In the month of Purattasi (mid-September – mid-October), if you have Vaishnavites as neighbors, you must have seen them sporting a big Naamam on their foreheads, chanting “Govinda, Govinda,” and seeking alms of rice grains.This is a special month for devotees of Lord Vishnu, the Preserver Archetype in the Hindu religion.
Purattasi is the 6th month in the Hindu calendar, and many pious Hindus observe a fast/vrat called Purattasi Viratham during this month. While many stick to avoiding non-veg food, some observe a strict fast and do not drink even water on Purattasi Saturdays or the Saturdays that occur this month. Yet others eat only one meal a day. Smoking and drinking are also forbidden during Purattasi fasting. Fasting helps to purify the mind and body, which is essential to contemplate the divine.
Hindus believe that Lord Vishnu appeared on earth in Purattasi month as Lord Venkateshwara. It is a time to express gratitude to Vishnu for preserving the Universe during Kali Yuga, when all kinds of iniquities and wickedness prevail. Hordes of people visit Vishnu temples at this time, and many visit Tirupathi to offer prayers.
During Purattasi, Saturn or Shani’s power supposedly is less, so people do not suffer much from his malefic influence. Ghee or ellu (sesame) lamps are offered to Shani this month. Devotees also worship the Navagrahas. This is also the month when major festivals like Navratri, Saraswati Pooja, and Vijayadasami are celebrated. All this makes Purattasi a very sacred month.
Legend behind Purattasi
Once, there lived a potter called Bheeman, who was an ardent Vishnu devotee. He decided to fast on Saturdays. As he was too poor to make a trip to Tirupathi to worship the Lord, he made a clay idol of Vishnu and began to worship it. He used flowers made of leftover clay to adorn it, as he had no money to buy real flowers. For the Neivedya, all he could offer was the same curd rice that he had.
The ruler of the kingdom, Thondaiman, was also a great Vishnu devotee. He would visit the temple every day and offer gold chains to the deity. But the next day, when he visited, he found only garlands of clay flowers. He suspected the priests of stealing the gold chains, but Vishnu appeared to him in a dream and explained about Bheeman. The king paid a visit to the potter and offered him some money. But Bheeman refused his help and went on worshipping Vishnu in the same humble manner.
This story illustrates the fact that God cares more about our piety and purity of devotion than rich offerings. He valued the potter’s humble offerings more than the king’s gold chains. It is said that even the smallest act of charity performed in Purattasi month has the power to bestow huge rewards due to spiritual magnification.
Fasting on Purattasi Saturdays enables devotees to focus on God. It can protect them from Shani’s negative effects, remove obstacles, and also attract blessings from Vishnu. It is so powerful that it is equal to fasting on all Saturdays and doing Vishnu Pooja all through the year.
Protection during Kali Yuga
Lord Vishnu is the deity who protects and preserves the Universe in Hinduism. Whenever there is a threat to Dharma or the moral order, it is Vishnu who incarnates to restore order and righteousness. It is believed that Vishnu will ensure that the evils and dangers of Kali Yuga, which is the current epoch, will not harm his devotees. The ancient sages predicted that during Kali Yuga, morality and righteousness would decline. When evil forces become dominant, Lord Vishnu will incarnate and destroy them. He will protect the pure and righteous people. So people worship him during Purattasi to express their gratitude for protecting them and preserving the Universe.
There are 4 Vishnu Saturdays in Purattasi 2022. The Saturdays in Purattasi masam 2022 are 24 Sept, 1 Oct, 8 Oct, and 15 Oct.