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Thirukarthigai

Thirukarthigai or Karthigai deepam is the festival celebrated on the full moon day of the tamil month Karthigai(mid-nov–mid-dec). From the very first day of the Karthigai month, two lamps made out of clay are lit in front of the house. And the main festival starts with Bharani deepam followed by Karthigai deepam and then the kuppa Karthigai. On these days the house is decorated with lamps and the pooja is offered to the God.  This festival is celebrated by the sisters for the goodness of their brothers. On this day, appam, pori and Karthigai adai is made at home and is offered to the God. Brothers in turn send gifts to their sisters.  This festival is significantly celebrated in Arunachaleshwarar temple in Thiruvannamalai. It is celebrated for ten days and is called as Karthigai Brahmotsavam.  It begins with the hosting of the flag signifying the commencement of the festival also known as Dwajaroghanam. On the tenth day, Deepam festival starts at around four o clock in the early hours and the Bharani Deepam is lit at the temple. In the evening the Mahadeepam is lit on the top of the hill at around six o clock. This is a very important ceremony during the Karthigai Deepam festival at Tiruvannamalai. Arunachaleswarar is said to be visually represented in the form of agni on the hill top. People light the lamps in their house after the deepam is lit in the Arunachaleshwarar temple. This year the Mahadeepam falls on 02th December. However,  keratitis follow pournami and it falls on Dec 3rd…

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Story behind Karthigai Deepam

The earliest Hindu scripture states that the two great deities of Hindu culture Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma started fighting among them regarding the superiority. They both thought each one was stronger than the other. To stop this huge fight, Lord Shiva came in front of them and tried to show his supremacy. He took the shape of a huge fire and challenged the two fighting Gods to find the end of the fire from the top and bottom. Lord Vishnu took the form of a boar and tried to reach the end of the fire beneath the earth. He failed miserably and came back to Lord Shiva saying that he was unable to find the end of the fire from the bottom. Lord Brahma on the other hand, took the shape of a swan and flew to find the beginning of the fire on the topside. But his search was also in vain and he was unable to find the top of the fire. Thus, Lord Shiva proved his supremacy over the two Gods and managed to stop the fight. He then appeared like hill shape on Thiruvannamalai region. In fact, the names Tiruvannamalai’ and `Arunachala’ denote “holy fire hill”.  In order to remember this every year this festival is celebrated in a grand manner in Thiruvannamalai.

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Story behind lighting Elephant Lamp

Once upon a time there lived a King and he had only one daughter. She loved an elephant which grew with her and she considered the elephant as her own brother. After her marriage she missed her brother elephant very much. So for every Thirukarthigai/Karthigai deepam occasion, she will light elephant lamp(Gajalakshmi vilaku) and she will prepare tender coconut, elephant leg size milagu Milagu Adai, Pori,Adhirasam,Vella Seedai and keep them as neivedhyam for this festival. So Hindus will pray god for goodness of their brothers and they will light a elephant lamp(Gajalakshmi Vilaku) which marks as a sign of prosperity and wealth.

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Recipes

Nel pori

Aval pori

Karthigai Adai

Neiyappam

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Skandha Shasti 2017

Skanda  Sashti or Kanda Sashti Vratam is an important festival dedicated to Lord Muruga. It is observed in the Tamil month of Aippasi and most devotees fast during the 6-day period. It starts from the next day after Diwali and the final day is celebrated as Kandha Sashti. The last day is also called as Soorasamharam day.

 

 

(Skandha Sashti Viratham starts on 19th Oct and the Sashti falls on Oct 26th and thirukalyanam on Oct 27th)

It is believed that Lord Murugan defeated demon Soorapadman with his Vel on the sixth day of the battle and the festival of Soorasamharam is observed every year to mark the victory of good over evil. Soorapadman’s cruelty went to an extreme, Lord Shiva asked Muruga to destroy asuras and free Devas from their cruel bondage. Shiva gave the eleven rudras eleven weapons, and Parvathi gave the Vel weapon to Lord Muruga for the war. The Vel, or sacred spear, is the most powerful weapon in Lord Muruga’s armory. During the first five days of the war the brothers of Surapadma and all other asuras perished. Soorapadman had such a big ego that he did not want to surrender to the Lord. He took the form of a big mango tree. On sixth day, Lord Muruga’s spear split the tree and one part became a peacock and the other became a Chanticleer(cock). Lord Muruga took Peacock as his vahana (Vehicle) and Cock on his banner.         

