Surya Ashtothram

Surya, the chief of the Navagraha ( the nine Classical planets) and important elements of Hindu astrology, is the main solar deity in Hinduism and generally referred to as the Sun in Nepal and India.

He is often depicted riding a chariot harnessed by seven horses which might represent the seven colors of the rainbow or the seven chakras in the body. He is also the presiding deity of Sunday. The Sun God is shown with 4 hands, three of which are carrying a wheel, a conch-shell and a lotus respectively and the fourth is see in the Abhay Mudra.

Being the source of warmth and light, he has the ability to control the seasons and the power to withhold or grant the ripening of the crops. As the economy is mainly agricultural based, the Sun is placed amongst the highest of the Gods, especially for the agricultural communities.

He is also known as the “pratyakshadaivam” – the only God visible to us every day. The Sun God is “Karma Sakshi”, who has eternal wisdom and knowledge. He is the Source of all life, and it is because of him that life exists. Thanks to the energy from his rays, life on Earth is sustained.

There are different forms of Surya and they are

  • Arka form : “Arka” form is worshiped mostly in North India and Eastern parts of India. The temples dedicated to the “Arka” form of Surya are Konark Temple in Orissa, Uttararka and Lolarka in Uttar Pradesh, and Balarka in Rajasthan.
  • Mitra form : Surya is also known as “Mitra” for his life nourishing properties. The Mitra form of ‘Surya’ had been worshiped mostly in Gujarat.

There are several festivals dedicated to Sun God, Surya in India and are as follows

  • Pongal or Makara Sankaranti :

It is the most widely celebrated Hindu festival dedicated to the Sun God. It is celebrated as Makara Sankranti in many parts of India and as Pongal by Tamils all over the world. People thank the Sun God for ensuring a good harvest and dedicate the first grain to him.

  • Chhath :

It is another Hindu festival dedicated to Surya. It is believed to be started by Karna, the son of Surya, who became a great warrior and fought against the Pandavas in the Kurukshetra War. Chhath is unique to Bihar, Jharkhand, and some parts of Uttar Pradesh and Nepal.

  • Samba Dashami :

It is celebrated in the eastern coastal state of Odisha in the honour of Samba, the son of Krishna who was cured of leprosy by praying to Surya.

  • Ratha Saptami :

It is a Hindu festival that falls on the seventh day of the bright half of the Hindu month Maagha. This day is also known as Surya Jayanti because it celebrates the power of the Sun God.

To invoke the Sun God, various Mantras are chanted everyday by thousands of devotees. They are salutations to Lord Surya (The Sun), the giver of energy to the world, for self vitalization.