At the break of dawn every day, I count my blessings in gratitude for my family and friends who have been at my side through ups and downs. I look up at the sun and try to absorb the warm glow and on a cool Spring-Winter day I wish the wondrous sun a heartfelt Happy Birthday !!
The birthday is sometime in January-February, on the 7th day after the new moon. In mythological texts Sun is referred to be the son of sage Kashyapa and Aditi. It is celebrated as Ratha Saptami and is an important festival in South India. The day is symbolic as the change of season from Winter to Spring with gradual increase of temperature and ushering of the harvesting season. While, the Sun is on a northward journey from the day it moves into the zodiacal sign of Capricorn, it is widely believed that Sun God turns his giant chariot (Ratha) with 12 large wheels drawn by 7 horses on Ratha Saptami day towards the north easterly direction, spreading warmth and well being in the lands that he passes through.
Philosophically, the 7 horses are the 7 Chakral Points in our body or the 7 days in the week and the 12 wheels signify time in hours and or months. Most people pray for good health and well being on this day, trying to absorb the benevolent rays of the sun.
Nature worship has been an integral part of life in India through times immemorial. There are quite a few sun temples in India and the most celebrated one is in Konark, Odisha on the Eastern Coast of India which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The other Sun Temples that I have been fortunate to visit are Mattan in Kashmir and Modhera, Gujarat. While the one in Kashmir is largely destroyed the temple in Modhera stands out with its grandeur.
Read more about Modhera Sun Temple.