The Skanda Purana
by G. V. Tagare | 1950 | 2,545,880 words
This page describes The Festival of the Transit (of the Sun) to Capricorn which is chapter 42 of the English translation of the Skanda Purana, the largest of the eighteen Mahapuranas, preserving the ancient Indian society and Hindu traditions in an encyclopedic format, detailling on topics such as dharma (virtous lifestyle), cosmogony (creation of the universe), mythology (itihasa), genealogy (vamsha) etc. This is the forty-second chapter of the Purushottama-kshetra-mahatmya of the Vaishnava-khanda of the Skanda Purana.
Chapter 42 - The Festival of the Transit (of the Sun) to Capricorn
[Sanskrit text for this chapter is available]
1. Desirous of going to the North, when the Sun enters the Zodiac of Capricorn, O excellent Brāhmaṇas, it is the period of Uttarāyaṇa (Northern Transit).
2. When a period of twenty Kalās yet remains for the actual transit (of the Sun), that time is extremely meritorious and favoured by Pitṛs, Devas and Brāhmaṇas.
3-5. The man (i.e. the devotee) should take bath in the waters of the ocean at that time, worship Nārāyaṇa, bow down to the Kalpa tree and enter the shrine. He shall circumambulate the temple three times and worship Śrī Puruṣottama by means of the Māntrarāja. Similarly he should worship Bala and Subhadrā with their respective Mantras. By seeing the Lord in Uttarāyaṇa (the Northern Transit of the Sun) one is liberated from the bondage of physical body.
6-9. I shall describe the procedure. It is great and sacred. Listen to it. On the day previous to Saṃkrānti (the Transit) the devotee should place well-pounded fresh grains of rice in a spot to the east of the Mansion (Shrine) and perform the rite of consecration (adhivāsa). He should cover the grains of rice with a new cloth and worship with Dūrvā blades, mustard and flowers. Thereafter he shall mutter: “May Kṛṣṇa protect you.”
When a Yāma (3 hours) of that night has passed, the replica (the movable idol) of the Lord of the universe should be taken to the presence (of the Lord) and the identity (of the two) should be meditated upon. With the remaining offerings he should worship with great concentration.
10-15. The Nirmālya cloths and garlands should be placed on the replica which should be taken round the three deities three times elaborately.
It should then be placed in a palanquin and brought to the door of the Mansion. Imitating the graceful movements of the Lord in his incarnation as Trivikrama when he measured the three worlds with his steps, the replica should be taken round the Mansion three times. At the end, it should be waved slowly and elaborately on the lap (?). There should be hundreds of lights to dispel the covering of darkness. The circumambulation should be done with paraphernalia of umbrella, flags, banners etc. to the accompaniment of dances, songs and instrumental music.
The noble souls who have destroyed their sins by seeing the Lord, need not have markings of symbols on their body nor the imprints of red hot iron.
Those who follow Lord Trivikrama who proceeds ahead during that festival, obtain the merit of a horse-sacrifice for every step.
16-21. By seeing the first circumambulation the devotee is absolved of the five sins. By seeing the second circumambulation, O Brāhmaṇas, he is liberated from sins of defiling act or contacts with a woman in menstruation. By seeing the third circumambulation he is certainly liberated from the sins of honouring undeserving persons. The fourth circumambulation liberates him from the minor sins.
Again in the morning, the devotee should smear the Lord of Devas with scents and sandal-paste. After duly adorning him with robes, wreath and ornaments, he should worship the Lord as per procedure with all offerings and services elaborately in accordance with his capacity. After concluding the Nīrājana rite to the Lord of Devas, he should take the rice grains that have already been consecrated and put in gold pots, to the Lord. They must be mixed with curds, ghee and sugar candy. Small pieces of coconut and ginger should also be put therein. They should be taken to the Lord after circumambulating the Mansion three times. Sweet scents, flowers and raw rice grains also should be put over them. They should be placed in front of the Lord in rows.
22-25. He should then pray thus: “O Lord of the universe, you are the very life of all living beings. You are their progenitor. These rice grains are identical with you. They have been produced by you alone, O Lord.
O Lord who have assumed the body proper for blessing the worlds, O great Lord, accept these things got ready for propitiating you.
If you are satisfied, all the worlds will become powerful by means of this. The holy utterances like Svāhā, Svadhā and Vaṣaṭ will be competent to nourish the Heaven-dwellers. The universe is nourished by them alone. O Lord of the universe, protect the universe consisting of mobile and immobile beings and pervaded by you.
26-27. After praying thus to the Lord of Devas he should offer paddy blades as Naivedya. Similarly he should offer Naivedyas of foodstuffs made with rice along with pots of sweet-smelling curds mixed with camphor, sugar candy, pepper powder etc. He should devoutly worship the Brāhmaṇas standing in front of the Lord of Devas.
28-30. Those cooked rice grains and other things should be given to them with great devotion, thinking them to be the Lord himself.
In a former Kalpa, after procreation was over, Kaśyapa celebrated this festival for propitiating the Lord. Those who witness this festival first celebrated by Kaśyapa shall become happy with all their desires realized always, O Brāhmaṇas. They never bewail. After staying along with Devas they will attain salvation at the end of the Kalpa.
31-34. O sages, he should consecrate the kitchen and the fire here itself. He should perform Vaiśvaḍeva sacrifice everyday. In the consecrated fire Ramā cooks the food everyday for feeding the Lord. She is in invisible divine form. Charitable gifts of Tulāpuruṣa etc. in the course of this highly meritorious festival of the Supreme Soul will have crores and crores of times the benefit. Holy bath, charitable gifts, penance, Homa, study of the Vedas and the libation to Pitṛs in the course of Uttarāyaṇa festival, will have everlasting benefit.
Footnotes and references:
It appears that in order to emphasize the identity of the Lord with Time (Kāla) these festivals are celebrated on important turning points in the year’s Calendar.
Probably a misprint for ‘ante’ as ‘aṅke’ does not fit in the context.
The offering of newly harvested corn (rice) to the Lord seems to be one of the motives of the agricultural community in celebrating this festival.