When you hear your neighbor (sporting a big Naamam on his forehead) chanting “Govinda, Govinda” and seeking alms of rice grains, you know that Purattasi month is here. This is the month that is eagerly awaited by devotees of Lord Vishnu, the Hindu god who is believed to preserve and protect the Universe.
The 6th month in the Hindu calendar is called Purattasi. This is a sacred month for Hindus, especially Vaishnavas, or Vishnu devotees. Purattasi month corresponds to the period, mid-September-mid-October. During this month, many pious Hindus observe fast/vrat. The intensity of the vrat may vary. Some undertake a strict fast and refuse to drink even a drop of water on the Saturdays that occur in this month. Others eat only one meal a day. Non-vegetarian food is completely avoided. Smoking and drinking are also taboo during this period. Essentially, such fasts help to purify the mind and body to prepare them for worshipping the divine.
Purattasi month is special for Lord Vishnu, and devotees believe that he appeared on earth in this month as Lord Venkateshwara. It is considered the ideal month to express gratitude to Vishnu for preserving the Universe when Kali Yuga ends. Vishnu temples see large crowds at this time, and many go on pilgrimage to Tirupathi to worship the deity.
Purattasi month is also a time when Saturn or Shani’s power diminishes, so his malefic influence on people’s lives is less. Ghee or Ellu Lamps are offered to Lord Shani this month. People also worship the Navagrahas in Purattasi. Many important festivals like Durga Navratri, Saraswati Pooja, and Vijayadasami are celebrated this month. All this adds to the sacredness of Purattasi month.
The Legend behind Purattasi month
Once, there was a potter called Bheeman, who was a great Vishnu devotee. He decided to observe a fast on Saturdays. But as his humble circumstances kept him from visiting Tirupathi to worship the Lord, he decided to make a clay idol of Vishnu and worship it. He also adorned it with flowers made of leftover clay. As an offering, he gave the Lord the same curd rice which he used to have. The ruler of the kingdom was Thondaiman, who was also an ardent Vishnu devotee. He used to visit the temple daily and offer gold chains to the deity. But when he visited again the next day, he found only garlands of clay flowers. He felt that the priests were stealing the gold chains, but Vishnu came in a dream and told him about Bheeman. The king went to see the potter and offered him money and help. But Bheeman continued to worship Vishnu in the same humble manner as before.
This story reveals that God cares more for true piety and purity of devotion than all the wealth that we can offer him. The humble offerings of the potter were dearer to him than the gold chains of the king. Even the smallest act of charity performed in Purattasi month can bring immense rewards, as it undergoes a process of spiritual magnification.
Fasting on Purattasi Saturdays
Fasting on Purattasi Shani or Saturdays helps focus the mind on God. It is also believed to bring many blessings. For instance, it protects one from Shani’s adverse effects. It can get rid of obstacles in life and also pleases Vishnu. The positive effects of this fast are such that we can compare it to fasting on all Saturdays and doing Vishnu Pooja throughout the year.
Protection from Kali Yuga Dangers
Lord Vishnu is the Hindu god who is responsible for protecting and preserving the Universe. Whenever Dharma faces a threat, Vishnu is the one who comes to the rescue and restores order in the Universe. Devotees believe that Vishnu will protect his devotees from the dangers posed by Kali Yuga, the current epoch. It has been predicted that Kali Yuga will see a breakdown of morality and righteousness as it comes to a close. When the forces of evil get the upper hand, Vishnu will incarnate to destroy them. But those who are pure and righteous will be protected by him. Hence, people worship him during this holy month as an expression of thanksgiving for preserving the Universe after destroying the evil forces.
There are five Saturdays in Purattasi 2021. Purattasi Shani 2021 dates are 18th Sept, 25th Sept, 2nd Oct, 9th Oct, and 16th Oct.