Sharad Purnima is the first full moon of the Ashwin Month of Hindu calendar. It is called Sharad Purnima because it marks the end of autumn. Sharad ritu signifies the transition period between autumn and winter. It is also known as Ashwin Purnima and marks the end of Ashwin month.
Sharad Purnima is the harvest festival marking the harvest of the crops grown. Hence, it is also called Nabanna/Navanna (new rice) Purnima. On this day, moon is the closest to our Earth. That is why, it is believed that moonlight has healing effect on this night. Food kept in moonlight on this night, is considered as elixir.
As per Odia belief, this day is known as the birthday of Goddess Lakshmi- signifying the philosophy that Lakshmi is associated with wealth & crops and new crops are harvested & taken inside the house on this day.
Once, Debraj Indra lost his wealth, property, grandeur and fortune. On this day, Lakshmi churned the ocean and emerged from it along with elephants. She had brought Indra's lost wealth and restored his fortune. Lakshmi's association with elephants is one of the eight forms of Maa Lakshmi and earned her the name "Gajalakshmi". She is the Goddess of elephants- bringer of wealth, cattle, crops, power, strength, grace, prosperity & fertility.
States like Odisha, Maharastra, Goa, etc worship the Gajalakshmi form and hence, the custom is known as Gajalakshmi Puja in these states. In fact, the Gajalakshmi form had been very popular in Kalinga architecture. Often, the Gajalakshmi motifs are found on temple doors, pil