Masi Magam is an auspicious annual Hindu festival that is celebrated in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. As per the solar calendar it usually takes place between February & March on a full moon day. This year in 2014, the festival is on 14th February.
The Magam or Makam, one of the 27 nakshatra or constellations, (Regulus) in Masi, a Tamil month, as per the Tamil lunar calendar is considered to be beneficial and is believed to be the harbinger of abundance and prosperity in one’s life.
All Hindu idols of gods & goddesses are taken out to the nearest water body like a pond, lake, river or ‘Theerthavari‘, Bay of Bengal, for a holy ceremonial bath at the crack of the dawn. The entire ceremony is done in a grandiose procession and devotion with the accompaniment of the auspicious Nadaswaram, one of the most popular karnatic classical musical instrument. Devotees also take a dip along with the idols.
On this day some also offer puja to –
1. Homa or fire ritual to Lord Shiva for subduing one’s ego,
2. Homa or fire ritual to Lord Muruga for prosperity and wealth.
Temples and festivals in India are always associated with stories. So each famous temple has an exclusive belief supported by a mythological story to celebrate Masi Magam like any other festival. It is believed that the ancestors bless their kith & kin on this day. The devotees who flock the procession take dips in water body. It is believed that one can reduce to a great extent one’s sins and karmic baggage or negative effects of karma on this auspicious day. It is one of the most favourable times for spiritual purification and be on the path to moksha. Every 12th year Masi Magam is also known as Maha Maham. Adi Kumbeswaran temple in Kumbakonam is visited by thousands on this day to take the holy bath in its wells.
The festival Masi Magam is famous in Pondicherry, Kumbakonam, Srirangam and in numerous other shrines associated with Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Shakti in South India and in the other parts of the world where people speak Tamil, like Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand.
Celebration in Pondicherry
The celebration of Masi Magam in Pondicherry is more than just a day’s affair. The idols of gods and goddesses are brought here from as far as Gingee.
There are 2 places of importance:
1. Kalaktheeswaran Koil – the divine idols brought from outside Pondy have a special dedicated place in this temple which is opened only for this occasion. This old temple is situated on the Mission Street. Opposite the temple are arranged various temporary stalls for 5 days where colourful handcrafted earthen toys / dolls / gods & goddesses, typical local & economical snacks, some house hold items etc. are on display for sale.
2. Vaithikuppam – the sea shore where all gods and goddesses assemble for a ritual dip in the Bay of Bengal. The devotees and observers, along with various vendors, make the festival lively and fun-filled.
A lot of people come down for this festival from near and far. There are several mobile / temporary stalls distributing free lunch and drinking water where the young & old and rich & underprivileged are treated equally and with respect. Some serve it on paper plates while others give away as food packages. These stalls are organised by some temples and also by philanthropists.
These chariots before returning back to their respective temples visit several streets in the vicinity. It gives an opportunity to people to offer puja at their door steps.
Although the entire program is well organised, avoid moving around especially on a 4 wheeler in Vaithikuppam and Kuruchikuppam area on Masi Magam day. Due to the crowd, vendors and temple chariots, the roads get jammed.
If you want to participate in this festival, go with minimum items on you and do not forget to take a drinking water bottle.
Image Credit – Pondicherry All.com & Murugan Govindaswamy