Ratha Sapthami or Surya Jayanthi


Ratha Sapthami or Surya Jayanthi
Ratha Sapthami also called as Surya Sapthami or Surya Jayanthi is a festival celebrated on the Shukla Panchami in the month of Makara /Kumbha Masa(Magha masa for those who follow Chandra Mana)
There are two interesting stories about Ratha Sapthami:
1. It seems one Brahmin came to Sage Kasyapa’s home for Biksha. Athithi , the wife who was in the family way at that time was serving food to her husband and there was some delay in giving Biksha to the Brahmin .That Brahmin got angry and cursed that the child in her womb would die, It seems sage Kasyapa taught her this Ratha sapthami Vrutha and on the sapthami day , she gave birth to the Sun God(Adithya because he is son of adithi,)

2. It seems Bheeshma Pithamaha was not dying as per his wish even after the coming of Utharayana . Sage Vyasa told him that it is because of the sin committed by him in not rescuing Panchali when she was insulted in the Kaurava sabha .Then Vyasa taught on the sapthami day (Just after Makara sankrama) the Ratha sapthami Vritha ,When BHeeshma observed it , he died died the next day on the Bheeshmashtami.

In tamil Nadu the day starts with ritual bath by Keeping seven leaves of Vellai Erukku (Giant milk weed –Kannada Ekku, Telugu Jilledu , Sanskrit –Arka ) on the head .(some people keep one on head, two on shoulders, two on knees and two on feet) A head bath is taken ,.Some people keep uncooked rice also on the Erukku leaves. Women in addition sprinkle turmeric powder on the rice . You are not supposed to apply oil on the head for that day. 

During the ritual bath the following Manthra or sloka is chanted:
I. Manthra (translation by P.R.Ramachander)

“Saptha Saptha Maha Saptha, Saptha Dweepa Vasundara, Sapth Arka Parna Madaya, Sapthamyam Snana Machareth”.

“seventh , seventh , great seventh , the earth has seven islands ON this seventh day I am observing bath keeping seven Arka(erukku) leaves on the head.”

2. Stotra/Sloka(Translation by P.R.Ramachander)

(1) Sapthsapthi-priye devi
Sapthalogaiga deepike!
Sapth-janmaarjitham papam
Hara sapthami sathvaram 

Oh Goddess who likes the seventh of sevenths ,
Who is the lustrous lamp among the seven worlds,
During this seventh linar day please remove,
The sins that I have earned in the seven births.

(2) Yanmayaathrakrutham papam
poorvam sapthasoojanmasoo!
thathsarvam Soka mohou cha
maakare hanthu sapthami 

All of those sins committed by me ,
In the earlier seven births ,
As well as my sorrows and passions,
May please be destroyed By Sapthami of Makara Month

(3) Namaami sapthameem devim
sapthaarkka - pathra - snaanena
Mama papam vyabohathu!

I salute the Goddess Sapthami ,
Who is capable of destroying all sins ,
And by the bathing with seven Erukku leaves,
Let all my sins be completely removed.

Compiled by: P.Ramachander

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