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23. 09. 2017
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MAGHI POORNIMA

The full moon day of Magh (January-February) is known as Maghi Poornima. It is a great bathing day, and as important as Kartika Poornima for the practice of piety and devotion. On this day, fast is observed and charities are given. Early in the morning, after ablutions, the dead ancestors are offered libations, and the poor are given clothes, food, money, etc. Then Brahmans are fed and given 'Daan-Dakshina' according to one's means and capacity.

As already stated elsewhere in the book, Magha is one of the most sacred months. Therefore, a bath on this day is of high religious merit. When Ganga is not accessible because of any reason, one may bath in any other holy stream, river, pond or tank. Moreover, Ganga jal is kept in all the traditional Indian homes. Some of it may be poured into ordinary well water and then used for bathing.

Bathing in India is a ritual, a ceremony, a festival and a greatly purifying act. A bath on such auspicious day as Poornima is all the more significant. On this day great bathing festivals are held at various places along the banks of the holy rivers like Ganga, Yamuna, Sarayu, Narmada, Tapti, Kaveri, Krishna, etc. People walk miles and miles to have a holy dip in the sea or river or lake on this day. A bath in the sea at Kanyakumari and Rameshwaram is also believed to be high merit inducing. So is a dip at Pushkar. At Kumbhakonam, near Madras, there are great shrines of Sarangpani, Kumbheshwara and Nageshwara. There is a large sacred tank where devotees take- a holy dip on this day. It is believed that the Ganga flows into this tank on this holy day. Once in 12 years, a big festival fair is also held here. The Magh Mela at Prayag (Allahabad) held on this day is very famous in north India. More than a million devotees assemble on the holy confluence of the rivers Ganga and Yamuna to purify their life and earn merit for the next in the company of ascetis, mendicants, Nagas, priests, etc. All these holy men religiously assemble here on this day of Magh Poornima.

Float Festival

On the full moon day of Magh, the float festival is celebrated at Madurai. Madurai is a famous religious spot in South India which has the holy temple of Meenakshee literally meaning fish-eyed Goddess and an epithet of Parvati. The major part of Meenakshee temple was built during the reign of Tirumala Nayak (1623-55). Magh Poornima happens to be the birth day of King Tirumala Nayak. On this very day, the images of Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwara (Shiv) are mounted on floats and taken to Marriamman Teppakulam Sarovar which is a few kms. east of Madurai. The deities are taken round this tank on floats richly decorated and illuminated, and then are drawn back and forth across the waters of the tank to the accompaniment of music and devotional songs before being taken back to Madurai. The tank is fed by underground channels from the river Vaigai. In the centre of the tank, there is an island, and on it stands the shrine. It was also built in 1641 by King Tirumala Nayak.

This festival the float festival is a very popular festival of south India when lakhs of pilgrims and devotees assemble here on this very occasion.

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