MAGHA SNANA (taking a dip in the waters during Magha Maasa) also known as mini Kumbha Mela is as important, significant and meritorious as KARTIKA DEEPA (lighting the Deepa) in the month of Kartika. From Pushya Purnima to Magha Purnima, devotees undertake the Magha Snana Vrata. Apart from Snana, Charity (Dana) is also one of the main features of Magha Vrata. When the Sun enters the Makara Rashi (Uttarayana), the inclination of the Sun-rays, and consequently the light as well as the heat (warmth) reaching the terrestrial plane is different. The season is slowly changing – from cold (winter) to warm (summer) climate. In the dry winter season, there is a deficiency of sufficient light and warmth which weakens the immunity system of an individual. Now, with the arrival of Uttarayana, the soft and tender rays of the Sun energize the waters of the rivers and the ocean. This water (especially the saline ocean water) is extremely beneficial for us to fight the cold as well as the seasonal infections. Apart from this, the solar energy from the Sun during this time-period is extremely beneficial for the psychological and spiritual aspect of an individual. The various Puranas endorse this and therefore, this cosmic & celestial event has been incorporated as a mandatory religious vow or vrata. The Magha Snana is to be undertaken at dawn (Arunodaya Kaala) just before sunrise preferably in rivers, lakes or tanks which are exposed to Nature and are close to temple or pilgrim centres. Magha Snana at Prayagraj (Magha Mela) is considered highly meritorious because of the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. After the Magha Snana, Surya Bhagavan is invoked and Lord Madhava, the presiding deity of Magha Maasa is worshipped.
Magha Navaratri Vrata is also undertaken by the devout. Goddess Saraswati, the presiding deity of Knowledge & Art-forms is worshipped on Vasanta Panchami or Sri Panchami Day. The Magha concludes with the Mahashivaratri on the chaturdashi day prior to Amavasya. In the month of Magha, Lord Sun is worshipped on the Ratha Saptami Day which is also known as Surya Jayanti and Arogya Saptami. It is said that the northward course of the Sun gains momentum on the Ratha Saptami! Apart from the Gayatri mantra, Surya Ashtakam and the Aditya Hridayam are fervently chanted to invoke the grace and blessings of Surya Bhagavan. Ratha Saptami signifies the change of season. It heralds the onset of the fresh ever-green Spring (Chaitra) and the end of the dry and cold Winter. For the farmers, this is the beginning of a new harvest year. On the Ratha Saptami Day, the utsava-murthi (procession-deity) in many of the temples (especially in Tirumala) is adorned with a kavacham inlaid with diamond and other precious gems and brought out in the early morning to face the rising Sun. It is an overwhelming sight to see the radiant and golden glow reflected from the Deity as well as the gems sparkling at the touch of the early morning rays of the Sun! The divine and blessed feeling of being wrapped in the light and warmth of the Lord’s immediate presence is inexplicable!! The fresh and tender Sun’s rays are extremely rejuvenating and beneficial to the physical body as well as the mind-intellect equipment.
MAGHA means “do not commit sins (mistakes) or do not fall” or “may we not suffer any grief or sorrow.” This is an indication that an individual must consciously walk the path of righteousness (dharma) and also be alert so that one does not inadvertently deviate and take to the path of unrighteousness (adharma). Hence we invoke Surya Bhagavan’s grace and blessings to keep us in the Light of Knowledge. Surya Bhagavan is worshipped as the Lord riding a chariot with one wheel – the WHEEL of TIME (Kaala Chakra). The three-sectioned hub of the Wheel, represents the three Chaturmasa-s. The six rims (or six sections of the rim) of the Wheel represent the six seasons and the twelve spokes represent the twelve months of the year. Hence the Wheel is also known as SAMVATSARA or a YEAR. In one year, Lord Sun moves through the twelve zodiac signs, each of which represents one month of the Hindu calendar year. The chariot is yoked to seven divine horses which are named after the Vedic metres or chhandas. They represent the seven colours – VIBGYOR – the seven components constituting Sun (White) Light; but the horses are green in colour! Anything that is far from our view appears GREEN, which indicates vastness and expansiveness. Green is also the CENTRAL colour in VIBGYOR. Hence “green” represents “balance, stability and equilibrium” in the cosmic configuration. The horses also represent the seven days of the week starting from Sunday – the first day of the week. Aruna is the Lord’s charioteer and he represents Dawn. Surya Narayana is the Lord of Light and Heat, Knowledge and Wisdom, Health and Prosperity. It is HE who nurtures, nourishes and sustains the entire world of things and beings.
“Saptashva Rathamarudham Prachandam Kashyapatmajam; Shveta Padmadharam Devam Tam Suryam Pranamamyaham”
“Prostrations to Surya Bhagavan, the Self-effulgent and the son of Sage Kashyapa who is seated in a chariot drawn by seven horses and sports a white lotus in his hand.”
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