Tithi, the lunar day

Author: Krishna Darshan - Alan Wiuker
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The Sun and the Moon have a powerful effect on human life and mind.
The Sun affects the life force, physical strength and the sense of Self.
The Moon affects the mind, emotions, mood, and the process of growth and nourishment.
Both Sun and Moon represent the two poles of the universal energy, masculine and feminine, the universal father and mother, hot and cool, Siva and Shakti, Ying and Yang.
Without the Sun there would not be life at all on earth. The closeness and distance of the earth from the Sun changes throughout the year and determines the seasons, like winter, spring, rainy or dry seasons and so, according to the location on earth.
The waxing and waning cycle of the Moon is very well known to affect the ocean tides, the growth of plants, the fertility cycle in females, as well as the mind, emotions and mood.
Even people who proclaim themselves as non-believers in astrology, know that the cycles of the Sun and the Moon will affect very much their lives, and everyone plans their lives, activities, clothing, vacations, and many other aspects of daily life based on “predicting” the seasons, weather tendencies and their effects on the mind.
People working in agriculture, farming and gardening know from ancient times that certain activities should be done in new Moon, others on crescent Moon other on waning Moon and so. Isn’t all that a form of popular electional astrology or “Muhurtha”? choosing and planning the best time to do certain activities to get the best results?
If we act in accordance with the energies in the nature we get mental peace and harmony. But if you want to, let’s say, sowing certain seeds in the beginning of the winter, you will waste your energy, feel out of tune and disappointed.

The ancient Yogis and Rishis observed the effect of the Sun, the Moon and the planets with a much deeper and detailed knowledge.
The Hindu calendar, called “Panchanga” is based on 5 factors relative to the position of the Sun, the Moon and the relationship between the two at any particular time.
All the religious life, holidays, festivals, fasts and performance of specific rituals in the Hindu culture are based on that “luni-solar” calendar.

The great Yoga master Sri Swami Sivananda wrote

“The lunar days influence the function of the Nadis (astral energy channels).
It should be born in mind that the Moon exercises a powerful influence over the human mind. In the Purusha Sukta you will find:-Chandrama Manaso Jatah- the Moon is born of the mind of the Virat Purusha or cosmic being.
In the cosmos, the Moon is controlled by the cosmic mind. The individual mind being a speck of the cosmic mind has therefore the connection with the Moon, and being only a speck it feels controlled by the Moon.
When the Moon waxes and wanes, its connection with the mind also fluctuates and thus, there arises a sympathetic reaction in the mind. Hence, the relationship between the flow of the breath and the lunar days.”
S. Sivananda

Yogis know the relationship between the Sun and Moon energy on the human life and mind trough its effects on the flow of energy within the Nadis or astral tubes.
There are two most important nadis called Ida and Pingala, also called the Moon and Sun nadis, which control all the processes of the physical chemistry and metabolism as well as the way the mind works.
These two nadis are connected to the two nostrils, Ida or Moon energy to the left, and Pingala or Sun to the right nostril.
One of these nadis or nostrils is predominant during a period of approximately 1 ½ hours and then it alternates. That regular alternation keeps the balance between heat and cold, effort and relaxation, sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, body and mind, extroversion and introversion of the mind, concrete or abstract thinking.

When these two nadis are kept in perfect balance for a long period of time, by the practice of Yoga, then another nadi called Sushumna becomes active, and that leads to an alternate state of consciousness and the experience of meditation, the transcendence of all duality on the mind.

There is a great knowledge called “Swara Yoga” which studies in depth the effect of the Solar and Lunar energy in relationship with the breath and how it affects human life, result of an action and state of consciousness.
The practice and self discipline by which the practitioner can have a control over these flow of energy and direct it toward the perfection of the meditation experience is called “Hatha Yoga” which means “union of the Sun and Moon energy”. They are both sister and complementary paths.

