Masi Magam occurs in the Tamil month of Masi (February – March). It is a most auspicious day, as it is the day Magam star/Nakshatra appears in the sky on Purnima/full moon day. Tamilians all over the world celebrate this occasion. Magam is one of the 27 Nakshatras in the Hindu astrological system. Masi Magam is an ideal day for spiritual purification.
The full moon on this day is also one of the most powerful Full Moons of the year, as the Moon aligns with the Magam star, which is associated with royalty and ancestors. This event occurs only once a year. It is believed that on this day, heavenly beings descend to the earth plane. They are said to appear in the astral form to purify their karma and the karma of all human beings. It is the custom to worship ancestors and make offerings to them on this day.
Masi Magam bestows both abundance and prosperity, qualities associated with the Full Moon and the the Maga star. It brings a unique opportunity to gain energy and power. Masi Magam is also a good time to surrender your ego and submit to the will of God.
The day has great importance in places like Puducherry, Kumbakonam, Srirangam and in many temples associated with Lord Vishnu, Shiva and Goddess Shakti.
Once in 12 years, Masi Magam acquires more significance. On this occasion, Maha Maham is held. During Maha Maham, apart from the full moon, the movement of Jupiter into Leo (Simha rasi) also takes place. Maha Maham is a major festival at the Adi Kumbeswaran temple in Kumbakonam. One can find a sacred Teerth (tank) here called Maha Maham.
Legend of Masi Magam
The festival is mainly celebrated to honor Shiva. There are many legends about the festival. One is related to Shiva’s role in saving the world after every apocalypse. Shiva told Brahma to fill a pot with the seeds of creation and the divine elixir, Amrit, and to keep it at the summit of Mount Meru. The belief is that the process of re-creation began in Kumbakonam, the place where the pot was found on this day.
Another legend relates to Gaja Samhara, which falls on the day of Masi Magam. A group of saints became arrogant due to the powers they had gained through their penance. They began to ignore their duties and even the Gods. Shiva decided to punish them and destroy their ego and arrogance. He took the form of a beggar and approached them. Thinking that the beggar was a demon, the saints took the form of a single elephant and attacked him. However, Shiva subdued the elephant and wore its skin as a garment.
Rituals of Masi Magam
The main feature of Masi Magam is the ritual bath given to the deities in the waters of ‘Theerthavari’ (Bay of Bengal). Early in the morning, a huge procession of devotees along with the idols of deities like Shiva, Shakti, and Vishnu from all the important Hindu temples makes its way from the temple to the sea shore, accompanied by the Nadhaswaram, a South Indian musical instrument. The idols are then given a ceremonial bath in the Theerthavari, which is held on the Vaithikuppam beach in Puducherry. Devotees also take a holy bath in the sea and honor their ancestors.
A key ritual during this grand festival is the Gaja Pooja, in which people worship elephants by offering prayers and prasad.
Another important Pooja is Ashwa Pooja. In this case, people worship horses. Observing such rituals is believed to bestow wealth, happiness, positivity, and the blessings of gods and ancestors.
People also bathe in the holy waters to wash away their sins. Taking a bath in the seas or rivers or ponds on this day helps one attain Moksha. The reason for observing the festival may vary from region to region and also from temple to temple. Each temple may choose to go by a different myth.
Benefits of Observing Masi Magam
There are many benefits to celebrating Masi Magam.
- One can eliminate past life sins by worshipping one’s ancestors on this day.
- One can attain Moksha/salvation.
- Worshipping ancestors on this day brings ancestral blessings that can transform life by bringing prosperity and harmony.
- One can overcome negativity and evil forces.
- It can boost positivity in your life.
- It bestows sound decision-making abilities.
- It helps one accomplish major goals in life.
- Masi Magam calls for cleanliness and purity of thoughts. Hence, it can purify our minds and thoughts.
- Masi Magam is a very auspicious day to begin new projects.
- Navagraha Homam performed on Masi Magam can nullify Graha Dosha in your birth chart. It can remove all difficulties and suffering and helps one recover from health issues. It can also bestow success.
- Magha star is the leader of Pitrus, and a sacred dip on this day can remove Pitru Dosha.
- Worshipping Shiva and Saturn on this day clears Pitru dosha and bad karma and brings salvation.