Maghi Purnima in India, or Magha Purnima, is a full-moon day that occurs in the Hindu calendar month of Magha. This year, it takes place on February 15. Many devotees worship the Moon, and there is a certain section of the populace that commemorates the religious leader and founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha. Hindus across India celebrate this auspicious day in multiple ways, which we showcase in this article.
History of Maghi Purnima
Hindus consider the Magha month to be the most significant of all the months in the Hindu calendar. While celebrating Maghi Purnima, devotees fast, take a dip in holy waters, make donations to charitable causes, and offer prayers to gods like Vishnu and Hanuman. Hindus believe this holy bath, taken in certain rivers like the Ganges (Ganga), Yamuna, Kaveri, and so on, is very providential. Hindu mythology also states that Lord Vishnu resides in the river Ganga on this day, and even touching the waters can be very beneficial to people. That plus the prayers being offered up on this day make their wishes almost certain to come true, believe most devotees.
People across India have varied customs across regions. The southern state of Tamil Nadu hosts a special ‘float’ festival each year. Decorated idols of their gods, Meenakshi and Lord Sundeshwara, are mounted on floats. North India (cities like Allahabad and Prayag) holds a Magha Mela (a large religious fair) annually at the confluence of three major rivers — Ganges (Ganga), Yamuna, and the mythical Sarasvati River.
Apart from the religious significance, this day is also important in regard to astrology. As the sun moves to the Capricorn sign, the moon moves into the Cancer constellation. The holy dip is said to negate all problems arising with the sun and the moon, and the month itself helps people adjust to changing seasons. People find strength and power to face the next season.
Another reason Maghi Purnima is so important — followers of Buddhism believe Lord Buddha announced his impending death on this day. Legend says there was an earthquake as soon as he said the words, as though the Earth itself was shaken up by this news. His followers believe the Earth shook just this way when Buddha was born, when he received enlightenment (became the religious leader the world knows), and when he passed away. On this day, Buddhists conduct religious ceremonies, prayers are made to Buddha, and offerings are given to the unfortunate. Multiple Buddhist villages across India organize fairs and events to celebrate Buddha.
Maghi Purnima timeline
Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, lives during this period; he supposedly predicts his own death.
Since people cannot place the exact date in the Gregorian calendar, and since they know Guru Ravidas’s birthday falls in the Hindu month of Magha, they take to celebrating his birth anniversary on Maghi Purnima.
The date for Maghi Purnima celebrations coincides with a rare lunar phenomenon called the “Super Blue Blood Moon”.
Magha Purnima and a festival celebrated by the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, called Thaipusam or Thaipoosam, fall on the same date this year.
Maghi Purnima FAQs
Why is Maghi Purnima celebrated?
This day is seen as a holy day and is held to celebrate the moon and also honor gods like Vishnu and Hanuman.
Is Maghi Purnima a government holiday?
This is an unofficial holiday, although outside India, in Bangladesh (where Bangladeshi Hindus celebrate this event), employees can avail themselves of an optional leave on this day. Offices and businesses remain open, however.
What is the date of Maghi Purnima 2021?
Maghi Purnima was held on February 27 in 2021. It will occur on February 16 in 2022 (as per various websites).
Maghi Purnima Activities
Help a charitable cause
Any auspicious event is incomplete without a little charity for the less fortunate. Do a good deed too. Provide essential items to a charitable cause of your choice.
Adopt a few Buddhist tenets
Live peacefully. Stay calm. Stay centered. Practice mindfulness. And mostly, live with a heart full of love for fellow beings.
Delve into another culture
Learn more about India and its festivals. Maybe it is about Maghi Purnima, maybe it is about Diwali. Read about their festivals, watch movies and videos about how they celebrate, and adopt some celebrations into your own, if you want to.
5 Special Maghi Purnima Practices
A holy dip
On this day, people wake up before sunrise and take a dip in any body of holy water (aka the Ganga, the Yamuna, e.t.c.); alternatively, they can also take a little pot of holy water home and mix it with their bathwater.
People keep banana leaves, sandalwood paste, sesame seeds, areca nuts, and fruits in front of Vishnu's idol; those who can't do it at home visit temples where such special preparations are made.
Fasting is rewarding
People fast the entire day and eat only after giving a small “offering” — usually food — to the moon.
According to Hindu scriptures, donating sesame seeds (called ‘til’) during the entire Hindu month of Magha is believed to be very auspicious.
In some regions, people observe rituals for deceased souls to gain peace.
Why We Love Maghi Purnima
We’re getting to know Indian culture
We get to glimpse how the Indian people make life a celebration. Virtually every day is another special event!
We learn about a rich heritage
We experience customs and traditions that teach us more about India. It’s a vibrant culture with a rich heritage, so take it all in today.
It emphasizes donations, offerings, and charities
Performing such activities is considered a sacred part of the event. It is even mentioned in the Hindu scriptures.
Maghi Purnima dates