Sharad Purnima or Kojagiri Purnima is a harvest festival celebrated on ‘Purnima’ or full moon day of the Hindu lunar month of Ashwin (September–October). One of the most celebrated Purnimas, it marks the end of monsoon. In Gujarat, the festival is known as Sharad Poonam and this year, it will be celebrated on October 5.
It’s believed that on this day the moon comes out in all the 16 different Kalas (arts). When the kalas are combined, it forms a perfect human personality. Lord Krishna and Lord Rama are believed to have all the 16 kalas.
On this auspicious day, a traditional celebration of the ‘Kaumudi’ is held as it’s believed that the full moon through its beams shower elixir of life on earth and the brightness brings joy and prosperity.
Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Indra are worshipped during Sharad Purnima and people keep a fast on this day. A night vigil is also observed as it’s believed that Maa Lakshmi visits every household at night and blesses the one who is awake. People worship the goddess by singing bhajans.
There are certain other traditions associated with the festival as well. For instance, the idol of goddess Lakshmi should have 101 candles lit next to her with silver, gold and ghee and this should be done during moonlight. Also, anyone observing a fast on this day should avoid eating solid foods and drink only fluids like coconut water and milk. After the fast is completed, one must first taste a mixture of cold milk and rice flakes or popularly known as ‘kheer’. The same kheer which is kept under the moonlight for a whole night to be consumed the next day.
In West Bengal and Odisha, Sharad Purnima is one of the most celebrated festivals after Durga Puja. Women wake up early, take a bath, wear new garments and offer food to the Sun God. They observe fast throughout the day until the moon rises, and then they make special offerings to the moon. After the rituals are done, the women consume the same food.
According to Hinduism, it’s believed that Lord Krishna began his Raas Leela with Radha and the gopis on the night of Sharad Purnima. There are many other legends related to this day as well.
According to history, there was a king who was suffering a financial crisis. Hence, his queen observed a fast on Sharad Purnima and worshipped Goddess Lakshmi and observed night vigil. Soon after, they regained their prosperity.