Thiru Kalyanam is observed on the next day of Soorasamharam. The famous ‘Vetri Vel’ chanting that takes place on the Shasti day is associated with the victory of Skanda over Soorapadman.    

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The Skanda Shasti Vratam (fasting) 

The Skanda Shasti Vratam is believed to be highly beneficial and is observed mainly by Tamil speaking people. It is important to note that the day when shasti thithi conjugates with panjami thithi is chosen for Shasti Vratam. The Shasti vratam is also famous in Kerala. The energy of Lord Muruga, also called as Skanda, is abundantly available during these sacred 6 nights of darkness destroying energy.

Most devotees fast during the 6-day period.  There is no common method of Skanda Shasti fasting. Different devotees observe it differently. Some people only fast on the Soorasamharam day. The fasting ends with the Thirukalyanam on the next day.  But there are some basic rules followed by all the devotees.

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  • Non-vegetarian food is completely avoided during the period.
  • Some people also avoid garlic and onions.
  • Those who are observing the fast make it a point to read scriptures related to Lord Muruga or recite the Kanta Shasti Kavasam or Subramaniya Bhujangam.
  • Most devotees also visit Skanda temples during the period.
  • When it comes to Kanda Shasti fasting, some devotees only take a single meal a day.
  • Some take the meal at noon and others at night.
  • Some devotees confine to fruits and juices during the 6-day period.

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There are several Skanda devotees who see the Vratam as an opportunity to clean the body and get rid of unwanted toxic elements. Such devotees confine to water, coconut water and other fruit juices.

It must be noted that ‘Vrata’ or ‘Vratam’ in Sanskrit means ‘vow.’ Vratam should not be misunderstood as mere fasting. By observing a Vratam a person is trying to purify his mind through meditation, worship and by sticking to some ‘vow’ that he/she has taken. Now, this vow can include fasting, not telling lies, not getting anger etc. A vratam should be seen as a deliberate attempt on your part to bring back discipline into your life.

Always my mother will tell us that she observed sashti viratham and by coincidence or with the blessings of Lord Muruga, my brother and I were born on Sashti thithi. It is a strong belief for me that if we wish to get something in life and observe fasting on this day, it will be fulfilled by the grace of God.

Some methods for observing Viratham – I got these details from my uncle. Thank you Ganesh mama…

Shasti Viratham is mainly done for Lord Muruga. Usually Kanda sasti will falls in tamil month of Aippasi.

  1. First meditate on Lord Muruga – You can do this silently or by chanting Om Valli Devasena samedha Sri Subrahmanya Swāmine namaha dhyāyāmii
  2. Now invoke Lord Muruga – Take the idol or picture or Vel and keep it near you or hold it in your hands. You can silently pray to Muruga or chant Om Vali devasena… swāmine namaha āvāhayāmii
  3. Now you can place the idol in the appropriate place chosen by you in the puja area – you can chant – Om āsanam samarpayāmii
  4. Now you can sprinkle some water – Om…namaha arghyam
  5. Now you can pour some water on the feet or near the Vel – Om… namaha pādhyam
  6. Sprinkle some water again – Om… namaha āchamaniyam
  7. Now you can sprinkle rose water or usual water – Om… oupachārika snānam
  8. Sprinkle some water again as final purification – Om…snānānandharam āchamaniyam
  9. Now you can offer turmeric paste or if you have special dress for idol you can offer it –Om… vastrārtham akshadām
  10. Now you can offer sandal paste to the Vel or idol – Om gandhān dhārayāmi
  11. Now you can do decorations with flowers or garlands – Om…gandhsyopari alankāranārtham akshadām
  12. Now you can offer kum kum – Om…haridrā kumkumam
  13. Finally, you can offer some flowers – Om…pushpaih poojayāmi

Now you can light the lamp and chant Skanda Sasti Kavacham, Subrahmanya Bhujangam or read Skanda Purana or any text related to Lord Muruga.

You can also perform archana after lighting the lamp or your usual method of daily puja with camphor and agarbathis.

If you have prepared any food (neivedhyam) you can offer it to the lord and perform Arathi.

At the end of the puja you can thank Lord Ganesha for helping in successfully conducting the pooja.

Skanda sasthi vratam is very effective. Fasting on this day, reciting skanda sasthi kavacham and worshipping Lord Muruga / Karthikeya on this day is very good for those who are trying to conceive.

