As the full moon illuminated the skyline on Thursday, Bharat Gothoskar’s family gathered in their balcony in Wadala to relish masala milk while watching the moon. The family is one among many across the city who celebrated Kojagiri Purnima on Thursday.
Also known as Sharad Purnima, it is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Ashwin, marking the end of monsoon. As part of the celebrations, families sit through the night watching the moon and drinking masala milk.
“It is believed that moonlight should fall on the milk before it is served. So, we keep it in the balcony for sometime. Earlier when we lived in Vile Parle, we used to gather at the terrace and the women of the house would prepare masala milk under the moonlight.
Children would perform skits and play music as we used to sit through the night singing and celebrating together,” said Gothoskar, a Wadala resident who has been celebrating the festival since childhood. However, he added that the festival is no more a grand community affair but has been restricted to smaller nucleus celebrations.
The popular lore goes that goddess Lakshmi visits homes of her devotees on this day and blesses those who stay awake to welcome her.
It is also believed that during the festival, the moon comes out in all it’s 16 facets and looks the most beautiful.
“The name ‘Kojagiri’ comes a from question posed in Marathi – “Kon jagirti?” meaning ‘Who is awake?’ The goddess asks this question when she visits houses and blesses those who stay up,” adds Gothoskar.
Apart from Hindu homes, major celebrations can also be witnessed at Swami Gagangiri Maharaj Ashram in Manori, where Laksha Laksha Deep Sohla is celebrated by lighting up lamps. While the celebrations begin from Dussehra, the festival culminates on Kojagiri Purnima with lakhs of people coming to light diyas between 6 pm and 10 pm.
“The ashram has been organising Deepotosva since 2001 and through the festival, we want to give the message of world peace and human welfare. Lighting of lamps is symbolically an act of dispelling darkness from the world. People from across the country come to light diyas and some even stay through the night to play raas garba and drink masala milk while watching the moon,” said Sanjay Vilas Narvekar, the PRO of the Ashram. Adding more fun to the age-old tradition, camps are set up on the outskirts of Mumbai to provide a moon-gazing experience.
“Away from the city lights, camping by a dam, people get to enjoy the moonlight better. One can sit up all night to watch the moon with live music playing in the background,” said Prasanna Joshi from Add-venture that organised a camp close to Kondgaon dam near Khopoli on the weekend.
With a special batch just for women and senior citizens, they had live music as part of the festivities this time. A similar camp was organised by Adventure Geek near Peth fort at Kothaligad on Saturday. “Surrounded by the mountains, it’s a wonderful experience to sit by the bonfire and watch the full moon. To go with the tradition, we also serve masala doodh and play music,” said Vinay Gupta from Adventure Geek.