Friday, 11 August 2017

Gokulashtami | Janmashtami | Krishna Jayanthi


Lord Krishna's Birthday is celebrated as Krishnashtami or Gokulashtami or Sri Krishna Jayanthi. Both elders and younger generation are very much interested in the celebration. Lord Krishna is the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

Whenever a new born is available at home, they assume the child as Lord Krishna and thoroughly enjoy the festival. We can see lot of people naming their Boy Child in the name of Lord Krishna (Murali, Anirudhan, Gokul, Gopal, Jagadhish etc;) Even when I was pregnant, my MIL prayed god and when my son was born after Gokulashtami we named him Sanjay Krishnan as per my MIL's wish.

Lord Krishna is reminded for his childhood mischief. So the favorite food that we offer on the day of Krishna Jayanthi includes, Butter, Milk, Curd, Aval, Payasam, Appam, fruits, Betal leaves & Nuts. Also snacks includes Uppu Seedai, Vella Seedai, Kai Murukku etc; If you do not know how to prepare the snacks the most important offering for this occasion are the Milk products mentioned above. Few people also prepare milk kova at home. Nowadays we get the package of snacks in the famous food outlets. History reveals that Lord Krishna's close friend Kuchelar offered him Aval which is Lord Krishna's favorite food. Overwhelmed with joy Lord Krishna offered his friend Kuchelar with wealth and prosperity.

This festival is celebrated in the evening by 6 PM on the Ashtami thidhi during the month of Avani. The Idol of Lord Krishna is decorated with flower garlands or a picture at home. Since this festival falls in the evening, ladies fast till evening and prepare the food for offering. My MIL engage the kids to prepare the seedai balls since it takes time.

In the morning itself, soak some raw rice for Maakolam. By noon we used to grind this and apply Maakolam at the entrance and Krishnar paadam from the entrance till the Pooja hall. This small Paadam depicts the small steps of Sri Krishna and people trust Lord Krishna comes to each of their homes during the Pooja.

Nowadays, we get the small steps in stickers and people started buying them instead of Krishnar paadam depicted using the wet raw rice flour. However, the charm is drawing the small Paadam using the wet flour in white color. Some people dip their small kids legs in the wet rice flour and place the mark on the floor. This shows their level of enjoyment they have on this occasion.

Lot of people dress up their kids as Radha and Krishna as well. North India Celebrates this festival in a very grand manner.

Soak the raw rice in water for 2 hours and then drain the water. Grind in mixie into a smooth paste. Add few teaspoon of water if required while grinding. Using a small clean cloth draw the kolam.

Below is a small video of how to put the krishnar paadam using the wet raw rice flour.
video



Sunday, 14 May 2017

Betrothal /Nichayadhartham

Indian marriages are quite interesting and it includes lot of small functions and the first step of entering into a relationship is assured during the Betrothal Function.

Almost every family has some formality unique for themselves. I am sharing most common practices that a normal Tamil Brahmin family would do.

The bride and the groom meet, after the elders are satisfied with the matching of Horoscope (Jadhaga porutham). Nowadays, they also take sometime to understand their areas of interest, lifestyle, plan for their future etc; and decide to accept the proposal. Both families are very much excited to enter into a new relationship. It is usually conducted at the bride groom's house or in a small hall.

Recently heard that in Iyengar Families the bride's family conduct the function.

The most important aspect of the Betrothal is the reading of the Agreement for marriage that contains the details of both family members, proposed date of marriage, place of marriage and signing agreement by the parents in front of the elders.

The Sasthrigal used to come on this day and assist in terms of performing the function, writing and reading the Nichayadhartha pathirikkai. You can ask Sastrigal's assistance to provide a list of things that he would require. Other than that, the one conducting the function need to be prepared with Turmeric, Santhanam, Kumkum, Thamboolam for the guest, Manjal & Kumkum for the ladies who visit the function and any gift of your choice.

The Bride's family arrange for Nichayadhartha Seer and present to the groom's family during the function. The wide range of fruits & gifts they bring depict their love and affection for their expected son in law. Usually the variety of fruits includes Mangoes, apple, Pomegranate, Banana, Orange, Pineapple, Dates. Flowers, Betal Leaves & Nuts and garlands for the would be couple are also brought. In our family a small silver plate filled with Sugar is gifted on the occasion of Betrothal by the bride's family. Our tradition also includes Milk Kova to be brought in a new vessel. The traditional 5 to 7 layers of Murukku and Laddu are also brought to gift the visitors. Paruppu Thengai is also a must for this function in our families.



Both families buy new dresses to gift the bride and groom. Nowadays new dresses are gifted among the parents as well to greet them. The young would be couple will wear the new dresses that the Sastrigal would give to them after reciting the mantras. Then they are allowed to sit together and maami and mama of the bride and groom would make them wear garlands respectively. People started gifting jewels for both bride and groom and also exchange ring. Even though these are not part of our traditional method of engagement, we started adopting them for the happiness and satisfaction of the young would be couple.

