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The Sharad Purnima or Kojaagari Purnima or Kumar Purnima is a harvest festivalcelebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashvin (September-October). It marks the end of monsoon. There is a traditional celebration of the moon and is also called the 'Kaumudi celebration', Kaumudi meaning moonlight.
At night, goddess Lakshmi is worshiped and night vigil is observed. According to a folk-tale, once a king fell on evil days, and was in great financial straits, but then his queen observed this fast and night vigil, and worshiped the goddess of wealth.Laxmi. Consequently, they were blessed by the goddess and they regained their prosperity.
It is also believed that on this day as moon and the earth are very close to each other, the moon rays have certain healing properties of nourishing the body and the soul.
Some people believe that on this night Laxmi goes around from place to place asking, "Who is awake?" ("Kojagarti?") and shows her pleasure on those she finds awake. Hence, the night is spent in festivity and various games of amusement, in honour of the goddess. So people sit in the moonlight singing songs, or keep themselves entertained in some other way. They fast from solid food and take only fluids like coconut water or milk. Milk is boiled until it thickens, and milk masala (called kheer, a readymade combination of dry fruits) is added to it and drunk. There is also a tradition to have cool milk and rice flakes on this night. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated throughout the country, particularly by Maharashtrians i.e. by people residing in Maharashtra India & is similarly celebrated by other marathi's (People with Marathi mother tongue) in India & Abroad . The eldest child of the family is also honored on this day.
In the western state of Gujarat, the night is known as Sharad Poonam. In Gujarat people celebrate it by doing Garba and Raas.
In the Mithila region, the puja is known by the name of Kojagaraha. It is celebrated in all Maithil households. All the household gods are cleaned and put out in the "AANGAN". Prior to the putting out of idols, the "aangan" is cleaned and decorated with rice flour paste "ARIPAN" OR "ALPANA".They are prayed to and an offering of "PAAN, MAKHAAN, BATASHA" and "KHEER OR PAYAS" is made. They are kept out there overnight so that they are bathed in the pious "Sharad Purnima" moonlight also known as "Amrit Barkha". It is generally a big celebration for the newly wed couple too. The new bride decorates the house with a rice paste and makes "ALPANA" OR "ARIPAN". The bride, groom and the brother-in-laws play games the whole night. Paan, Makhaan and Sweets are distributed. A big basket having "DHAAN-Rice", "DOOB" grass, Makhaan, "PAAN", coconut, banana, whole nuts, yagyopavit/janeu threads, cloves, cardamom, silver pennies or fishes or turtles made up of silver, yogurt, sweets and Mithila Paintings arrives from the brides home. New clothes are also sent to the in-laws.
A Maithili Legend states that-Lachchmi and Alachchhmi are twin sisters. Lachchmi loves sweet dishes and brings good luck whereas Alachchmi loves spicy food and brings Bad Luck. Thus spicy food is kept out-of-doors so that Alachchmi has her fill and goes away and Sweet dishes are kept in small amounts outside and a second larger helping is kept inside so that Lachchhmi comes inside the house and stays there.
In some regions of the Mithila area, Goddess Kali is also prayed. The Kali puja begins on this day and continues for a fortnight and ends on the night of Diwali with Nisha Puja.
Currently, this full moon comes during Sharad ritu (season ) of the year and hence it is called Sharad Purnima or Sharad Poonam. (Purnima or Poonam = full moon).
There is an Ayurvedic reason behind consuming rice flakes with cool milk on this night. Sharad ritu (season) consists of two months of overlapping seasons when the summer is about to end and the winter slowly starts. During Sharad the days are warm and nights start to become cooler. This is perfect season for Pitta prakop when pitta vitiates along with other two doshas. Consuming rice flakes with milk during night time is good remedy to pacify pitta. Also known as 'Kojaagari Punam,' the festival is celebrated on Aso sud 15 - Purnima. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth moves around in the night sky, asking 'Ko jaagarti' searching for people below who are awake. In Sanskrit, 'Ko jaagarti' means, ' Who is awake?' And to those who are awake she gifts wealth.
Origin 1. The Sanatkumar Samhita cites the story of 'Kojaagari Punam.' In the Samhita Vaalkhil rishi narrates that in ancient times, a poor Brahmin named Valit lived in Magadhdesh - Bengal. While he was a learned and virtuous man, his wife revelled in quarelling, behaving totally opposite to his wishes. Once on his father's 'Shraddh' - day of paying homage to the deceased- she flung the 'pind' - ball of wheatflour - in a sewage pit, rather than the sacred Ganga, as custom required. This infuriated Valit. Therefore he renounced home to search for wealth. In the forests, he met 'Naagkanyas' - girls of Kaliya Naag's ancestry. These Naagkanyas had performed the 'Kojaagari Vrat' - staying awake on Aso sud Punam. They then sat gambling with Valit. The night happened to be Aso sud Punam. Valit lost everything. At that moment, Lord Vishnu and consort Lakshmi, happened to pass by. Since Valit had incidentally observed the 'Kojaagari vrat', Lakshmi graced him handsomeness similar to that of 'Kamdeva' - the deity of love. Now attracted to him, the Naagkanyas married Valit and gifted him their riches. He then returned home with the riches, whence his wife received him warmly. After this episode, the Samhita declared that those who remain awake on this Punam will be graced with wealth.
