Sharad Purnima is also known as 'Kojagari Punam'. It is believed Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth moves around in the night sky, asking `Ko jaagarti' searching for people below who are awake. In Sanskrit, `Ko jaagarti' means, ' Who is awake,' And to those who are awake she gifts wealth.Sharad Purnima is a harvest festival celebrated on full moon day of the Ashvin month, the seventh month in the Hindu calendar.
According to Shrimad Bhagwat on Sharad Purnima night Lord Krishna invited his faithful devotees, the Gopis of Vrindavan, to play the Maha Ras (traditional folk-dance) with Him. Describing the Maha Raas Leela' in the Bhagwat, Sukhdev narrates to king Parikshit: 'O Parikshit! Of all nights, that night of Sharad Purnima became the most resplendent.With the Gopis, Shri Krishna roamed the banks of the Yamuna, as if imprisoning everyone in His leela!'
Since moon is closest to the earth on Sharad Purnima day, according to Ayurveda the Sharad Purnima moon rays have several curative properties, hence Poha, puffed rice, and kheer, sweet, is prepared and left in the moonlight of Sharad Purnima and is consumed later.
People who keep a fast on Sharad Purnima are supposed to break their fast at night by eating rice flakes and cold milk. The practice of drinking cold milk during this fast has its origins in science. Sharad Ritu (Autumn Season) brings in very hot days and cool nights. During this weather, ‘pitta' or acidity becomes predominant in our body. Consumption of milk & rice flakes is a good remedy for ‘pitta'. Thus, it is customary to consume cold milk and rice flakes on Sharad Purnima.
Thus, Sharad Purnima or Kojagari Purnima is an important Hindu festival. It marks the end of monsoon and ushers in the season of autumn. It is the celebration of the day when the moon gets closest to the Earth. Along with that worshipping Goddess Lakshmi signifies the importance of good harvests and prosperity in the lives of the farmers. They seek blessings of the divine power to achieve good results for the hard work they have put in.
Sharad Purnima in Orissa: In Orissha, Sharad Purnima is also known as Kumar Purnima and Lord Kartikeya is worshipped by the unmarried girls. Girls who want to get a handsome husband like Kartikeya take bath early in the morning, offer food to the Sun and keep a fast throughout the day. In the evening when the moon rises they offer food and prayers to the moon.
Sharad Purnima Significance
Sharad Purnima is celebrated in different regions with different names and for different reasons. According to Hindu mythology, on the night of Sharad Purnima, lord Krishna played the famous raas leela with Radha and the gopis.
Another popular belief is that, goddess Lakshmi was born on the night of Sharad Purnima, which is why several Hindus worship goddess Lakshmi on the full moon night. According to a folklore, once a king was in great financial strait and to help him, his wife observed a fast and worshipped goddess Lakshmi. Goddess Lakhsmi got impressed and blessed the king and the queen and they regained their prosperity. Since then, it is believed that goddess Lakshmi visits places to give her blessings. People make kheer, an Indian sweet dish, and offer paan, makhan. Ideally, the kheer is kept outside under the moonlight and is distributed among the family members the next day.
The festival is called Sharad Poonam in Gujarat and is celebrated by playing garba and dandiya raas. In Mithila, it is known as Kojagaraha Purnima and goddess Kali is also worshipped. In West Bengal, it is celebrated as Lokkhi Pujo after Durga Puja.