Sharad Purnima

By the time the autumn full moon is ready to rise on the dark horizon, Dussera festivals are over and the eyes of merrymakers are turned towards shops full of fireworks and sweets for Diwali. Sharad Purnima occurs exactly a fortnight before Diwali. This is a harvest festival where Laxmi, the goddess of prosperity, visits all homes to bring fortune and good luck to all people, young and old.

Kojagiri, as this special night is called, is celebrated with ice-cold, saffron-flavoured sweet milk, shared in the cool moonlight. The full moon night is called Navanna Purnima or the moonlit night of new food. The newly harvested rice is offered to the gods and lamp; are lit before the full moon.

In many Durga temples, the goddess who has gone to rest after the nine-day war with Mahishasura, is awakened with music and drumbeats and taken around the temple in torch lit procession called chhabina. This particular celebration in the Bhavani shrine in Chhatrapati Shivaji’s temple town of Tuljapur, Maharashtra, is an awe-inspiring sight.

Sharad Purnima brings together two major aspects in the lives of agricultural people-prosperity promised by good harvests being the result of hard labour, as well as the seeking of spiritual blessings from a divine power which oversees all human achievement and endeavour.

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