|Meenashshi temple, Madurai, TN temple /zszywka.|
An interesting fact is Hindu women, cutting across castes and creed in this state, are more religious and participate in religious activities with greater faith and positive energy. Such religious festivals promote amity among different communities, spiritual engagement, promoting integrity, commitment and honesty and choosing the right path in our lives. Some Tamil months have great religious significance, a few of them are inauspicious. Listed below are some important religious celebrations for each month. Dates are not not given as they may vary every year by a day or two. Besides the Gregorian months are given in parenthesis.
The following are the important festivals according to the Tamil Calendar:
01. Chithirai (April -May): The very first beginning of the Tamil year. 'Varusha pirappu'- the Tamil New Year is observed in every household in this state and most of the people never fail to visit the near-by temple to offer prayer and seek God's blessing for a better year. Chitra Pournami (full Moon Day) festival, that falls in this month, is dedicated to god Chitragupta, a Hindu demi-deity who is believed to record the good and bad deeds of men/women on earth for Yama, the Hindu god of the underworld. On this day, devotees pray to Chitragupta to forgive their sins. Many devotees bathe in rivers or other water bodies - symbolic of their sins being washed away.
The famous ''Chithirai Thiruvizha'' - Chithrai festival is cerebrated in Madurai city. As the 64 Thiruvilayadal took place in Madurai, the city is also known as ‘Boologa Kailaayam’.
|meenakshi-weds-sundareswar, Madurai. nettv4u.com|
It is an annual celebration that lasts for almost one month. The first 15 days mark the grand celebrations of the coronation of Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati) and the celestial wedding of of Lord Sundareswara (God Shiva). The next 15 days focus on the celebrations of the Journey of Lord Azhagar (Sri. Vishnu) from his near-by abode - Kallazhagar temple in Azhagar Kovil close to Madurai city.
After Meenakshi Thirukalyanam (the celestial wedding of Meenakshi), it is believed, both Lord Sundareswarar and Meenakshi ruled the Pandya Kingdom for a long time. The day after the wedding, the gods will be taken out in a procession on a nicely- decorated wooden temple car around the Masi Streets. This Ther Thiruvizha /Chariot festival also draws lots of people to the city from near-by villages.
Azhagar (Sri Vishnu) comes to Madurai and later gets into the river to bless the cursed Mandooka rishi - saint. Lord's arrival to Madurai is a great annual event and is a famous one; these festivals are part and parcel of Madurai city's historical tradition.
\02. Vaikaasi (May-June): Vaikaasi Visaakam is the most important day in this month. It is celebrated during Visakam Nakshatra. as the birthday of Lord Murugan who was brought up by Kathikai pengal (nymphs). Lord Muruga was created by Shiva and adopted by Parvati to slay the powerful demon called ''Soorpadman''. Hindus visit the temples dedicated to God Muruga (Karthikaya) for good health, prosperity, success in business, etc.
03. Aani (June- July): Aani (June- July): Aani Thirumanjanam or Aani Uttaram for Lord Nataraja is the most sanctified day in this month. It is believed God Nataraja gives darshan to his true devotees on this particular day. Aani Uthram is widely believed to be the day when Lord Shiva appeared before the holy Tamil Saivite Saint Sri Manikkavachakar underneath a Kurundai tree to offer him upadesha (advice). Thus this day is considered significant to the many devotees of Lord Nataraja. At the famous Chidambaram temple, this one is one of six 'Kala Puja' days offered during six seasons. It is to be borne in mind, here, the six season of one earthly year is, in fact, considered as one full day for the heavenly beings (gods & goddesses). The six periods are namely the dawn, morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and night. The 3- hour Maha Puja will begin at 3 am in the morning to propitiate the lord.
04. Aadi (July -August): The most important month for women. Fridays and Tuesdays are holy in this month; these are called Aadi Velli and Aadi Chevvai; the other one being Aadi Amavasya. During Addi Fridays and Tuesdays, women in the house, with reverence, do pujas to the goddess Durga or Parvati and visit the near-by temple for the welfare of the family and kids. Unmarried Kanya pengal get due importance on these auspicious days in this month. Aadi Pooram is also a special day. The 18th day of Aadi is the most important day for the farmers (delta region) as they prepare paddy seedlings during this month.
