India is a land of festivals and celebrations; and the zest with which each festival is celebrated in India is unparalleled in the whole world. The festive season that has started with Ganesh Chaturthi in the month of September, will now continue till the end of the year. The coming months will be alive with festivals like Navratri, Dussehra, and Diwali.
One of the lesser known festivals is the one that is celebrated during the ‘Sharad Ritu’ or ‘Autumn Season’. The full moon day of the Hindu calendar month of Ashwin is celebrated as the Kojagiri Purnima or Sharad Purnima. It is a harvest festival that marks the end of the monsoon season.
The Goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi (Vishnu’s consort) is said to roam the earth on this night observing the human beings, asking “Ko Jagarati” (who is awake?) and blessing those who are awake and celebrating life. It is also believed that the goddess was born on this day.
According to another popular legend, lord Krishna danced his divine “Ras Leela” along with his love Radha and the gopis of Vrindavan on Sharad purnima. This day is also the Indian counterpart of a Valentine’s Day that is celebrated by the lovers in the remembrance of Radha Krishna’s divine love. Couples express their love for each other on this full moon night.
In India, each festival has a scientific significance to it and it is believed in the Ayurveda that during this ‘Sharad Ritu’ (autumn), acidity becomes predominant due to hotter days and colder nights and consumption of cold milk at night is a good remedy to get rid of acidity.
Apart from fairies, werewolves and weird vampires, Moon plays a very important role in the Ayurvedic framework too. Exposure to moonlight is wonderfully cooling for the Pitta dosha (acidity) and has been used as remedy in diseases such as hypertension, hives, rashes, urticaria and other inflammatory conditions.
Full moons stir up our emotions and amplify the mystical powers connected to the human spirit. It is also said that Kojagiri Purnima is the day when the moon is seen with all the sixteen “kalas”, which are the different phases of the moon. During this particular night, the moon is closest to the earth and is believed to have healing powers. Also, the healing powers of the moon rays are considered effective to those suffering from chronic diseases like Asthma.
Along with this, the moonlight, like the sun, provides the body with vitamin D, mood-boosting endorphins, and nitric oxide that can help lower blood pressure. Regular exposure to moonlight may also offer health benefits, especially for women, like regulating menstrual cycle, decreasing stress, and cooling an imbalanced temperament.
It is customary to observe fasts the whole day that are later broken at night under the moonlight by consuming cold milk. The celebration also includes spending the entire night outdoors soaking in the moonlight and rejuvenating our bodies and making ourselves ready for the colder nights that are to come in the next months.
In many regions, sweets like “kheer” (sweetened milk) or “masala dudh” (spiced milk), “Poha” (puffed rice), and etc. are prepared and left in the moonlight of Sharad Purnima to be consumed later. The houses are decorated and the family’s eldest child is honoured and presented gifts. The celebrations differ from region to region, but the essence of the festival remains the same.
Kojagiri Purnima or Sharad Purnima is a festival which welcomes the subtle brightness in the lives of the people. There’s so much pure energy in the moonlight that anything it touches responds to its radiance and love. Your meditations, prayers, dreams, willingness to forgive, and extend love are all magnified by the lunar energy of the full moon. This day brings together two major aspects in the lives of farmers – prosperity promised by good harvests, and spiritual blessings from a divine power which oversees all human achievements and endeavours.
May this Purnima bless you with all the good things in life!
निशीथे वरदा लक्ष्मी: को जागर्तिति भाषिणी।
जगाति भ्रमते तस्यां लोकचेष्टावलोकिनी।।
तस्मै वित्तं प्रयच्छामि यो जागर्ति महीतले।।
(The boon giving goddess Lakshmi who roams the earth during this night asking “who is awake” blesses the people who are aware of their consciousness with wealth and prosperity)
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