About Sharad PURNIMA

  • By Dr (Major) Nalini Janardhanan
  • December 8, 2021
  • 2385 views
  • This article tells you about the Sharad Purnima tradition for e.g. why celebrated.

Sharad Purnima is believed to be the best and most significant among the 12 full moon nights (Purnimas). The full moon in Ashwin month (September to October) is called Sharad Purnima. It is celebrated as a harvest festival marking the end of monsoon and the beginning of autumn.

 

This article was first published in Bhavan’s Journal.

 

Legends 

The night of Sharad Purnima is described in Brahma Purana, Skanda Purana and Linga Purana. On this night ‘Raas’ (a form of dance) of Radha and Krishna along with gopis is performed. So this is also called ‘Raas Purnima’ or ‘Kaumudi Purnima’. To participate in this Maharaas, Lord Shiva had taken the form of ‘Gopeshwar Mahadev’. Worshipping Goddess Lakshmi is also important on this night. As per folklore, a king was in financial crisis. His queen observed fast and jagran (night vigil). She worshipped Lakshmi and the Goddess blessed them with wealth and prosperity. 

 

Celebration

This is celebrated in different ways in various parts of India like Maharashtra, UP, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Orissa, Bihar and AP. In north India, it is celebrated especially in Vrindavan, Braj, Mathura and Nathdwara as ‘Raas Purnima’. In Orissa, Lord Karthikeya is worshipped by young girls and they pray to get a good husband (Kumara Purnima). It is celebrated as ‘Sharad Poonam’ in Gujarat, ‘Kojagaraha’ in Mithila, ‘Lokkhi Pujo’ in Bengal (Goddess Lakshmi is known as ‘Ma Lokkhi’ in Bengal). 

 

Significance

In ancient times, sages believed that when the moon is full of its 16 kalas, the moon’s rays on that night drip nectar and contain healing properties that are beneficial for the body and soul. Sharad Purnima is the only day in the year when the moon is full of its 16 kalas (phases). So on this night, the moon is believed to throw its beams showering elixir (amrit) on Earth, giving health, love and prosperity to people.

 

Rice kheer (a sweet dish made of milk, rice, and sugar/jaggery) is prepared at homes and temples. After making an offering to God, the kheer is left preferably in a silver vessel under the moonlight for the entire night. The next day morning it is consumed and distributed as Prasad.

 

Divine couples like Radha Krishna, Shiv Parvati and Lakshmi Narayan are worshipped. Deities in temples are dressed in white signifying the brightness of the moon. People also wear white clothes. Lakshmi, Indra with his elephant ‘Airavata’ and Kuber are worshipped. It is believed that Moon God is the brother of Goddess Lakshmi. Moon God is also worshipped and offered naivedya. 

 

Lakshmi Puja on Kojagiri Purnima

There are pujas like Varalakshmi puja and Mahalakshmi puja (performed during Deepavali). But Lakshmi puja done on Sharad Purnima is supposed to be one of the most significant pujas.

 

It is believed that on this full moon night, Goddess Lakshmi descends on Earth to watch the actions of human beings. She is believed to move around the orbit in the night sky asking Ko jaagarti? (Who is awake?), and to those who are awake, she gifts wealth and prosperity. That is why this night is also called ‘Kojagiri Purnima’. 

 

Sharad Purnima is believed to be the birthday of Goddess Lakshmi and she is worshipped on this day. People observe a fast, consuming only fruits and liquids like coconut water, milk, etc. If one is not observing a fast, one may eat vegetarian food. It is customary to have cold milk and rice flakes on this night. This fast is also called ‘Kojagar Vrat’ or Kaun jaag raha hai vrat. Puja and Rituals A kalash filled with water and adorned with betel leaves is placed in the puja room. A coconut is place on top of it. Rice (Akshada) and coins are placed in the water inside the kalash.

 

A red cloth is tied around it with a red thread. The kalash is decorated with four horizontal lines, swastika and red kumkum indicating chaturveda and as a symbol of purity and prosperity. 11 lamps are usually lit on this day in the puja room. Some people light 108 lamps outside the house or temples.

 

The Abhishekam of the idol of Lakshmi Devi is done with ‘Dakshinavarti Shankh’. It is believed that Dakshinavarti Shankh came to Earth on Sharad Purnima The Lakshmi puja is done with flowers, dhoop and lamp. The special rice kheer is made of cow’s milk. Nine varieties of delicacies (a combination of sweet and savory food items) are also offered as Bhog. 

 

Chanting of mantras and reading of stotras related to Goddess Lakshmi are conducted on this day. e.g. Lakshmi Sahasranamam, Ashtotara Namavali, Shri Suktam, Lakshmi Suktam, Lakshmi Chalisa, Mahalakshmi Kavach, Kanakadhara stotram, etc. Vishnu Sahasranamam and Madhurashtakam are also read.

Lakshmi Mantra for Kojagiri Purnima

nishithe varada lakshmi ko jagartiti bhashini jagati bhramate taysyam lok cheshtavalokini tasmai vitam prayachachami yo jagarti mahitale

May Goddess Lakshmi bless you all with good health and prosperity.

 

 

This article was first published in the Bhavan’s Journal, 31 October 2021 issue. This article is courtesy and copyright Bhavan’s Journal, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mumbai-400007. eSamskriti has obtained permission from Bhavan’s Journal to share.

 

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