The couple will surely be blessed with children on doing this vratam.

Navarathri

The word Navarathri means nine nights.  Navarathri is celebrated five times during the year-  Vasantha navarathri, Ashad navarathri, Sharadh navarathri, Paush navarathri and Magha navarathri.  Sharadh navarathri is the most important navarathri and is called as the Maha navarathri. It is celebrated for 9 nights and 10 days during the tamil month Purattasi. During these nine nights and ten days prayers are offered to the three main Goddess- Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswathy. The first three days is for Goddess of power – Durga, the second three days for Goddess of wealth- Lakshmi and the last three days for Goddess of knowledge – Saraswathy.  The main aspect of Navarathri is kolu where the dolls are arranged in a series of steps. The dolls are arranged on Ammavasya- no moon day and the pooja starts from the very next day and the final day is celebrated as Vijayadasami.

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Story:

Once there lived a demon Mahishasuran. He performed tough penance and obtained the boon that he can be killed only by a virgin.  After having the boon he conquered all the three worlds. He also started to  harass the Devas and humans. So everyone went to the God to save them from the demon. In order to eradicate him and to save the Devas and Humans, the Divine mother was born.  She did penance for nine days and nine nights and obtained power from mum moorthigal – Brahma, Vishnu and Shivan. On the tenth day she was empowered as Devi Durga and destroyed the Demon. So the day is celebrated as Vijayadasami. The nine nights prior to Vijayadasami is called as Navarathri.

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           Navarathri celebration in my house starts with my Dad buying dolls every year. Every year we will buy something new in my home. A week before Navarathri, we will start making arrangements to set up the dolls in order. The first and foremost thing is to set the steps on which the dolls are to be placed. Then we will decorate the room with paper flowers and hanging festoons. Its always fun to unwrap the boxes and to take the dolls out.  Each and everyone of us in my family will join together in doing all these arrangements. On the day of Ammavasai, my mom will draw a small rangoli under the steps and then the most important doll the marappachi bommai  (Doll made out of wood) is placed. It is for this reason the doll is given to the daughter when she gets married and goes to her husband’s house.  Followed by this other dolls are arranged.

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First step –  One sense creatures like plants, climbers, etc.,

Second step –  Two sense creatures like snail, conch.

Third step – Three sense creatures like ant, silverfish.

Fourth step –  Four sense creatures like Crab, Beetle.

Fifth Step –  Five sense animals and birds.

Sixth step – Six sense humans.

Seventh step – Rishis, Sidhdhars

Eighth step – Ashtadhik Balargal, Navagraha Athibathigal.

Ninth step – Brahma, Vishnu, Sivan.

The message of this is we humans should slowly attain the stage of Divine by being and doing good things.

Kuththu Vilakku decorated as Goddess..

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            During all the nine days of Navarathri, in the morning, pooja is performed by chanting various slokhas and singing songs. Also Sundal or payasam is made and offered to God. Later this is given to the friends and relatives who will come for vethalai paaku. In the same way we will go to many houses to see the kolu and to get the vethalai paaku.  In recent days, along with the vethalai paaku some gift is also given. Finally at the end of the day Haarathi is done with turmeric powder and kumkum.  On the ninth day, the books and musical instruments are arranged in front of the kolu. Pooja is performed and the food includes vadai and payasam. On the next day to glorify the victory of Durga Devi,  Vijayadasami is celebrated. On that day too pooja is performed and after deeparathanai, The elders will give the books to all the members in the family. Thus the Navarathri is celebrated in my family.

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       This year, it is the first navarathri for me after my wedding. My husband and I bought dolls from many places. It was a visual treat to see many people and to see the dolls being sold in the shops.  While my dad guided us in getting the dolls and giving ideas to set the steps, my Krish encouraged and helped me in arranging things. I should also thank my mom for teaching me and my brother many slokhas and songs. It helped me to chant one or the other each day. Also I thank my thatha for telling many stories whenever the power goes off and my Paati for giving me the confidence to do each and every thing boldly.

