Pournami, an Introduction
Pournami, also Purnima means Full Moon. This is actually a Thithi, the lunar day that normally happens once a month and that also divides the lunar month into two fortnights, the Shukla Paksha and Krishna Paksha. A full Moon appears when the Sun and the Moon are separated by 180 degrees. On this day, the Moon remains a well-illuminated full disc, causing high tides. It is only on Pournami days that lunar eclipses occur.
Importance of Pournami Viratham
Pournami is regarded as an auspicious day that can generate a lot of positive energies, and hence, people make new beginnings on these days. Further, each one of the Pournami days has its own unique significance and can bestow a range of benefits by the observance of specific religious practices. People undertake Vrats or Virathams (fasting) and offer worship on this auspicious occasion to get the divine blessings. Such Pournami Virathams (Purnima Fasting) performed in the Tamil months of Aadi (July–August), Karthigai (November–December), Vaikasi (May–June) and Maasi (February–March) are considered special.
Observance of Pournami Viratham
The early morning Brahma Muhurtham (auspicious time), that is, the time from around 4:00 AM to 6:00 AM is considered highly auspicious for undertaking religious activities. People performing Pournami Viratham get up, take bath and offer prayers to the Gods and Goddesses, during this propitious Brahma Muhurtham time. Then they start the daylong Vrat (fasting) at the time of sunrise. While some completely abstain from food during the fast and take only liquids like water and milk, others consume fruits or a single meal. The day is spent in the worship of Gods and Goddesses, reading of scriptures, recitation of hymns and offering of prayers to the deities. The fast is completed after sunset with the sighting of the Moon, and after doing the evening prayers.
Worship during Pournami Viratham
People worship many Gods, especially Shiva and Vishnu during Pournami Virathams.
Vishnu is one of the Trimurthis (Hindi Divine Trinity), the three ultimate Gods of the Hindu pantheon. He is the supreme God of protection and sustenance of the universe and its beings. Some scriptures even claim that the universe itself was born out of his navel. Shiva is also a Trimurthi. He is the supreme God of destruction, but he destroys only to transform. Shiva is also a very popular God worshipped on many occasions, including Pournami. Apart from these two, Brahma, the God of creation, is also worshipped by some during Pournami Viratham.
Apart from such worships, special pujas are also organized as part of the Pournami Viratham. The most important of such rituals is the Satyanarayana Pooja. This is a ritualistic worship of Lord Satya Narayana, an aspect of Vishnu. This is an extremely popular Vrat or Pooja undertaken during Pournami worship. This special ritual is done seeking the Lord’s blessings for various aspects, like relief from illnesses, and for good health, education, career prospects, wealth and overall welfare. Satyanarayana Pooja is also done during auspicious activities like marriages, house warming etc.