There are two types of calendars that are followed in the Hinfu religion– the Solar Calendar known as Sauramana and the Lunar calendar known as Chaandramana. In the Solar Calendar, the months derive their names based on the transit of the Sun in a particular zodiac sign. In the Lunar calendar, it is based on the constellation (Nakshatra) occurring during the full moon day (Pournami). The period between two successive solar transits (sankramana) or the time taken by the Sun to pass through a zodiac sign is known as a Solar month. Accordingly, when the Sun transits into Sagittarius (Dhanus Raasi), that month is denoted as Dhanurmasam. It marks the entry of the Sun into Dhanus raasi, known as Dhanus Sankramana, which generally occurs around the middle of the winter month of December. Dhanurmasam generally occurs in between the two lunar months of Margasira and Pushya. As per the English calendar, Dhanurmasam generally starts on December 16th and ends on January 13th or 14th on the day of the Bhogi festival. It is the ninth month of the zodiac starting from Aries (Mesha raasi) and is the last month before the onset of Uttarayana.

Dhanurmasam has acquired a unique significance of auspiciousness in the Hindu spiritual calendar for devotional activities, especially for worshipping Lord Sri Maha Vishnu. Lord Vishnu should be worshipped during the early hours of the day, before sunrise, a time known as Arunodaya Kaala. In this month, one is expected to perform pooja rituals during the auspicious Brahmi Muhurtha which is approximately two hours before the Sunrise when the stars are still twinkling in the sky. During Dhanurmasam, a special dish known as Huggi (Mudganna) is prepared with equal portions of Rice and Moong dal, and is offered to Lord Sri Maha Vishnu as Naivedya.
In Tirumala, the abode of Lord Sri Venkateswara, we find the priests reciting Tiruppavai a celestial song composed by Sri Godadevi (Aandaal) an ardent devotee of Lord Sri Krishna, instead of the regular Suprabhatham. At Tirumala
temple Lord Venkateshwara is worshipped daily with Bilva leaves during Dhanurmasam. It is highly meritorious to recite Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Sthothram, Purusha Sooktham, Sri Vishnu Sooktham and Narayana Upanishad during this auspicious period of Dhanurmasam. Worshipping Goddess Sri Maha Lakshmi along with Lord Vishnu is also prescribed during Dhanurmasam.
Sukla paksha Ekadasi thithi which falls during Dhanurmasam is revered as Vaikunta Ekadasi or Mukkoti Ekadasi – the most auspicious day to worship Lord Sri Maha Vishnu. During Dhanurmasa, Vyatheepatha yoga is prominent, and it is said that any Pithru karya or respectful charity towards one’s Pithrus on this day is considered to be highly meritorious.
As per Sri Venkatachala Mahatmya, it is said that taking a bath in Sri Swami Pushkarini Theertha at Tirumala on the day of Sukla Dwadasi in the month of Dhanurmasam during Arunodaya time is considered highly sacred. It is said that on this day, more than three crores of sacred theerthas in the entire Bhoomandala will enter into Sri Swami Pushkarini. Taking a bath in Swami Pushkarini is considered equivalent to taking a bath in all the three crores of sacred theerthas. It is revered as Sri Swami Pushkarini Theertha Koti day in the almanac of Tirumala temple.
Considering the superior sacredness and spirituality attached to the Dhanurmasam, auspicious functions like Marriage, Gruha Pravesam etc. are not generally performed during this month. It is only to give more focus and attention to the Divine worship.

Why is Arunodaya time prescribed for worshipping the Lord during Dhanurmasam?

As per the concept of Hindu time element, it is said that one day for Devathas is equal to one human year comprising 6 months of Uttarayana and 6 months of Dakshinayana. That means Uttarayana is the day time and Dakshinayana is the night time for devathas. Accordingly, one human month is equal to two hours for Deities. The period of Dhanurmasam falling at the far end of Dakshinayana indicates the last leg of the night time for Devathas (Arunodaya) when they worship Lord SriHari. Hence, it is befitting for human beings also to worship Lord Sri Maha Vishnu at a time that coincides with the Arunodaya Kaala for Devathas. This auspicious period is known as Arunodaya or Brahmi Muhurtha. Any worship conducted during Arunodaya time is said to
be of the highest quality, and yields excellent results. It is said that worshipping Lord Sri Maha Vishnu during this auspicious and sacred period of Dhanurmasam even for a single day is equivalent to worshipping the Lord for 1000 years. In Hindu philosophy, a specific time measure is set and prescribed for everything according to the concept of the time element. It specifies the unique significance given to the month, day, thithi, Nakshatra, etc. in the Hindu religion. Therefore, performing the right deeds at the right time and seeking Divine blessings yields higher results.

Checklist for Dhanurmasam

  • Worship Lord Sri ManNarayana and Goddess Lakshmi Devi
  • Perform pooja rituals during Arunodaya time (two hours before Sunrise)
  • Offer Huggi as Naivedya to the Lord, adding Shunti
  •  Recite Sri Vishnu Sahasra Nama Sthothram + Purusha Sooktham
  • Observe fasting on Vaikunta Ekadasi day
  • Perform Pithru Karya on the day of Dhanur Vyatheepatha yoga
  • Avoid performing functions like marriage, etc.