Sister in law of the bride help her to dress for the function that gives her a comfort in the new family.

The function ends by serving fine food prepared/ordered by the groom's family.




Sunday, 2 April 2017

Sri Rama Navami

SriRama Navami is a simple yet important function we celebrate. It is celebrated on the Birthday of SriRamar who was born on Tamil Month of Panguni and the star is Punar Poosam. Sri Ramar has been an inspiration to all of us because of the discipline he demonstrated in his Avatar as Sri Ramar.

This year the festival falls on 5 Apr 2017.

We all used to have the Ramar Pattabishegam image at home where Sri Ramar, Sita Devi, Lakshmanan and Lord Anajaneya are available. We can decorate this with garlands/flowers and apply Sandal and Kumkum for the Pooja.



As a matter of celebration ladies clean the home and decorate with Maakolam. Be prepared with Betal leaves & Nuts, flowers for archanai, fruits for neivedhyam. We take head bath on this day to perform and participate in Pooja at home and at temples. The cooking at home should not include onion and garlic as we do for any other Pooja.

Few people start the celebrations 10 days in advance of the festival. Both in temples and at home people start reading Sundara gandam before 10 days and complete the reading on the birthday of Sri Ramar which we call as Garba Utsavam. The day we complete the reading of Sundara Gandam is celebrated by offering Neivedyam and performing pooja to Sri Ramar.

Few also start reading Sundara Gandam on the day of Sri Rama Navami and complete after 10 days which we call as Janana Utsavam.

The day when we complete the reading of Sundara Gandam it is appreciated if Brahmanas are invited and offered food and Dhakshanai.

The most important items for neivedhyam on this day are Panagam and Neer mor. These are simple neivedhyams unlike we do for other festivals. The saying I heard from elders is that Sri Ramar being a King celebrated his Birthday in a very simple manner. But Lord Vishnu in his Avatar as Sri Krishna celebrates his birthday grand even though he lived as a ordinary man.

Other than Panagam and Neer Mor, we also prepare vadaparuppu, Payasam & Vadai for Neivedyam.

It is believed that reading of Sundara Gandam fulfills our desires and brings in joy in our home.

The Neivedhyam recipes to celebrate Srirama Navami can be referred in Jeyashri's Kitchen

Celebrate Rama navami and seek the blessings of god....

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Sadabishegam / Sashtiapthapoorthy/Beemarathashanthi

We recently attended Sadabishegam of our relative and I was able to take few clicks that would help to explain about the gracious occasion better. This is usually celebrated when the husband completes 80 years of age. Primarily the son of the couple take responsibility of conducting the function for their parents. However, nowadays both sons and daughters jointly take ownership in conducting this memorable function. At this age the couple would have daughters in law/sons in law and grand children who fill the function with endless joy.


The function celebrated upon completion of 60/70 years of age is called Sashtiapthapoorthy/Bhimarathashanthi respectively. It will be the star birthday of the husband when the function is conducted. These functions are more importantly conducted at Thirukadaiyur whilst it is also good doing at their own city of residence. The most significant part of the function is the "Abhishegam" for the couple with sacred water. During Sashtiapthapoorthy & Sadabishegam Mangalya dharanam is performed. The dress worn by the couple during Abhishegam is given for charity.



Rudra Ekadesi is performed the day before the function. Abhishegam is performed on this day too. But the Abhishegam is performed only by the Priests and not by invitees.

Ayush homam is also conducted that enhances their life with good health.

Brother of the woman take the privilege of bringing in new dresses for the couple that is worn after Abhishegam. Wearing that saree Mangalya Dharanam is being performed. Thirumangalyam is also usually gifted by the Brother. Brother's take this privilege in the place of their parents to offer Seethanam. The tradition shows how bonded we are even at the age of 80 in terms of iterating our traditions. In some families, these occasions act as a ice breaker when there is a long standing silence between relatives. In all means functions bring in lot of instances to cherish.

Paruppu thengai (Paniyaram) is a must to be brought either by brothers/parents or by sons who conduct the function.



People who visit the function to get blessings from the elderly couple also bring in Sarees & Blouse/Dhoti & towel for the couple as it is considered as a sacred way of getting their blessings.

Rudram is chanted on this day by the priests and archanai is being made to the wholly water kept in the Bronze vessels (Kalasam). The family members usually perform archanai while Saasthrigal recite the mantras. The sons and daughter in laws must wear madisaar during the occasion till the Abhishegam is completed. Usually, priests provide list of kalasam required and other Pooja materials for the function. Few important things that are required for the abhishegam are taken care by the priests themselves.

