Celebrated In: India
Mauni Amavasya occurs on the 15th day of the dark fortnight of Magh (January-February). It is derived from the word Muni, literally means an ascetic who practices silence. Mauni Amavasya is believed to be the day of conjunction of the sun and the moon. Fasting is observed on this day. The devotees do not talk to each other during the observance. It is considered highly meritorious to bath in Triveni Sangam on this day. In 2011 Mauni Amavasya is falling on 02 February.
‘Maun’ in Mauni according to Hindu scriptures means silence, and the word is intertwined with ‘Muni’ meaning saint. So, on this day pilgrims donate food and alms to the needy, observe ‘vrat’ or fasting while keeping silence in order to free their minds and engage in ‘inner dialogue’ while starting this spiritual journey. Some pilgrims also hold fast for the entire month of Magh, having only one meal a day, and ensure that they do not use body oil or cosmetics and do not sleep on mattresses. The vow of complete silence on this day is called ‘Maun vrat’. Silence is considered an essential attribute towards being a Muni leading a divine life, along with having childlike wisdom. This silence is supposed to help in freeing one’s mind from the distractions of envy, lust, greed and anger which are called Viskhsepa. This was further explained by Saint Adi Shankaracharya:
“Silence is the first door to spiritual eminence.”
Magh Snaan (Mauni Amavasya) Procedure
On the day of Mauni Amavasya, a person should person mediation and donations, according to his capacity. If not possible to have a bath in Triveni or any other pilgrim, then a person should wake up early in the morning , complete his routine work and have a bath at home itself. He can even take bath in a near by river. as per the scriptures, the water of river becomes as as Ganga Jal, on this day. Silence should be observed while bathing and meditation. This day, a person should keep himself way from wrong works and try to make his mind strong. This keeps the mind peaceful and makes the body strong.
After this, person should worship Brahma Dev and perform the Gayatri Jaap. Donations should be done with faith and chanting of mantra. The donations include giving of cow, gold, clothes, bed and other useful things.
Mauni Amavasya (Magh Amavasya) Story
Once upon a time, a Brahman named Devswami used to live in Kanchipuri. Dhanwati was his wife. He had seven sons and one daughter. His daughter’s name was Gunwati. After marrying all his 7 sons, Devswami had sent his eldest son in search of a good boy, for his daughter. Then, an astrologer said after the completion of marriage, Gunwati shall become a widow. Hearing this, Devswami and others got worried. Devswami asked for a solution to this problem from the astrologer. He said, a washerwomen named Soma lives on the island called Singhal. Worshipping Soma can remove this Dosh of Gunwati. So, Gunwati and her youngest brother left for Singhal island. Island was located in the middle of sea. Both of them sat under a tree, waiting to cross the sea. On that tree, a vulture had made his nest. Children of vulture used to live in the nest. When the vulture returned to the nest with his wife, their children told “the brother and sister are sitting under the tree from morning, They are hungry and thirsty. So, we shall also, not have any food”. Hence, the vulture gave food to Gunwati and his brother. And, asked the reason for their arrival. So, they narrated the whole event. After hearing the whole matter, vulture gave them assurance of reaching the Singhal island. Next day, vulture dropped them on the island.
After reaching the island, both of them started doing the house work of Soma laundress. Cleaning of house etc, was done by the brother and sister, very neatly and systematically. When Soma used to wake up, she used to think, who does all these works. Soma asked her daughter-in-law, who cleverly replied that it was done by her. Soma could not believe and decided to stay up at night. Then Soma saw, Gunwati and her brother doing all the house works. Soma was very much pleased by them and asked the reason behind this. Gunwati narrated the things told by the astrologer about her marriage etc. So, Soma blessed her. Both the brother and sister requested her to come to the marriage with them. Soma agreed and told her daughter-in-law “if anyone dies at home, don’t perform the cremation before my coming back.“
Marriage of Gunwati was begun. As the marriage was concluded, her husband was dead. Soma by her virtues gave life to Gunwati’s husband. Now, all her good deeds were finished as a result, her family members living on Singhal island, died. While returning back to home, Soma deiceded to accumulate goo deeds. She sat under a Pipal tree. She worshipped the tree and circled (Parikrama) it 108 times. So, her family’s dead members were back to life. Soma received fruits of her selfless service.