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Ratha Saptami is an important day in Hinduism, which is celebrated as a festival. The festivity happens on the Saptami or the 7th day during the Shukla Paksha in the month of "Magha" as per the Hindu calendar.
This way, Ratha Saptami falls on the next day of Shri Panchami or Vasant Panchami. The day celebrates Sun God, and hence it is also known as Surya Jayanti or Magh Jayanti; it happens in Magha month. This is considered the birthday of the Lord Sun, which people celebrate to show gratitude toward the Sun that enlightens the whole world and makes life possible in the universe.
On the day of Saptami, Lord Sun is worshipped who sits on a golden chariot driven by seven white horses. This image denotes the glory of the Sun, which is not just limited to Earth but in heaven and the entire universe too.
There are many temples built to honor Lord Sun to praise him through gratitude. On this day, all these temples are decorated; special events and celebrations happen. People visit the sun temples; they thank the Lord for giving them light and energy, and they worship God. Several big temples like Tirumala Tirupati Balaji arrange special pujas and adornments for Sun, and it is majorly celebrated in Indian states like Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh.
Taking a bath on this day holds unique significance. Hence people wake up early in the morning and take a holy bath. The bath taken at the time of Sunrise is considered auspicious on this day. It is also considered to remove all the ailments and negativity while blessing the individual with good health and life. For this reason, the day is also known as "Arogya Saptami." In Tamil Nadu, people use Erukku leaves in their bath to make it more sacred.
Once the devotees take a bath, they offer "Arghyadan" to Sun. During this, they offer water to Sun, slowly using a small Kalash. This is done by facing the Sun in standing position; people use copper Kalash for the offering. They chant Surya Mantra while offering the water; some people also chant twelve different names of Sun.
Once they have performed the water rituals, they worship the Lord Sun. For this, devotees light up a Ghee Diya and circle it in front of the Sun. They then offer red flowers by sprinkling in the direction of Sun. They light up some Kapoor and dhoop batti too. It is a belief that doing so blesses the devotee with the Sun's blessings, and he gets bestowed with a long and healthy life along with success.
Women of the household welcome and show gratitude to Lord Sun by drawing the image of Surya with the chariot. They make rangolis in front of their house as a welcome gesture. They then boil the milk in their courtyard in a mud vessel that faces the Sun. This boiled milk is then used to make the sweet rice to offer the Lord Sun.
Chanting Surya Mantra or Gayatri Mantra is considered very auspicious on this day.
In Hinduism, Sun is considered God who provides us with light and energy that makes life possible on Earth. Since the Ratha Saptami is considered the Sun's birthday, worshiping him on the day brings blessings of the Sun in one's life. In Hinduism, Sun is also a giver of long life, good health, a positive mind, and success. Hence worshipping Sun on a specific day sanctifies the devotee with all these aspects; plus, it also helps in flushing away his sins committed in the lifetime, so he gets a better life in the next birth and the current birth.
The day of Ratha Saptami also denotes the movement of the Sun in the northern hemisphere. The Winter ends, and the Summer season starts; this is also an indication of a rising temperature that is more notable in India's Southern states. The occasion signifies the beginning of the harvesting season too. The farmers harvest their crops and express gratitude to Sun God Surya and nature for providing them the right environment to let the crops grow. This is also the beginning of the New Year in some places.
The sacred scriptures prescribe fire ceremony, Abishekam (hydration ceremony), Pooja/Archana (Light and Sound ceremony), Yantra and Mantra (special sounds) as the ways to offer your prayer to the divine. Out of these, fire ceremony is the most evolved spiritual technology on earth to connect with the divine beings. Participate in the remedial services to clear your karma and receive the blessings.