RATHA SAPTHAMI

Ratha Saptami (Sanskrit: रथसप्तमी or Magha Saptami) is a Hindu festival that falls on the seventh day (Saptami) in the bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the Hindu month Maagha. It is symbolically represented in the form of the Sun God Surya turning his Ratha (Chariot) drawn by seven horses (representing seven colours) towards the northern hemisphere, in a north-easterly direction. It also marks the birth of Surya and hence celebrated as Surya Jayanti (the Sun-god’s birthday).
Ratha Saptami is symbolic of the change of season to spring and the start of the harvesting season. For most Indian farmers, it is an auspicious beginning of the New Year. The festival is observed by all Hindus in their houses and in innumerable temples dedicated to Surya, across India.

Religious significance
Ratha Saptami is symbolically represented in the form of the Sun God Surya turning his Ratha (Chariot) drawn by seven horses, with Aruṇa as the charioteer, towards the northern hemisphere, in a north-easterly direction. The symbolic significance of the ratha and the seven horses reigned to it is that , it represents the seven colours of the rainbow. The seven horses are also said to represent the seven days of a week starting with Sunday, the day of Sun god Surya. The chariot has 12 wheels, which represents the 12 signs (each of 30 degrees) of the Zodiac (360 degrees) and constituting a full year, named Samvatsara. The Sun’s own house is Leo (Simha) and he moves from one house to the next every month and the total cycle takes 365 days to complete. The Ratha Saptami festival seeks the benevolent cosmic spread of energy and light from the Sun God. Ratha Saptami also marks the gradual increase in temperature across South India and awaits the arrival of spring, which is later heralded by the festival of Ugadi or the Hindu lunar New Year day in the month of Chaitra.

What is the purpose of observing Ratha Saptami?
The scriptures proclaim that the word “ratha” is symbolic of the mind. The mind is the chariot. Innumerable thoughts arise in the mind. These thoughts are like different horses, which pull the mind in many different directions. To enable the mind to progress toward the divine, the right set of horses should pull it in the right direction. This, indeed, is the spiritual insight and the deeper meaning of Ratha Saptami.

These seven horses represents:-

1 The vital airs that dwell in the face.
2 The five senses of perception, plus the mind and the intellect.
3 The seven points of entry to the body are on -- the two eyes, the two ears, the two nostrils    and the mouth .These allow the seven adhyātma-prānās to nourish the soul. This pertains    to the celestial plane.
4 The other five fundamental elements -- earth, water, fire, air and space -- together with the    two principles called mahat and ahamkāra, are the seven-adhibhautika prānās, which            constitute the vital airs belonging to the physical plane.
5 The seven Chandas or metre used in composition of hymns, including Vedas, as Gayatri,      Brhati, Usnika, Jagati, Tristup, Anustup and Pankti.
6 The seven days of a week starting with Sunday, the day of Sun god Surya

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