Matsya Jayanti or Matsya Dwadashi is a Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The observance is dedicated to the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu as Matsya, who came into earth in the Satya Yuga.
The Matsya Dwadashi is celebrated on the Dwadashi of the shukla paksha of the Margashirsha month as per traditional Hindu calendar. According to the Gregorian calendar, this is observed in the waxing phase of the moon in the month of December.
Legend of Matsya Avatar
In the satya yuga or era, a king called Manu or the Vaivasvata Manu ruled. He had performed severe penance and worship to Lord Vishnu.
Manu one day saw a little fish in his folded hands while he was in the Kritamala River. While Manu was about to put the small fish back in the water, it requested not to be thrown back in the water as it was scared of the bigger fishes. The King promised the fish safety and put it in a small jar and carried with him. The fish became too big for a jar .The king let it out in a pond. Then it turned too big for the pond or the Ganges or the ocean even. Upon request the fish then revealed that it was Lord Vishnu himself. He appeared in front of Manu and told him that in seven days time a great deluge will flood the whole world. He instructed the King to build a boat and bring one kind of all living beings together , the seven sages and also gather all kinds of seeds .He also instructed the serpent Vasuki, to be used as a rope to tie to his horn. He was the one horned fish who will take care of the boat.
The Matsya disappeared. Manu made all necessary arrangements. On the fateful day, turbulent rain lashed on the earth and the one horned fish reappeared. The king tied the serpent to the Matsya’s horn. Matsya then took them all to Mount Himavan and kept them all there till the flood water had come down. iI the new era the king could start procreation. While en route, Matsya as Lord Vishnu revealed to the King the knowledge of the Vedas, Puranas, Samhitas and also the Eternal Truth. Lord Vishnu as Matsya, then vanquished Hayagriva the demon and rescued the Vedas.
Rituals of Matsya Dwadashi
On the day of the Matsya Dwadashi people awake early and take a ritual bath. They then wear clean clothes and visit a nearby Vishnu temple. The devotees worship the deity with sandalwood paste, incense stick, fruits and flowers. The devotees also fast the whole day and read sacred scripts such as Vishnu Sahasranama to seek blessings from the Lord Vishnu. Shoroshapochara puja or puja with 16 steps ritual and charity is offered to the Brahmin on this auspicious day.
Married women observe this day for marital wellbeing and good health of their husband and child. Women who have no children perform this vrat to have virtuous son. Men observe this Matsya Dwadashi vrat for health, wealth and prosperity from Lord Vishnu.
Significance of Matsya Dwadashi
It is believed that worshipping the Matsya avatar of Vishnu on Dwadashi absolves a person of all sins. It is also believed that proper observance of the Matsya Dwadashi will bless a devotee with moksha or salvation.
Celebration of Matsya Dwadashi
Apart from being celebrated by the devotees at home and by attending nearby Vishnu temples; there is only one temple in India which is dedicated to the first Avatar of Lord Vishnu – the Matsya Avatar. This temple is the Nagalapuram Veda Narayana Swamy Temple near Tirupati in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Devotees come from far on this auspicious day to worship Lord Vishnu in his Matsya Avatar on this day.