Matsya Dwadashi is ascribed to the Sri Matsya Avathar, the first incarnation of Bhagwan Sri Maha Vishnu. The festival occurs on the Shukla Paksha Dwadashi of Margashira month. The Vrat is the day next to Mokshada Ekadashi.
For the Year 2022, Matsya Dwadashi occurs on Sunday, 4th December 2022. The exact duration of the Dwadashi Tithi has to be ascertained from the respective regional calendars.
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Sri Matsya Avathar – Legend
The origination of Sri Matsya Avathar is described in both Agni Purana and Matsya Purana.
Vaivaswatha Manu was the descendent of the Manu Kings. Manu Kings are believed to be originated from / created by Sri Brahma.
Vaivaswatha Manu was a good King. As his interest in spirituality increased, he had handed over his Kingdom to his son and went to the forest for doing penance. His other name was Satyavrada. He did severe penance on Sri Brahma for long.
Sri Brahma’s boon
Sri Brahma was pleased with his penance and asked Manu the purpose of the Tapas. Manu said “I want only one boon from you. Whether in near or far future, the whole world may get destroyed. When it happens, I want to be the one who survives and rescues the other living beings”. Sri Brahma had granted the boon.
Manu had set up an ashram for himself near the banks of Krithamala River. One day, he went to the pond near the Ashram for taking bath and other morning rituals. When he cupped the water, he saw a small fish in his hands. Seeing the fish, he tried to leave it again in the pond. The fish spoke.
The first said “Please don’t leave me in the water again. I will be eaten by the bigger fish. Please save me”. So, Manu put the fish in his Kamandal (the water pot used for rituals).
The fish immediately became too big for the Kamandal. He then shifted the fish to the water tank in the Ashram. The fish grew bigger than the tank. Then he let the fish in the pond itself. The pond became too small for the fish. He then took the fish to the river. The river dried up and became too small to hold the fish. He then let the fish in the ocean. The fish became bigger than the ocean.
Manu asked “Hey Fish. I know you are doing Maya. Only one person in the Universe can do this. Now I realize that you are Sri Maha Vishnu. Please tell me the reason for all these illusions”.
Sri Vishnu’s dictate
Sri Maha Vishnu spoke in the form of the Fish “Yes. I am Maha Vishnu. I have come now to protect the Dharma and destroy Adharma. As you have saved my life as Fish, I am granting you an opportunity to save the living beings on the earth.
Within seven days from now, the whole world shall come under deluge. A huge boat will come near you. The boat was originally built by Devas. You get in the boat.
Along with you, you bring the Vedas, Brahma Gnana and the Saptha Rishis. Further, bring a pair of every living being and seeds of all the plants & plantation with you. I will also come there.
I will be in the form of a big fish sporting a horn. You tie the boat to my Horn using the snake Vasuki as the rope. I will take your boat with all the inmates and contents to a safer place”.
Everything has happened as prophesized by Sri Maha Vishnu. The deluge appeared and the whole world was getting immersed in water. Manu had taken the Saptha Rishis with him. He also collected the other beings and the seeds as directed by Sri Mathsya.
Meanwhile, an asura named Damanaka had stolen the Vedas from the boat. The asura had taken shelter in a conch shell under the ocean. The asura was also known as Somaka. Sri Mathsya scouted for the asura and killed him. He retrieved the Vedas and brought them back to Manu.
Sri Matsya Puran
After the retrieval of Vedas, Manu had duly tied the boat to the horn of the Fish. The Fish took the boat to various places.
Whenever the boat halted, Manu had asked questions on multi various topics to the Fish. The answers given by Sri Matsya is considered as Sri Matsya Puran.
Sri Matsya took the boat to the Himalayas. After the draining of water, the process of re-creation of the whole world with the living beings commenced.
Sri Matsya Puran
Sri Matsya Puran mainly describes the following:
-Origin of the universe
-Origin of the living beings
-Bhagwan Shiva and Sri Shakthi
-Rules for making the idols of Bhagwan Shiva
-Sasthra for sculpture
-Sasthra for house construction; and
-Construction of Mandapas with pillars.
Apart from the above, there are several sub-stories on the celestial marriages and events.
Matsya Dwadashi – Rituals
The devotees rise early in the morning. They take holy bath at water bodies or as per the availability of water by applying a bit of clay on their person.
After bath, prayers are offered to the rising Sun. The Slokams invoking Bhagwan Sri Surya are recited. Four vessels are taken and filled up with water. Some Yellow color flowers and sesame seeds are put above the water in the vessels. The vessels are kept covered when prayers are recited. Then the water in the vessels is poured to the trees.
After offering prayers to Bhagwan Surya, the Matsya form of Sri Vishnu is worshipped. At the Puja place, the idol or picture of Sri Matsya Avathar is kept. Chandan, Turmeric and Kumkum are applied. The Deity is decked up with yellow color flowers. Lamps are lit pouring ghee mixed with turmeric. Incense sticks are also lit.
Special prayers are offered to Sri Maha Vishnu. Archana / Puja is done with yellow-colored flowers. Jasmine flowers can also be used. It is considered auspicious to donate yellow color clothes, vessels and food to the poor and the needy.
Feeding to the fishes is considered virtuous and auspicious on this day.
-Eradication of effects of past sins
-Fulfillment of the wishes
ॐ मत्स्यरूपाय नमः
Om mathsya roopaaya namah
वंदे नवघनश्यामम् पीत कौशेयवाससम्
सानंदम् सुंदरम् शुद्धम् श्रीकृष्णम् प्रकृतेः परम्
vandhae navaDhanashyaamam peetha kaushaeya-vaasasam
saanandham sundharam shuDhdham shree-krushNam prakruthaeh param