ABOUT DHANURMASA / Marghasirsha / Margazhli.
Why this month is known as Dhanur Masa?
The sun transits through the Dhanur Rashi (Sagitarius) and the period ends with the Makara Sankranti (Normally on the Bhogi festival Day). Hence it is named as Dhanurmasa.
Dhanurmasa / Marghasirsha / Margazhli (Dec 16 to Jan 13) is a favorite month for Lord Vishnu. He himself has described this in Bhaghawatha, his Avthar of Sree Krishna. This month has great spiritual significance which starts with Margashirsha shukla ekadasi (the eleventh day in the bright half of the lunar month of Margashira) and extends up to the end of dakshinayana. The period when the sun starts moving northward from the Topic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer called uttaraayana. The opposite period when the sun moves southward is called dakshinaayana. According to the Hindu Traditional Shastras, one human year represents to one day for the celestials. Uttaraayana is their daytime and Dakshinaayana is the night. The six months of Uttarayana (mid Jan to mid July) are a single day time of the Gods and the next six months of Dakshinayana (mid July to mid Jan) are a single night of the Gods. And Dhanur / Margazhi Maasa being the dawn of the day (Brahma Muhurtha) for the Gods, singing and chanting the glory of God is considered most auspicious and said to soon bestow the desires of the Humans. Thus a year of twelve months is single Nychthemeron (The natural day and night, or space of twenty-four hours) of the Gods.
In some regions the first day of Dhanur Maas is known as Dhanur Sankranti.
Dhanurmasa is also called as Shoonya Masa meaning blank because it is considered inauspicious to do or commence any good affairs related to Business or otherwise, except worship of Gods. This month is allotted to Gods and for us to completely immense in divinity thoughts. Lord Krishna himself declared in the Bhagavadh Gita that “I manifest the most in the month of Margashira Dhanurmasa (Dec 16 to Jan. 13) among the months of a year. This highlights the religious significance of Dhanurmasa in the Hindu calendar. For this reason, sages have set apart this month to be completely focused on devotional activities. Other non-devotional social activities such as weddings, House warming ceremony, commencing a business or a shop etc, are totally prohibited during this month so that attention can be given exclusively to the worship of God without any diversions or distractions. Scriptures recommend Dhanur Masa Pooja for prosperity. longevity and above.
This period is highly auspicious for Vaishnavas. As Dhanurmasa (Margazhi in Tamil Calendar), being the dawn of the day for the celestials, is also called as Brahma Muhurtha for the Gods, the Humans should wake up early in the morning and perform prayers to Sri Maha Vishnu. The Brahmhi Muhurtha is one and half hour to two hours before sunrise. The “Human Brahmhi Muhurtha” and “Celestial Brahmhi Muhurtha” occur simultaneously in the early mornings of Dhanurmasa. Devotees should attempt to complete the puja to the Lord before sunrise. All other activities like sandhya vandan, Tarpana to Rishis, Celestials and Ancestors that one performs as part of the puja routine should be taken up after the puja get’s completed.
Note: If the Puja should be done and finished when the stars are still twinkling on the skies, then it is said to be the highest quality of worship fetches the desires accomplishes. Puja that is finished after the stars are vanished and before sunrise are said to be medium rated. Whereas puja that is done or finished after sunrise is said to be inferior with no bestows from the Gods. Puja performed in the afternoon is also said to be useless. In this month, one should wake up early in the morning and go to bed as soon as possible. The God’s should not be worshipped after the temple gates are closed. One should worship the gods and goddesses by getting both palms together raised above the forehead. Being the last few sleeping hours before the gods got up (in ‘Uttarayana’, after the ‘dakshinayana’, at the end of Danurmasa) from sleep to commence their day (six months of ‘uttarayana’!), and the ideal days for religious worship. Apart from the religious and spiritual thought, Cold weather (winter) is the most ‘creative’ weather for production of all kinds of species. Wake up in the early morning during the Brahmi Muhurtha, taking a bath and finishing everything before sunrise gives a boost of energy to the Human Physic to the maximum.
Highlights of the Month.
It is said as one day Dhanurmasa pooja during the Brahmi muhurtha or the Punya Kaal or the Maha Punya Kaal equals 1000 years of daily pooja.
