Festivals are an integral part of the Hindu religion. In fact, India is known as a land of festivals where religious festivals are celebrated throughout the year. The post shares with you one such important Hindu festival that is known as Ratha Saptami. This post is about Ratha Saptami Significance & Date 2020.
Ratha Saptami that is also known as Magha Saptami, Magha Jayanti, or Surya Jayanti, is a very popular Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Surya or Surya Narayan (Sun).
The festival celebrates the birth anniversary of Lord Surya. According to the Hindu Holy Scriptures, it is believed that Lord Surya Narayan enlightened the whole world on this very day.
The festival of Ratha Saptami is celebrated on the 7th day (Saptami Tithi) in the Shukla Paksha period (which is the bright fortnight of the moon) of the month of “Magha” as per the Hindu calendar.
As per the English calendar, the festival of Ratha Saptami falls in January or February. Usually, Ratha Saptami is observed on the second day following the celebrations of Vasant Panchami or Shri Panchami.
This festival is dedicated to Sun God or Lord Surya. It is said that on this day Lord Surya was born to sage Kashyap and his wife, Aditi. Here, the word “Ratha” means “chariot.” It is on this day of Magha Shukla Paksha Saptami that Lord Surya is worshipped who sits on his golden chariot, which is driven by seven white horses.
Hindus believe that the Sun God Surya turns his chariot (Ratha) that is drawn by seven horses towards the northern hemisphere in a northeasterly direction. Ratha Saptami is also symbolic of the change of season to spring, and it also marks the onset of the harvesting season. It also signifies the start of the New Year for most of the Indian farmers.
Although Magha Saptami is celebrated all across India, it has special significance in the Indian states such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andra Pradesh, and Karnataka.
Moreover, in all the Surya Temples (Temples of Sun God) across India, special events are organized on this day of Ratha Saptami. As Lord Surya is regarded as the avatar of Lord Vishnu, special puja arrangements are held in the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple. Hindus also observe this festival in their houses.
The worship of Lord Surya is deeply rooted in the Hindu religion. The Vedas sing praises of the Sun God. For example, the Gayatri Mantra Jaap, and the sacred Vedic chants are closely related to the Sun God. Hindus worship Surya Narayan for better health and well being.
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Ratha Saptami Significance
Ratha Saptami is a very important festival for Hindus across the country. On this day, Hindus take a holy dip in the rivers and perform Surya Namaskar – salutations to the Sun God. Special pujas are arranged on this day that is dedicated to Sun God.
They offer kheer or sweet rice to the Sun God. In some states of the country, Hindus even perform Pitru Tarpan on this day. They visit Sun Temple and perform Pradakshina that is going around the main temple. Hindus believe that by doing so they would be blessed with good health by Sun God.
In fact, Hindus consider Lord Surya as the very source of life. That’s the reason; they have placed Surya in the center of the Navagraha (the nine planets). Now, the scientists have established that the Sun is the center of nine planets that go on to orbit around it.
However, our sages found this truth several thousand years ago and have mentioned it at many places in the holy Hindu scriptures. Moreover, the Vedas have also described the characteristics of the Sun as well as the nine planets. These have been described in the “Navagraha Mantra” that is very similar to the findings of the NASA scientists.
According to the Hindu scriptures, the word “Ratha” is symbolic of the mind. So, the mind is the chariot, and various thoughts arise in mind. These thoughts have been linked to different horses that pull the mind in numerous different directions.
So, if the mind wants to progress towards the divine, the right set of horses should pull the mind in the right direction. This itself is the spiritual meaning and deeper insight of Ratha Saptami.
As the Ratha Saptami is celebrated on the seventh day of the brighter half of the Hindu month of Magha, it is said that the Sun starts gaining momentum in the zodiac after its culmination with Capricorn.
This northward (in the north direction) movement of the Sun is known as Uttarayanam. It is the direction towards the divine. Hindus believe that we should progress our minds towards the “Brahma Marga” that is towards the Supreme. They worship Surya as Lord Narayana.
He is also worshipped as “Aarogya Datha” and “Aishwarya Datha.” He is worshipped early in the morning when fresh sunrays emerge. It purifies and rejuvenates our mind and body. Hindus follow the custom of Surya Namaskar early in the morning, which has many scientific benefits.
The legend associated with Magha Saptami
The festival of Ratha Saptami marks the birth of Lord Surya to Sage Kashyap and his wife, Aditi. According to the popular legend of the Hindus, King Yashovarman of the Kamboj Empire had got no son to rule his kingdom after his death. So, he prayed to the Sun God, and he was blessed with a son.
However, the son was terminally ill. A sage visited the king and advised that his son should engage in performing Ratha Saptami Puja to get rid of his illness. Once he did the puja ceremonies on Magha Saptami, his health was restored, and he ruled the kingdom.
As per another popular legend, Sage Bhisma took his last breath four days after the Ratha Saptami celebrations on the day of Ekadashi.
Rituals during Magha Saptami: What to do on Ratha Saptami?
Ratha Saptami celebrations start early in the morning. Devotees get up early in the morning and take a holy bath in the rivers. The Ratha Saptami Snana is an important ritual of Magha Saptami Celebrations and is performed at the time of “Arunodaya” only.
Hindus believe that all those who take a sacred bath at the Ratha Saptami Celebrations are freed from all illnesses and ailments are bestowed with good health.
For this very reason, Ratha Saptami is also popularly called as “Aarogya Saptami.” In the state of Tamil Nadu, devotees take the sacred bath by using Erukku leaves.
Once the devotees complete the sacred bath, they perform the “Arghyadan” to Lord Surya at the time of sunrise. The “Arghyadan” ritual is done by offering water slowly from the small Kalash in the form of Namaskar Mudra to Lord Surya by facing towards Him in a standing posture. Mostly, this ritual of “Arghyadan” is done twelve times by chanting twelve different names of Sun God.
After this, devotees light up ghee Deepak and worship Lord Surya with red flowers, Kapoor, and Dhoop. It is said that all those devotees who perform these rituals to Sun God will be blessed with good health, longevity, as well as success.
On this day of Magha Saptami, women draw images of Sun God along with his chariot in their households. They even draw beautiful Rangoli in front of their houses. They put milk in mud vessels and boil it facing the sun. Later on, this milk is used to make the sweet rice, which is known as ‘Paramannam’ Bhog as offering to the Sun God.
Devotees also chant Gayatri Mantra and recite “Surya Sahasranama,” “Aditya Hridayam,” or “Suryashtakam” during the Ratha Saptami celebrations.
Ratha Saptami 2020 Date
Ratha Saptami is dedicated to Lord Surya and is celebrated as the birth anniversary of the Sun God. It was on this day (Shukla Paksha Saptami in Magha month) that Lord Surya Deva started enlightening the whole world. Devotees keep a fast on this day to get rid of all types of sins.
Ratha Saptami 2020 will be celebrated on Saturday, February 1, 2020.
The Snana Muhurat on Ratha Saptami begins at 05:24 am and ends at 07:10 am.
Saptami Tithi Begins: 03:51 pm on Jan 31, 2020
Saptami Tithi Ends: 06:10 pm on Feb 01, 2020
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