We need to be prepared with the exchange cloths and Towels that are required immediately after Abhishegam. The couple are elders and cannot withstand the cold for long time. The visitors are also allowed to pour the holy water after the priest complete the initial part of it. Golden jewels are also placed on the wide Bronze Sieve (Jaladai) used to perform Abhishegam. Hence be prepared for the occasion which is most important and do not drag more time since this might end up leaving the couple in wet dress for long time.

On this day the couple is considered as Parvathi and Paramasivam and hence blessings from them is most auspicious.

Thampathi Poojai is also conducted on this day. You may ask your family Priests (Saasthrigal) for further details.

Maakolam and Plantain trees are used to decorate the entrance with of the house and the place where the function is being conducted. We need to be prepared with Kuthu vilakku, required oil, match boxes, flowers for the invitees, thamboolam to be distributed at the end of the function.

Garlands, new dresses for the couple and their family members are bought to add more charm to the function. We may wish to arrange for return gifts for the invitees. Nowadays, the functions are conducted in Mini Halls. Hence this has to be arranged in advance.

And finally, a complete meal that is considered a best method of honoring the visitors is also prepared and served.

Sumangali Prarthanai and Samaarathanai are also conducted before the function. Family deity is also visited before/after the function.

Share your experiences too which I would be eager to read.........








Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Kaarthigai Deepam

Kaarthigai Deepam is a festival celebrated in the tamil month Kaarthigai. Thiru Kaarthigai occurs on the full moon day of Karthigai month. The interesting part of this function is that people lit lot of lamps in their homes. The lamps are also placed outside the houses and the entire town looks pleasant in the evening. This festival is most significant for Lord Muruga and Lord Siva.


Since the festival is celebrated in the evening, we have time in the morning for the preparation. Elders in my family insist on lighting all the lamps in house including those we have in silver. Most people celebrate this Karthigai deepam festival on the same day when Tiruvannamali deepam is also lit. Kids at home helps to clean the lamps, apply sandal and kumkum, place the wick and pour oil. All these are completed by noon. Elders prepare Pori urundai in the morning itself after taking bath. This pori urundai is not preferred to be made at home during the other months. While preparing the urudai, initially two small Paruppu thengai are prepared and placed aside. My MIL used to prepare Nel pori urundai as well. Payasam, appam, Ulundu vadai are prepared for Neivedyam. Few people also prepare adai on this day. People from Tirunelveli as native do not prepare Urundai, they just mix the Pori with Vella paagu and keep it loose.

Ladies decorate house with Maakolam. All rooms in the house are lit with lamp and electrical lights in the evening. None of the room is left dark including bath rooms. Elders are specific about completing the pooja before 6 PM in the evening and lit lamps by 6'o clock without delay. Married ladies wear Madisar saree while liting the lamps. Agal Vilakku made of mud is most importantly used on this day. It is a tradition that we buy few new lamps every year. Women who are recently married and for whom it is Thalai Kaarthigai celebrate this ritual with special efforts. Since this is the first time for them in their in laws house, they are careful about learning the rituals followed in their home. My mom used to get new dress for us on Kaarthigai.

Neivedyam is offered to god along with Betal Leaves & Nuts, Fruits, Coconut and the Neivedhyam prepared at home . Then the lamps are placed both inside and outside the house.

During this month, we lit minimum 1 lamp in our entrance from day 1. This continues till the last day of the month.

Kids also keep a portion of the crackers & Sparkles purchased during Diwali and celebrate kaarthigai.

This festival continues for 3 days. The last day is called as Kuppai Kaarthigai. Brothers used to gift their sisters.

Celebrate Kaarthigai with your family and live our traditions....


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Navarathri/Golu

Navarathri is a very interesting festival and celebrated during the month of Purattasi. North Indians Celebrate this Festival as Dasara. We make lot of friends during this festival especially, when we move to a new locality. Women celebrate this occasion with a great level of devotion to goddess. The most interesting part of this festival is the golu decorated with lot of dolls depicting historical events, idols of god, themes such as marriage, cricket, park etc; This also depicts our culture.



In my In-laws family we do not have the practice of golu. The picture of golu was shared by Krithika.

Women perform Pooja on all 9 days of the festival. Each day has one significance. People also conduct Parayanam of Lalitha Sahasranamam, Durga Sahasranamam during this period.
Women also undergo fasting and the food is no onion no garlic on all 9 days.

The day we prepare for Navarathri is on the day of Amavasai in the month of Purattasi. People start setting the steps to place the idols and golu. This year Purattasi Amavasai fals on 30 Sep and we have to start with our work on that day and could finish the decorations by end of day or by next day. Day 1 of Navarathri falls on 2 Oct and ends on 10 Oct which we celebrate as Saraswathi Poojai. The next day is Vijayadasami. The first item is the Kalasam that is prepared and kept in Golu. The next idol would be Vinayagar followed by other idols of god. The idols of Gurus are kept beneath the idols of god. The Kalasam is not kept in few families. The number of steps is usually in odd numbers. Few people used to place the Amman Mugam we use for Varalakshmi nonbu.

