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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.

Aadi perukku (1)

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

Aadi month

               Aadi is the fourth month in Tamil calendar. It is an auspicious month for the Hindus. It starts during the mid of July and ends in mid August.  The next six month is called as the Dakshinayana punya kaalam and it is the beginning of night for the Devas. Once Aadi month arrives, festivals will come one by one. Aadi azhayakkum, Vishu thodaykkum” saying conveys the start and end of the festivals, during the year. In rural places of Tamilnadu, they perform Aadi thiruvizha in Maariamman temples. The deity is considered as the kaaval deivam and it is worshipped mainly to get good rain and to protect ourselves from diseases like cholera, malaria and small pox. In my place every year they do this pooja in paettai mariamman kovil and people will visit the temple on tuesdays and fridays to worship her.  In my husband’s family, they have the practise of keeping the water in a bowl. They place it in front of a mirror and will keep thamboolam(Vethalai, paaku, pazham, manjal) in the pooja room. This is done to get rid of the diseases and to protect ourselves.
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Auspicious days during this month
Aadi Pandigai (17-07-2017)
         First day of this month Aadi, usually it falls on 16th or 17th of July.  People celebrate this day as Aadi pandigai especially newly-weds. Special puja is performed followed by a special food which  sweet. The new groom in the family is invited to the Bride’s house and the couple is gifted with new dresses and other presents and treated well with a feast. It is a practise to leave the bride in her house till this month get over.

Aadi velli  (21- 07, 28-07,04-08,11-08 /2017)                                                                                                                                        All the fridays falling on this month are considered as auspicious. Preparing sweets as offering (prasadam) to the goddess, visiting temples, doing special pujas are all the must do things for believers. In my home my paati or amma will make some payasam for neivedyam and offer it to the God. Since Amman is worshipped during this month, the sweets that are made of jaggery is considered superior to those made with white sugar. When we were kids, my mom will wake up very early in the morning before the sun rises and clean the front portion of our house with cow dung and draw kolam. She will also apply Chemman(red soil) here and there. It is from her I learnt to draw the kolams. My grandma or my mom will invite the sumangalis on those days and give them vethalai paaku. All the members in my family will sit together and will chant amman slokas and sing amman songs on these days. We will also arrange for Bhagavth sevai  on any friday at our home.

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Aadi Ammavasai (23-07-2017)

  The no moon day that comes during this month is called as Aadi Ammavasai.  It is a day dedicated to fore fathers and people will perform pooja and offer food to God.

Aadi pooram(26-07-2017)
         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 Vaaranam Aayiram composed by her are some of the famous works. Perialwar a famous saint 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. It is celebrated in a grand manner in Srivalliputhur.
Aadi Krithigai(19-07/ 15-08-2017)
           Aadi Krithigai is celebrated on the Krithikai star day during the month of Aadi, a spiritual month for special God based activities. It is of human origin to survive with relationship and financial problems at the least. Muruga is the promising primordial power who wards off the negative forces and obstacles of your life. Devotees carry flower kavadi and it is celebrated in a grand manner in many murugan temples.
Aadi perukku(03-08-2017)
          It falls on the 18th day of Aadi. At my home we will make different varieties of rice like lemon rice, coconut rice, Vella sadham, thayir sadham, tamarind rice with vadam and it will be a total fun. Everyone will make a big round in our home, will chat together and enjoy the food. This year for the first time I will be missing my loving family.
Varalakshmi viratham/Maavilakku poojai(04-08-2017)
        It differs from family to family. Some will perform Varalakshmi viratham and others will have maavilakku poojai. In our family, we have the practise of performing maavilakku poojai. I have grown up seeing this done at my home. The procedure varies from family to family. Maa Vilakku is ideally performed on a Friday omitting the first and last Friday of the Aadi month. I have seen varalakshmi poojai in my perima’s house. But I donot know the exact procedure of performing it. I am just inserting the snap taken in my sister’s house few years back.
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         The procedure for performing maavilakku poojai is as follows. Kuzhavi,chooral and a wooden board are kept.  Turmeric paste is made and applied on the wooden board. On that 25 red dots 5 rows and 5 columns are placed here and there. Draw maakolam (Rangoli made using rice paste) on the area where the pooja is to be done. Kuzhavi is washed well and the turmeric paste is made into a thick round and placed on it. Two red dots with kumkum are placed as eyes and is also placed as pottu. It is placed on the sand spread in front of the wooden board. A brass sombu is filled with water and Neem leaves are kept in it. Bunch of neem leaves and red colour flowers are placed on it. Along with it the chooral(wooden stick) is placed.
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On the side kuthuvilakku is placed and it is lighted.  On a large plate, rice flour is placed with jaggery and ghee in it. This is made as maavilakku. The tradition is, whatever is cooked for the day is placed before Amman and then partaken. Also once the lamp is lit, no more tempering with mustard seeds will be done in the home, for the day. Normally molagootal, rasam, pachadi is made on that day. A glass with water is placed. It should be removed only on the next day. Once the neiveydhyam is placed, the door is closed. It is a belief that the Goddess will come and eat those food.Now we will sit outside the pooja room and chant amman slokas and songs. After 10 minutes we should clap our hands twice before opening the door. And then the karpoora harathi is shown to the God. Vethilai paaku is given to the sumangalis .
Garuda Panchami (28-07-2017)
Garuda Panchami pooja is dedicated to Sri Garudalwar, also known as “Periya Thiruvadi”. This pooja is usually performed by women and benefits their children. Garudalwar is propitiated by women who wish to give birth to bold, brave and sharp-minded children like Garudan. Newly wed couples perform this pooja for a happy married life. By performing this pooja, it is also believed that suffering due to Naga Dosham will be alleiviated.

