Our day starts as the Sun rises in the east, and comes to a close as He sets in the west. And the hours in between, precisely calendared down to the minute, flitting between calls and meetings, chores and engagements. And today, as we celebrate Ratha Saptami, it’s a great time to learn a little about this celestial star, to whom we owe not just this sense of time, but also our very existence on this planet.
Born to Rishi Kashyapa and Mata Aditi, Suryadev, or Vivaswana, is one of the 12 Adityas. He sits on a chariot drawn by seven horses, representing the seven days, and his charioteer is Aruna, the elder brother of Garuda. His chariot is believed to have 12 wheels, representing the 12 months and the 12 Zodiac signs. And today, He commandeers Aruna to turn his chariot towards the Northern hemisphere, marking the advent of Spring.
Ratha Saptami is celebrated with great pomp, especially in temples such as the Konark Sun Temple in Odisha and the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam in Andhra Pradesh. In Odisha, devotees take a dip in the confluence of the Chandrabhaga river with the Bay of Bengal, whereas in Tirupati, a grand Rath Yatra is taken out to celebrate this special day. It is recommended to have a bath before sunrise on this day, especially in a water body such as a river if one has access, and offer arghya to Suryadev at sunrise. Any donations made on this day are also very auspicious and recommended. In the South, beautiful kolam, or rice flour rangoli representations of Suryadev are drawn and worshipped.
Surya represents the father figures and authorities in life, so if you often have trouble with this archetype, you may want to consider offering arghya (water) to Suryadev at sunrise. He is often associated with Lord Shiva or Lord Ram, so again their worship also helps. Each day the Sun appears to move by 1 degree in relation to the Earth, totalling 30 degrees in a month and completing 360 degrees in a year. He therefore represents consistency and perseverance, which again are great virtues to imbibe to build the foundations of success in life.
The Sun doesn’t just power us spiritually, He also provides solar energy, which is one of the cleanest forms of renewable energy. India, in particular, is blessed with abundant sunshine and government initiatives are looking at maximising solar yield to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions. Sunshine is also vital for Vitamin D, especially the early morning sun rays at this time of the year. So whether you’re of a purely scientific temper, or also revere Suryadev, today is the perfect day to express your gratitude to the Sun, and everything that is bright and beautiful in our lives!
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