Matsya, meaning fish in Sanskrit, is believed to be the first incarnation of Lord Vishnu, where he appeared in the form of one-horned fish. Lord Vishnu incarnated in the form of a giant fish during the Satyuga to save Manu from the great flood. Matsya Jayanti celebrates the birth anniversary of Lord Vishnu and is observed during Chaitra Navratri. Normally, this festival coincides with the last day of Gangaur Puja. Observing a fast and taking a dip in holy rivers are some common rituals followed on the day of Matsya Jayanti.
In this article, important information related to Matsya Jayanti 2023 such as its puja vidhi, date, celebrations, etc is provided.
Matsya Jayanti 2023 Date
According to the Hindu calendar, Matsya Jayanti is observed on the third day in Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) of the Chaitra month. This usually falls in the month of April in the Gregorian calendar. In 2023, Matsya Jayanti will be celebrated on Friday, 24th March. The Tritiya Tithi will begin at 6:20 PM on March 23 and end at 4:59 PM on March 24. People observe fast on this day and a special puja is also organized at Lord Vishnu temples.
Story behind Matsya incarnation
It is believed that Matsya was the first manifestation of Lord Vishnu who save Manu, the first man along with his wife, the Saptrishis and the great Vedas, during the cleansing and restoration of earth. According to the legend, Lord Brahma wanted the people of the earth to be purified before they are able to learn and make use of the Vedas.
Brahma sought help from Lord Shiva in destroying the humanity by causing massive floods. To save Manu and his wife Shatarupa, who will be instrumental in initiating humans again, Lord Vishnu incarnated as a giant fish (Matsya). The whole story goes as follows.
One day, Manu was taking a bath in a water body when he saw a tiny fish. The fish tells Manu that it is constantly afraid of being swallowed by a larger fish and asks him for protection. It promises that one day he will do the same for Manu, when the time comes. Manu accepts the request of the fish and puts it in a pot of water where he grows. Once the fish grew up to be big enough to protect itself, Manu transferred it to the ocean.
The fish then tells Manu about the great flood and ask him to build a ship and meet by the ocean. He also asks him to bring one set of each living beings and the Saptrishis along with him. On the decided date, Manu meets the fish who was actually Lord Vishnu in his Matsya avatar. Manu ties the boat he made to the horns of the fish and it carries the boat to the high grounds of the northern mountains.
Lord Vishnu then also handed over the four Vedas to Manu so that he can use them for the welfare of humankind. Manu was the sole survivor of the great flood who was then given the power of human recreation by Lord Brahma.
Matsya Jayanti Rituals
On the day of Matsya Jayanti, the devotees observe a fast and offer prayers to Lord Vishnu in his Matsya (fish) incarnation. The fasting begins one night before Matsya Jayanti and ends the next day, i.e., on the day of Matsya Jayanti after worshiping Lord Vishnu.
People abstain from eating food and drinking water till the sunrise. After the sunrise, they pray t lord Vishnu and then break their fast. Along with observing a fast, staying awake all night and chanting mantras of Vishnu is considered as highly beneficial on the occasion of Matsya Jayanti.
People also recite Matsya Purana and Vishnu Sahastranaam on this day. People offer donations to the poor in the form of food, clothes or money. Grand celebrations are also held in the temples of Lord Vishnu. There are certain temples in India dedicated to the Matsya incarnation of Lord Vishnu and devotees in thousands of numbers visit these temples and seek blessing of Lord Vishnu.
Vedanarayana Swamy temple, Nagalapuram, Chittoor, Andra Pradesh, Matsya Narayana Swamy Temple, Hegdal, Bellary, Karnataka and Matsya Narayana Temple, Chennai, Tamil Nadu are three temples of Matsya Vishnu where this festival is observed with great enthusiasm.
Around 9th – 10th century
Lord Vishnu took the avatar of a fish.