Offering of Pongal (in Tamilnadu and Andhra Pradesh), Mudganna (called as Huggi in Karnataka) as naivedya to the Lord is the most sacred offer to the Lord. This dish is prepared with Green gram (Moong daal, Pesalu, Pacchai Payir or Hesaru bele) and rice as the primary ingredients. According to the Paaka (cooking) Shasthras, if the naivedhya cooked with the ingredients in the ratio of 2:1 (2 cups of green gram with 1 cup of rice) is said to be the Best or supreme. It’s Good cooked with 1:1 ratio, medium if 1:2 and low if 1:4 or higher.
People should attempt to prepare Pongal (mudganna) to the best of their ability and financial status, taking care to keep the quantity of Green gram to be at least half (if not more) of the quantity of rice used. It is said that Shachi Devi, the wife of Indra, offered such supreme Pongal / Mudganna mixed with ginger to the Lord and got rid of her troubles. If possible, people should prepare Pongal / Mudganna using Curds (yoghurt), Jaggery and ginger, offer it to the Lord and then serve it to the available Brahmin/s. After this karma.
Other holistic days of Danurmasam of the Hindu calendar, Shivas ArudraDarshan, Vaikunta Ekadasi comes in this month only. Aandals Tiruppavai and Manikkavasagars Tiruvempavai are chanted during this month.
Preparation of the Havishyanna / Pongal / Mudhganna.
Take two cups of green grams and one cup of rice, some Ghee (required) and boil as like you cook food, that’s it. To flavor the food with good aroma and tasty, you can add Curd or Cashew nuts or Elachi or Grapes (dried or raw) etc.
Pongal can be cooked with adrak, kalimirch, Kopra (Coconut), Ghee and Cashews tastes good.
Other than Hindu festivals
Christian’s : Christmas and New year
Muslims : Bakrid.
Buddhists, Jains and also Sikhs consider this month as Holy. Most of the
Villagers, Tribes in India have their Harvest Fest within this month only.
There are few more traditions followed by the Hindus of the South in this month: In Andhra Pradesh like having a Gangeddhu (bull of small, often deformed in some way, consecrated to a temple, which is decorated and furnished with bells and exhibited by certain beggars from house to house),
Unjavruthi – people especially during Danurmasam. People wake up early in the morning and walk around in the all the streets singing Bhajans accompanied with musical instruments. Unjavruthi tradition is very popular here, where Baagavathas reciting Bhajans on the street visit every house collecting Bhiksha. Members from every house offer rice as Bhiksha which is collected and offered to the Lord here.
Danurmasa is the time for harvest for the farmers. It’s the time they reap the crops. The Makara Sankranthi festival is celebrated in order to thanks giving the Sun God by offering Pongal with the newly harvested rice in a new pot made of clay.
Scientifically said that the Ozone layer is so clean during the early mornings of this month and you can breathe fresh and pure oxygen during that time. Waking up early in the morning, having bath and going for a walk amidst fresh air gives the ultimate energy.
About the Alwars
Lord Vishnu has been praised by the 12 Alwars (Vaishnava Saints) in their Four Thousands Paasura’s. The Twelve Saints were belongs to the South India and are well-known for their Srivaishnava tradition of Hinduism, who was born in 3005 BCE. Thiruppavai and Nachiar Tirumozhi are the renowned version composed by ‘Andal’, the only female Alwar among the Twelve Alwar saints, dedicated it to the Lord with heart felt Love. She then was married by Lord Ranganatha Swamy, the reincarnations of Lord Vishnu. For her strong devotion the lord has granted one Tamil month of the year Marghazhi is entirely devoted to Sri Kodhai and one of her work Thiruppavai. One each for a day from her Thiruppavai will be recited for the entire 30 days on this month. Instead of reciting the Suprabhatham song at Thirumala Sree Balaji Temple, Thiruppavai is recited early in the morning to wake the lord.
