The Harvest Moon or Kojagiri Purnima is the first full moon of autumn season in the Northern Hemisphere. This falls around the end of September or beginning of October after the autumn equinox.
When is it in 2017?
The Harvest Moon or Kojagiri Purnima falls on the 5th of October, 2017 in India and in USA.
Why is it called the Harvest Moon?
During the period of when autumn begins the moon’s angle with earth is such that it rises or appears in the sky earlier than usual after sunset. This creates a halo of the early glow of the moon in the sky quite soon after the sunlight recedes post sunset which, reduces the darkness in the twilight hours. Prior to the advent of electricity or electric lights this little early moon light afforded the farmers and folks working outdoors a few extra minutes to gather the harvested crops before darkness fell on these nights. That is how this full moon itself became the “harvest moon”.
Why is it called Kojagiri or Sharad Purnima?
It is called Sharad Purnima or Kojagiri Purnima in India.
‘Purnima’ (same as Pournima or Poornima) means the full moon.
‘Sharad’ means the season of autumn in Sanskrit. It is the first full moon of autumn after the end of monsoon. Autumn in India and in most of the subcontinent mean drier warm days and cooler, clearer nights.
How is Kojagiri Purnima celebrated in India?
Kojagiri is celebrated in India by getting together with friends and family, staying up all night under the moonlight, drinking masala doodh (spiced milk) warm rich saffron, almond, nutmeg and cardamom infused sweet milk in silver glasses and having a good time together. Devotional or music programs are organised or some recreational activities are conducted throughout this night. Goddess Lakshmi the goddess of wealth is worshipped as she blesses her devotees on the night of Kojagiri.
What does Kojagiri Purnima mean?
‘Purnima’ means full moon, and;
‘Kojagiri’ or ‘ko-jagrit’ in Sanskrit means ‘Who is awake?’ It is believed that Goddess Lakshmi the goddess of wealth comes to visit everyone on earth on that night and those who are awake that night in her devotion are blessed by her! Hence, asking “Who is awake?” – They shall be blessed.
Scientific (Ayurvedic) reasons –
The biggest generally accepted science that surrounds this festivity is that –
- Because the seasons undergo a change around this time we need to protect our health and boost immunity. Which is why we drink the masala doodh – warm sweet milk infused with almonds, cashews, saffron, cardamom and nutmeg. All the components of this drink have an immunity boosting function while being super delicious. (I can down atleast a few glasses, easy!) Generally silver goblets or glasses are used to serve this because the hot milk absorbs traces of silver which has certain medicinal properties. Among its many benefits, silver helps regulate internal heat and circulation within our body and has anti-infection properties.
- According to Ayurveda moon light has healing properties. Especially the moonlight during this period is stronger or clearer due to the angle of the moon with earth. Thus, bathing in moonlight and letting our bodies absorb it is good for health.
How we celebrate Kojagiri Purnima at home?
On the evening of Kojagiri Purnima we have friends and family over after dinner for the night. We all perform a small puja (or Pooja), pray to the Gods and thank them for all the blessings they have showered on us. The adults then put a red kumkum tilak or tika on foreheads of all children in the house as a symbol of blessing. On this beautiful evening we prepare the masala doodh (spiced milk), serve it in silver, sip on it and enjoy the beautiful moonlit night together!
So, wherever you are enjoy the Harvest Moon or Kojagiri Purnima under the moonlight! It is a beautiful night with the perfect weather and the bright bold moon in the inky, starry sky!