Masi Maham festival 2021 of Tamil Nadu celebrated with less pomp due to Covid -19

Masi maham 2021, Tamil

Masi Maham, or Maasi Magam, an auspicious day in the Tamil month of Masi (February – March) is celebrated across Tamil Nadu with devotion and this year it began  on 22 February; the main  Maasi Magam event  is on 27 February.  An  important  festival for the Hindus, in particular Tamils, the temple city of Kumbakonam becomes a beehive of activities during the festival season.  Mahm or Makam, one among the twenty seven stars (Nakshatras) in the Hindu astrological system, assumes much importance and the traditional ritual has been the   bathing of Temple  idols - murtis or vigrahams in  any near-by water body - river, sea, temple water tank  or lake. This year .Magam Nakshathram begins at 12.35 pm on February 26, 2021,and ends at 11.18 am on February 27, 2021.

Masimaham festival,- February-March, Tamil

Location map Kumbakonam, Tamil

The temple utchava  mutthis (processional idols)  of gods and goddess  that are  daily worshipped by the devotees   are  reverentially carried in a procession to the water bodies where  Pujas and rituals are conducted by the temple priests in the presence of  thousands of  devotees who throng the temple water tank, etc to  witness the auspicious event and get blessed by the deities. According to the Hindu belief those who take a holy bath on the day of Masi Maham in the temple tank, etc will attain salvation or Moksha - not to under go the rigors' of rebirth and death.  Masi Maham festival assumes the greatest significance every twelve years and the main venue is Maha Maha Kulam (water tank) in the prime location of  Kumbakonam. The next major event will be in Feb-March 2028.. More than one million  devotees  from Tamil Nadu and other states will attend the Mahamahamm festival in Kumbakonam.  The last Mahamaham  took place on 22 February 2016  with roughly  a million  people from various places taking the holy dip in the holy tank (coverings over 20 acres).  In this city twelve Shiva temples or Shivalayas  are connected with  the major Mahamaham festival that has   assumed much importance since the visit of Krishandevaraya of Vijayanagara dynasty during 1445 CE. 

The Mahamaham tank is surrounded by Shiva mandapams,Wikipedia.

1900 Mahamaham festival, Kumbakonam,

During the annual Maham event, at various  Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti temples, special pujas are done to the presiding deities and the processional idols are taken to the near by river bank or sea shore  for abhishekam -bathing, puja, etc.  In  Tamil Nadu, besides Kumbakonam, places like Srirangam, Thiruvannamalai, Erode, Tirunelveli, Rameswaram  etc., are quite known for the Maham festival events.  

On the Maham day 27th February at Kumbaknonam  processional deities from temples such as Adhi Kumbeswarar, Kasi Viswanathan, Nageswarar, etc  along with their  respective consorts  were taken in Rishaba  vahanam - mount to the bank of the Mahamaham tank for traditional ritual. Though a large section of devotees was on the banks of the Mahamaham  tank, they were not allowed to take a dip in the tank.  At the tank the priests conducted ritual  ablutions  with 21 puja materials, etc.   After this event, despite the orders from the district administration not to take bathe in the tank,  lots of devotees took a head bath in the tank. Owing to threats of  Covid-19 -  possible second cycle, the congregation of devotees  was far less than last year. 

Hundreds of devotees thronged the Vaithikuppam beach on Saturday to offer worship on the occasion of the ‘Masi Magam’ festival.‘Theerthavari’ ceremony was held with the participation of Utcha murthis from roughly 100 temple in Puducherry and adjoining areas. Once the puja was over, devotees took a dip in the  beach and paid respect to the deities and also many did tharpanam - paying obeisance to their forefathers.