Masi Makam or Masi Magam is an important festival in the Tamil speaking world. The festival falls in the Tamil Month of Masi (February – March). This year it is the Mahaa maham. Mahaa Maham is celebrated once in twelve years. Maham or Makam is one among the twenty seven stars in the astrological system. The makam star in the Masi month usually falls on the full moon day and is considered highly auspicious in many temples across South India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry (Pondicherry) and Kerala.
One of the important rituals on this day is the taking of idols to the seashore or ponds. Therefore the festival is also referred as holy bath ceremony. Long processions from different temples arrive at the sea shore with the idols of Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva. Idols from Shakti temples are also brought to the seashore. Pujas and other rituals are held at the sea shore and thousands of devotees throng the sea shore on this day to offer prayer.
Once in twelve years the Masi Magam attains even more significance and then Maha Maham is held. Apart from the full moon, during the Maha Maham there is the movement of Jupiter into Leo (singha rasi.) Maha Maham is of great importance at the Adi Kumbeswaran temple in Kumbakonam. There is sacred teerth (tank) called Maha Maham here.
There are numerous myths in vogue related to Masi Makam.Each temple has a myth for celebrating Masi Makam. The most important one is related to Lord Shiva. Legend has it that Lord Shiva appeared as a child before King Vallala of Tiruvannamalai who was an ardent devotee. The king had no child and Lord Shiva promised to perform his last rituals. The king died on a Masi Magam day and it is said that the Lord performed his last rites. Lord Shiva also blessed the king by saying that whoever bathes in the sea during Masi Magam will merge with him and will get ‘mukthi.’ It is believed that every year the Lord visits the sea to perform the last rites of the king. So the childless couple can worshipthe Almighty on this day to get a good child. They can make Paal payasam on this day and can offer it to a boy child. They will be blessed with good children.
During the Pralayam the Puranakumbam (amirtham in a pot – bowl of nectar) moved from Maha meru to south direction and reached Kumbakonam, Shiva in the form of Kirathamurthy (Shiva as hunter) aimed the Puranakumbam with the bow and arrow (Banam in Sanskrit language) and broke it, the bowl split and the Amirtham got stagnated in two places at Pon thamarai kulam(golden Lotus pond) and Mahamaham tank. A Shiva Lingam formed at the place where Kirathamurthy aimed the Amirthakudam. Since the lord used the arrow (Banam) the deity lingam is called Banapureeswarar.
Masi Magha is a perfect occasion to offer prayers and remove any negative, troubling energy which may be due to a lack of positive blessings from ancestors.
This Masi Magha is called Maha Magha, as it happens only once every 12 years when Jupiter comes into the sign Leo. The Full Moon in the star of Magha, along with Jupiter in the sign Leo, is very powerful. Jupiter adds more auspiciousness to this day, and the planet Rahu will be along with the Moon and Jupiter. This day can even reduce the afflictions caused by Rahu, Ketu and Kala Sarpadoshas.
Worshiping the Archetypes Shiva and Muruga on this day will help bring royal consciousness and the confidence to move forward in life. We are performing special rituals at Kumbakonam that will help you clear the planetary afflictions and wash out any negative karma affecting you.
Moreover, the presiding deities for the star Magha are the Ancestors, or Pitris. Performing Tarpanam on this day will appease the ancestors too. Remedies performed on this day will help clear your sins and curses, and will bring you blessings to lead a healthy, peaceful, and joyful life.
Maasi Maham in my place
At Karamadai, a place near Mettupalayam there lived people by the name ” Thottiyars “. Karamadai got its name from the abundance of Karai trees and Karai Cows in this area at one point in time. The Thottiars were traditionally herdsmen. One of the Thottiya had some (Karai Pasu) cows in his cattle. At the end of everyday, he would milk them and found one of them to be dry inspite of feeding well. He then watched this cow and found out one day that it had been shedding milk into a Kaarai bush, the thottiya became very furious and struck the bush with his axe and immediately heard a loud noise from the bush and there appeared to be some bleeding from the bush. The Thottiya lost his eyesight at this moment and people knowing this rushed to the spot and found a Suyambu Lingam inside the bush. People realising that this was divine worshipped the Suyambu and the lord restored the eyesight for the Thottiya. The Lord appeared in the dream of thottiya and told him that he will appear to the people if adorned with ” Sandana Kaapu”, as the people performed the ritual, the Lord appeared to the people and graced them in the form of a Kshathirya (Warrior). The scar of the axe is said to appear on the top portion of the Suymabu even to this day.
It is also believed that later in the years, the kind from Madurai (Thiru Malai Nayakan) was cured of a terrible disease and he built the temple for the Lord some 400 years ago at this site.There is a Kaarai tree which is considered very sacred as this is said to grant the wish of marriage and children.The Thiruther done in the tamil month of Masi (Feb – Mar) on Maasi maham . From my childhood I have seen Daasars coming to our homes to get rice, clothes for the Lord. This is celebrated in a very grand manner. The roads are flooded with shops on either sides. People from different places come here to witness the car festival. It is very special as the devotees arrive from several districts that stretch as far as Mysore and Kerala.