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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Ratha Sapthami 2018 at Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam

Ratha Sapthami 2018  at Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam

Compared with the billions of other stars in the universe,  Sun perhaps  is remarkable. But for Earth and the other planets that revolve around it, the sun is a powerful center of attention. It holds the solar system together; pours life-giving light, heat, and energy on Earth; and generates space weather. The sun is a big star. At about 864,000 miles (1.4 million kilometers) wide, it could hold 109 planet Earths across its surface.   NASA's historic Parker Solar Probe mission will revolutionize our understanding of the Sun, where changing conditions can propagate out into the solar system, affecting Earth and other worlds

The Sun, at the heart of our solar system, is a yellow dwarf star, a hot ball of glowing gases. Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest particles of debris in its orbit. Electric currents in the Sun generate a magnetic field that is carried out through the solar system by the solar wind—a stream of electrically charged gas blowing outward from the Sun in all directions.   In what is being considered a particularly rare event, scientists are projecting that the Sun will be an unusually cool customer by the year 2050. By combining data and observations from decades of Sun research, experts are predicting a “Grand Solar Minimum” will occur a few decades from now, making our parent star dimmer and cooler than it has been for a very long time.  Though to the common the Sun would continue to look the same way as we have seen,  Sun goes through regular cycles of solar minimums and solar maximums, and that way,  a particularly cool solar minimum is on the way.

24th Jan 2018 (11th day of Thai masam) was significant being  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.  At some regions, special bathing rituals are observed.   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”.

நாம்  அனுதினமும் கண்களாலே பார்த்து சேவிக்க வல்லவன் - சூரிய பகவான்.  சூரியனுக்கு, : ஆதவன், ஆதித்யன், கதிரவன், ஞாயிறு, பகலவன், கனலி,  வெய்யோன், தினகரன், தினமணி, பானு என பல பெயர்கள் உண்டு. சூரிய பகவான்  தன் ரதத்தில் தினமும் சுற்றி திரும்பும் நேரமே ஒருநாள். சூரிய பகவான் ஒரு முகூர்த்த காலத்தில் 27,206,400 மைல்கள் சஞ்சரிக்கும் வல்லமை உடையவர். கருடனின் சகோதரரான அருணனே சூரிய பகவானின் தேர்ப்பாகனாக திகழ்கிறார். காயத்ரி, ப்ரஹதி, உஷ்ணிக்,ஜகதி, திருஷ்டுப், அனுஷ்டுப், பங்க்தி என்கிற ஏழு குதிரைகள் சூரியனின் ரதத்தை இழுத்துச் செல்கின்றன.

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.  The chariot of Sun travels at a speed of 3,400,800 yojanas calculated as 27,206,400 miles in a muhurtha.  

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.  At holy Thirumala, there would be purappadu of Uthsavar  Malaiappar in 7 vahanas.  In Kanchi, and other divyadesams -  there will be purappadu in the morning in Surya Prabhai and in the evening Chandra Prabhai. 

At Thiruvallikkeni, there was Suryaprabhai purappadu this morning.   Here are some photos of the grand purappadu : -

பெயரும் கருங் கடலே நோக்குமாறு*, ஒண்பூ
உயரும் கதிரவனே நோக்கும்* -உயிரும்
தருமனையே நோக்கும் ஒண் தாமரையாள் கேள்வன்*
ஒருவனையே நோக்கும் உணர்வு.   :  [முதல் திருவந்தாதி – பொய்கைப்பிரான்]

The rivers flow towards the mighty Ocean; lotus blossoms towards the direction of the Sun; all that is born eventually reach the lord of death ~ for us Srivaishnavaites, the only goal of realisation is the golden feet of the consort of Mahalakshmi -  Sriman Narayana.

~ adiyen Srinivasa dhasan (S. Sampathkumar)
24th Jan 2018.
         In Greek mythology, Helios is the personification of Sun, imagined to be handsome god crowned with the shining aureole of the Sun.
         Krishnamachari Srikkanth the dashing Indian opener, always  walked to the right of his partner while going out to bat with a characteristic head twist to the Sun. Once in an interview he was asked about this habit of looking at Sun. Pat came the reply : “Suryaha: prathyaksha devatha:”

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