Ratha Saptami Pooja, or Rath Saptami, is observed on the seventh day during Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) in Magha Month in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and
Maharashtra. In Tamil Nadu, it falls on the Thai or Masi month. Rath Saptami, also known as Surya Jayanti and Surya Saptami, is dedicated to Lord Surya. Here is a brief description on how to perform or observed Ratha Saptami.
Requirements for Rath Saptami Puja
- Image or Painting or Idol of Lord Surya
- Easily available fragrant flowers and leaves that are usually used for Puja
- Uncooked Rice
- Green Bananas
- Bananas and other local fruits
- Sesame seeds
- Betel leaves
- Betel nuts
- Jaggery (Sugar)
- Turmeric powder
The house is cleaned and festoons of mango leaves are installed in all the important places on the evening of the previous day of the Puja or early morning ofthe Puja day.
Ritual Bathing of Ratha Saptami with Erukku leaves
Washing hair on the day with leaves of Giant milkweed (Erukku Plant) on head is done by many people. There is a belief that Erukku plant has therapeutic and curative properties.
In some regions, people place some uncooked rice on stacked Erukku leaves and take bath. Women add a little turmeric powder to the uncooked rice.
Seven Erukku leaves are stacked together and placed on the head.
Earlier, this ritual bath used to be taken in a holy river. Nowadays, it is done at home.
Oil is not applied on the hair on the day.
Ratha Sapthami Kolam
After body purification, the Ratha Saptami kolam is drawn. Lord Surya in a chariot or simple picture of Surya is the preferred kolam.(Pictures of Ratha Kolam)
Prayers and Mantras that are chanted on Ratha Saptami
- Surya Sahasranama
- Aditya Hridayam
- Gayatri Mantra
- And other prayers dedicated to Surya like the Surya Ashtakam.
The Rath Saptami Puja
- The puja starts with a simple prayer to Lord Ganesha by lighting the lamp.
- Some people first take the blessings of the family deity; followed by a prayer to Ganesha.
- Some flowers and turmeric mixed with uncooked rice is placed near the deity and Ganesha.
- The Surya Puja commences by first anointing the chariot (Ratha) of Surya with turmeric and kumkuma. (This can be done on the idol or image of Surya or on a Ratha kolam drawn on a wood piece.)
- Uncooked rice, jaggery (sugar), lentils, flowers, turmeric mixed with uncooked rice is kept on the Ratha (chariot).
- The puja to Surya is performed by offering betel leaves, betel nuts, coconut and yellow bananas, fruits and milk. (For a simple puja you can offer flowers and chant Gayatri mantra.)
- Perform Arati in the normal way you do.
- You can now meditate or chant Aditya Hridayam or any shloka dedicated to Surya that you know.
Some people opt for an elaborate Suryanarayana Pooja and this requires the help of elders or a priest.
Fasting On Ratha Saptami
- Some people opt for a complete fast and others opt for a fast from sunrise to sunset on the day.
Food Prepared on Rath Saptami
- Sweet pongal and Vadai are offered to Surya by some people during puja. It is then distributed as Prasadam.
Various types of alms giving and daanam are performed by some communities on the day. There is a popular belief that donating things during this period will help in attaining moksha.
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