About Ratha Saptami
Ratha Saptami is considered as one of the most significant and religiously relevant festivals which is celebrated across India. Mainly this festival is observed and celebrated by Hindus in Goa. 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.
Ratha Saptami is symbolic of the change of season to spring and the start of the harvesting season. For most Indian farmers, it is an auspicious beginning of the New Year. This day celebrates the birth anniversary of Surya Bhagwan and is believed that on this day Sun God enlightened the whole world.
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.
When it is celebrated
According to 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 and according to English calendar the month continues from mid of January to mid of February.
Ratha Saptami is celebrated as the birth of Surya to sage Kashyapa and his wife, Aditi. According to the legend, king Yashovarma of Kamboj empire had no heir to rule his kingdom. Soon his prayers were answered and he was blessed with a son. His son was terminally ill. A sage who visited the king advised that his son should perform Ratha Saptami puja to get rid of his illness. After performing this puja, his health was recovered and he ruled the kingdom.
Surya is considered as an important god because he is the source of life. That’s why he is placed in the center of navagrahas. Surya is worshipped early in the morning while fresh sunrays emerge. It is believed and proven that exposure to fresh sunrays rejuvenate energy and purify the mind and body. That’s why many we do suryanamaskaras early morning when sunrays are fresh.
For most Indian farmers, it is an auspicious beginning of the New harvest Year.
There are a number of temples and holy places which have been built 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.
Clean the house properly and put the mango leaves on all the important places early in the morning or a day before in evening of ‘puja’ day. 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 only.
After this start Ratha Saptami ‘puja’ with lighting a lamp and offering a simple prayer to God Ganesha. If you are having a family deities take their blessings along with the payer of Lord Ganesha. Place the flowers and turmeric mixed uncooked rice near the Ganesha and deity. ‘Puja’ of Surya Dev begins by first smearing the Ratha of Surya with kumkum and turmeric.
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 and later it is offered to the Lord Surya.
‘Arghyadan’ is offered to Sun god at the time of sunrise. It is performed by offering water from a small kalash in namaskar mudra to Lord Surya. Many devotees perform this ritual 12 times and chant 12 different names of Lord Surya. Then, devotees lit diyas and worship Sun god with red flowers, camphor and dhoop. It is believed that performing these rituals to Sun god will be bestowed with good health, longevity and success.
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