Navarathri  Day 1 (21.09.17)

Devi : Maheswari
Flower :Malligai
Neivedhyam :Ven pongal
Thithi  : Pradhamai
Kolam :Draw rangoli by using dry rice flour
Raagam  : Thodi Raagam
Slokam   : Om swethavarnaayai  vidhmahe
soola hasthaayai dheemahi
thanno Maaheshwari Prachodayaath

Navarathri  Day 2(22.09.17)

Devi: Kowmaari
Flower:Sevvarali
Neivedhyam: Puliyodharai
Thithi: Dwitheeyai
Kolam:maavinal kolam . (Draw rangoli by using wet flour.)
Raagam:kalyaani
Slokam: Om Siki vaahanaaya vidhmahe
Sakthi Hasthaayai Dheemahi
Thanno kowmaari Prachodayaath

Navarathri  Day 3(23.09.17)

Devi: Vaaraahi
Flower:Champangi
Neivedhyam:Sakkarai pongal
Thithi:thrutheeyai
Kolam:malar  kolam poda vendum . (Draw rangoli by using flowers-pookolam.)
Raagam:kaambhodhi
Slokam: Om Magishathvajaaya vidhmahe
Thanda Hasthaaya Dheemahi
Thanno Vaaraahi Prachodayaath

Navarathri  Day (24.09.17)

Devi:  Lakshmi
Flower: JaathiMalli
Neivedhyam:Kadhamba Saadham
Thithi:chathurthi
Kolam:Atchadhai kondu padikattu pola kolamida vendum (Draw rangoli in shape of steps by using atchatai (mix of rice,turmeric,ghee.))
Raagam:bhairavi
Slokam: Om Padma Vaasinyai cha Vidhmahe
Padmalochanee sa Dheemahi
Thanno Lakshmi prachodayaath

Navarathri  Day 5(25.09.17)

Devi:  Vaishnavi
Flower: Paarijaatham & Mullai
Neivedhyam: Curd Rice
Thithi: panchami
Kolam: kadalai maavaal paravai kolam poda vendum (Draw a bird like rangoli by using Bengal gram flour.)
Raagam:panchamaavaranai  keerthanai paada vendum.bandhuvaraali
Slokam: Om Syaamavarnaayai  Vidhmahe
Chakra Hasthaayai Dheemahi
Thanno Vaishnavi Prachodayaath

Navarathri  Day 6(26.09.17)

Devi : Indraani
Flower:Semparuthi
Neivedhyam:Coconut rice
Thithi:sashti
Kolam:kadalai maavinaal Devi naamathai kolamida vendum  (Write the name of the goddess  using Bengal gram flour.)
Raagam:Neelaambari
Slokam: Om Kajathvajaayai vidhmahe
Vajra Hasthaaya Dheemahi
Thanno Iyndree Prachodayaath

Navarathri  Day 7(27.09.17)

Devi: Saraswathi
Flower:Malligai & mullai
Neivedhyam:Lemon rice
Thithi:Sapthami
Kolam:Narumana malargalaal kolamida vendum (Draw rangoli by using  fragrant flowers-pookolam.)
Raagam:Bilahari
Slokam: Om Vaakdevyai  vidhmahe
Vrinji pathnyai sa Dheemahi
Thanno Vaani Prachodayaath

Navarathri  Day 8(28.09.17)

Devi: Durga
Flower:Roja
Neivedhyam: Paayasa annam
Thithi:ashtami
Kolam:padma kolam  (Draw traditional lotus shaped rangoli)
Raagam:punnagavaraali
Slokam: Om Magisha mardhinyai vidhmahe
Durga devyai Dheemahi
Thanno Devi Prachodayaath

Navarathri  Day 9(29.09.17)

Devi: Saamundaa
Flower:Thaamarai
Neivedhyam: Akkaravadisal
Thithi:navami
Kolam:Vaasanai podigalal aayudham pola kola mida vendum (Draw weapon shaped rangoli  by using fragrant  powder.)
Raagam:vasantha raagam
Slokam: Om Krishna varnaayai vidhmahe
Soola Hasthaayai Dheemahi
Thanno Saamundaa Prachodayaath

Vijaya dasami(30.09.17)

Devi: Vijaya
Flower: Malligai,Roja
Neivedhyam: sakkarai pongal,sweets
Thithi: dasami
Slokam: Om Vijayaa devyai  vidhmahe
Mahaa Nithyaayai Dheemahi
Thanno Devi Prachoday

Happy Dussehra!!!!

Avani Avittam

This year there is a lot of confusion about the date when avani avittam is to be celebrated. The confusion is whether to observe the function on August 7th or on September 6th.  Many people are celebrating on August 7th while some on September 6th. So here is a small description about avani avittam.

