Significance of Masi Makam

Masi Makam or Masi Magam is an important festival in the Tamil speaking world. The festival falls in the Tamil Month of Masi (February – March). In 2014, Masi Makam is on February 15. Maham or Makam is one among the twenty seven stars in the astrological system. The makam star in the Masi month usually falls on the full moon day and is considered highly auspicious in many temples across South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry (Pondicherry) and Kerala.

One of the important rituals on this day is the taking of idols to the seashore or ponds. Therefore the festival is also referred as holy bath ceremony. Long processions from different temples arrive at the sea shore with the idols of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva. Idols from Shakti temples are also brought to the seashore. Pujas and other rituals are held at the sea shore and thousands of devotees throng the sea shore on this day to offer prayer.

There are numerous myths in vogue related to Masi Makam. Each temple has a myth for celebrating Masi Makam. The most important one is related to Lord Shiva. Legend has it that Lord Shiva appeared as a child before King Vallala of Tiruvannamalai who was an ardent devotee. The king had no child and Lord Shiva promised to perform his last rituals. The king died on a Masi Magam day and it is said that the Lord performed his last rites. Lord Shiva also blessed the king by saying that whoever bathes in the sea during Masi Magam will merge with him and will get ‘mukthi.’ It is believed that every year the Lord visits the sea to perform the last rites of the king.

Once in twelve years the Masi Magam attains even more significance and then Maha Maham is held. Apart from the full moon, during the Maha Maham there is the movement of Jupiter into Leo (singha rasi.) Maha Maham is of great importance at the Adi Kumbeswaran temple in Kumbakonam. There is sacred teerth (tank) called Maha Maham here.