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Ratha Saptami

Ratha Saptami is an important Hindu festival associated with Lord Surya (Sun God). Lord Surya riding a chariot driven by seven horses is worshipped on this day. It is also known as Magh Saptami or Magha Saptami, Jayanti or Jaya Saptami, Surya Jayanti and Maha Saptami. In 2018, Ratha Saptami is on January 24.

Ratha Saptami is observed on the seventh day of the bright fortnight in the Hindu month Magh (January – February). It is considered to be the most important saptami in a year. It is believed that in the Mahabharata, Bhishamacharya chose this day to leave his body and attain ‘moksha.’ It is also said that the earth's inclination towards the sun is steepest on the Ratha Saptami day.

Ratha Saptami is observed differently in different parts of India. The day is of great significance in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. An important ritual takes place on this day at the Tirupati Balaji Temple.

In some Tamil communities, people take bath by placing Erukku leaves on the head. Another unique ritual is taking bath by carrying a lamp on the head. A painting of Sun with seven chariots is made on the ground and worshipped in many places. Some people boil milk in earthen vessels in the courtyard. The rituals observed on the day vary from region to region.

Interestingly, Ratha Saptami is also observed in the month of Margshirsha (December-January) by certain communities. It is also dedicated to Sun god and a fast is observed on this day. Taking bath at the time of sunrise is considered highly auspicious. This is observed largely in North India.