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Dhanurmas (धनुर्मास) is a name given to a period of nearly one month. Dhanurmas starts usually around 14–16 December and extends up to the mid of January (Hindu calendar months Margashirsha-Pausha). This period ends with the Makar Sankranti - the end of dakshinayana mostly occurs during the Pausha month of the Hindu Lunar calendar. More appropriately, the start of the Dhanurmas is marked by the entry of the Sun in the Dhanur Rasi (Saggitarius); this is called Dhanuh Sankramana. During this month, the sun transits the Dhanur Rasi and enters the Makara Rashi at the end of this month. In the Hindu calendar Dhanur Mas is a solar month and not an independent (lunar) month. The period when the sun starts moving northward from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer is called uttaraayana. The opposite period when the sun moves southward is called dakshinaayana. Uttarayan thus starts with end of the Dhanurmas.
Dhanurmas or Dhanur Masa is also known by the names Chapa Mas, Kodanda Mas, Karmuka Mas etc. Chapa, Kodanda, Karmuka etc., in Sanskrit are synonyms of Dhanus; meaning a bow. It is the month of margashira and so also called Margazhi masam in Tamil. Sri krishna in bagavatam says 'Maasanam Margashirshoham'...meaning 'I am the margashira in the months'. Dhanurmasa is also called as Shoonya Masa because it is generally advised not to conduct any good things other than godly and holy functions. This is just to focus on God and not other material world events.
Etymology and significance
This period of month is considered as highly auspicious for Vishnu devotees. Old Hindu scriptures have set apart this month to be completely focused on devotional activities. Other non-devotional activities (such as weddings, purchase of property etc.) are prohibited during this month so that attention can be given exclusively to the worship of God without any diversions. In South India, especially the Vaikunta Ekadasi, which falls during Dhanur Mas, attracts thousands of devotees. Temples conduct special pujas during this period.
According to tradition, the Gods wake up early in the morning during the month of Dhanurmas. They perform special prayers to Sri Maha Vishnu during the auspicious period of "Brahm Muhurta", which is one and half hours before sunrise. During this month, devotees offer prayers to the Lord very early in the morning. The month of Dhanurmas is considered a very special month for performing Puja of Vishnu.
Dhanurmas Phal Shruti: Worshiping Vishnu on a single day during this auspicious period is equal to worshiping Vishnu with devotion for 1000 years. Every single step taken towards the nearby lake, river etc. for morning dip during this month brings forth merit equal to performing an Ashvamedha Yaga.
During this period the sun is in the Sagittarius or "धनु राशि", the period when the sun passes from Sagittarius to Capricorn or "मकर राशि" is considered as a period of scarcity to the plenty in India. Feeding or giving alms to the deserving poor and Brahmins during this period is believed to confer great merit i.e. Punya.
- Jackson, A. M. T (2007). Folk Lore Notes. pp. ix.
- Andhra Pradesh. 13. Andhra Pradesh (India) Department of Information and Public Relations. 1969. p. 45.
- Chalapati Rao, Gudlavalleti Venkata (1983). Sri Venkatachala, its glory. Tirumalai-Tirupati Devasthanam. p. 83.