Dhanurmasam / Margashira month

Dhanurmasa, Dhanur Month, which falls from mid-December to mid-January is considered Shooonya Masam or Kharmas. Dhanurmas 2023 – 2024 begins on December 17, 2023 and ends on January 14, 2024. Dhanur Masam is considered inauspicious in some regions. Only prayers and godly functions are performed during the period. The importance of Dhanurmasam is mentioned in the Dhanurmasa Mahatmya of Pancharatra Agama, Agneya Purana and also in a scripture called Smriti Muktavali.

Dhanur Mas is the period when the sun shifts from the Dhanu rashi to the Makar rashi and it ends on the Makar Sankranti.
Worship of Lord Vishnu during the morning hours in Dhanurmasam is considered highly auspicious. Vishnu Sahasranama is chanted during the period. Other important mantras chanted are those dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi.

The most popular offering made to Lord Vishnu in the month is Moong dal.
There is a belief that worshipping Lord Vishnu on a single day during Dhanurmasam is equal to worshipping him for thousands of years.

During Dhanurmasam, tributes are paid to Sri Bhudevi (Andal) through the study and recitation of Tiruppavai, a composition in Tamil. According to traditional legends, Sri Andal (Bhudevi) spent her youth pursuing her goal of realizing oneness with Sri Maha Vishnu. She successfully achieved her union with Sri Maha Vishnu through Bhakti or devotion. Tiruppavai is a poem of 30 verses composed by Sri Andal, in which she imagines herself to be Lord Narayana’s bride, yearning to serve him in this life and forever. She also describes the religious vow (pavai) that she will take to achieve this purpose

In Pancharatra Agama, the greatness of Dhanurmasa is presented in 4 chapters, as a conversation between Lord Vishnu in the form of a Swan or Hamsa and Lord Brahma. The dialogue between Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma is narrated by Sage Suta in response to a query by Sage Shaunaka.

The greatness and holiness of Dhanurmasam and the rewards one gets by observing austerities in the holy month is found in the first chapter. The story of King Satyasandha and the holiness he achieved by observing Dhanurmasa Vratam is mentioned in the second chapter. The third chapter talks about the importance of giving alms during the Dhanurmasa month. Numerous pious deeds a devotee can perform are mentioned in the chapter. The final chapter talks about feeding the poor. It is said that the best way to reach the feet of Sri Hari Vishnu is by feeding the hungry and poor.

Please note that Dhanurmasam is not an independent month in any Indian calendar except for the Malayalam calendar followed in Kerala – in this calendar, the month during the period is known as Dhanu Masam.

 The start of the Dhanurmasam is marked by the entry of the Sun in the Dhanur Rashi (Sagittarius) called the Dhanuh Sankramana; hence the name Dhanurmasa for the period. During this month, the sun or Surya transits the Dhanur Rasi until it enters the Makara Rashi at the end of the month.

Margazhi month is observed during the period in Tamil Nadu.

Dhanurmas begins in Margashirah month in Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati and Marathi calendar. In North Indian calendars it begins during Margashirsha or Paush month.

The Ekadasi falling during the Dhanurmas period is called ‘Vikuntha Ekadashi/Mukkoti Ekadashi/Mokshada Ekadashi’ considered highly auspicious. In South India, Vaikunta Ekadasi which falls during the waxing phase of the moon in Dhanurmas attracts thousands of devotees to important Vishnu devotees for the passing through Moksha Dwaram.

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