|Goddess Andal, Sri Villiputhur, TN dheivegam.com/|
People also celebrate this day as Aadi pandigai. especially newly-weds. Women in large number visit the river banks and tie the Mangalya Sutra (Thaali). At home special puja is performed followed by a special food which includes delicious “Payasam ''(Kheer) with coconut milk. On the Aadi Ammavasya, most Hindu male members, in the early morning, do Pithru Tharpanam on the banks of the river to honor the departed souls and get their blessings. Mostly, they do it with the help of a Pundit/ Prohit. One could see a sea of humanity at Rameswaram beach doing Tharpanam for their forefathers.
|Pitru Tharpanam. subbuskitchen.com|
|God Vishnu Thinamalr com.|
07. Aippasi (October- November): The NE retreating Monsoon brings in lots of rains over coastal Tamil Nadu in this month which is supposed to be wet all through this period. In this Tamil month ''Annaabishekam'' - bathing of Shiva Linga with cooked rice for Lord Shiva is done at important temples like the one at Thanjavur, etc. The food will be distributed among the devotees as offerings - prasadam from the lord.
|Meenashshi temple, Madurai, TN temple /zszywka.p|
|Soorsamharam, Tiruchendur, TN thehindu.com|
|Lord Shiva in the form of Lingam. amil.oneindia.com/|
|Tiruvannamai Shiva temple, Karthigai Deepam. .deccanchronicle.com|
|.Maha Depam on the holy hill, Tiruvannamalai. astroved.com|
|Ari Andal temple, Sri Villiputhur, TN rvatemples.com|
|Goddess Andal, Sri Villiputhur. prokerala.com/|
|Srirangam Ranganathar temple, TN.newstm.in/news/|
Araiyar sevai, a Tamil performing art form is quite popular during the festive days (10 plus 10 days- Rapathu-Pagal Pathu). It is a ritual of singing and enactment of the hymns of the Divya Prabandham witha slow dance and gestures. Araiyar sevai is generally performed only inside Vaishnavite temples before the temple uthsavar (the temple's processional deity) by hereditary performers. At the shrine of Azhagiya Manavala Perumal Temple, the shrine of Alvar Tirunagari and at Srivilliputhur Andal temple Araiyar sevai is done. As for the Shaiva sect, they observe the day as Trikoti Ekadashi, a religious observance where all the deities in the Hindu pantheon pay obeisance to Lord Sri Shiva who is an embodiment of all five important elements that take care of all the living things on earth.
10. Thai (January-February): Pongal (Sankaranthi), which is the harvest festival, is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month. It is a grand Hindu festival in Tamil Nadu and the most important feature is the preparation of Pongal (cooked rice mixed with jaggery, milk, grated coconut, etc). It is made in the earthen pot at many homes. Mattu Pongal is part of this festival. Both cows and bulls are decorated well and family members do puja to them. Jallikattu - subduing the ferocious bulls by men, is a major event in South Tamil Nadu and it is still shrouded in controversy.
Native bull (Bos indicus), Pulikulam or Kangayam breeds, is released into a large number of participants who try to grab the large hump on the bull's back with both arms while the bull attempting to escape. Participant, who holds the hump as long as possible, is declared a winner. This controversial sport is a risky one and only certain people are allowed in this sport.
|taming the bull Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu. alleventsio.com|
|Tamil Nadu. Pongal festival, .indiaart.com/|
|Palani Murugan (Karthikayan temple), TN cpreecenvis.nic.in|
|Famous in karthikaya temples. A kavadi. size may vary. pixshark.com|
11. Maasi (February-March): Maasi Magam is the special day of this Month. Shivaratri is an important festival widely celebrated by Hindus. At all Shiva temples, pujas are continuously done till morning and devotees engage in Bhajans and religious discourses. that will go on the whole night. Masi Magam is also an important festival in Kerala.
Magam star, one among the twenty-seven stars in the Astrological grouping, usually falls on the full moon day and hence it is considered auspicious across South India - Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kerala.
The significance of Masi Magam should be understood. It is believed to be one of the most powerful Full Moon day of the year since the moon aligns with Magha, the birth Star of the Kings and Ancestors. This event, that occurs only once a year, signifies the descent of heavenly beings to the earth. Masi Magam offers abundance and prosperity associated with the Full Moon and the Magha star. It helps us acquire power and positive energy. It also develops humility in us, giving no room to ego.
|Adi Kumbeswarer temple, Kumbakonam, flicker com.|
|Mahamaham tank, Kumbakonam, TNwikimapia.org|