A Dad’s speech at his Daughter’s wedding

This is one of the speeches that is close to my heart. And all fathers who have daughters will understand the feeling of every single word. I wished to read this today after a long time and remembered how precious are the girls to their fathers. When a girl enters into a family, she enters with lot of fears and anxiety. Try to handle her with love,  care and affection. Don’t be a male chauvinistic person. I  dedicate this to my father who treated me as his princess till I got married and my husband who treats me as his queen… He protects me when someone else yell at me and supports me when I am right. I also tell to all the people who shouts for no reason, if your hand is up now,  there comes a time when a girls hand rises. And you will reap for what you have done. So think before you do something and respect her. Respect her and in turn you ll get respect. My husband happily makes coffee when I feel tired and helps me in my household work if I am sick. I wish all the husbands to treat their wives with care. When you expect a girl to accept a man if he doesn’t know to ride a vehicle or abstain himself from doing his duties,  you also please accept when he does household work.  Don’t draw a margin and say it’s a girls duty.  And never ever have an idea that household work is meant for the ladies.  Come out of the age old stupid ideas like not allowing he youngsters to sit on single sofa. Respect women and try to be more practical rather than a formal,  strict officer.  If you respect a woman,  you will be worshipped as a God… And all men who have a daughter are blessed and knows the pain of a life than a boy’s dad.

Dad’s speech

I thought I would start my speech by addressing you as the “new” family of my daughter. But I think it would be inappropriate because now that she is married, you are “the family” for her. Believe me; I don’t have a problem with that. I, in fact, want my daughter to have “you” as her priority now. Its time for us to take a backseat in her life. We would happily accept it but would surely request one thing- please keep her happy!

I am more than sure that you will keep her very happy. She will perhaps be happier than what she used to be here. But like all fathers, I obsess over my daughter’s happiness which is making me say this over and over again- please keep her happy!

She never was and will never be a burden for me. She is in fact the reason why I breathe and smile. I am getting her married because this is what the law of nature demands. I am helpless in the face of our culture and therefore sending her to your home. She was the happiness of my home and will now light up your home. I am giving my world to you. Please make sure it remains beautiful. I am giving away my princess to you. Please make sure she stays as a queen. I have raised her with my sweat and blood and now she is wonderfully perfect. For all the care, love, beauty and warmth my daughter will bring into your lives, I just want her happiness in return—please keep her happy!

If at times you think that my daughter has said or done something wrong, feel free to scold her. But handle her with love. She is very fragile. If at times she feels low, be with her. She just needs a little bit of your attention. If at times she feels sick, show her some care. It’s the medicine that works best for her. If at times she fails to fulfill a responsibility, feel free to chastise her. But empathize with her. She is still learning. Do understand her—please keep her happy!

I don’t mind if I don’t get to see her for months. I don’t mind if I am not able to talk to her on a daily basis. I would be more than happy if she doesn’t remember me much. But, my only motive in life has been my daughter’s happiness which is now in your hands. I beg you, please keep her happy.

Dear son-in-law, these words may not mean much to you now but if you are lucky enough to father a daughter someday, you will appreciate them better when you will find every beat of your heart shouting – “please keep her happy”!

— Dedicated to all fathers

Vaikasi Visakam

Vaikāsi Visākam is important to the Saivites, Vaishnavites and the Buddhists. To the Saivites, it is the day of the descent of Murugan; to the Vaishnavites it is Periyalvar’s jayanti and to the Buddhists it is the day of the great miracles of nativity, enlightenment and maha samadhi of Buddha.

The descent of Murugan is referred to as the Shanmuga avatāram. This descent was in answer to a prayer by the devas to rid the world of adharma caused by the three asura brothers, Soorapadman, Singamuhan and Tārakan. These brothers had obtaind great powers through intense penance and were harassing the devas. The devas appealed to Siva for help. Tradition has it that Siva added a sixth face to the existing five faces and this incident is spoken of in the celebrated work of Saint Kumaraguruparar as:

Ainthu mukaththodatho mukamum thanthu
Tirumukangal ārāki.

Saint Tirumular in his Magnum Opus, the Tirumantiram, over two thousand years ago referred to this Divine incident as:

Āme pirān mukamainthodu māruya
Rāme pirānuk kathomukamārula.
 