Yajur Upaakarma Sankalpam

Avani Avittam is an important ritual associated with the Brahmin community in the world. The day is of great significance to Rig, Yajur, Sama Vedic Brahmins. On the next day, Gayatri Japa Sankalmpam is observed. In other parts of South India, the observance is known as Upakarma.
On the day of Avani Avittam, the sacred thread worn is changed and it is usually a community observance and takes place on the banks of a pond or river. Avani is the name of the Tamil month and Avittam is one of the 27 nakshatras or stars. On this day, a Mahasankalpam or a vow is taken for atonement of all our sins in the past year. The Brahmins take a holy dip and wear a new holy thread called Yajnopavit or Janeyu.
The first step is a ‘prayashchita’ A prayer to atone the sins. It says, “For the removal of all my sins and thereby to secure a divine blessing and for qualifing myself to perform the essential duties of Brahmanas as prescribed in the vedas and smritis and adopted by the really good in their conduct I put on this Yagnopavita”. When the thread is worn another mantra is recited which means -”I put on the sacred thread which is highly pure, is inseparable from God, is capable of prolonging life and is the foremost in the accomplishment of a Brahmana. May such pure Yagnopavita bring strength and dignity.
While removing the old thread, the mantra means -”I throw away the broken dirty old thread, may the new one bring on long life and Brahmana’s brilliance.

On this day people make neyyappam at home and ask the male members to have it before they change the sacred thread.

Aadi perukku

Adiperukku is a unique South Indian and specially a Tamil festival celebrated on the 18th day of the Tamil month of Adi. Tamil month Aadi, marks the beginning of monsoon in Tamilnadu. During this month, water level rises in rivers due to monsoon.To show our gratitude to the Nature and to thank the mother Cauvery river, we celebrate Aadi perukku. This year it falls on August 3rd.

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On this day we make many variety rice and enjoy with our family. Married girls will go their mother’s place to celebrate this festival.

Click the link to see the method for making variety rices.

Sweet rice

Lemon rice

Tamarind rice

Coconut rice

Curd rice

Aadi Pooram

            Aadi Pooram is one of the important festivals for Iyengars. The pooram star that falls on this month is the birthday of Andal. She is the only woman among 12 Alwars who composed Divya Prabhandham. Thiruppavai and Nachiyar thirumozhi are the pasurams composed by her. Vaaranam Aayiram is a renowned Thirumozhi.Normally thiruppavai is sung by unmarried girls in tamilnadu during the month of Margazhi(mid-Dec to mid-Jan) and is played in all Perumal temples. Aadi pooram is celebrated in a grand manner in Srirangam and Srivalliputhur.
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           Periazhwar a famous saint in Srivalliputhur prayed Goddess Lakshmi since he had no children. One day he saw a beautiful child near thulasi plant and named her Andal.  It was on a pooram star in the month of Aadi and hence it is considered as the birthday of Andal. Everyday Periazhvar pluck flowers, make garland out of it and offer it to Sri Ranganathar. Since she has grown seeing her father doing this regularly she followed the same and made garland to Lord Ranganathar everyday. But before offering it to the God, she wore it everyday which was not known to her father. Days passed and one day her dad, Periazhwar saw her wearing the garland to be offered it to the God and made new garland.  Then he went to the temple as usual to offer the garland to the God. But it fell off inspite of repeated attempts. It was not accepted by Sri Ranganathar. The God appeared before Periazhwar and said that he would like to have only the one worn by Andal and also revealed that it was none other than Goddess Lakshmi and He will marry her. This year I got a new information from my mom that it was on aadi Pooram that Goddess attained puberty and is being celebrated in many temples.
             It also has some significance in my life. I was asked by my mom to recite Vaaranam Aayiram composed by Andal everyday to get a good husband. I followed it and used to chant it everyday before my wedding. And by coincidence it was on Aadi Pooram my Hubby’s aunt & uncle visited our house regarding the alliance. Akkaravadisal is made on this day and offered as a neiveydhyam.

Round up of Payasam or Sweet for Aadi month

Find below a round up of Payasam or Sweet varieties  to be made as Neivedhyam on Aadi velli.

Sakkarai Pongal

Nei Payasam

Chadha chadhayam

Thatta Payaru Sundal

Vella Chadham

Thiruvadhirai kali

Neiyappam

Ellu Chiguli

Thengai Pooranam

Vella Aval

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