Swara Yoga is much related to the science of Jyotish and deeply understands the connection between the astronomical position of the Sun and the Moon and how it affects in the flow of the nostrils and its effects in life.
Even predictions about different domains of life can be made according to the flow of the right or left nostril at a particular moment of a query, but its main goal is to attain spiritual consciousness and illumination.
According to the Swara Yoga Shastra, the nostril and Nadi that should be opened at the beginning of each day, at the time of sunrise should be as follows:
In the waxing cycle, on Tithis 1,2,3,7,8,9,13,14,and 15, the Moon (left Nadi) should flow first. On the 4,5,6,10,11,12 Tithis the Sun nadi should begin
In the waning cycle, it is the reverse, meaning, on Tithis 1,2,3,,7,8,9,13,14,and 15 the Sun nadi should flow first, and the Moon on the rest.
If this happens, the mind feels peaceful and in harmony, and if the opposite happens, there is restlessness, and stress in the mind, which can also lead to disease.
The flow of the nadis can be corrected by specific yoga practices and purification of the nadis. The practices should be learned from a qualified yoga teacher.

Within the Panchanga or five limbs of the Hindu calendar, the Tithi or Lunar day plays a very important role to understand the propensities of the mind for different kind of activities, and the experience of emotional fulfillment.
There are certain Tithis which are favorable for certain activities and not for others. Certain Tithis are most favorable for meditation or worship of certain forms of God, while other Tithis are most favorable for attaining success in worldly activities, and others are more destructive in nature.
The Tithi or lunar day plays a very important role in the branch of Jyotish called “Muhurtha” or choosing the auspicious time for a particular activity.
It is also important in Natal astrology, because people born during certain Tithi have different mental tendencies, which should be considered together with the other planetary factors in the birth chart reading.
On a spiritual dimension, the Sun represents the Soul or Atman; the Moon represents the Jiva or individual.
The Scriptures describe the Sun as Lord Siva and the Moon as Goddess Parvati.
The relationship between the Sun and the Moon shows the relationship between the soul and the individual mind, the internal and external life, the eternal and the living.

What is a Tithi?
The Tithi is the distance between the position of the Sun and the Moon at a particular time.
The moment the Sun and the Moon are conjunct, on the same degree, it is the New Moon. From there, each 12 degrees that the Moon gets separated from the Sun is one Tithi.
There are 30 Tithis in one lunar month, between one new Moon and the next.
15 Tithis belong to the waxing fortnight or bright half of the month and 15 Tithis belong to the waning fortnight or dark half o the month Each of the 2 cycles or fortnight is called a “Paksha”
The waxing cycle is called the Sukla Paksha (from the new Moon to the full Moon)
The waning cycle is called the Krishna Paksha (from the full Moon to the new Moon)
Tithis are named from 1 to 15 starting from the beginning of the Paksha that they belong to. For example, the first Tithi after the New moon is called Sukla Pratipada, and the first Tithi after the Full moon is called Krishna Pratipada.

Calculaton of the Tithi.
1. Take the longitude of the Moon
2. Subtract the longitude of the Sun
3. Divide the result by 12
4. Round the remainders up to the next whole number.

Suppose the Sun is in 5 deg Aries (5 deg.) and the Moon is in 28 deg Sagittarius (268 deg.)
263/12=21,91, which is rounded to 22
Tithi is 22, meaning 7th Tithi of the waning cycle or “Krishna saptami”

Groups of Tithis
Tithis are classified into 5 groups.

Nanda Tithis
1, 6 and 11 are the Nanda Tithis. Nanda means happiness. Those are good days for activities relevant to obtain happiness and pleasure, like entertainment, arts, social encounters and like.
Bhadra Tithis
2, 7and 12 are the Bhadra Tithis.
They are good for activities related to the attainment of success and prosperity, such as business, beginning a job, etc.
Jaya Tithis
3, 8 and 13 are the Jaya Tithis. Jaya means Victory, and those are good for activities done for the overcoming of obstacles, or for attainment of success, like competitions, litigations, examinations, efforts, etc.
Rikta Tithis
4, 9 and 14 are the Rikta or “empty” Tithis.
They are the most “negative” Tithis for good actions, they are related to destruction, but they can be favorable for actions done to get rid of something, breaking, demolishing, cleaning, purifying, waste disposal, destroying something negative or pay a debt.
Purna Tithis
5, 10 and 15 are the Purna Tithis.
Purna means fullness or completion. Those are good Tithis for activities done to complete something, abundance, harvesting crops, education, etc.