From the forehead, Siva emitted six sparks of fire which enveloped the world with lustre. These sparks were carried by Vāyu and Agni to the Ganges which pushed them into Lake Saravana Poigai filled with lotuses and reeds. Philosophically the lotus represents the pure heart and the reeds represent the network of nerves in man’s physical body. Symbolically, the Divine Effulgence in the lake with its lotuses and reeds, are within each one. As Light and Life this Reality abides in the body, breath, senses, mind, intelligence and ego. These six facets of the human complex represents the six faces of Shanmugan.

In the Lake the sparks became six Divine children and were nursed by six Kārtika maidens popularly called as Karthigai Pengal. These children were embraced by the Divine Mother and became One with six faces and twelve hands. And thus descended Shanmugan, the incarnation of pure consciousness and divine knowledge on the pournima (paruvam) in the month of Vaikāsi.

Saint Kachchiappah Sivachariyar beautifully portrays the descent as, ‘With form and formlessness, without a beginning and as one and many, stood the column of Light, the Supreme Brahman, who with six merciful faces and twelve arms took the Divine Incarnation as Murukan for the redemption of the world,’

Aruvamum uruvumāki anāthiyāi palavāi onrāi
Brahmamāi ninra sothi pilambathor meniyākak
Karunaikoor mukangal ārum karangal pannirendu konde
Oru thiruMurukan vandhāngu udhiththanan ulakam uyya.
 

He then goes on to say, ‘That ever pure, Omnipresent Siva, who cannot be comprehended by speech or mind or even by the Vedas, assuming the form of six sweet babies, was gracefully seated on six lotus flowers in the Saravana Lake.’

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Murugan is worshipped and adored also as Subramanyan, Shanmugan, Kārthikeyan, Guhan Saravanapavan, Arumugan etc. As Murugan, He is the ever young and beautiful; as Subramanyan, He is the Su Brahmanya the All-pervading spirit of the Universe – the essence from which all things are evolved, by which they are sustained and into which they dissolve. He is the Omnipresent One, the Commander-in-Chief seated on a peacock with the Vel and is depicted at times with the Divine Consorts, Devayani and Valli. As Shanmugan, He descended to destroy adharma. As Kārttikeyan, He was nursed by the Kārtika maidens. As Guhan, He resides in the cavern of one’s heart. As Saravanabavan, He belonged to Lake Saravana poigai. As Arumugan, He has six faces.

Generally Murukan is spoken of as Ceyon one who is ruddy in colour. However, the Sri Tattvanidhi4 describes Murukan as dark blue in colour holding the Vel; sometimes He is depicted with the two consorts, Devayanai and Valli. Besides Him stands the peacock gripping a snake with its claws. The blue indicates infinity. To the human perception all infinite expanses for example the sky or ocean, appear blue. Murukan is the Infinite Reality existing in the cavern of the heart – the Guhan. This reality expresses Itself through the mind and together with the five sense organs, forms His six faces – Shan(six)-mukham.

The peacock is symbolic of vanity and pride. The serpent represents ego, the carnal personality of man which keeps wanting the mundane pleasures. The ego is created by avidya or ignorance and this must be kept in check and channeled to discover the Truth. The peacock holding the serpent within its claws conveys this Truth. And finally the Vel, is symbolic of the removal of the negative and evil tendencies which veil the true Divine Self. The Vel represents wisdom, Jnāna Sakti; His Consort Valli is the power of Will and is the personification of Divine Love, Ichchā Sakti; and Devayanai is the power of action and is the personification of deathlessness, Kriya Sakti. The three saktis help in eradicating the demon ego, represented in this episode as Soorapadman, the asura. Murukan appeared for a special purpose to eradicate the adharma caused by the asuras and the ensuing battle with the asuras is the story of the Skanda Shashti fast. The manifestation of Shanmugan is the everlasting testament of victory, of Truth over falsehood, of Dharma over adharma. And those who fight against adharmic forces within or around themselves, are said to be the ‘faithful warriors of Murukan’ and reflect his splendour – the Muruga amsam5

Thus it is seen that on this special day of Vaikāsi Visākam, the young and ever beautiful One came down for a specific purpose. But what is important is that this Divine Avatāram is continuously going on within man. Saint Arunagirinathar says that one should bear this in mind, draw strength and knowledge from this by meditating on the His sacred form for at least half a minute in order that he may be blessed with His grace.

Sarana kamalalayaththe arai nimisha neramettil
Tavamurai Dhyānam vaikka …

Vaikasi Visakam Poojai

Vaikasi Visakam is a ten-day festival in Lord Muruga Temples and special pujas and homas are performed during the period. A car festival, or pulling of chariots, is organized on the day.

In homes, Vaikasi Visakam is observed by performing special pujas to Lord Muruga.

Idols, portraits, paintings of Lord Muruga are thoroughly cleaned and decorated.

Usual puja procedures are followed. Sarkarai Pongal, a special neviedya, or prasad, is prepared on the day. People also visit a nearby Muruga Shrine and do pujas and offer prayers.

Prayers that are chanted on the day include Kanda Sashti Kavacham, Subrahmanya Bhujangam and Shanmukha Kavacham.

Some people opt for an elaborate Sahasranama Archana and conduct special pujas by inviting a priest.

 

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