by Goswami Mitali | 2018 | 76,487 words
This page relates ‘Festivals Related to the Worship of Sun’ of the study on the Vedic influence of Sun-worship in the Puranas, conducted by Goswami Mitali in 2018. The tradition of observing Agnihotra sacrifice and the Sandhya, etc., is frequently observed among the Hindus. Another important innovation of the Sun-worship in the Puranas is the installation of the images of the Sun in the temples.—This section belongs to the series “Rituals Related to the Sun-Worship in the Puranas”.
Different festivals are celebrated in honour of the Sun-god. It is difficult to find out the minute difference in between the two aspects, viz. vratas and festivals. P.V. Kane, in this regard, opines that it is difficult to draw a strict line between vratas and utsavas; what are called utsavas have also an element of religious rites and conversely, many vratas have some element of being a festival.
Some festivals are recorded in the Purāṇas are discussed here—
Rathayātrā (Ratha Yatra):
The Rathayātrā is one of the festivals associated with the Sunworship. The Bhaviṣyapurāṇa contains a great deliberation on this festival. As the part of the celebration, the chariot of the Sun-god is moved forward in a procession. The image of the Sun-god is placed on the chariot and the horses, fully decorated with cāmara, garland and kuṃkuma, etc.,  by three hundred and sixteen devotees and Brāhmaṇas, who are observing the fast. The two wives of the deity, viz. Rājñī and Nikṣubhā should be placed on the right and the left side of the Sun-god, respectively. The Sun-god is honoured with fully decorated umbrella and daṇḍa, made of gold. A figure of Garuḍa is also placed behind the main image of the Sun. The chariots of the other members of the solar family are also moved forward along with the main chariot of the deity. The procession passes along the main roads of the city with pomp and show, along with the continuous beating of the drums and sounding of conch and other musical instruments. All the procedures of the festival is followed with fasts, gifts and donation in honour of the Sun-god.
Makarasaṃkrānti (Makar Sankranti):
The Makarasaṃkrānti is one of the festivals celebrated in honour of the Sun. A bath is obligatory in Makarasaṃkrānti. Special gifts are made on the specific day. The transition of the Sun from one month to the other is called the Saṃkrānti day. On Makarasaṃkrānti day, the Sun-god enters into Capricorn. This Saṃkrānti day is regarded as very pious. Festivals are celebrated in different parts, all over the India, taking the holy bath in devotion of the Sun, specially in the Gaṅgā.
Thus, in the Purāṇic texts, references are found of observances of different sacrifices, rituals, vratas and festivals, in devotion of the Sun-god. The immense power of the deity is well observed by the Purāṇic people and they propitiated the deity giving prominent place among the other deities of the Vedic pantheon.
Footnotes and references:
cf., tasminrathavareśreṣṭhekalpitesumanorame/ āropyapratimāṃyatnādyojayedvājinaḥśubhān//
cf., upavāsasthitairviprairdivyairbhaumaiścasuvrataḥ/ triṃśadbhiḥṣoḍaśairvāpipratimāṃ
cf., … rājñīcanikṣubhārudrabhāryetasyamahātmanaḥ//
nikṣubhāṃdakṣiṇepārśverājñīṃcāpyuttaretathā// Ibid., 1.55.77,78
cf., garuḍaṃpṛṣṭhataścāsyavalgamānaṃprakalpayet/ Ibid., 1.55.80