From the auspicious month of Karthika we move to the next auspicious month of Margashirsha.
Margashirsha Maas is the ninth month of the Hindu lunar calendar and according to Hindu scriptures this month is thought to be the time of commitment. This month is also called as ‘Magsar’, Agahan or ‘Agrahayan’.
According to Hindu scriptures, it is the month to give to charity, conduct religious activities and worship the Gods and Goddesses. This month encompasses many festivals and celebrations. It is considered a divine month not only for humans but also for Gods as well. It is also believed that Satyug Era began from this month.
In Shrimad Bhagawat Gita, Lord Krishna himself has said that “I am the auspicious month of Margashirsha”.
Day and time of Pournami
Pournami /Full moon day that comes up in the Shukla Paksha of Margashirsha month is known as Margashirsha Pournami. It begins at 7.24 AM on 18th December and ends at 10.05AM on December 19th.
This Pournami is also referred to as Battisi Pournami or Korala Pournami, Margashirsha Poonam, Naraka Pournami or Udyatithi Pournami. This full moon Pournami is also celebrated as Dattatreya Jayanti and Annapoorna Jayanti.
Religious Importance of Margashirsha Pournami
Spiritual seekers worship the Moon God as it is trusted that on this day, the Moon was honoured with ‘Amrit’ (Nectar for immortality).
As per religious beliefs, by applying the soil (Mitti) of basil roots (Tulsi) on your body and then bathing in a holy river, lake or pond, a person is blessed by Lord Vishnu. Thousands of devotees bathe and perform austerity (Tapasya) in the sacred rivers of Haridwar, Banaras, Mathura and Prayagraj. Donation on this day is said to be 32 more rewarding than the results of other Pournami. This is the reason why, it is also called as Battisi Pournami. On this auspicious occasion, worshipping Lord Satyanarayan as well as listening to Satyanarayan Katha is highly rewarding. Donating and offering food to poor on Margashirsha Pournami, also pleases Lord Vishnu. It is also extremely beneficial to meditate on this day.
Dattatreya Jayanti is the birth anniversary of Hindu deity Dattatreya. The birth of Shri Datta — who incarnated on the Pournami day of the Hindu Lunar month of Margshirsha — is celebrated as Datta Jayanti. Lord Dattatreya also called as Avadhuta and Digambara, is known to be an avatar of the Trimurti (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva). According to the legends, on Margashirsha Pournami, Lord Dattatreya was incarnated on earth to destroy demonic forces.
Lord Dattatreya is a unique form having three heads that mark peace and serenity.
These three heads can be identified with Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. He transcends the three gunas such as Rajas, Satva and Tamas and is one with the sublime energy of the absolute guru. Therefore, he is guru par excellence or the Divine Guru. He carries the conch, discus, mace, trident, kamandalu (water pot) and a begging bowl. Lord Dattatreya gets pleased easily by mere remembrance of him (Smarana maatra santushtaaya). Lord Dattatreya Homam confers material benefits, wealth, intelligence and bestows blessings of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Lord Dattatreya Homa ensures salvation of Pitrus by removing Pitru dosha of all kinds and help receive blessings of ancestors with this ritual.
Datta Jayanti is celebrated with much fanfare in the god’s temples. The temples dedicated to lord Dattatreya are located throughout India, the most important places of his worship are in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat like Ganagapur in Karnataka near Gulbarga, Narasimha Wadi in the Kolhapur district, Pithapuram in Andhra Pradesh near Kakinada, Audumbar in Sangli district, Ruibhar in Osmanabad district and Girnar in Saurashtra.
The Margashirsha Pournami marks the day when the Annapurna form of the Mother Goddess came into being. Annapurna, Annapurneshwari, Annada or Annapoorna Devi Shakti and is known as the Goddess of food and nourishment. Devotees perform puja annually on this day and extend their gratitude for showering them with food. Annapurna is the Goddess of city of Kashi, where she is regarded as the queen of Kashi.
The story associated with Goddess Annapurna emphasises on the importance of food in one’s life. One day, Lord Shiva and Parvati had a debate on materialism. Lord Shiva believed that everything material was just an illusion and that even included food. The Mother Goddess believed that food is essential for survival and cannot be an illusion. Disappointed by Lord Shiva’s comment, Goddess Parvati disappeared from the spot. And her absence led to famine. All forms of life on earth suffered due to lack of food.
Goddess Parvati took the avatar of Annapurna to shower the earth with food. Hence, the significance of Annapurna Jayanti.
Thus, Lord Shiva realised the importance of food and headed to Varanasi, the only place where food was available.
Annapurna Jayanti Festival is basically celebrated to pay homage to Mother Annapurna who is well-known as- the Goddess of food among her devotee. People offer prayers to kitchen, stove, gas and other useful items etc.
It is also believed that there would be no shortage of money and scarcity of food in devotees’ house who worship her with utmost devotion.
A few temples exist that are dedicated to her, the most prominent being the Annapurna Devi temple in Kashi. In the temple, at noon everyday prasad( foods offered to the Goddess) are distributed to the elderly, disabled and poor.
On Annapurna Jayanti, special prayers are held at temples dedicated to Goddess Annapurna.
It is also said that while Shiva is engaged in helping his devotees in attaining Moksha in Kashi, Goddess Annapurna looks after life and makes sure that food is available to all living beings that arrive at Kashi.
As Sushumna Kriya Yogis we must make the most of this opportunity and practice Sushumna Kriya mediation atleast twice on this auspisious day of Margashirsha Pournami.