Presiding Deity
The Deity that rules a Tithi tells us much about the particular energy of that day.
The Tithi that you are born at, gives you a connection to one particular aspect of God, that should be understood and worshiped to get mental happiness.
The Vedic tradition prescribes rituals and Mantras to propitiate the Presiding Deity of the Tithi, when an important activity is started on a particular day.
People born under the Rikta Tithis are advised to understand, worship or repeat the Mantra of the presiding Deity, as a form of remedial measure to be protected from adversities.

Favorable and unfavorable Tithis
The Brightness of the Moon is an indicator of its strength and auspiciousness.
The closest it is o the Sun, either before or after the new Moon, the more inauspicious or malefic it can be.
For any action to bear a good fruit and be successful, the Moon should be strong.
Therefore, the first 5 Tithis of the Sukla Paksha or Waxing Moon and the last 5 Tithis of the Krishna Paksha or Waning Moon should be avoided to begin activities which are supposed to grow, last and bring happiness.

The effects of the 2 Pakshas, waxing and waning Moon

In the waxing cycle, the Moon is newly born and grows, expands towards its fullness. So the Sukla Paksha is more auspicious for starting works to accomplish something which is supposed to grow, expand, prosper and last, like, important inaugurations, starting of a new business, getting married, etc.
People born on this cycle are usually more industrious, out going, emotionally extroverted and successful in their endeavors.(the chart as a whole should be considered to reach to conclussions)
In the waning cycle or Krishna Paksha, the Moon goes from its full radiance to its maximum darkness, so it is inauspicious for the actions mentioned before, but it can be a good time for purification, fasting, introspection, withdrawing from the material worldliness, letting go, develop humility, finish or extinct something.
People born on this cycle are usually are usually more introverted, shy or have more difficulties to relate to the emotional world.

Some Tithis especially auspicious for spiritual practices.
Even though we can say that every day is good for spiritual practices, some days or Tithis are specially regarded as auspicious for meditation, worship and spiritual practices, like the Ekadasi, Trayodasi, Purnima o Amavasya and other special times of the year when the relationship between the Sun and Moon is such that makes it easier to acces the deeper states of consciousness.


(The following is an extract from the Book “Hindu fasts and festivals”, by Sri Swami Sivananda)

"Fasting is prescribed on all Ekadasis, that is, the 11th day of the lunar fortnight, twice a month.
In this Kali Yuga, even if just one Ekadasi is observed with dispassion, faith and devotion, and if the mind is wholly fixed on Hari, one is freed from the rounds of birth and death. There is no doubt about this. The scriptures give us their assurance on this point.
Devotees fast on this day, observe vigil the whole night and do Japa, Hari Kirtan and meditation. Some do not take even a drop of water. Those who are unable to fast completely can take some light fruit and milk.
No rice should be taken on Ekadasi days. This is very important. The sweat that fell down from the head of Brahma assumed the form of a demon and said to the Lord, “O Lord! now give me an abode to dwell.”
Brahma replied, “O demon! go and dwell in the rice particles eaten by men on Ekadasi day and become worms in their stomach.”
For this reason rice is prohibited on Ekadasi. If one observes the Ekadasi fast regularly, Lord Hari is propitiated. All sins are destroyed. The mind is purified. Devotion gradually develops. Love for God becomes intense. Orthodox people in South India observe complete fasting and vigil even on ordinary Ekadasi days. For the devotees of Lord Vishnu, every Ekadasi is a very sacred day.
In the Gita you will find: “Verily, Yoga is not for him who eats too much, nor who abstains to excess, nor who sleeps too much, nor to the excessively wakeful”.
The Yogi withdraws his senses from the particular sense objects. The senses are made to turn into or get involved into the mind. When one is fully established in these two practices, supreme control of the senses is achieved.
Scriptural Stories about Ekadasi
Once there was a demon, Mura, who oppressed the gods. The gods approached Lord Hari for protection. Hari sent Yoga Maya to kill the demon. Yoga Maya carried out the behests of the Lord successfully.
Then the Lord said to Yoga Maya, “Those who observe Ekadasi will be freed from all sins, and you will be called by the name Ekadasi.”
King Ambarisha was a great votary of Lord Hari. He practiced the Ekadasi Vrata for a year. Ambarisha obtained His Grace. On one occasion he fasted for three consecutive days. He was about to break the fast when Rishi Durvasa appeared as his guest. The king received him with due respect and requested him to take his meals. The Rishi agreed and went to bathe in the river. The king waited patiently for a long time, but the Rishi did not return. Time was running out; if the king did not eat anything before the day ended his Vrata would not bear fruit. And if he ate, he would be showing disregard to the Rishi. As a compromise the king took a little water to serve both the conditions.
When Durvasa returned from his bath, he knew exactly what had happened, and was angry. He tore a hair from his tuft and charged it to kill Ambarisha. The king was unmoved. The discus of Lord Vishnu destroyed the power of the hair of Durvasa. It now followed the Rishi wherever he went and tried to destroy him.
Rishi Durvasa went to Brahma and Shiva for help, but to no avail. He went to Lord Hari who said to him, “I am dependent on My devotees. My heart is in the possession of My devotees. Go thou, therefore, to Ambarisha; beg his pardon and thou shall be saved.”
Ambarisha thereupon prayed to the charged hair to desist from its course, and saved the Rishi. Durvasa thanked him from the bottom of his heart."

Trayodasi is a very auspicious Tithi. It is also called “Pradosha” which means “without flaw”

(The following is an extract from the Book "Hindu fasts and festivals", by Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati)

Pradosha Vrata
"All things in this vast creation function upon definite laws. There is always a beautiful system and sound rationale governing every phenomenon and process, mundane or mystical. Just as the gross elements and physical forces operate differently under different states and conditions, so also the subtler and higher forces respond and react in the inner mystic planes, and in the purely spiritual processes like meditation, prayer, worship, etc. Therefore, you will find definite injunctions for performing certain types of worship in the morning, certain other injunctions for the midday prayers, and still others for the evening worship. Again, some observances are meant to be performed during certain phases of the Moon, some when a particular star is in the ascendant, or at the time of a particular conjunction of planets.
The Pradosha worship is to be done in the evening twilight on the 13th day of each lunar fortnight. It is the worship of Lord Shiva for victory and success in all undertakings, and the fulfillment of all your heart’s cherished desires. When you desire to obtain a favor from a superior person, don’t you naturally approach him at a moment when he is likely to be in a very pleasant frame of mind? You will perhaps see him after he has had a good dinner and is happily chatting with a friend in a hearty, expansive mood. Even so, the Hindu, especially the Hindu who is engaged in the motivated type of worship, usually selects the most pleasant aspect of God for his worship. He performs it at a time which the ancient Rishis experienced as being the most helpful and efficacious in propitiating the Deity. The Pradosha worship is based on such mystic psychology.
Pradosha is the worship of Lord Shiva and Parvati when they both are in an extremely propitious mood. Repeatedly worsted in war by the demons, the gods approached Lord Shiva to bless them with a leader for their celestial hosts. They came to the Lord at twilight on the thirteenth day of the lunar fortnight and found Him in the blissful company of His consort, Parvati. Hymned and glorified by them, Siva immediately granted their prayerful request. Hence, the extreme auspiciousness of the period.
One who takes this Vrata fasts on that day, and keeps vigil at night after the fast is over. Bathing an hour before Sunset, the worshipper first performs a preliminary worship of Lord Shiva, together with all the others of His divine family, namely, Parvati, Ganesha, Skanda and Nandi. After the worship of Ganesha, Lord Shiva is invoked in the special kalasha placed on a square mandala with a lotus drawn in it and spread over with darbha grass. After the formal worship has been completed, a Pradosha story is read and heard by the devotees. This is followed by the recitation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra 108 times. In the end the sacred kalasha water is partaken of, the sacred ash is applied to the forehead, and the water which was used to bathe the Lord, is drunk. A gift of a pot, a cloth and an image of the Lord is given to a Brahmin to conclude the worship.
A very important point to be remembered in this connection is that during this auspicious period all the hosts of celestial beings and gods come down from the heavens and attend the worship in their subtle forms. This adds immensely to the sanctity of the worship.
This Vrata is highly lauded by the scriptures and is of very great sanctity and importance to worshippers of Lord Shiva. The mere sight of the Deity in a temple during this period will destroy all sins and bestow bountiful blessings and Grace upon the fortunate beholder. Even a single bael leaf (leaf taken from the wood-apple tree) offered to the Lord at this unique, auspicious moment equals a hundred Mahapujas. It is usual to have special additional lights in the shrine during the Pradosha. To light even a single wick at this juncture is highly meritorious and productive of untold benefits, spiritual as well as material. Most fortunate and blessed is the person who performs the Pradosha Vrata, for upon him Lord Shiva showers His choicest Grace and blessings in a very short time.
Here is the Yogic interpretation of the Pradosha:
According to the Shiva-Raja Yoga, concentration is directed towards the central point in the middle of the eyebrows, where the spiritual light can be perceived by the Yogi who turns the vision inwards. The Yogi passes through various stages, all of which are subdivisions of the four states of waking, dreaming, deep sleep, and the Superconscious State or Samadhi. Each one of these states is further sub-divided into four states, for example, the waking-dreaming, waking-sleep, waking-fourth, and waking-waking. It will be seen that when the states are sub-divided in this way, the first three states comprise a total of twelve sub-states. The thirteenth is the fourth-waking. There is correspondence between this and the 13th day of the lunar fortnight, either bright or dark."

"Those who worship Mother Shakti have certain beliefs of their own, one of which is that the Goddess that is worshipped acquires one ray on each of the days of the bright fortnight, starting from the first day. Thus, on the full Moon night, the Goddess would have received fifteen rays and would be ready for the final form of worship intended to benefit the devout worshipper in all ways. That is why the Navavarana worship is always conducted on the full Moon day. "

"According to Shiva-Raja Yoga there are two channels through which the Prana flows. These are the Ida and the Pingala, ruled respectively by the Moon and the Sun. Midway between these two there is a third, known as Sushumna. The Yogi is asked to start the practice of Yoga when the breath is passing through the lunar channel. This coincides with the flow of the breath through the left nostril. If, however, at the time of practice the flow is through the right nostril, the Yogi is asked to perform a special exercise by which to change the flow to the left. When the Yogi concentrates on the point between the eyebrows, he transcends, stage by stage, the first twelve sub-states. The current of breath continues flowing through the lunar channel. The “Moon” is gaining more and more strength. When the 13th day is reached, the spiritual power of the Yogi has correspondingly increased, and he is in a condition to see the lights which appear in the nerve centre in between the eyebrows. In inverse proportion to the increase in concentration is the duration of the Yogi’s breath. At the start of the practice, the breath will occupy a space of 16 fingers (inches approximately). The moment the concentration has led him from the waking to the dream state, the length of the breath becomes only 12 fingers. In this way, when he reaches the thirteenth stage, only 4 fingers of breath would remain. As this breath now circulates only within the nostril, no breath is noticeable at the tip of the nose. From that moment the light is fixed permanently at the centre between the eyebrows, and the Yogi would have realized the object of his practice.
Let me now describe the actual process of Shiva-Raja Yoga:
The Yogi sits in utter darkness, with the head and body erect, eyes open, and the gaze directed to the centre of the eyebrows. He utters the Mantra in his mind and, without restraining his breath, concentrates his gaze at the middle of the eyebrows, ever on the thought of the appearance of the lights. The deep concentration resulting thereby yields the following fruits, in order.
First, he overcomes the distractions of his mind. He reaches a stage wherein he seems to hear somebody talking somewhere in the distance. The words are not distinct, but a sort of murmur is heard. Nevertheless, since his mind is elsewhere, he pays no attention to it. In fact, the sound comes from nowhere outside. It is his own mind that produces these sounds. The mind is actually functioning in its form as sound. Soon afterwards, this sound ceases, and he begins to see all sorts of visions, in the same manner as we see pictures in a movie. It appears (as if in a dream) that he is passing through hills of varying degrees of beauty, through seas and lakes of all sorts of colors and shapes, and through clouds of different hues. The clouds appear dark and thick at first and thin out gradually. These are scenes which are very pleasant to witness. But they are only thought-forms, an imagery created by the mind as it is functioning as a form. It is in this stage that the Yogi may hear musical notes as well—of the flute, violin, cymbals or any other instrument.
The Yogi then passes through an entirely different experience. He suddenly awakens from a deep sleep. He does not remember when he got into the sleep state, but he is conscious of the sudden awakening. The truth is that he had not slept at all. His mind became a complete blank, he lost consciousness of the workings of the mind, which was nonetheless still active all the time. When he regained consciousness, he suddenly felt his awareness once again. He is now tempted to examine himself to ascertain if his posture is still erect and if his eyes are still fixed between his eyebrows. Finding no change in these he realizes that the temporary loss of consciousness was only a stage which he passed through in his Yoga.
Next comes the stage when he feels as if something of the nature of a hot nail is pricking him at the centre of his eyebrows. In the earlier period of his practice there will only be this sensation, but as he advances, this is followed by the appearance of the lights. Even then there are various stages which have to be passed before the lights get their proper shape.
At first a yellow and a red light appear, the red being in the centre and two yellow flame-like lights on either side. After a few days, all these colors pass away and he begins to see a steady light of the shape and color of the Moon. As his practice advances, this grows brighter and brighter, and the whole room in which the Yogi sits is gradually illumined, starting with the intensity of twilight until it becomes a flood of bright light. Yet in this state nothing that is in the room is seen; other things which are not there, begin to appear. They come and go with amazing rapidity, and reveal many things to him.
Thus far, we have dwelt upon only the first four stages of the entire series of sixteen stages which have to be passed through by the Shiva-Raja Yogi before he finally attains union with Lord Shiva. The details of the experiences at each stage vary from man to man, as also from day to day. But, in the main, these are the stages:
At first, the Yogi is aware of what transpires about him. He is in the waking part of the waking state. Then the pictures come in the dream part of his waking state. The feeling of overpowering sleep occurs in the deep sleep part of the waking state. The appearance of the light occurs in the fourth part of the waking stage.
The dream and the deep sleep states also have their four sub-divisions which have to be passed. When the Yogi comes to the thirteenth stage, he is in the waking part of the fourth state. The vision of Lord Shiva in the form of Self-Consciousness now begins. The form of the Lord appears before him as though coming out of the lights, which began at stage four of the sixteen stages. From this stage onwards the mind loses its sense of separate activity. It becomes deeply absorbed in the Self within.
On the 13th lunar day Nature assists the worshipper in waking up from his mental deep sleep and in becoming aware of the fourth state. The Yogi who practices his Yoga on the Pradosha day gets these experiences of Lord Shiva quite readily.

