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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ratha Sapthami - Sri Parthasarathi Swami Purappadu Thiruvallikkeni 10/02/2011

Today 10th Feb 2011 (27th day of Thai masam in Tamil calendar)  is a very auspicious day – Ratha Sapthami – signifying the seventh day of Shukla Paksha of thai matham.

Surya (Sun) worship is deep rooted in the Vedas and other Hindu scriptures.  Today  celebrated as the birth of Surya to Sage Kashyapa and his wife Aditi and celebrated as Surya Jayanthi in many parts.  Legend has it that the greatest warrior Bhishma breathed last the day after the Ratha Sapthami day.  The Pithamaha is one the greatest characters in the Epic Mahabaratha and the asthami is revered as “Bhishmaashtami”

The great learned person that he was, Bhishma was known for his allegiance to the throne of Hastinapuram.  He vowed to protect the Kuru dynasty and its ruling place and breathed last in doing so revealing his selfless commitment and determination.   Bhishma was the youngest son of the illustrious Shantanu and born to to Ganga.  Those born to the couple and who were thrown in to river Gange were the ashta vasus.  He was considered nonpareil in archery and his banner was golden palm tree.

The Shukla paksha (waxing phase of moon) sapthami is dedicated to God Surya and celebrated as Rath Saptami  and Surya Jayanthi.  The popular belief is that earth’s inclination towards the sun is the steepest on the day. Special bathing rituals are observed in some regions today.

Uttarayana is the six month period between Makara sankranti (Jan 14) and July 14 when Sun travels towards North in the celestial sphere. Ratha saptami marks the seventhday following the Sun’s northerly movement of vernal equinox starting from Capricorn (Makara). A journey from makara rekai to kadaka rekai – Capricorn to Cancer. Today symbolically represents the Sun God Surya turning his Ratha (chariot) drawn by seven horses towards northern hemisphere in a north-easterly direction. Sun worship is deep rooted in vedas and its antiquity relates to several mythologies. Mythologically, the seven horses of the chariot represent the days of a week, the 12 wheels represent 12 signs each of 30 degrees and constitutes a full year named samvatsara. The Sun’s own house is Leo (Simha) and he moves from one house to other every month and the total cycle takes 365 days to complete. The Ratha saptami festival seeks the benevolent cosmic spread of energy and light from the Sun God.

the ecliptic path of Earth around Sun

Scientifically, equinox occurs twice a year, when the tilt of the Earth's axis is inclined neither away from nor towards the Sun, the Sun being vertically above a point on the Equator. The term equinox can also be used in a broader sense, meaning the date when such a passage happens. The name "equinox" is derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night), because around the equinox, the night and day are approximately equally long.

Traditionally in villages, Rangoli kolam is drawn with coloured rice powder depicting Chariot drawn by horses. Here is a sloga from Rig veda in praise of Sun God.

From today, the days get warmer, especially in South India. This is an important annual festival at Vaishnavaite temples including Thiruvarangam & Thirumala. Today, it was celebrated grandly in Thiruvallikkeni also. Early morning, Sri Parthasarathi Emperuman had decorated purappadu on Surya prabhai. Here are some photos of today morning purappadu of Sri Parthasarathi Perumal in Thiruvallikkeni.  For more photos see : Allikkeni Ratha Sapthami 2011

With regards – S Sampathkumar

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