The sacred Dhanurmukti/Dhanurmas vrat is performed by devotees who seek a happy, fulfilling life and moksha.
The Dhanu constellation
The Sun enters the constellation Dhanu (Sagittarius) around mid-December. Thus this solar month when the Sun is in the Dhanu constellation is called Dhanurmas.
In this month, people gather together early in temples for Kakad Aarti. Along with this early morning aarti, various religious programs like keertan (singing religious songs with gaiety and devotion) are arranged in the villages.
Dhanurmas the winter festival
Being winter solstice, this is a cold season, when one gets hungry early in the morning. Thus we have this vrat (pious observance) called Dhundhurmas vrat, which is to be followed all month long. In this period, ‘lunch’ is prepared before sunrise. After offering the fresh hot food to the Sun, the whole family, and sometimes even the whole village comes together for this early morning lunch party.
Seasonal vegetables like carrots, brinjal, various beans, peas, tubers like yam, purple yam, sweet potato, and bajra rotis (pearl millet rotis) are a staple in this lunch.
The lunar month of Paush comes around the same time. In this month, no religious ceremonies like wedding, pooja are performed.