The Auspicious Month of Masi:
Masi is the eleventh month in the Tamil calendar. Masi month is very important for Hindus in Tamil Nadu as it is a special month for the worship of Lord Shiva and the Pitru devtas (ancestral deities). In 2021, the month begins on Feb 13 and ends on March 13. This period marks the beginning of the spring season, once the harvesting is completed in the month of Thai. This is the early stage of Uttarayana, when the Sun travels north from the south. This month enjoys moderate weather, neither very hot, nor very cold.
Significance of Masi Magam:
In Tamil Nadu, people consider this a very auspicious month to begin new ventures, conduct marriages, start construction of houses and buildings, and do other good deeds. Masi Magam is one of the important festivals celebrated during this month. Magham is one of the 27 stars in Vedic astrology. In Masi month, Magham star usually coincides with the full moon. This is one of the most powerful full moons of the entire year. On this day, the Moon aligns with Magha star, which happens to be the birth star of royals. It is an ideal time for spiritual purification. Also, on this day, heavenly beings are believed to come down to earth. It is said that they appear in an astral form and their purpose is to purify their own karma as well as that of human beings. Masi Magham is celebrated with great fervor in many temples in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Puducherry.
Masi Magam brings together the benefits of abundance and prosperity that are associated with the Full Moon and also the majestic quality of Magha star. It offers a great opportunity to gain energy and power. It is also the most favorable time to overcome our ego and surrender ourselves to the divine.
Many important rituals are observed on this day. Idols of deities like Shiva, Vishnu and the idols of goddesses from Shakti temples are taken to the seashore or waterbodies like rivers and ponds. So the Masi Magam festival is also described as a holy bath ceremony. One can see huge processions from various temples making their way to the seashore. Priests offer Poojas and other rituals at the waterbodies for the idols watched by thousands of devotees who gather there to worship and pray.
Myth behind Masi Magam:
There are many myths about Masi Magham. Among the most important is the one that is associated with Shiva. Legends say that King Vallala of Tiruvannamalai had no children. He was a great devotee of Shiva. Shiva appeared before him and promised to perform his last rites when he died. It was on Masi Magham day that the king died and Shiva, true to his word, performed his last rites. He also blessed the king saying that any person who had a bath in the sea during Masi Magham would become one with him and attain liberation or mukthi. Devotees believe that every year, Shiva visits the earth to perform the last rites of the king.
Every 12 years, Masi Magham is celebrated as Maha Magham, which has even greater significance. At this time, other than the full moon, planet Jupiter moves into Leo (Simha Rasi). Maha Maham is celebrated with great fanfare at the Adi Kumbeswaran temple in the temple town of Kumbakonam. There is a holy teertham or tank here called Maha Maham. Devotees take a holy bath here on Masi Magham as they believe that it can wash away their karmic baggage, by enabling the karmic intervention of heavenly beings and Pitrus.