proposal with counter conditions, stating that Lord Ganesha had to comprehend the meaning of the Shlokas before he could pen them down. All terms and conditions agreed upon, Ved Vyasa started composing the epic Mahabharata and used very complicated Shlokas. Since the Shlokas were complex and difficult to comprehend, they provided Ved Vyasa with enough time to compose new lines.
On this day of Akshaya Tritiya, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Parashurama (picture on the right), the sixth incarnation of the Lord during the Kali yuga, is said to have received Chiranjeevi (immortality). The river Ganga descended on earth on this day. It is also believed that people born during this time shine bright in life. Many great personalities were born during this period: Basaveshwara, the great philosopher was born on May 4, Ramanujacharya, theologian, and Adi Shankaracharya on May 6, Swami Chinmayananda on May 8 and Lord Buddha on May 16.