According to the ancient Legend, Andal also called as Godha Devi (reincarnation of the Sri Lakshmi) is believed to have been discovered under a Tulsi (Basil/Ocimum tenuiflorum) plant in the temple garden of Srivilliputtur, by a devotee of Maha Vishnu and a Pandit named Vishnuchittha who later became one of the most revered saint among the 12 Alwars of the Vaishnava of the Hinduism, Periyalvar. Vishnuchittha adopted the child and named her “Kodhai” meaning the gift of “Mother Earth”. This is also a popularly thought to mean as a “beautiful garland” in Tamil. She performed a wonderful vratham or prayer called Dhanurmasa vratham to tell us that, by practicing this vratham, one can attain all materialistic happiness along with the eternal bliss. The period, from when the sun moves into the constellation of Dhanurrasi or Sagittarius and until it moves out to the constellation of Makara or Capricorn is known as Dhanurmasam. By observing this vratha sincerely, one’s desire get’s occomplished. Hence Kodhai performed this vratha and married Lord Ranganatha the reincarnation or Lord Vishnu, the prominence was gained for this month and declared very auspicious more than previous.
Kodhai (Andal) was brought up by Vishnuchittha (Periyalwar) in such an atmosphere where no deficit for love and devotion has. When Kodhai grew into a beautiful damsel, her love and devotion for the Lord grew to the extent that she decided to marry none but the Lord himself only. When she was given the duty to arrange the flower to make a garland for the Lord every day, she use to embellish the flower garland to her and delights for her action. Vishnuchittha takes it and offer it to the Lord unknowing about his daughter act. Once the temple priest saw the flower garland and noticed a strand of hair on one of the garland and became annoyed for bringing a used flower garland for the Lord. Periyalwar was shocked and came to realize about Andal’s act. She became depressed when Periyalwar rebukes her for committing such an act. He ordered her not to tie the garland for the Lord hereafter as her Lord refused to wear the garland. Later Periyazhlwar tied a new garland for Lord Vishnu with fresh flowers and took them to the temple. Miraculously, the Lord refused to wear it. The Lord said that He wanted only the garland which was worn by Andal. Periyazhlwar, in complete reverential fear, immediately rushed to his house and brought the old garland which was worn by Andal. Thus, Periyalwar wished that he should get Andal married only to Lord Sri Vishnu. Following this, Andal narrated to her father about her beautiful dreams in which the Lord came on an elephant to wed her. Andal describes how she had composed her sweet dreams into poems as “Vaaranam Aayiram”. The poems describe how Andal and Lord Sri Vishnu got married according to customs and rituals. The bride Andal was then taken to the Srirangam temple, where she entered the sanctum sanctorum and was gathered and united into the Lord’s presence. Periyalwar and others present there were wonder-struck on witnessing these events, but the wise Periyazhlwar remained balanced and the absence of his daughter had never disturbed or broke down. He assumed himself that he had sent his daughter was married and sent to her husband’s home.
After this incident Kodhai was well-respected by the common persons and came to be known as “Andal”, the damsel who “ruled” over the Lord. She is also known by a phrase – Soodi kodutha Sudarkodi which literally means “The shiny creeper-like damsel who gave her garlands after wearing them”.
Analyzing the Legends seems some similarities in the boundless devotion and love shown by both Goddess Parvathi and Andal since from the age of four. Goddess Parvathi had great devotion on Lord Shiva’s and Andal over Lord Vishnu. Since from her childhood till her teenage, Andal had spent most of the time only in thoughts of the Lord and composed 30 verses of the Thiruppavai and 143 hymns of Nachiyar Thirumozhli. She was four years old when she started to compose hymns of The Thiruppavai, The Nachayiyar Thirumozhli and Vaaranam-Aayiram. She regarded Periyaazhlwar not only as a father, but also a preceptor. Andal, like her father Periazhlwar, sang a Pallandu to hail the Lord. Initially, the common people commented and gibed at Andal as being insane, but Periyazhlwar supported and encouraged her to be devoted to Lord Sri Vishnu. Periyalvar played an important role in nurturing Andal’s devotion and helped her attain divine ecstasy. Even though she was brought up in a Brahmin family, she thought of herself to the clan of Gopika woman’s and dress herself in that tradition, showing her simplicity, in-depth love and devotion.
Thiru means Sree and Pavai means Vrath (a divine fasting). Thiruppavai – Srivrath. In this Thiruppavai there are 30 Pasuras (stanzas). In every stanza there are 8 Padhams and the last is the Elorembavai which explains to impose your total concentration on the vratha. The Thiruppavai consists of the songs sung and the plays played by the Gopikas with Sree Krishna of the Vrindhavan. The Paasuras has explained every actions of the Gopikas and their intentions.
