By Swami Harshananda
The Darśapurṇamāsa is an obligatory prakṛti (an archetype) in the Iṣṭi group of Vedic sacrifices known as yajñas and yāgas. The Iṣṭi sacrifices are performed with four priests Adhvaryu, Āgnīdhra, Hotṛ, Brahman.
Darśapurṇamāsa is composed of the words ‘darśa’ and ‘purṇamāsa’ which refer to the new-moon and the full-moon. Thus, the Vedic rites to be performed on these days are named as ‘Darśa’ and ‘Purṇamāsa’. The two are identical in almost all the respects except for some minor variations. Consequently, they are often clubbed together and called, ‘Darśapurṇamāsa.’
Difference in Darśa and Purṇamāsa Sacrifice
The Darśa sacrifice is done on the new-moon day and the day following it. The Purṇamāsa is performed on the full-moon day and the following day. The only difference in the procedure between these two sacrifices is that the puroḍāśa (rice-cake). It is offered to Indra and Agni in the Darśa whereas the same is offered to Agni and Soma in the Purṇamāsa.
Procedure of Darśa and Purṇamāsa Sacrifice
- The preliminaries like shaving, bathing and fasting are done by the sacrificer on the day called ‘upavasaha’.
- This is followed by anvādhāna, in which three pieces of sacrificial wood are offered into the fire.
- The other rites to follow are: Piṇḍapitṛyajña - obsequial rite for the forefathers up to three generations; usual daily Agnihotra ; preparing curdled milk for offering for next day; preparing the puroḍāśa (rice-cakes) for offering ; repetition of the sāmidheni verses; Āghāra libation and five prayāja and two ājyabhāga oblations (preliminary offerings).
- After all these procedures, the principle offerings are made with puroḍāśa (rice-cakes) to the accompaniment of puro’nuvākyas and yājyās.. In the Darśa ritual, eleven offerings of Puroḍāśa are kept in small earthen plates.
- Then comes anuyāja (three supplementary offerings) followed by suktavāka (speech of adoration by the hotṛ priest) and śaiṅyuvāka (formula of benediction by the hotṛ priest).
- Few more minor rites are performed after all these rites,then the whole ritual comes to an end and these rites include:
- Patnīsamyāja - offerings to the consorts of the deities.
- Removal of the yoktra - a belt of muñja grass.
- Prāyaścittas - expiatory rites.
- Viṣṇukrama - ceremonially taking four steps with appropriate mantras, by the yajamāna or the sacrificer.
- Day of fasting and living near the fire
- Eleven verses from the Ṛgveda, mostly from the third Maṇḍala, aimed at kindling the fire
- Libation wherein the adhvaryu pours ghee into the fire moving the spoon all over, with appropriate mantras
- Call or invitation to the deities by the hotṛ priest
- Technical formula of consecration chanted by the hotṛ priest while the adhvaryu priest offers a libation of ghee
- Sviṣṭakṛt is a secondary offering to Agni by whose goodwill the sacrifice has been successfully done
- Iḍābhakṣaṇa is a rite which includes eating the portions cut off from all the main offerings by the priests.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore