Thursday, 9 February 2017

Magha Pournami - A Holy Dip

                                                     Magha Pournami

Magh Purnima or Magha Pournami, also known as Maha Maghi, is one of the auspicious Purnima days according to the Hindu calendar. This is the full moon day in the month of Magh (mid-January to Mid-February of the Gregorian calendar). Full moons (Purnimas) and new moons (Amavasyas) have special significance in Hindu religion. The month of Magh is considered to be sacred because at the commencement of this month the sun sets on its northern path. Magh Purnima also marks the conclusion of Magha month in North India. So the day of the full-moon falling in this month is highly revered by devotees.
This day is venerated in different ways across the country. This is a very auspicious bathing day and is of the same significance as that of karthik purnima. Maghi Purnima is revered as a ‘bathing festival’ across the country.

The full moon day of Magha (January-February) is known as Magh Purnima. It is a great bathing day, and as important as Kartik Purnima for the practice of piety and devotion. On this day a fast is observed and charities are done. Early in the morning, after ablutions, the dead ancestors are offered libations, and the poor are given dakshina according to one's means and capacity.

The month of Magha is known to be an auspicious day among the Hindus, as the sun sets in the north western direction. Maghi Purnima usually falls on the last day of the month of Magh. This day is perfect taking a holy bath in Holy River of the Triveni Sangam. This auspicious festival, as said above, marks the end of Magh in the northern parts of the country. Hence, Hindus of these parts of India revere this day as extremely holy for worshipping the great Lord Vishnu, as well as the Sun god.

History and Legends:-

According to Brahmavaivartpurana, Lord Vishnu himself resides in the Ganga River during the month of Magh and therefore even a touch of this holy water can cure all sins and all diseases of a devotee.
Another legend states that Lord Vishnu resides in the Kshir Sagar during the Magh month and the Ganga River is a form of Kshir Sagar.
It is also believed that Vishwamitra also performed the holy bath in the Kumbh Mela in 2382 BCE on the day of Magh Purnima.
Even astrologically, Magh Purnima is regarded as auspicious because the Sun is in the Capricorn sign and the Moon in the Cancer Sign. Thus, taking the ritualistic bath can cure a person from all problems related to the Sun and the Moon.
According to the Matsya Purana, anyone who donates the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana on this day finds abode of Lord Brahma.

Fairs during Magh Purnima:-

Every year, a fair is organized in Prayag during Magh month. It is believed that residing in Prayag (Kalpvas) during this period is considered to be very auspicious. Devotees stay near Prayag till Maghi Purnima. A lot of devotees from all across India can be seen taking baths and performing religious activities during this period. Kalpvas extends upto the end of Magh month. On the day of Magh Purnima, devotees take a bath, make donations and perform yagnas etc. It is believed that Lord Vishnu blessed everyone who takes a bath in Ganga river on this day. Taking a bath in river Ganga on the day of Magh Purnima provides a person with success, peace of mind and salvation.

Float Festival in Madurai:-

On Magh Purnima, the ‘float’ festival is celebrated at Madurai in Tamil Nadu. On this day, the ornately decorated idols and images of Lord Sundeshwara and Meenakshi are mounted on the floats and are taken to Mariamman Teppakulam Sarovar which is a large sacred tank in Madurai. The procession is accompanied by music and chanting devotional songs.
Magh Purnima is the birthday of King Tirumala Nayak who constructed the Mariamman Teppakulam which is a few kilometres to the East of Madurai.
There is a special significance of this day in Buddhism as well. It is believed that Gautam Buddha announced his impending death on this day. There are religious ceremonies held at Viharas, prayers are dedicated to the Buddha. Religious flags are hoisted on all the monasteries at dawn and sacred verses are chanted from the Tripitaka. –

Bathing Festival:-

Grand festivals take place along the banks of the holy rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Sarayu, Narmada, Tapti, Kaveri, Krishna, Godavari etc. Taking a holy dip on this day in Kumbakonam, Kannyakumari and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu and Pushkar Lake in Rajasthan is also considered to be very meritorious.

Bathing in India is a ritual, a ceremony, a festival and a great purifying act. A bath on such auspicious day as Purnima, is all the more significant. On this day great bathing festivals are held at various places along the banks of the holy rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Sarayu, Narmada, Tapti, Kaveri, Krishna etc. People walk miles and miles to have a holy dip in the sea, or river or a lake on this day. A bath in the sea at Kanyakumari and Rameshwaram, is also considered to be highly rewarding. In the same way a dip at Pushkar Lake is also considered auspicious. At Kumbhakonam near Madras, there are great shrines of Sarangpani, Kumbeshwara and Nageshwara near which there is a large sacred tank, where devotees take a holy dip on this day. It is believed that Ganga flow into this tank on this day. Once every 12 years, Kumbha Mela is also held here.

 Magha Purnima Worship:-

Magha Purnima is an auspicious day to worship the ancestors. Prayers are offered to Lord Vishnu on this day in order to liberate the souls of their ancestors. Giving alms and donations to poor and priests on this day is believed to win the blessings of the ancestors. Donating cows is a sacred act on this day and can bless the individuals with a lot of merits including freedom from sins.

Worship of Lord Vishnu:-

Magha Purnima day is one of the most auspicious days to perform Satyanarayan vrat. This vrat is observed in the evening after moon rise and the puja consists of worshipping Lord Vishnu as Satyanarayan along with Mahalakshmi. This puja is believed to bring prosperity and happiness in families.
The materials offered to Lord Vishnu on this day include sandal paste, fruits, betel leaves and nuts, panchamrit and different delicacies. The special dish made on this day is sourced from wheat and sugar. Tulsi water is distributed at the end of the puja.

Products to perform the puja :-

Worshipping Lord Vishnu is considered very auspicious on this day. Lord Satyanarayan, Lord Bruhaspati and Goddess Parvati are also worshipped on this last day of the month of Magha.
Besides, religious significance, the day of Magha Purnima is also holds importance in the science of astrology. It is held that on this day Sun enters into the Capricorn Sign and Moon moves in the Cancer constellation. Hence it is believed that taking a holy dip on Magha Purnima can put an end to all the problems correlated with Sun and Moon. The month of Magha is also beneficial from scientific point of view. It is believed that this month helps the human body to adjust with the changing seasons. Therefore taking a bath on Magha Purnima will provide strength and power to the body.

Mantra Chanting:-

While bathing on this day a person should chant ‘Om Namah Bagvate Vasudevaya Namah’. It is a mantra of Lord Krishna an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The mantra is also termed as a Mukti Mantra that promises freedom  from the cycle of birth and rebirth. It also forms the main mantra of ‘Srimad Bhagvad Geeta’. While some devotees may chant it like the Gayatri mantra others may sing it like a Bhajan.

Fasting rules on Magha Poornima:-

On the day of Magha Purnima, the devotees observe a day long fast in atonement of their sins. The fasting starts early in the morning and concludes in the evening after Puja. While the strict version of the vrat enjoins the devotee to desist from any form of eating and drinking, a lighter version allows consumption of fruits and milk.

The puja on this day includes:-

•Alms in the form of food, clothes and money are distributed to the poor.
•Saints and Brahmins are fed and given ‘daan’.
•Fasts are observed and prayers are offered to Lord Satyanarayan.
•A holy dip in the name of Lord Vishnu is the real puja of this day.
•Donations in the name of Ancestors are also done.

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