Similar to the above is the significance of the worship of Lord Ganesha on the 4th day of the lunar fortnight. This corresponds to the Fourth part of the waking state, when the lights are first seen. On the 8th day or the Ashtami, Mother Durga is adored. This corresponds to the fourth part of the dream state. Ekadasi or the 11th day corresponds to the deep sleep part of the deep sleep state. In this state there is complete unawareness of the mind. This is the most favorable moment for a direct contact with God, the indweller. If we fast and pray on this day, we can reduce our bodily activities to the minimum and can have the vision of the Lord who resides in our heart.
If we thus analyze the rationale of our holy days, we discover that our ancients took particular care to effect a synthesis of Yoga—Karma, Jnana and Bhakti.
At the Sivananda Ashram in India, a special havan and an elaborate worship are conducted for the long life, health, success and prosperity of all. The Lord’s sacred prasad is sent to devotees all over the world."

Mahalaya Amavasya
"The dark fortnight of Aswayuja (September-October) is known as the Mahalaya Paksha or the fortnight specially sacred for offering oblations to the departed ancestors. The last day of this period, the new moon day, is considered as the most important day in the year for performing obsequies and rites.
The renowned hero of the Mahabharata, Karna, when he left the mortal coil, ascended to the higher worlds and the great charity he had done here was returned to him hundredfold. But, it was all gold and silver; there was no food, as he had not done any food-charity! He prayed to the god of death. So, he was sent back to earth for fourteen days, to make up for this deficiency.
For fourteen days, he fed Brahmins and the poor, and offered oblations of water. On his return to the higher regions, he had food in plenty. It is these fourteen days that are commemorated in the Mahalaya Paksha. Due to the grace of the god of death, it has been ordained that offerings made during this period benefit all the departed souls, whether they are connected to you or not.
Charity in the form of food is important during this observance. Life depends upon food. You cannot preach religion to empty stomachs. This human body is the most important vehicle for realizing God. How precious must food be which keeps the body fit for Yoga! The gift of food is the greatest gift. Therefore, give food in plenty, not only during the Mahalaya fortnight but all through the year."

Sri Swami Sivananda Saraswati


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