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PRAYERS AND FESTIVALS

Ponggal

Pongal is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu. On this day, people thank God for a bountiful harvest. They prepare a special dish called 'Sarkkarai Pongal' and pray for the blessings of Sun God. One of the most popular Tamil festivals, it is celebrated on January 14th every year, when it coincides with Makar Sankranti celebrations in entire North India, Lohri in Punjab, Bhogali Bihu in Assam and Bhogi in Andhra Pradesh. It is one of the very few Dravidian festivals that have survived the Indo-Aryan influences. Pongal also finds little reference in Puranas.

Falling just after the winter solstice and a bountiful harvest, Pongal marks the season of celebration and joyous activities and it is celebrated continuously for four days. On the first day, Bhogi Pongal, celebrations are confined to the house. Evil spirits are driven out of the home and burnt in bonfires, and the house is whitewashed. The second day, Surya Pongal, honors the Sun god. Members of the family wear new clothes and cook - on a new stove and in new pots - a dish with the newly harvested rice, jaggery and moong dal. 

The third day is Maattu Pongal, honoring cattle. Cows and bullocks are washed, decorated and worshipped, for their role in ensuring a good harvest. Pongal also marks the beginning of a New Year and is the day to praise and thank God with full devotion, faith and sincerity of heart. The festival covers all living beings including humans, cattle and birds and crops. Even the insects are not overlooked and offered rice and flour, in the form of 'Kollam', on the entrance way of the houses. Thus, Pongal is a day for peace and happiness for all.

Maha Sivarathiri

Auspicious festival of Mahashivaratri falls on the 13th or the 14th night of the new moon during Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Phalgun. The Sanskrit term, Krishna Paksha means the period of waning moon or the dark fortnight and Phalguna corresponds to the month of February - March in English Calendar. Shivaratri Festival is celebrated on a moonless night.


According to Hindu mythology, Shivaratri or 'Shiva's Great Night' symbolizes the wedding day of Lord Shiva and Parvati. Many however, believe, Shivaratri is the night when Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Nritya - the dance of primordial creation, preservation and destruction. Celebrating the festival in a customary manner, devotees give a ritual bath to the Lingam with thepanchagavya - milk, sour milk, urine, butter and dung. Celebrations of Shivaratri Festival mainly take place at night. Devotees of Lord Shiva throng Shiva temples across the country and spend ‘the Night of Lord Shiva’ by chanting verses and hymns in praise of the Lord. The festival holds special meaning for the ladies. They pray to Goddess Parvati also called 'Gaura', the giver of 'suhag' for good husbands, marital bliss and a long and prosperous married life.

Chittirai Putthandu

The Varushapirapu is the Tamil New Year, it is a time for celebrating new and prosperous beginnings. The 14th of April is the beginning of the first month Chittirai of the Tamil year, which is celebrated as the New Year and is also known as "Chittirai Vishu". Varusham is the Tamil word for "year" and 'Pirapu' can be translated as the "birth" or "beginning" or "commencement" of an event.  The 60-year cycle of the Tamil calendar is common to North and South Indian traditional calendars, with the same name and sequence of years. Its earliest reference is to be found in Surya Siddhanta, which Varahamihirar (550 CE) believed to be the most accurate of the then current theories of astronomy. However, in the Surya Siddhantic list, the first year was Vijaya and not Prabhava as currently used. This 60-year cycle is also used in the Chinese calendar.

Aani Thirumanjanam

The word "Thirumanjanam" means Holy bath. Aani Thirumanjanam ( Tamil month spanning June- July) is a special day ( Uthram Nakshtram) when an Abhishekam is performed for Lord Nataraja . It is believed that Lord Nataraja gives darshan to his devotees in the months Aani and Margazhi. The Lord's form demonstrates his five-fold functions: creation, preservation, destruction, concealment and salvation. The rattle (udukkai) in his right hand represents creation; his raised right arm with the open palm (abhaya hastam) protection; his left hand holding fire destruction; his firmly placed foot concealment; and his other, slightly lifted, leg salvation. Lord Nataraja is given six abhishekams in a year.

