Sharad Purnima (full moon) marks the end of monsoon in India.Reuters

Sharad Purnima, also called Kojagari Purnima or Kumar Purnima, is one of the biggest purnimas (full moon) in the Hindu calendar. Sharad Purnima is a harvest festival celebrated on full moon day of the Ashvin month, the seventh month in the Hindu calendar. The festival, which is being celebrated on October 15, also marks the end of monsoon.

It is believed that on Sharad Purnima, the earth and the moon are close to each other. On this day, beams of the moon are said to have certain curative properties, which can be beneficial for the human body. Thus on the night of Sharad Purnima several people visit the shores of Ganges to meditate.

Sharad Purnima is celebrated in different regions with different names and for different reasons. According to Hindu mythology, on the night of Sharad Purnima, lord Krishna played the famous raas leela with Radha and the gopis.

Another popular belief is that, goddess Lakshmi was born on the night of Sharad Purnima, which is why several Hindus worship goddess Lakshmi on the full moon night. According to a folklore, once a king was in great financial strait and to help him, his wife observed a fast and worshipped goddess Lakshmi. Goddess Lakhsmi got impressed and blessed the king and the queen and they regained their prosperity. Since then, it is believed that goddess Lakshmi visits places to give her blessings. People make kheer, an Indian sweet dish, and offer paan, makhan. Ideally, the kheer is kept outside under the moonlight and is distributed among the family members the next day.

The festival is called Sharad Poonam in Gujarat and is celebrated by playing garba and dandiya raas. In Mithila, it is known as Kojagaraha Purnima and goddess Kali is also worshipped. In West Bengal, it is celebrated as Lokkhi Pujo after Durga Puja

In Orissa, the festival marks the birth of Kumar or Kartikeya, son of Shiva, and thus is called Kumar Purnima.

Check out the muhurats of the Sharad Purnima:

Moonrise On Sharad Purnima Day = 17:49
Purnima Tithi Begins = 13:25 on October 15, 2016
Purnima Tithi Ends = 09:53 am on October 16, 2016