According to the Hindu calendar, on the ninth day of the Kartik month, the Shukla Paksha or Lunar fortnight phase is known as Akshaya Navami. This year, Akshaya Navami is being celebrated today, 12 November.
On this day, people fast and also worship the Amla tree. The day is an indicator of good luck and prosperity.
Many legends are associated with Akshaya Navami. According to a popular belief, Akshaya Navami is also known as Satya Yugadi, referring to the time when the Yuga of Gods began.
Several devotees also worship the Amla tree by applying turmeric and kumkum on it. Milk is offered to the tree and devotees pray for their health. Since Amla or gooseberry is used for health benefits in India, the Amla tree is worshipped as a gesture of gratitude.
Akshaya also means ‘never diminishing’ in Sanskrit. Worshippers believe that good karma will always give its rewards and hence on Akshaya Navami, people also carry out philanthropic deeds such as giving charity and extending monetary help.
According to mythology, once Goddess Lakshmi came on Earth and expressed her desire to worship Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva together. She contemplated on how to worship both of them together and it struck Goddess Lakshmi that a tree, which has the virtues of both a tulsi plant and vine, would help her in worshipping both Gods together.
She prayed to an Amla tree and the Gods were impressed by her devotion. They appeared in front of Goddess Lakshmi and it is believed that she cooked food for them which they ate heartily.
Another legend has it that there was King named Jaysain who had a son called Mukund Dev. While hunting in the forest, Prince Mukund Dev saw the daughter of a merchant named Kishori and fell in love with her. However, Kishori’s astrologer had told her that her husband will die on the day she gets married and she should not carry on with her wedding plans.
However, the couple decided to marry. On the day of the ceremony, a bolt of lightning struck and was about to fall on the groom but an Amla tree saved the couple from the lightning. Since then, Amla trees have been worshipped for good luck.