Chitra Pournami is considered to be one of the most important purnima or full moon in the entire year. It helps the devotees to get rid of all their sins by paying homage and observing all rituals on that day.
A full moon or Purnima, in general is an auspicious occurrence, as human behavior is affected by the full moon. This is the only day of the year when the devotees have to pray to Chitragupta for the reduction of all their sins.
This purnima or full moon happens in the month of Chaitra according to traditional Hindu calendar, which is April according to the Gregorian calendar.
- Who is ChitraGupta?
Chitragupta is the assistant or the record keeper for Lord Yama, the God of Death. He keeps an explicit, minute-by-minute record of every human being on this earth and knows all that transpires in everyone’s life. He maintains a huge record book for the same. He keeps an account so that post death all men can be rewarded or punished based on their activities, good or bad. When a person dies Chitragupta immediately refers to the Yama raj for a decision based upon the credits he had accumulated during his lifetime, or the discredits. Based on that, a person is accorded hell or heaven.
The concept of having an omnipresent vigil on all human actions is supposed to be daunting to those about to commit sins. The reason for celebrating Chitragupta’s birthday is also so that everyone is aware and reminded that everyone is under a constant vigil and also that on this particular auspicious day, people should not commit any wrong or misdeeds which would cause them grief later on.
- Is there any legend regarding Chitragupta?
There is a beautiful legend regarding Chitragupta and his auspicious birthday. Long back Indra failed to turn up at the proper time for an appointment by the mentor and spiritual Guru of the Gods, Brihaspati. Brihaspati was deeply disappointed and felt that Indra had failed to show proper respect to him, and as a mark of disapproval he stopped correcting Indra about his mistakes.
The number of mistakes committed by Indra started multiplying. He kept making various omissions and the list kept increasing. Finally after much persuasion, Brihaspati relented and came back to mentoring Indra. Brihaspati advised Indra that many of his sins will be purged if he visited couple of holy places. Thus Indra came to the Bhulok, or Earth. He wandered through a forest when he suddenly realized that all his sins were purged and that there was a Linga nearby. Indra was convinced that his sins were purged because of the Linga and immediately requested Viswakarma, the Divine architect to build a glorious shrine for that LInga. He also commissioned a smaller shrine for Iswari, Shiva’s consort to be built nearby. He then wanted to worship the Linga, but there were no flowers. He started praying to Shiva and to Iswari for their intervention in bringing some flowers. At once the place was filled with beautiful flowers. These miracles happened during the Chitra Pournami day and thus till now people in Madurai believe that Lord Indra comes on this day to pay homage to Iswar and Iswari.
- How is Chitragupta worshipped?
Chitragupta is worshipped on this auspicious day of Chitra Pournami by having special puja in the temples. More importantly homage to this divine account keeper can be paid by offering puja in the temple of dedicated to Chitragupta himself. There is only one temple in India which has Chitragupta as the main deity or which is solely dedicated to Chitragupta. This is the Chitragupta Temple in Kanchipuram, situated in Southern part of India. Apart from this special puja can also be offered to Lord Shiva in the temples.
- Temples where such puja is organized
- Airavateshwarar Temple – This is situated in Darasuram and is the only temple where Lord Shiva is known as Airavateshwara as Indra’s white elephant had worshipped Shiva. This temple was built by Rajaraja the 2nd, a great king of the Chola dynasty.
- Chandra Mouliswarar Temple – This temple is situated in Tiruvakkarai. This is a unique temple where Lord Shiva’s deity has 3 faces. This area used to be ruled by Vakasura, who was a disciple of Shiva, and was finally killed by Lord Varadha Perumal. Thus this is known as Thiruvakkarai also.
- Thirukoteeswarar temple – This temple is situated in Thirukodikaval, which is the northern side of the Cauvery River. The main and presiding deity here is Thirukoteeswarar. However in Chitra Pournami grand arrangements are made. Separate places for Yama and Chitragupta are there and, and thus Chitra Pournami is celebrated.