Magha or Maagha maasam is the 11th month of Hindu lunar calendar. Makha nakshtram (star) falls on the pournami day of this month. This month is considered auspicious to perform all the major life occasions like marriage, upanayanam (thread ceremony), and house warming etc.
In solar calendars, Maagh begins with the Sun's entry into Capricorn (makaram), and is usually the tenth month of the year.
It is believed that the Hindu Goddess of wisdom and learning - Goddess Saraswati, the Sun God or Surya Bhagawan and Lord Shiva in the lingam form were born in this month.
On the fifth day in the brighter half of the moon, Basant Panchami or Saraswati Pooja is celebrated in many parts of the country. Shkla Saptami is the birthday of Surya and the month is particularly dedicated to Lord Surya and people worship Sun god on the four Sundays of Maagha maasam. Reciting Aditya Hrudyam on the four Sundays of the month would be very effective.
While in Kartheeka masam, a lot of significance is given for lighting of lamps, Maagha masam is given special significance for taking bath that is known as Maagha Snanam. During this period it is prescribed to take bath early in the morning before Sunrise preferably during Arunodaya kala. This sacred bath is preferred to be taken in any river, lake or theertha or at least at home. Apart from the daily routine (Nithya Karma) special arghya is to be given to Lord Madhava and Sun God after Maagha Snanam.
In the two earlier months to Magha Masam, on account of cold and snow, the body becomes weak because of lack proper sunshine, etc. In Magha Masam the Sun rays provide more heat and they energize the Sea and River Waters destroying the bacteria in the waters. Common salt also acts as an antibiotic. Taking these factors into consideration, our Sages prescribed that one should perform Samudra Snanam and spend in Sea waters for a period of one Ghadiya (48 minutes) in Magha Masam. By this the energy of sun rays embedded in the water spreads into our body. Taking a bath in sea waters for about 48 minutes refreshes us by cleansing our external body opening the roma coupams.
Festivals in Magha maasam:-
Vasantha Panchami also known as Sri Panchami. Goddess Saraswathi, the presiding deity of Akshara Gyana, the female Divine energy of Learning, Knowledge and Wisdom is said to have born on this auspicious day of Sri Panchami. Dedicated to Vaakk Devi or Vaagdevi (Goddess Saraswathi) this day is considered to be highly auspicious day especially for Aksharabhyasa (inducting a child into education). Goddess Saraswathi is to be worshipped on this day.
The popular belief is that the Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram (thousand names dedicated to Lord Vishnu) was revealed to the Pandavas on this day by Bhisma, the great grand father in the Mahabharata. Bhishma was lying in a bed of arrows after the Great War in Mahabharat when he revealed the thousand names of Bhishma.
The Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram was revealed to Pandavas by Bhishma in the presence of Lord Krishna, who is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that listening to Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram leads to Moksha.
Bhishma Ashtami and , Bhisma Dwadasi are also celebrated in certain parts of India.
Ratha Sapthami is the 7th day of both shukla paksha. At the time of division of constellations each day or thithi is attributed to one deity/God. In the process Sapthami thithi was allotted to Sun God and hence it is his favourite day.
On this day of Ratha Sapthami, the Sun God journey towards Northern hemisphere entering Makara Raasi on Makara Sankramana Day is more confirmed. Traditionally it is regarded as the day on which the chariot of the Sun God is diverted towards the north by his charioteer called Aruna. On this day it is believed that Sun God ride on his chariot drawn by seven horses and move toward north east direction bringing the entry of spring season.
Bath with Arka Leaves:-
It is an age old custom and tradition that people on this day take special bath with seven Arka leaves by keeping one on the head, two on the shoulders, two on the knees and two on the feet. Arka is commonly called as Jilledu in Telugu, Ekka in Kannada, Erukku in Tamil, and Calotrope (bowstring hemp) in English.
Shri Madhwa Navami:-
The 9th day of Lunar month of Magha Masam during the bright fortnight is associated with Sri Madhwacharya, the founder and exponent of Dvaita Philosophy. It is said that it was on this day in the year 1317 AD, while Shri Madhvacharya was teaching his disciples at Udupi Sri Anantheshwara Temple, suddenly a heap of flowers were showered on him and he disappeared from that heap of flowers not to be seen later. It is considered as the day He entered the Badarikasrama.
The full moon day in Maagha masam is celebrated as Maha Maaghi. This day marks the end of Maagha Snana vratham. It is said and believed that any Divine worship, prayer, charity or rites performed on this day are highly meritorious that gives significant results. Thilapaathra Danam is prescribed to be given to a Brahmin on this day of Mahamaaghi. Taking bath in a sea on this day is considered as highly meritorious.
It is a festival dedicated to Lord Shiva occurs on the 13th /14th day of dark fortnight (Krishna Paksha) in Magha Masam coinciding with Chaturdasi thithi being present in the night. Worshipping Lord Shiva on this day of Maha Shivarathri is considered as highly meritorious and sin remover. Special celebrations are held on the eve of Maha Shivarathri at all the holy Shiva Kshetras where lakhs of people gather to offer their obeisance and salutations to Lord Shiva the great destroyer of sins and the most benevolent God.
Sunday associated with Amaavaasya + Sravana Nakshatra
Sunday associated with Amaavaasya + Sravana Nakshatra + Vyatheepatha Yoga + in the lunar month of Pushya or Maagha is referred to as Ardhodhaya which is considered to be a very sacred day, a parvakala that occurs very rarely that is more meritorious than an eclipse. Maagha Bahula Amaavasya associated with Satabhisha star is considered as highly sacred and meritorious. According to Dharmasindhu by performing Pithru Shraaddha on this day, Pithrus (ancestors) gets pleased for ten thousand years.
Social significance of Maagha maasam:-
Maagha maasam in India marks the beginning of the most awaited spring season (shishir ritu) and the end of the dry winter season. As the nature starts blooming once again with the growth of fresh new leaves and flowers all around, this is the most favorite season of the people.