Pushkaram is an Indian festival dedicated to worshiping of rivers. It is also known as Pushkaralu (in Telugu), Pushkara or Pushkar.
It is celebrated at shrines along the banks of 12 major sacred rivers in India, in the form of ancestor worship, spiritual discourses, devotional music and cultural programmes. The celebration happens annually, once in 12 years along each river. Each river is associated with a zodiac sign, and the river for each year's festival is based on which sign Jupiter is in at the time. Due to regional variations, some of the zodiac signs are associated with multiple rivers.
Pushkaram celebrations include reverence of ancestors, spiritual discourses, devotional music and cultural programmes. The devotees engage in activities such as snana (bath in the river), dāna (charity), japa (recitation of mantras), archana and dhyana (meditation).
Theoretically, the festival lasts as long as Jupiter remains in the corresponding zodiac sign (generally, for one year). However, it draws major crowds only during the first 12 days. The first 12 days when the Jupiter enters the zodiac sign and the last 12 days when it exits the zodiac sign are considered as most auspicious. A dip in the sacred river is believed to erase all sins. The first twelve days are known as Adi Pushkaram, and the last twelve days are called Anthya Pushkaram. It is believed that during the above period of twenty-four days, "Pushkar" the person, who is imbued with the power to make any river holy, will travel with Jupiter as Jupiter moves from one Zodiac house to another.
In Telugu-speaking states, Pushkaram is celebrated across Godavari, Krishna, Pranhita and Penna rivers.
In Tamil Nadu, Pushkaram is celebrated in Tamraparni River when Jupiter is in Scorpio. In the four places where River Tamraparni flows from south to north, Banathirtham, Papanasam, Thirupudaimaruthur, Sinthupoondurai and Murappanadu, the festival is celebrated in accordance with tradition. The Tamraparni temple at Suthamalli is also a place of religious celebration during the Pushkaram year.