Dhanurmaas – A month filled with flowers, songs, rituals and festivals

The sacred and auspicious Dhanurmaas begins today. The sacred day of Maargsirah Suddha Trayodashi marks the start of this month. This month is the dearest to Bhagwan Vishnu and a sacred month to the Vaishnavites in the South of India. The Sun God starts moving in the Uttarayan direction in this month which is considered auspicious. Hence, any good, auspicious works are done during the Uttarayan period. In the Mahabharat war, Bhishma fell in the battlefield in the time of Dakshinaayan, but waited on the bed of arrows till the Sun God moved to Uttarayaan. It was at this time that he also delivered the sacred chants of Vishnu Sahasranaam to Yudhisthir.
In the Vaishnavite traditions of South of India, Bhagwan Vishnu is worshipped through a ritual singing of Tirruppavai Pashurams (sacred hymns and songs in praise of Bhagwan Vishnu) composed by Godadevi, a great women devotee of Bhagwan Vishnu. Godadevi was found as a small baby in the gardens of Srivilliputtur temple in Tamilnadu to the temple priest Vishnuchitta. He raised her as his own daughter. In time, Godadevi grew up as a beautiful and scholarly woman and an ardent devotee of Bhagwan Vishnu. She accompanied her father in the daily rituals of the temple and the most dearest to her was to make beautiful garlands of flowers and offer them to the deity.
Godadevi always made it a point to first decorate herself with the garlands she made and judge whether they looked good or not, and then decorated them to Bhagwan Vishnu. Once the other priests came to know about this and shunned Godadevi for this behaviour. They removed her garlands and offered new ones, but the voice of Bhagwan Vishnu sounded from the temple idol saying that he would like to be decorated in the flower garlands made and first adorned by Godadevi itself. This made all the priests and people understand her pure devotion and since then this has become a tradition in the temple till date.
Godadevi dreamt of Bhagwan Vishnu being her husband and to win his love, she composed the Tirruppavai Pashurams. Pleased with her devotion, Bhagwan Vishnu appeared in the dreams of Vishnuchitta and told him that he would marry her in the temple of Srirangam as Shri Ranganath. Godadevi reached Srirangam, walked into the sanctum and disappeared into the idol of Shri Ranganatha. Since then Godadevi is worshipped as the consort of Shri Ranganath in the temple and she was the only woman to attain the status of an Alwar (Alwar is the highest decree accorded to the greatest devotees of Bhagwan Vishnu according to the Vaishnavite tradition)
The Dhanurmaas was the month in which Godadevi conducted her Tirruppavai ritual. Not only for devotion, this ritual is the most favourable to body and mind too. On gets up at the Brahma Muhurat and takes a cold water bath before sunrise, which improves our strength to tackle the cold waves in winter. Then, porridge made of rice, coconut and pepper is offered to the god. Pepper makes our body immune to cold. Coconut and Rice give strength to the body. Then the whole day is filled with activities of dance and music which bring in a feeling of togetherness in all. Unmarried woman observe the Katyayani Vrat to get a good husband. The Dhanurmaas is a month filled with the chants of Bhagwan Vishnu and every heart is filled with joy listening to the chant Om Namo Narayana.