Rathasapthami

11 Jan
Rathasapthami
 
This year Rathasapthami falls on Magha Masa Shukla Paksha Sapthami, Thursday,the 6th February 2014.
 
Ratha Sapthami or Rathasapthami (Sanskrit: रथसप्तमी, Kannada: ರಥಸಪ್ಥಮಿ) or Magha Sapthami is a Hindu festival that falls on the seventh day (Sapthami) in the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu month Maagha. It marks the seventh day following the Sun’s northerly movement (Uttarayana) of vernal equinox starting from Capricorn (Makara). It is symbolically represented in the form of the Sun God Surya turning his Ratha (Chariot) drawn by seven horses (representing seven colours) towards the northern hemisphere, in a north-easterly direction. It also marks the birth of Surya and hence celebrated as Surya Jayanthi (the Sun-god’s birthday).
 
Rathasapthami 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. The festival is observed by all Hindus in their houses and in innumerable temples dedicated to Surya, across India.
 
                                                Religious significance
 
Rathasapthami marks the seventh day following the Sun’s northerly movement (Uttarayana) of vernal equinox starting from Capricorn (Makara). It is symbolically represented in the form of the Sun God Surya turning his Ratha (Chariot) drawn by seven horses, with Aruna as the charioteer, towards the northern hemisphere, in a north-easterly direction. The symbolic significance of the Ratha and the seven horses reigned to it is that it represents the seven colours of the rainbow. The seven horses are also said to represent the seven days of a week starting with Sunday, the day of Sun god Surya. The Rathasapthami festival seeks the benevolent cosmic spread of energy and light from the Sun God.
Rathasapthami also marks the gradual increase in temperature across South India and awaits the arrival of spring, which is later heralded by the festival of Ugadi or the Hindu lunar New Year day in the month of Chaitra.
Surya
 
Religious observances
God Vishnu in his form as Surya (the Sun-God) is usually worshipped on this day. Usually, Rathasapthami begins in households with a purification bath (bathing is also done in a river or sea) by holding several Ekka (Calotropis Gigantea) leaves on their head while bathing and chanting a verse which is supposed to invoke the benevolence of the Lord in all that one indulges in during the rest of the year. Its use during the ritualistic ceremonious bath involves placement of seven leaves – one on the head, two on the shoulders, two on the knees and two on the feet.
The following mantra on Sun god is chanted while taking the bath.
“Saptha Saptha Maha Saptha|
Saptha Dweepa Vasundara|
Sapth Arka Parna Madaya|
Sapthamyam Snana Machareth||”
 
By following this simple ritual people believe that the Lord will bless them with success for all their endeavors in the coming year.
Argyam or (Tharpanam) (water held in the palms) is offered to the Sun God on this day while chanting hymns are performed to the Sun God. It also involves doing a Pooja with the ritual Naivedhya (food offering to God), and offering of flowers and fruits. Important prayers offered to the Sun god on this occasion are the Adityahridayam, Gayathri, Suryashtakam, Surya Sahasram namam. The preferred time for the pooja is within one hour after sunrise. In places like Mysore and Melkote, ceremonial processions carry the Surya Mandala – the icon of Surya.
 
The food grain associated with Surya/Sun god is the wholesome Wheat, so on this day Godi/Wheat Payasa or Avalakki/Beaten Rice Payasa/Pudding is prepared and the Payasa is allowed to overflow the pan in which it is being cooked. Perform Pooja and offer fruits and payasa to the god.
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6 Responses to “Rathasapthami”

  1. Jyothishi January 11, 2012 at 14:21 #

    Hi Jyothishi,

    Very useful info. Thanks for sharing. Please let me know if marriages (specifically muhurtham) can be performed on this day.

    Regards,
    Vijay

    • Jyothishi January 11, 2012 at 14:25 #

      This is not a day like Akshaya Trithiya, Vijaydashami etc where we can go ahead with marriages without Mahurtha. Yes if all other parameters agree we can conduct marriages.

      Jyothishi

  2. G.V. Rohini January 11, 2012 at 19:32 #

    Can we chant Chakshushopanishath also?
    Rohini

    • Jyothishi January 11, 2012 at 21:15 #

      For those people with eye problems, I would recommend reading /chanting of Chakshushopanishad daily. This is a powerful antidote to all eye problems including blindness.

      Jyothishi

  3. srikanth January 30, 2012 at 12:23 #

    Nice information on this auspicious eve. Thanks.
    I believe Surya’s charioteer is ‘Anuura’, which is printed here as ‘Aruna’..

    • Captain Vijaygopal (Retd) January 30, 2012 at 17:05 #

      You are wrong. Please read the following:

      Aruna – The Charioteer of Surya

      ——————————————————————————–

      अरुण

      Aruna was the son of the great sage Kashyapa and Vinata, a daughter of Daksha. His mother had obtained a boon from her husband that she would have two offspring who surpassed the thousand sons (the serpents) of her sister (and co-wife) Kadru in glory. She gave birth to two eggs, which did not hatch for a long time. In her impatience, she broke open one of them and found Aruna inside it, but he had an undeveloped lower body. He cursed his mother to bondage for her impatience. He then took to the skies and achieved great glory by becoming the charioteer of Surya, the sun.

      How he became the charioteer of Surya?

      When Surya was swallowed and then regurgitated by Rahu, in revenge for the incident of the nectar, he grew exceedingly angry with the other immortals, for they had suffered him to undergo this indignity. He thought, ‘Since no one came to my aid, what is the use of their existence? Let me destroy all creation with my great heat.’ Then he started multiplying his radiance, and the generated heat threatened to burn the world. The Devas beseeched Lord Brahma to save the world.

      Lord Brahma said, “I shall place Aruna, the son of Kashyapa and Vinata in front of Surya. He is of large body and has divine radiance. He will become the charioteer of Surya and shield the world from his anger.”

      From that day, Aruna precedes Surya in the heavens and is worshiped along with the sun.

      Garuda, the mount of Lord Vishnu is his brother. He emerged from the other egg, which Vinata had left undisturbed for a thousand years.

      Jyothishi

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