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Ratha Saptami

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Introduction

The festival of Ratha Saptami is dedicated to Lord Surya Devi - the Sun God and as the name indicates it falls on the seventh day in the shukla paksha or the brighter fortnight of the moon in the month of Maagha as per the Hindu calender which coincides with January - February of the Gregorian calender.

 

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History of Ratha Saptami

According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that Surya Deva or the Sund God sits in a golden chariot which is driven by seven horses and is driven by Arun -the charioteer of Lord Surya.

Ratha Saptami is one of the auspicious festivals of the Hindu religion, which is mostly celebrated and observed by the Hindus, who reside in the state of Goa, particularly in Canacona and Ponda Taluk. Dependent on the northerly movement of the sun, this Hindu festival of Goa is celebrated during Magh that is a holy month as per the Hindu religious calendar that falls in the English month of mid January to mid February. Thus, this festival is even known as the Magha Saptami. Apart from marking the 7th day of the sun's movement, in a way, Ratha Saptami even marks the starting of the spring season in the state, when temperatures show a significant rise in the southern part of India. Ratha Saptami, symbolizes the turning of the Chariot of Surya, the Sun God that is pulled by 7 horses, each of which represents 7 different colors. This even marks the birthday of the Sun God and is thus, observed as Surya Jayanti. The date of this annual Goan festival varies from year to year depending on the varied phases of moon according to the lunar calendar of the Hindus.

 

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How to celebrate Ratha Saptami

Though some of the important temples such as the Mallikarjun Temple and Shri Manguesh Temple (Even called Mangireesh Temple or Mangesh Mandir) celebrate this festival within their premises, but this famous festival of Goa is mostly celebrated at home. The inhabitants of the smallest state of the country observe different kinds of rituals within their homes. The rituals of the festival are: A fair is organised in reverence to the sun god. A puja is performed which include offering of food (Naivedhya) to sun god,giving Argyam (water in palms) and offering sacrifices to the fire. Those who follow all the rituals associated with the puja are of belief that they will be bestowed with peace and prosperity throughout the year.

 

Significant of Ratha Saptami

Surya is considered as an important god because he is the source of life. That’s why he is placed in the center of navagrahas (nine planets). Scientists found out that sun is the center of all nine planets and all of them orbit around the sun. Our sages found out this truth thousands of years ago and mentioned at several places in the Hindu scriptures. In fact, the characteristics of the sun and all the nine planets have been clearly described in the Vedas. One can identify these characteristics in the “navagraha manthra”, and are similar to what the NASA scientist described in their research findings. This is a great testimony to state that many aspects of Hindu faith are scientifically important.

 

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