Ratha Saptami -Significance and Celebrations
What is Ratha Saptami?
Ratha Saptami is regarded as one of the most significant and religiously relevant festivals which is celebrated across India. The other popular names for this festival are ‘Magha Saptami, ‘Magh Jayanti’, and ‘Surya Jayanti’. Devotees celebrate the eve in order to worship Lord Surya who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
When is Ratha Saptami?
As per the Hindu calendar, the celebrations of Ratha Saptami are observed on the 7th day, i.e. Saptami tithi, in the Magha month during the Shukla Paksha.
About Ratha Saptami
The festival of Ratha Saptami is celebrated as the birth anniversary of God Sun. It is believed that on this particular day, Lord Surya lightened the whole universe with his warmth and brightness.
As per the Gregorian calendar, this auspicious festival falls in the period between mid of January to mid of February. Usually, the rituals of Ratha Saptami are performed two days after the Vasant Panchami celebrations.
What is The Importance of Ratha Saptami?
The day of Ratha Saptami denotes the journey of Lord Surya to the Northern hemisphere in his chariot. It marks the arrival of summer and indicates a change in the climatic conditions across the regions of Southern India. It also symbolizes the beginning of the harvest season for the farmers.
The festival of Ratha Saptami is highly auspicious for performing all sorts of Daan-Punya activities (donations and charities). According to the legends, it is believed that by making donations on the eve of this occasion, the devotees get rid of their sins and illness are also bestowed with longevity, prosperity and good health.
What Are The Rituals of Ratha Saptami?
- The first and the most significant ritual to be performed on the eve of Ratha Saptami is to wake up early and observe a holy bath. It is extremely vital to perform this ritual during Arunodaya (dawn) only.
Note: It is a belief that if people observe a holy bath at this particular time period (Arunodaya), then they are blessed with good health and they get free from all sort of ailments. Thus, ‘Arogya Saptami’ is another popular name by which Ratha Saptami is famous. In the regions of Tamil Nadu, people make use of the Erukku leaves for performing the sacred bath.
- The very next ritual which needs to be performed after undertaking the holy bath is ‘Arghyadan’ in the name of Lord Surya during sunrise. Arghyadan is practiced by offering water to the God Sun through a Kalash and by standing in the Namaskar mudra. To get the maximum benefits, devotees are required to perform this ritual twelve times in a row while reciting the varied names of Lord Surya.
- After performing the Arghyadan, the devotees perform Ratha Saptami puja by lighting up an earthen lamp filled with ghee and offer dhoop, Kapoor and red colored flowers to Lord Surya.
- After that, the female devotees draw the Ratha (chariot) and Lord Surya images as a holy sign to welcome the deity and his divine blessings. In various regions, women make rangolis at the entrance of their houses as a symbol of prosperity and positivity.
- As an extremely significant ritual, milk is poured in a vessel made up of mud and then kept for boiling in a direction where it can face the Sun. Once it is boiled, the same milk is used for preparing the bhog (sweet rice) and later it is offered to the deity, Lord Surya.
- Continuous chanting of the Suryashtakam, Surya Sahasranaam, and Gayatri Mantra on the day of Ratha Saptami are considered as fortunate and highly auspicious.
How Ratha Saptami is Celebrated?
There are a number of temples and holy places which have been build in devotion to God Sun. Huge celebrations and special ceremonies take place on the eve of Ratha Saptami at all these places. Grand festivities are organized in temples such as Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple, Shri Manguesh Temple, Mallikarjun Temple and also in various regions of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra.
What Are The Benefits of Performing Ratha Saptami Puja?
According to the legends, it is believed that by worshipping Lord Surya on the eve of Rath Saptami, devotees get rid of their past and present sins and take a step closer to the path of attaining salvation (Moksha). As per the Hindu religion, Lord Surya grants longevity and good health and it is believed that the devotees are blessed with the same if they worship and offer prayers to the deity on this auspicious occasion.
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