Fasts have been an integral part of all religious festivals. Hindu mythology has often portrayed that fasting on specific days bestows glory, success, and happiness on the individual undertaking the fast. Fasting is considered to be an auspicious and integral part of expressing one’s devotion to God. According to Hindu mythology, when a person observes a fast, they take a vow or Sankalp and this is known as vrat. The vow or Sankalp expresses their deep devotion to the Omnipresent. The Hindu fasts are often observed by chanting mantras and hymns in praise of God. Most of the fasts are observed by women, for the good health and prosperity of their husbands and family.
Kokila vrat is one such fast that is observed by Hindu women, on the Purnima day of Ashadha month. This fast is dedicated to Goddess Sati and Lord Shiva. Kokila vrat is observed from Ashadha Shukla Purnima till Shravan Shukla Purnima. This vrat is mainly observed in Northern India and some parts of western and southern India, by both married women and unmarried women. Married women observe the fast for the long life of their husbands and are believed to be blessed as Akhanda Saubhagyavati, ensuring that they never lose their husbands to death. Unmarried girls observe this fast to gain a worthy and virtuous husband. Devotees observing the Kokila vrat are bestowed with prosperity, fortune, health, virtuous offsprings, and wealth and go to the abode of Goddess Parvati after their death.
When is Kokila Vrat in 2021?
Kokila Vrat 2021 will be observed on 23 July 2021. The timings are as follows:
Purnima Tithi Begins at 10:43 AM on July 23, 2021.
Purnima Tithi Ends at 08:06 AM on July 24, 2021.
Kokila Vrat Puja Muhurat Timings: 06:50 PM to 09:06 PM
Duration: 02 Hours 17 Mins.
Kokila Vrat Puja Rituals and Traditions
According to Hindu mythology, worship is not just limited to deities and idols but also includes worshipping birds, trees and animals. In particular, worshipping the cow is considered to be sacred as we believe that the entire universe, along with the three realms, resides in her. During Kokila vrat, worshipping the Kokila bird and the cow is considered to be sacred. The rituals that are followed while observing this fast are the same as any other fast under the Indian tradition.
Women observing the Kokila vrat should wake up in the Brahmamuhurtha, i.e. before sunrise and after completing their routine tasks, should bathe in a mixture of amla (Indian gooseberry) pulp and water. Performing Ganga snan or undertaking pilgrimages that include bathing in holy waters is also considered to be sacred. After bathing, perform aaradhya to the Sun by using a thick chickpea flour paste and then offer the first bread of the day to a cow. The Kokila vrat rituals are conducted for the next eight to ten days.
Following this, an idol of the cuckoo bird or kokila is worshipped for the next eight days using turmeric, sandalwood roli, rice and Gangajal. The cuckoo bird represents Goddess Parvati here. Both Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati or Sati are worshipped during Kokila vrat. Place an idol or a picture of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi on the puja pedestal. Shivling Abhishek must be performed using the Panchamrit, following which Gangajal must be offered to the lord. The idols are worshipped with white and red flowers, belpatra, durva, gandha, incense sticks and deep. A Sankalp is then taken to fast the entire day and spend the day in devotion to the Lord. Once the morning puja rituals are completed, the devotee should spend the entire day until sunset in fasting and chanting mantras and japas. In the evening, after performing the Aarti puja and reciting the Kokila vrat katha, and if possible seeing a cuckoo bird, the fast is concluded with the consumption of fruits.
The devotee must observe celibacy and maintain a calm demeanor, without indulging in any negative or malicious thoughts for anyone, during the entire vrat period
The Kokila vrat must be observed properly by following all rules and rituals with utmost devotion as this ensures that the devotee can harness the auspicious blessings from the fast completely. While the Kokila fast is observed on the full moon day, it starts a day in advance, like all other fasts, with the devotee consuming a one-time meal.
Hindus consider the Kokila vrat of special significance as this fast bestows the married with marital happiness and ensures an early marriage with a suitable groom for young, unmarried girls. Just as the Teej fast bestows long life on the husbands, Kokila vrat blesses the young girls with a worthy life partner. Observing the fast strictly, as per the rituals, ensures that all the wishes of the devotees are fulfilled.
The Kokila Vrat Katha
The Kokila vrat story is described in detail in the Shiva Purana and narrates the story of Lord Shiva and Goddess Sati. The story goes as such:
Goddess Sati was the daughter of King Daksha. While King Daksha hated Lord Shiva, Goddess Sati was a strong devotee of Lord Shiva. She undertook a prolonged and rigorous penance seeking Lord Shiva as her life partner and her wish was granted due to her dedication, and she married Lord Shiva. This angered King Daksha and he distanced himself from Goddess Sati, deprived her of all rights, and expelled her from his home and family.
Once King Daksha conducted a grand yajna. He invited everyone including Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and all the other Devas and Goddesses; however, he did not invite Goddess Sati and Lord Shiva. Goddess Sati came to know about the yajna and was hurt by the knowledge that she was not invited by her own father. She expressed a desire to attend the yajna and requested permission from her husband, Lord Shiva. Lord Shiva advised her against attending the yajna stating that it would not be right to go uninvited to the yajna even if it was conducted in her father’s home. Goddess Sati being stubborn did not heed Lord Shiva’s advice and reached King Daksha’s palace.
Instead of feeling happy, King Daksha insulted Goddess Sati and Lord Shiva. Unable to bear the insult to her husband, Goddess Sati, in her anger, jumped into the holy fire of the yajna, sacrificing her body. When Lord Shiva was informed of Goddess Sati’s sacrifice, he was angered and, in his rage, he destroyed the Daksha yajna and killed King Daksha. He also cursed that Goddess Sati will reincarnate as a cuckoo bird and reside in the Nandan forest for thousands of years. This story gave the name of Kokila vrat to this fast. In her reincarnation as a cuckoo bird, Goddess Sati observed deep penance, for thousands of years, and once again married Lord Shiva, who was her worthy husband.
The significance and beliefs of Kokila Vrat and its association with traditions
It is believed that women observing the Kokila fast are bestowed with all happiness in life and are blessed with a unique power within themselves that inspires them to keep their family close-knit, happy and prosperous. This fast makes the devotees capable of enduring every form of hardship and enables them to move ahead in their life successfully. The Kokila vrat also enhances a woman’s personality and beauty as they bathe with herbs during this vrat.
Women observing the Kokila vrat follow a specific bathing ritual by applying Amla paste on their entire body before bathing, for the first eight days. After this, they must bathe using medicinal herbs such as Koot, Jatmasi, raw and dry turmeric, Mura, Shilajit, Sandalwood, Vach, Champak and Nagarmotha, for another eight days. Once this is done, they must bathe using herbs for another eight days. Finally, for the last six days, sesame seeds, amla and all medicinal herbs are used while bathing. It is equally important to worship the cuckoo bird after having their bath. On the concluding day of the fast, the cuckoo bird should be beautified and donated to a Brahmin or the mother-in-law and father-in-law.
Kokila vrat is also associated with folklife and culture, especially in the rural areas where the folklores bring out the mythological significance of this fast. Each sect recognizes the invaluable qualities of nature and performs different forms of religious and spiritual rituals to express their harmony with nature’s bounty. Kokila vrat, likewise, reflects the Indian traditions and our love for nature including animals, birds, trees, and plants as we worship their bounty and blessings.