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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ratha Sapthami ~ Surya Prabhai purappadu

26th Jan 2015, the grand Republic Day of the Nation was significant religiously too…. it was – Ratha Sapthami.  Ratha means chariot. Sapthami is a thithi in a lunar month falling on the 7th  day of both sukla and Krishna paksha.   Ratha Sapthami also Surya Jayanthi is celebrated on 7th day after Thai Amavasai-  Shukla paksha (waxing phase of moon)  dedicated to God Surya.   It is believed that earth’s inclination towards the sun is the steepest on the day.

Special bathing rituals are observed in some regions on this day.  Surya (Sun) worship is deep rooted in the Vedas and other Hindu scriptures.  The day  is 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 Sun god is driven by a seven-horsed Chariot depicting the seven days of the week.   Going by Upanishad, their names are : Gayatri, Brhati, Usnik, Jagati, Tristup, Anustup and Pankti.  The charioteer of Surya is Aruna, who is also personified as the redness that accompanies the sunlight in dawn and dusk. Aruna was born to Vinatai and Sage Kashyapa….. the other son is the most illustrious Periya Thiruvadi (Sri Garuda Azhwar)  ~ to Aruna was born Jatayu and Sampati, who are mentioned in the epic Ramayana.

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 seventh day following the Sun’s northerly movement of vernal equinox starting from Capricorn (Makara).  A  journey from Makara rekai to Kadaka rekai – Capricorn to Cancer.  Ratha Sapthami  symbolically represents the Sun God Surya turning his Ratha (chariot) drawn by seven horses towards northern hemisphere in a north-easterly direction.

Traditionally in villages, Rangoli kolam is drawn with coloured rice powder depicting Chariot drawn by horses. From today, the days would get warmer, especially in South India. This is an important annual festival at Vaishnavaite temples as there will be purappadu in the morning in Surya Prabhai and in the evening Chandra Prabhai. 
At Thiruvallikkeni, there was to be no purappadu – as there is balalayam for Sri Parthasarathi & Sri Andal, Sri Vedavalli Thayar and Sri Ranganathar and Sri Ramar.  There was Thiruvaimozhi Sarrumurai and purappadu inside the Temple as the Uthsavars were taken to the kannadi mantap.   During Balalayam,  there will no darshan of Moolavars.  The renovation works are expected to take around 4 months + time.  

The above  photos are  of Sri Parthasarathi Suryaprabhai of yesteryear and couple of photos of Sri Devathi Rajar of Thirukachi [photos courtesy my friend Sri VN Kesavabashyam]

In Greek mythology, Helios is the personification of Sun, imagined to be handsome god crowned with the shining aureole of the Sun.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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