Thiruppavai gives many explanations and omong those – It is not easy for the Human to know who the Supreme being or the God is and the means to reach him. For instance, Air is not visible to our naked eye. We know the presence of air, because if we stop breathing, we die. Similarly, according to the poem, we must realize that there is a divine energy which is the cause and controller of our activities, our present form and name.
God is only one and he appears in various forms for our sake. He accepts our offerings and blessings even when he is worshipped in an idol-form in our house.
About the Gopikas and their vratha.
Gopikas are the young damsels who lived in Vrindhavan. They had great desire to make Lord Krishna as their husband. So they performed a vratha called “Kaathyaayani Vratha” during the Dhanurmasam. The Twenty-second Chapter contains thirty-eight verses, describing how the gopis prayed to the goddess Katyayani and obtained Krishna as their husband. They installed an idol of Goddess Durga () on the shore of the River Yamuna worshipped her and offered with such aromatic substances as sandalwood pulp, along with other items both opulentand simple, including lamps, fruits, betel nuts, newly grown leaves, and fragrant garlands and incense in everday for thirty days in the Dhanurmasam.
The Gopis chanted the following manthra during their worship. It is as follows
patim me kuru te namah
iti mantram japantyas tah
pujam cakruh kamarikah.
It meanse “O goddess Katyayani, O great potency of the Lord, O possessor of great mystic power and mighty controller of all, please make the son of Nanda Maharaja my husband. I offer my obeisances unto you.”
It is said that the Gopikas only seek the spiritual bliss from the Lord Krishna not anything more than that for their life.
Why Havishyanna / Pongal / Mudganna got that much of priority as offer to Lord during the Dhanurmasam / Marghasirsha / Margazhli ?
This Food was ate by the Gopikas of Mathura, because this kind of food is recommended to purify the body before one enacts aritualistic ceremony. The Vedic books also suggest this food for the purification of the body before worship during this month.
How to execute the Dhanurmasa Vratha?
Lord Brahma had personally explained about the Dhanurmasa Vratha to Sage Maha Muni Naradha. It has been prologued in the Brahmanda, Bhagawatha and Adhithya Puranas. Some procedures for Pooja and Vratha’s to perform.
1. First take a bath and prepare the Pongal and place it before Lord, do a small pooja. Then give the HOT Pongal to a Brahman. Then recite the Bhadralakshmi stuti or the Lakshmi Stotra. Lakshmi sthotra is recited by Devendra and got back his kingdom by chanting the dwadhasha namaas of Sri Mahaalakshmi in this month. Remember the pooja should be finished in the Brahmi Muhurtha, and then only it is beneficial for you.
2. Wake up little bit early to the Brahmi Muhurtha time that is one and a half hour before sunrise. Take a bath and prepare Jaggery Pongal / Havishyanna / Mudhganna and present it before the Lord for the first fifteen days, or a normal pongal as mentioned above according to the ratio. Offer Thulasi Leaves (Basil), HOT Pongal to Lord Vishnu and before it get’s cool, finish the prayer and donate to a Brahmin. And then sit for prayer and recite the Ashtothara Namas of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Sree Lakshmi for those who need prosperity in their life to their family.
The next fifteen days of the pooja should be offered with Dhaddhojanam (boiled rice mixed with curd and green grams), mentioned as per the preparation above. Prayer the other Gods who are responsible and grants the other Dharmas mentioned in the Hindu Shasthras. Recite the Vishnu Purana and other slokas related to other gods.
3. Kathyaayani Vrath – One who want to get marry soon or delay in marry has to do this vrath. This should be done early in the morning as mentioned above, but dedicated to Goddess Durga. Offer the Pooja Samagri to your possiblility as mentioned above. The Hindu scriptures says that, the desire for marriage get’s accomplished by performing this vrath.
Remember – One must reduce the regular time and offer the lord and give it to the Brahman and then sit for the recition of the Sloka or Sthuthis etc.
Giving the Pongal to a Brahman for all the 30 days of the month benefits with the required Prosperity, Good Health, and Moksha (heaven) for his life.
There is a word describes about the excellence of this month. The lines are “Maargazhlith Thinghal Madhi Niraindha Nannaazhlaal Neeraada Ppodhuveer! Podhumino Nerzhlayeer!