Ratha Saptami is celebrated today by millions of Hindus across the world. This festival is dedicated to God Surya, the deity of solar energy. As per the traditional Hindu calendar, the festival falls on the seventh day (Saptami) of the Shukla Paksha (bright half) of the Magh month. The festival is also known as Magha Saptami, Surya Jayanti and Achala Saptami. The festival marks the birth of Surya Dev who is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ratha Saptami is a very auspicious day for performing Dan-Punya activities. It is believed that one will be relieved from all his/her sins if he/she worships Lord Surya on this day and observes a day-long fast.
Popular Story Associated with Ratha Saptami
Long ago there lived a righteous king called Yashovarma. He took great care of his subjects and was a very pious man. However, he was worried as he did not have any children. He conducted many yagnas and pujas and was finally blessed with a son. However, the son was unhealthy and regularly suffered from several ailments. A worried king then consulted several learned Rishis and Brahmins who advised him to strictly observe the Ratha Saptami vrat. After observing the vrat, his son’s health improved considerably.
Devotees wake up before sunrise, place Ekka leaves (Erukku in Tamil, Jilledu in Telugu and Arka in Sanskrit) on their body and take bath. They then fill up a kalash or metal pitcher with Ganga jal and offer the water to Surya Dev. A special puja is conducted in honor of the Lord with roses, kumkum, camphor, incense and ghee lamps. Payasam, a sweet dish made of rice, is made and offered to the God.
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