2. On this night, Lord Krishna invited His faithful devotees, the Gopis of Vrundavan, to play the Maha Raas (traditional folk-dance) with Him. They had earned His grace by overlooking society's disdain on them ('loklaaj'), to offer Him unalloyed devotion. When They left Their homes in Vraj and arrived in Vrundavan, Shri Krishna welcomed Them. Yet to further test Their love for him, He averred: 'Women of character such as you, should not leave home to meet another man in the middle of the night!' These words seared the Gopis' hearts. In extreme grief, They uttered: 'Our feet will not budge the slightest from Your lotus-feet. So how can we return to Vraj?' Pleased with such immutable love for Him, Shri Krishna initiated the Maha Raas, by assuming as many forms as there were Gopis. At this point, They beamed with pride that, 'Nobody's devotion can excel ours, by which the Lord favored us.' Instead of accepting the Maha Raas as the Lord's grace, ego marred Their devotion. Therefore He instantly vanished from the Raas mandal! Now filled with remorse, the Gopis repented. Recalling Shri Krishna's divine episodes - 'lila', They lamented the separation and sang kirtans known as 'viraha geet': 'Jayati te-dhikam janmanaa vrajaha ... (Shrimad Bhagvat 10/31/1) Describing the 'lila' in the Bhagvat (10/30/25), Shukdevji narrates to king Parikshit: 'O Parikshit! Of all nights, that night of Sharad Punam became the most resplendent. With the Gopis, Shri Krishna roamed the banks of the Yamuna, as if imprisoning everyone in His lila!'
3 Aksharbrahma Gunatitanand Swami, the choicest devotee of Bhagwan Swaminarayan was born on Sharad Punam, Samvat 1841. He granted 'wealth' by blessing spiritually 'awake' devotees with God-realization.
Sentiments The spiritual import of 'Jaagrati' (awake) is to remain vigilant. In Vachanamrut Gadhada III-9, Bhagwan Swaminarayan elaborates on this vigilance. He says that the vigilance in one's heart is the gateway to the Lord's divine abode. Devotees should not let mundane desires, of wealth, lust and so forth, enter their hearts. When faced with obstacles such as: success and failure, happiness and misery, honor and insult, the devotees should remain unflinching in their devotion to God. In this manner, they should remain vigilant at the gateway to God, not letting any mundane objects through. Therefore, every moment in our lives requires vigilance and this in itself becomes a subtle form of 'tapas' - austerity. Those who performed severe austerities without vigilance, succumbed to Maya. Vishwamitra performed austerities for 60,000 years, but lost 'Jaagruti' - vigilance - in Menka's company. Similarly, lack of vigilance toppled Saubhari rishi, Ekalshrungi, Parashar and others.
Symbolic Import Just as the night sky of Sharad Punam is clear and suffused with lunar resplendence, the aspirant should similarly endeavor to purify his 'antahkaran.' For this he has to eradicate body-consciousness and mundane desires and imbibe Brahma-consciousness, in order to incessantly experience Parabrahma. (Gita 18/54, Shikshapatri 116). For this the aspirant needs to seek the Gunatit Sadhu, who is the gateway to moksha (the Lord), as proclaimed in the Bhagvat (3/29/20): Prasangamajaram paashamaatmanaha kavayo viduhu, Sa eva sadhushu kruto mokshadwaaram apaavrutam. i.e. the sages decree that if a jiva who is deeply attached to his body and bodily relatives, similarly attaches himself to the Gunatit Sadhu, the doors of moksha will be opened for him.
Sharad Purnima is known as Kumar Purnima or Lakshmi Puja in Odisha, an eastern state of India. Kumar Purnima is the full-moon day in the month of Ashvin in October. This autumn festival is one of the most popular and important festivals of Odisha. 'Kumar' or Kartikeya, the handsome son of Shiva was born on this day. He also became the God of War. As young girls always wish for a handsome husband, they propitiate Kumar who was most handsome among the Gods. But, peculiarly enough there is no ritual for the God, instead the Sun and the Moon are worshiped.
In the early morning the girls after their purificatory bath wear new garments and make food-offerings to the sun. They observe fasting for the day. In the evening when the moon rises they again make food offerings of a special variety and take it after the rituals are over. It is a festival of rejoicing for the girls. All of them sing and dance. The songs are of special nature. They also play a kind of game known as Puchi. They also indulge in other varieties of country-games.
This day is also observed as the birthday of Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth. Therefore, many people worship the Goddess at their homes and keep themselves awake by playing 'Pasha' (Dice) (especially in parts of southern Odisha) and other indoor games. Significantly it suggests that those who wish to acquire wealth should always be vigilant at night. It is for this reason that the owl, a bird that sleeps in the day and comes out only at night is worshipped. Goddess Lakshmi is worshiped by devotees in different pandals and household in and across the state of Odisha, especially in Kendrapara and Dhenkanal. The pandals are decorated with beautiful decorations.
The Gajalaxmi :-
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