Ratha Saptami or Magha Saptami is dedicated to the Lord Sun. The seventh day of the Magha month is celebrated as Ratha Saptami because mythology claims that Lord Sun began using his chariot of seven horses on this day. With the beginning of the Magha Saptami, the Sun God mounts his regal chariot and begins his movement across the sky for the entire year. This year, this auspicious day will fall on 1 February 2020, Saturday.
Ratha Saptami is celebrated amongst the essential religious festivals. The day is commemorated throughout the country with much fun and frolic. Apart from Magha Saptami, the day is also known by the names Magha Jayanti or Surya Jayanti. On this very day, Lord Sun began the enlightenment of the Universe, and this tithi is also considered to be the birthday of Surya Deva.
As per the Hindu Panchang, this festival falls on the seventh day (Saptami tithi) of the Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) of the Magha month, and as per the Gregorian calendar, it falls anywhere between mid-January to mid-February. Generally, the rituals for Ratha Saptami are performed two days after Basant Panchami.
On this auspicious occasion of Surya Jayanti, let us pray to Lord Sun that he continues illuminating the world with his warmth and splendour like he began doing on this day.
Ratha Saptami: Significance
Natives believe that Magha Saptami marks the arrival of Summer, and hints towards changes in the climatic conditions of South India. Simultaneously, this is also a promising day for farmers to begin farming.
Charity and donations are considered especially favourable on Ratha Saptami. It is believed that doing charity on the eve of Surya Jayanti abolishes the sins and diseases of the devotees, and Lord Sun blesses them with longevity, prosperity, and good health. Taking a bath before sunrise is also considered a healthy tradition. People believe that bathing in holy rivers on this day delivers one from all diseases of the body, especially skin-related problems. Due to this belief, Ratha Saptami is also known by the name ‘Arogya Saptami’ meaning disease-free. On the other hand, this day is celebrated as Achal Saptami amongst saints.
Rituals of Ratha Saptami
- On the day of Ratha Saptami, devotees take a bath in holy rivers before sunrise. This bath is given special importance in scriptures and should be done during Arunoday, i.e., at dawn or daybreak. In Tamil Nadu, natives use the leaves of Iruku or Madar (the crown flower) for this holy bath.
- While bathing, the devotees do ‘Arghya Daan’, in which, they offer water to Lord Sun from a round metal pot. They then stand in the posture of Namaskara while facing the Sun God, and chant his various names 12 times.
- Afterwards, they light a diya (lamp) of ghee (calcified butter) and worship Lord Sun using red flowers, camphor, and incense.
- Ladies often draw a picture of the Sun with his chariot, on this day, to welcome him. Designing a beautiful rangoli at their homes is also prevalent in many places.
- One of the major traditions for the day includes filling an earthen pot with milk and boiling it using sunlight. Afterwards, this milk is used for cooking an oblation for the Sun God by making Kheer (sweet pudding of milk and rice).
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How is Ratha Saptami Celebrated?
Grand ceremonies and special rituals in temples and holy places of Lord Sun are a significant part of the celebration of Ratha Saptami. Magnificent celebrations are held on the day at Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple, Sri Manguz Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple, and shrines and temples in various regions of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.
Ratha Saptami: Benefits of Worshipping Lord Sun
It is believed that worshipping Lord Sun on the eve of Ratha Saptami delivers the devotees from their past and present sins, and they take one step towards Moksha. In addition to these, the Sun God also blesses people with longevity and good health.
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