Masi Magham

Masi Magham

February-March; full moon day of the Hindu month of Magha
The Masi Magham festival is observed every 12 years during the full moon of the Hindu month of Magha, although a smaller festival takes place annually. Hindus flock to Kumbakonam in southern India to bathe in the Maha-Magha tank, where the waters of nine holy rivers are said to be mixed: the Ganges, the Yumma, the Godavari, the Saraswati, the Narmada, the Cauvery, the Kumari, the Payoshni, and the Sarayu. Bathing in the sacred tank (or pool) purifies them of their sins.
The Masi Magham festival is also a time for gift-giving, particularly in support of charitable institutions. One way of measuring the size of one's gift to the poor is to give one's weight in gold, a custom known as Tulabhara. Sometimes the gold collected in this way is used to renovate the 16 temples that have been built over the years near the site of the sacred tank.
In Malaysia, the Masi Magham is a two-day festival celebrated by the Chettiyar (a Tamil merchant caste) community in Malacca. The image of Subramanya, a Hindu god, is taken in procession to the temple known as Sannasi Malai Kovil, formerly the home of a famous ascetic who had the power to heal. Oratorical contests are held and dramas are staged at the temple, and at the end of the day, the statue is taken back through the streets of Malacca to Poyyatha Vinayagar Kovil, where it remains for another year.
CONTACTS:
Tamil Nadu Tourism
Tourism Complex, No. 2 Wallajah Rd.
Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600 002 India
91-44-25383333; fax: 91-44-25381567
www.tamilnadutourism.org
Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board
818 W. Seventh St., Ste. 970
Los Angeles, CA 90017
800-336-6842 or 213-689-9702; fax: 213-689-1530
www.tourismmalaysiausa.com
SOURCES:
BkFestHolWrld-1970, p. 91
FolkWrldHol-1999, p. 189