Earth takes 365 days to complete one full circle around the sun. That duration is divided into six seasons - Marghazhi-Thai: early winter; Maasi-Panguni: late winter; Chittirai-Vaikasi: early summer; Aani-Aadi: high summer; Avani-Purattasi: autumn; Aippasi-Karthikai: rainy season.This six-season year of humans is said to be one day for the immortals. A day has six periods: dawn, morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and night. These are when the six daily poojas ( Kaala Pooja) in temples are performed. During each of these six parts, an Abhishekam has been ordained for Lord Nataraja. One of these is Ani Thirumanjanam, the pradosha abhishekam on the evening of the day of Uthiram star in the Tamil month of Aani (June-July). This is the best time for worshipping Lord Shiva. 

Aadi Thiruvizha

Aadi Thiruvizha is a festival celebrated in Malaysia by the people who practising Hinduism. This festival is celebrated once a year in Tamil month of Aadi, that comes in the month of July or August. People in general would pray to ‘Goddess Amman’ to fulfill their wishes. They have a kind of superstitious belief, that by pleasing the Goddess their wishes would be fulfilled. So to please the Goddess, they in return would cook and offer the sweet pongal (which is said to be the favorite dish of Goddess Amman) in the temple; or by walking on the fire; or by walking with the pots on their heads from one end to the other end of the village and so on. It’s also learnt that, they believe in Goddess entering some of women’s bodies for a while due to which they start to shake powerfully. This kind of act continues for few minutes and then they faint instantly, which means that the ‘Goddess Amman’ left their body. It is believed that married women will have a good and long married live if they participated in this festival full heartedly. In our Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, Aadi thiruvizha is the main prayer which will be conducted on the first week (Sunday) on August.

Thiruvizhakku Pooja

Thiruviakku pooja  will be celebrated during the month of " Aadi" on the full moon day. This pooja is specially for single and married woman. The purpose of this pooja is to give a long and happy married life for the married women as well as for the single woman who have not married yet will paarticipate in this prayer to get a good candidate/husband. Every one feels that godess lakshmi is residing in lamp light to lit our surroundings with all fortune. Vilakku pooja is also like that to worship our god. At home if you lit a lamp and pray, you feel that lamp is giving light to our home and our surrounding, 'LAKSHMI KADATCHAM'. On this day, priest who is well versed in the Vedic incantations will lead the pooja. Normally in temple they will have the "Asthothra Namavali" incantation on god where in the invocation is felt vibrating throughout the place.

Vinayagar Chaturthi

Ganesha Chaturthi is the Hindu Festival celebrated on the birthday (rebirth) of Lord Ganesha the son of Shiva and Parvathi

It is believed that Lord Ganesh bestows his presence on earth for all his devotees during this festival. It is the day Shiva declared his son Ganesha as superior to all the gods, barring Vishnu, Lakshmi, Shiva and Parvati. Ganesha is widely worshipped as the god of wisdom, prosperity and good fortune and traditionally invoked at the beginning of any new venture or at the start of travel. The festival, also known as Ganeshotsav ("festival of Ganesha") is observed in the Hindu Calendar month of Bhaadrapada, starting on the Shuklachaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Anand Chaturthasi (fourteenth day of the waxing moon period).

Mahalaya Amavasai

Mahalaya Amavasya is the new moon day of the Pitru Paksha or Mahalaya Paksha. The dark fortnight between September and October is called the Mahalaya Paksha. This fortnight is considered very auspicious for offering oblations to the departed souls. According to north Indian Purnimanth calendars, Mahalaya Amavasya falls on Ashwin month and according to south Indian calenders it is celebrated in the month of Bhadrapada.  Mahalaya Amvasya is of great significance to Hindus. According to the legend, Karna the hero of Mahabharata was a very generous man and did lot of charity of valuable items. After his death when his soul reached heaven he was offered thousand folds more gold and silver in return of charity he had done on Earth. But he was never offered food. When he asked lord Yama the reason he was told that he could be given whatever he had donated on earth. So he prayed to lord Yama and was granted life for 14 days. During this 14 days he went to the earth and fed the poor and offered oblations of water. Thus these 14 days came to be known as Mahalaya Paksha or pitru paksha.

Navarathiri

"Nava-ratri" literally means "nine nights." This festival is observed twice a year, once in the beginning of summer and again at the onset of winter.

