The month of Magha is one of the most important months according to the Hindu calendar and the Maghi Purnima day amongst the most auspicious day of the year.
Maghi Purnima marks probably the end of the month, as it is the last important date of the month, which is January- February by the Gregorian calendar. As discussed earlier, since it heralds the end of the month, the full moon or the Purnima is considered to be immensely auspicious and is revered by especially the devotees of Lord Vishnu.
Because of the importance of this month, a daily holy bathing is prescribed and practiced in this month, especially on the day of the Maghi Purnima. Magha Mela or the Kumbha Mela, which sees million of people converging in Prayag to attend the same falls on this time.
Significance of Maghi Purnima –
Though it is prescribed to have a daily bath during the month of Magha, starting from the Poush Purnima, still bathing on the Maghi Purnima is considered to be of supreme importance. Devotees throng to the river Ganga or Jamuna, Kaveri, Tapti etc to have a holy bath, those who can’t access these rivers may take a dip at any other religious river. A holy dip in the seas of Rameshwaram or Kanyakumarika has high religious merit. The Pushkar Lake in Rajasthan is considered an important lake to conduct this holy bath. Kumbhakamaon which has in Madras, shrines of Sarangapani and Nageswara, has a tank, where it is ardently believed that water from Ganga flows in there on this very day to ensure the devotees an experience of having bathed in Ganga.
On this Maghi Purnima day, the ornately decorated idols of Lord Sundeshwara and Meenakshi are mounted on floats and taken to the Mariamman Teppakulam Sarovar, a huge water body of religious significance to float. Incidentally on this day King Tirumala Nayak, who had built the Mariamman Teppakulam Sarovar was also born.
For the Buddhists also this day of Maghi Purnima holds immense importance as it is recorded that on this day Gautama Buddha announced his impending death. Thus religious ceremonies along with the chantings of Trpitaka and other Biddhist scriptures are heard fm the morning in all the Monastries.
Rituals followed on the Maghi Purnima –
There are various rituals observed on the day of the Maghi Purnima. Devout devotees seeking divine blessings raise early in the morning offer tarpanas to their ancestors after having a holy dip. They offer dakshina or alms as per their capability to the underprivileged, donate cows, perform Homa or Havanas at Prayag at the confluence point of the three rivers, Ganga , Yamuna and Saraswati on this Maghi Purnima Day. It is firmly believed that all charity work done today turns manifold in efficacy.
Lord Satyanarayana is also offered puja on this auspicious day. Panchamrit or nectar with five things, like milk, honey, ganga jal, tulsi and sweets too is offered to the God. He is worshipped with simple things such fruits, sweets, Beatle leaves, Bananas, til or sesame etc. His Prasadam is made with milk, wheat, jiggery or sugar etc. A satyanarayan Katha is read after the puja for all the devotees to hear and be blessed.
According to the religious scripture Brahmavaivartpurana, Lord Vishnu in the month olf Magha resides in the water of river Ganga himself and thus blesses all those who take a holy dip in the Ganga in this particular day, and the water can purge all sins and bless the devotee with health.
Ancient tales say that ascetic Vishwamitra performed and took the holy bath in the Ganga in the Kumbha in 2382 BC on this very day of the Maghi Purnima.
Astrologically too the Maghi Purnima is considered to be auspicious as the Sun is in Capricorn and the Moon in the Cancer sign, indicating that a ritualistic bath can cure the devotee from all problems related to the Sun and Moon.
As per the Brahma-Vaivarta Purana, anyone who donates to charities on this day finds a place with the Lord Vishnu himself, that is goes to Heaven after death.
Kumbha Mela held in the confluence of the three rivers of Ganga , Yamuna and Saraswati ; the Triveni Sangam, near Prayag in every twelve years since ascetic Vishyamitra blessed it has remained an important and auspicious event to attend and of lately has received international recognition as probably the only religious event to attend so much of footfall and participation from people of all race and creed.