Purnima – it is a full moon day according to scientific deductions. It is a lunar phase in which the moon appears to be fully illuminated from the earth’s perspective. On average, this lunar phase appears consecutively in an interval of 29.53 days. According to this calculation, each month on our calendar has one Purnima or the Full Moon Day.
If we visualise the event from a scientific perspective, we can just analyse the superficial aspects of the day. We can say that the day brings high tides in water bodies, medically it is claimed that few people get insomniac on this day or hormonal changes may be noticed. There are many more lunar effects recognised by science, which includes the increase in weight of honeybees.
However, if we try to perceive some eternal and mythological aspects of the day, it is one of the most auspicious and celebrated days of the year. In the Hindu legends, Purnima is known to be an important day for performing religious and spiritual rituals, and of these, the Magha Purnima is one of the most auspicious. Each Purnima or Full Moon Day is associated with some festival or the other. Therefore, we can count 12 festivals in a year in observance of the importance of Purnima. There are many other auspicious days other than Purnima, which are auspicious and hold religious reasons to be celebrated. This is one of the greatest answers to the question, as “Why India is known as the Land of Festivals?
ll the twelve Purnimas are having their respective significance in Hindu Mythology and one or more festivals associated with it. Today is Magha or Maghi Purnima. So let us know few significant facts about the day.
Magha month is the 11th month of Hindu lunar calendar. This month is considered auspicious to perform all the major occasions like marriage, upanayan (thread ceremony), house warming etc. One year on the earth is considered as one day in the higher abode and this month starts the dawn of the day to the Gods. As deepa daan (lighting a lamp) is auspicious in Karthika month, bathing (holy dips in holy rivers) is the major ritual of Magha month. There are many auspicious and religious events during the month –
A Bathing Festival
- Sakat Chauth, also known as Sankashta Chaturti, Lord Ganesha is worshipped. Worshipping Lord Ganesha on this day brings happiness and prosperity.
- Shattila Ekadashi – It is one of the twenty four Ekadashi vrats which are observed to seek blessing of Lord Vishnu.
- Vasant Panchami– Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge, music and art, is worshipped on Vasant Panchami day. Yellow flowers are offered to Maa Saraswati on this day.
- Rath Saptami – This Tithi is dedicated to Lord Surya. It is believed that Lord Surya Dev started enlightening the whole world on Ratha Saptami day.
- Bhisma Ashtami– Magha Shukla Ashtami is death anniversary of Bhishma Pitamah and this day is known as Bhishma Ashtmai.
- Jaya Ekadashi – It is one of the twenty-four Ekadashi vrats, which are observed to seek blessing of Lord Vishnu.
Magh Purnima is adored as a ‘bathing festival’ across the country and a dip in the Ganga on this day holds high religious merit. Hindu devotees take a holy bath in the Ganga or Yamuna rivers every day of the month, which begins from Paush Purnima and ends on Magha Purnima. Those who cannot make it to the sacred river can take a bath in any other stream, river, tank or pond, which is regarded as holy and auspicious. On this day, a number of bathing festivals are held on the banks of holy rivers like the Ganga, Jamuna, Kaveri, Krishna, Tapti, etc.
People walk for miles and miles to be able to take a single holy dip in the river. A dip in the sea at Kanyakumari and Rameshwaram also has high religious value. Similarly, a bath in the Pushkar Lake in Rajasthan is also regarded as equally auspicious. In Madras at Kumbhakamaon, there are shrines of Nageshwara and Sarangpani near which there is a large tank in which devotees can take a dip on this holy day. It is believed that the water of the sacred Ganga flows into this tank on this auspicious day.
Lord Vishnu is believed to be the owner or dweller of Vaikunth Lok. There he rests upon Sesha Naga with Goddess Laxmi attending him to fulfill her duty as his wife. Many Hindu Mythological references and folklores claim that it is the day of Magha Purnima (that is today), that Lord Vishnu leaves his Vaikuntha Lok and descends to Earth to take bath in River Ganga. Taking a holistic bath in the sacred rivers like Ganga, Saraswati and Yamuna on Magha Purnima is very beneficial. By piously observing the Magha Purnima vrat devotees can gain freedom from their sins and also acquire purity and peace of mind.
On the scientific perspective, it is believed that the month of Magha or February helps the human body to adjust with the changing seasons. Therefore taking a bath on Magha Purnima will provide strength and power to the body.
Magha Purnima is an important day in Hindu calendar. Religious texts describe the glory of holy bath and austerity observed during Magha month. It is believed that every single day in month of Magha is special for doing charity work. Magha Purnima, which is popularly known as Maghi Purnima, is the last and most important day of Magha Mahina. People perform certain rituals like holy bath, offering alms, donating cow and Homa at Prayag, the confluence point of the river Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati, on Maghi Purnima.