What's the Significance of Navratri?During Navaratri, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of the universal mother, commonly referred to as "Durga," which literally means the remover of miseries of life. She is also referred to as "Devi" (goddess) or "Shakti" (energy or power). It is this energy, which helps God to proceed with the work of creation, preservation and destruction. In other words, you can say that God is motionless, absolutely changeless, and the Divine Mother Durga, does everything. Truly speaking, our worship of Shakti re-confirms the scientific theory that energy is imperishable. It cannot be created or destroyed. It is always there.

Deepavali

Deepavali is also known as Diwali, or the Festival of Lights. Light is significant in Hinduism because it signifies goodness. So, during the Festival of Lights, 'deeps', or oil lamps, are burned throughout the day and into the night to ward off darkness and evil. Diwali is celebrated on the last day of the last month of lunar calendar. There are various alleged origins attributed to this festival. Some hold that they celebrate the marriage of Lakshmi with Lord Vishnu. In Bengal, the festival is dedicated to the worship of Kali. It also commemorates that blessed day on which the triumphant Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after defeating Ravana. On this day also Sri Krishna killed the demon Narakasura. In Malaysia, it is celebrated as the day the evil Narakasura was slain by Lord Krishna. The triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. 

Thirukarthigai

Karthigai is essentially a  festival of lamps. The lighted lamp is considered an auspicious symbol. It is believed to ward off evil forces and usher in prosperity  and joy. While the lighted lamp is important for all Hindu rituals and  festivals, it is indispensable for Karthigai. There is an interesting  story explaining the link between Karthigai and lamps. Legend has it  that Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma began to quarrel as to who was  the more powerful of the two. While they were fighting, Lord Shiva  appeared before them in the form of a huge pillar of fire. Lord  Vishnu and Lord Brahma gave up quarrelling and decided to find the  top and the bottom of the pillar. Accordingly, Brahma assumed the form of a swan and moved upwards. Vishnu transformed himself into a boar and started digging deep into the earth. But even after searching for several  years, neither of the two was able to find the ends the pillar. Finally, they realised that the pillar was none other than Lord Shiva. Soon afterwards, Lord Shiva appeared as a hill (Arunachala Hill) at  Tiruvannamalai in Tamil Nadu.

Maarkazhi Maatha Ubayam

Generally, people say that Margazhi (Dec 15 to Jan 15) month is not a good month to perform any Subha festivals and this month is also considered as the black month (Soonya month). But it's not like that. This month should be and is considered as a highly spiritual and divine month. Even Sri Krishnar says that in the month, he is Margazhi. This clearly explains the greatness of Margazhi. (Then, why people did not perform any Subha festival in this month? 

As soon as we say Margazhi, the next instant that comes to our mind is Sri Andal and Sri Villiputhoor. She is one among the great 12 Alwars.

Even in Sri Bhagavath Geetha, in a slokam it says Masaanaam "Margaseershohum". This means in the months, he is considered as Margazhi. Having said by Sri Krishnar, this Margazhi month has got lots of specialties with in itself.

Sriman Narayanan is called with various thiru Naamams are considered more specials. And these 12 thiru Naamams denotes 12 Tamil months. Out of these 12 thiru Naamams, Kesavan is considered to be the greatest and divine Naamam and this Naamam - Kesavan is related to the Margazhi month. This also explains the greatness of Margazhi month.

This Margazhi month has another speciality also. This month is considered and should be considered as the divine and highly spiritual month because in all the other months, there are lots of festivals and happy occasions fall. The main reason why there are no festivals in this month is mainly because of mind and soul should completely think only towards the perumal and this is the only month in which all the 30 days should be dedication towards the perumal. This is the main reason why no festivals are done during thing month, as this month is highly sacred and divine.

Arudra Tharisanam

Margazhi month is called Twilight in Heaven and it is the time to take a cue from the Sun while it is in Sagittarius, the period known as the time the Gods rest and rejuvenate. Arudra Darshan is the longest night of the year. After this, the days get longer and the nights get shorter.  The Arudra star in the Tamil month of Margazhi (Dec 15 – Jan 15) is Lord Shiva’s birthday. It is believed to be the day when Lord Shiva’s energy is very close to the earth; hence it has been given the importance of being His birthday. He is worshipped in the cosmic dance form, making his power and heightened consciousness accessible to those who seek it.  Arudra is a very powerful star. Most people born on the Arudra star day will hold significant places in the society. In this dancing form, Lord Shiva lifts His left leg and has His right foot stepping on the demon of ego, famously known as "the God who dances a still dance".