The full moon day of Ashwin is called the Kojagari Purnima on which day people keep awake till late at nights be observing fasts. This ceremony owes its origin to the Kojagari Purnima Vrat sacred to the Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Indra on this night.
The ritual is to fast the whole day and after worshipping Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Indra at night break their fasts by offering coconut water and flattened rice to the Gods ad manes and partake it themselves. Again puja of Moon is performed and 'naivaidya' of condensed milk is offered. According to the scriptures, it is permissible to indulge in playing with dice or cards on this day as an exceptional case, as gambling on this particular day is regarded to bring fortune. To play with dice late at night is considered to be meritorious.
It seems on this Kojagari night Goddess Lakshmi visits every house asking
"Ko Jagarti" meaning `who is awake' to ascertain. And those who are
awake Goddess Lakshmi blesses them with fortune and prosperity. To welcome Her,
Houses, temples, streets etc. are illuminated. A light is lit outside one's
house lest Goddess Lakshmi the harbinger of Wealth and prosperity while going on
her rounds overlooks and pauses to bestow Her blessings. The same reason applies
for keeping awake the whole night. The whole custom of keeping awake and playing
dice may be to signify that one should be alert and careful in life with one's
savings due to frivolity and factualness of wealth. Coconut water, typical of
fertility is drunk at midnight, probably as a precaution to keep oneself awake.
Valit a poor Brahmin of Magadha
Valit, a poor Brahmin of Magadha, was a holy man and very religious. Apart from his being poor, he had a wife named Mahachandi who used to constantly nag him for not providing her all the comforts of life. When Valit's father's anniversary day comes Valit requests his wife that he cannot perform it. As per her nature, she insists on performing it by calling Brahmins. Valit asks his wife to throw the Pindas into the river but the obstinate wife consigns them to a cesspool.
Valit in disgust leaves his house determining not to return till Goddess Lakshmi favoured him. While wandering in the woods at midnight he meets three Nagkanyas worshipping Goddess Lakshmi and performing Kojagari Vrat. After Puja they invite him to play the game of dice with them. First Valit refuses saying gambling is a vice but on being convinced by them that this night was an exception. He joins. Initially he loses whatever trifles he had but Goddess Lakshmi who was on Her vigil pitying him helps him to win fortune and makes him win handsomely. Valit returns home completely changed rich man with oodles and tons of money. His wife welcomes him gladly and both live happily ever after. Rishi Valkhilya, narrated the story of Valit a poor Brahmin of Magadha. When his followers asked him which vrat was most conducive to fortune. He replied it was the Kojagari Vrat as the most important of all
This Kojagari Vrat or celebration coincides with the harvest festival. It is also called `Navanna' (new food) and from this day the new grain of the harvest is usually eaten. In an bent times `Kaumudi Mahotsav' was celebrated. The Ashwin Full Moon night is also known as `Kaumudi Purnima' and `Sharatpurnima'. After the monsoons the sky being clear the moon is ever bright. It is likely that the full moon shining with its beauty in the pleasant Sharad 'ritu' must have given its importance and tempted people to meet together enjoying and feasting under the canopy of the magnificent moonlight, giving birth to a Festival. The Kojagari Purnima is still observed today by get-together at nights more as a social event than solemnity or religiosity.
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