Dhanurmas is the month of Bhakti (Prayers) and is considered as highly auspicious month for Vishnu devotees. Old Hindu scriptures have set apart this month to be completely focused on devotional activities. Other non-devotional activities (such as weddings, purchase of property etc.) are prohibited during this month so that attention can be given exclusively to the worship of God without any diversions. In South India, especially the Vaikunth Ekadashi, which falls during Dhanurmas, attracts thousands of devotees. Temples conduct special poojas during this period.
Dhanurmas or Dhanur Masa is also known by the names Chapa Mas, Kodanda Mas, Karmuka Mas, Chapa, Kodanda, Karmuka etc. It is the month of Margashirsh and so also called Margazhi masam in Tamil.
When is it observed?
In Hinduism for Gods, six months of the year is equal to a day (Uttarayana) and another six months are considered to be night (Dakshinayana). Dhanurmas is the last month on which the night for the Gods ends so this is the Brahma Muhurat for Gods also. Thus worshiping during Brahma Muhurat would help the devotees to concentrate more on the God thereby getting closer to the Lord.
Dhanurmas generally comes in between the two Hindu lunar months Margashirsh and Paush. According to English calendar, Dhanurmas usually starts on 16th December and ends on 13th or 14th January on the Bhogi festival day. Dhanurmas is the last month before the beginning of Uttaraayana.
Dhanurmas falls at the end of Dakshinaayana. Dhanurmas is basically the period the sun shifts from the Dhanur Rashi to Makar rashi and it ends on the Makar Sankranti. Dhanurmas is a name given to a period of nearly one month. More appropriately, the start of the Dhanurmas is marked by the entry of the Sun in the Dhanur Rashi (Saggitarius); this is called Dhanuh Sankramana or Dhanu Sankranti. During this month, the sun transits the Dhanur Rashi and enters the Makar Rashi at the end of this month. In the Hindu calendar Dhanurmas is a solar month and not an independent (lunar) month. The period when the sun starts moving northward from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer is called Uttaraayana. The opposite period when the sun moves southward is called Dakshinaayana. Uttaraayan thus starts with end of the Dhanurmas.
Rituals and Celebrations
The month of Dhanurmas is considered a very special month for performing pooja of Vishnu. During this month, devotees offer prayers to the Lord very early in the morning. The auspicious functions like Marriage, House ceremony etc. are not generally performed during this month.
Feeding or giving alms to the deserving poor and Brahmins during this period is considered great merit i.e. Punya. Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nama Sthothram, Purusha Sooktham, Sri Vishnu Sooktham and Narayana Upanishad should be highly praiseworthy to recite during this auspicious month of Dhanurmas. Goddess Sri
Maha Lakshmi is also worshiped along with Lord Vishnu during Dhanurmas. By observing Dhanurmas vrat Goda Devi was able to get Lord Sri Vishnu as her husband. Hence in Dhanurmas unmarried women observed Dhanurmas Vrat to get husband like Lord Vishnu.