Sharad Poonam, also known as Kojagiri Purnima or Kumar Purnima, is a Hindu festival that celebrates the divine harvest and the arrival of autumn. This auspicious occasion is marked with great enthusiasm and fervor in various parts of India and Nepal. In 2022, Sharad Poonam falls on October 15th, and it is a time for people to come together and rejoice in the bountiful blessings of the season.
The word “Sharad” translates to autumn, and “Poonam” refers to the full moon night. Hence, Sharad Poonam is celebrated on the full moon night of the Hindu lunar month of Ashwin, which usually corresponds to the months of September and October in the Gregorian calendar. It is believed that on this night, the moon is at its brightest and most powerful, radiating positive energy and divine blessings.
One of the key aspects of Sharad Poonam is the tradition of observing a night-long vigil, known as the Kojagiri or Kumar Purnima Vrat. Devotees stay awake throughout the night, engaging in prayer, singing devotional songs, and performing various rituals to seek the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. It is believed that on this night, Goddess Lakshmi visits the homes of her devotees and blesses them with abundance and happiness.
People also observe a fast during the day leading up to Sharad Poonam. They abstain from consuming grains and lentils and opt for a simple vegetarian diet. It is believed that by observing this fast, individuals can purify their mind, body, and soul and receive the divine grace of Goddess Lakshmi.
During the festival, people decorate their homes with colorful rangolis (intricate designs made with colored powders), flowers, and diyas (earthen lamps). They also adorn themselves in new clothes and jewelry and gather with family and friends for a night of celebration and togetherness. It is common for people to organize community gatherings, where they sing and dance together, and share traditional sweets and delicacies.
One of the significant rituals associated with Sharad Poonam is the practice of consuming a special dish called “kheer.” Kheer is a sweet rice pudding made with milk, sugar, and aromatic spices. It is prepared with great care and devotion and offered to Goddess Lakshmi as a symbol of gratitude for the bountiful harvest and prosperity.
Apart from its religious significance, Sharad Poonam also holds cultural importance. In some regions, it is associated with the romantic lore of Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha. It is believed that on this night, Lord Krishna played his enchanting flute, mesmerizing Radha and the Gopis (milkmaids) of Vrindavan. The festival thus becomes an occasion to celebrate love, devotion, and the divine union of Radha and Krishna.
Sharad Poonam is a time to express gratitude for the abundance of nature and to seek the blessings of Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity and well-being. It is a joyous festival that brings people together, strengthens bonds, and fills hearts with hope and positivity. As the full moon shines brightly in the sky, it reminds us of the divine presence that surrounds us, and encourages us to celebrate life’s blessings with gratitude and humility.