“Paush Purnima” meaning full moon in the month of “Paush” in Hindu calendar. Usually Paush Purnima is in December or January of Gregorian calendar we are used to. In North India, they use a lunar calendar according to which month “Magha” start on the next day of “Paush Purnima”. It marks the starting of the month of austerity that continues till “Magha Purnima”. Thus for a month – from “Paush Purnima” to “Magha Purnima” is the most auspicious month for Hindus.
On Paush Purnima, before sunrise, thousands and thousands of devotees, Sadhus and ordinary people, all go for a holy dip. They perform ceremonial baths in the sacred places namely river Ganga and river Yamuna. Confluence of rivers called Prayag Sangam of rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. Others are Dashashwamedh Ghats of Varanasi, and Triveni Sangam Prayag. The severe winter season in North causes the austerity time period extremely challenging yet Hindu devotees do not give up.
They know by taking a holy dip for a month they are cleansing their souls of the sins they have committed in this life and in previous lives. After cleansing, they are aware that they would be freed from the cycle of rebirth. This is also known as “being granted moksha” meaning salvation. While cleansing your soul, devotees spend a lot of time in doing good work such as offering charity to the needy; it is believed that their charity is blessed.
Most of the places namely Varanasi, Allahabad, Nasik are famous pilgrim places of India. In addition, devotees can always spend time in temples near them where Goddess Shakabari is worshipped or check out ISCON temple or even visit Puri Jaganath Temple. In addition there are tribal festivals.
Religious festivals of India during Paush Purnima:
Shakambari Jayanti: Goddess Shakabari, Avatar of Goddess Durga is worshipped for nine days. The festival is known as Shakambari Navambari that also ends with “Paush Purnima”. Goddess Sakambhari is consort of Lord Shiva and incarnation of Goddess Durga. She is the divine mother known as “bearer of green”. In Hinduism any vegetarian idem is Prasad of Shakambhari Devi. During any natural calamity, Goddess Shakabari comes to earth to feed the hungry with vegetables.
Temples are in Sakarai (Rajasthan), Sakambhari Mata Temple (Rajasthan), Pakaur (Jharkhand) 150 km from Kolkatta, Banashankari Amma Temple in (Badami, Bangalore in Karnataka) , Nagewadi (Maharashtra) an others.
Pushyabhishek on Paush Purnima: Most popular ritual in Orissaa at the Puri Jagannath Temple. On Paush Purnima, Lord Krishna visits Matharu and that is known as Dhanu Yatra that ends in Bargarh region of Odisha.
ISKCON and Vaishnava Sampradaya start Pushyabhishek Yatra: Sri Krishna Pusya Abhishek is celebrated at ISKCON Kolkata. After Sandhya-arti when all the devotees are present their Lordships Sri Sri Radha Govinda, Sriman Mahaprabhu and Sri Sri Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra Devi are bathed with 1,500 kg fresh seasonal flower petals. Accompanying kirtans highly influenced all.
Charta Festival: On “Paush Purnima” day, the Charta Festival is celebrated by tribal communities of Koriyan district of the Chhattisgarh state. Festival is harvest festival. Group of married women cook many dishes for the organised feast.