Dhanur - Archer / Sagittarius
Maas - Month
16th December to 14th January
Dhanurmaas is also called Shoonya (nothing) Maas because during this month it is considered inauspicious to arrange marriages or other such functions. Only Godly functions and devotional activities should be arranged during this month as rewards for such activities are far greater than during other times. During this Maas the sun transits through Dhanur Rashi so the month is called Dhanur Maas. The month ends when the sun enters Makar Rashi on Makar Sakranti day.
The sun is at its most southern point during this period and south is regarded as the path of Lord Yama (Lord of Hell). During this period of dark days it is considered beneficial to make donations, serve food to the Brahmins and fellow devotees.
There are many stories relating to this festival month. Firstly there is the story of King Satyasangh. He was a noble and religious king. Satyasangh would observe Dhanurmaas staunchly and serve food to Brahmins and devotees every year. On one occasion he unknowingly committed a sin. His actions resulted in his death caused by a venomous snakebite. At the time of Judgment, Lord Vishnu forgave his sin because he was pleased with his observance of Dhanurmaas and took him to his abode in Vaikunth.
Yudhisthir also served food to Brahmins. Lord Krushna requested that Yudhisthir cooked food himself and serve that food, in a leaf dish, to a pure Brahmin. The Brahmin was pleased by Yudhisthir's service and blessed him. When the Brahmin left Yudhisthir picked up the leaf dish. To his surprise there was another leaf dish underneath. One by one he continued to lift the leaf dishes and in total he lifted a thousand dishes. Lord Krishna explained to astonished Yudhisthir that if a pure Brahmin is served food, it is equivalent to serving a thousand of such Brahmins.
During this period when the days are short Lord Krushna's mother Yashoda would prepare an early breakfast for her son,and then send him to study scriptures (Adhyayan) at the ashram of Sandeepani Rushi in Ujjain.
In our temples freshly made Thaal is prepared early in the mornings and offered to Bhagwan soon after Mangla Aarti. This signifies that our Bhagwan also goes to study in the ashram of Sandeepani Rushi. Thaal related kirtans are sung every morning and notebooks, pens and writing materials are placed near him to signify the importance of studying of scriptures by the Lord. We observe Dhanurmaas by donating money for the freshly prepared Thaal and going to the temple early in the morning to offer our devotion and prayers.