Ashtalakshmi set, Dhasavadharam set, Marappachi Bommai, Chettiar Bommai with Shops are few commonly known and sort of must for the golu. One of my friends follow themes for each Navarathri festival which is quite interesting. Every year we ensure to buy at least one new Idol for the Golu. Idols that are used by our grand parents form a very significant place in the golu. The Dhasavadharam set should be arranged in the proper order which is usually a challenging one. The order goes like this.
1. Macha avadharam 2. Koorma Avadharam 3. Varaga Avadharam 4. Narasimha Avardharam 5. Vamana Avadharam 6. Parasurama Avadharam 7. Rama Avadharam 8. Balaramar Avadharam 9. Krishna Avadharam 10. Kalki Avadharam

Special lighting's are used to decorate the golu. On all evenings guests are invited to our homes to get the blessings of goddess and to receive Manjal kumkum. We prepare one variety of sundal every day to offer to offer to goddess and to issue to guests. Ellu Podi (Seasame Podi) is prepared on Saturday and Puttu on Friday for offering. Sweets are also prepared daily in the morning as offering to goddess at the end of Pooja. Make use of Jeyashri's kitchen recipes to celebrate Navarathri with awesome sweets and sundal.

Offering dress and Manjal Kumkum to young girls who is yet to attain Puberty is considered as very auspicious during these 9 days.

Nowadays people started providing gifts that includes small bags, purse, blouse bits etc; of their choice.

The small girls in the families are enthusiastically involved to invite the neighbors. They wear silk skirts, dress traditionally and take a small box of kumkum to offer and invite the neighbors.

During my child hood days myself and my sister prepare in advance for the park since few greens are required to make it more realistic. We grow small tiny plants few days in advance and place it for the park. Small pool is also used in the park.

We used to draw colorful kolams in my house to decorate and to invite everyone's attention. Golu competitions are also conducted to encourage the participation. Songs on Goddess also add flavor and sung by kids, women and invitees of golu.

Every day in the night after issuing Manjal kumkum to the invitees we take Aarthi to end the day's event.

Wish you all a very happy Navarathri Celebrations...





Saturday, 3 September 2016

Ganesha Chathurthi/Vinayagar Chathurthi

Vinayagar /Pillaiyar Chathurthi is a very interesting festival for all of us. The reason being, we all love Vinayagar as first god to worship during all functions we conduct at home and at temples. Elders used to offer their prayers to Pillaiyar whenever they start a new/important work.

This festival is celebrated by all Hindus across India. Ganesh Chathurthi is celebrated as the Birthday of Lord Ganesha. The long trunk of Lord Ganesha is favorite for kids. I have heard lot of people who collect Ganesha Idols as their hobby and they love doing it.

I am happy to explain the traditional way of Celebrating Vinayagar Chathurthi at our home.

Elders in my family insist upon buying the Vinayagar Idol made of clay on the day of this festival in the morning. This Idol is usually not painted and in bright colours those days. Now we could see the idols in Nice bright colours in shops few days before the Festival. We also buy erukkam poo (Crown Flower) maalai, Arukampul (Bermuda grass) maalai and a flower garland to offer to Lord Ganesha.

While bringing in the Ganesha Idol, Aarthi is taken to invite Lord to our house.

Ladies at home place a wooden stool in the Pooja room while the gents go to buy the properties required for the Pooja. Maakolam is drawn on the stool (manai palagai). Vinayagar Idol is place on the stool facing east/west/north and not facing south. Decorate the idol by applying Sandal, kumkum on the forehead. Wear a Poonal (sacred thread) to Lord Ganesha. Place a 1 rupee coin on the thoppul of the Idol. Then wear the garlands bought.

Be prepared with the properties required for the Pooja. Manjal (turmeric powder), Akshadhai, Loose Flowers for Archanai, Betal leaves & nuts, Coconut, Goa fruit, Bananas, Vilampazham (Wood Apple-known as Ganesha's favorite fruit).

All members in the family take head bath on this day early in the morning. We prepare Sundal, Coconut Mothak, Ulundhu Vadai, Rice & Dhal, Payasam, Ellu Kozhukattai, Ammini Kozhukattai. Most important is the Sweet Mothak and Sundal.

Pillaiyar is also made out of Turmeric powder which is most auspicious. Most families encourage guys to perform the Pooja since Lord Ganesha is a bachelor. Once the pooja is over the fruits and other food prepared are offered to god by performing neivedhyam. We pray god for the wellness of the family and request his blessings in all the happenings throughout the year and offer Deepaarathanai using Camphor.

People ensure to visit Temple to worship god on this special occasion.

We also perform Punar Poojai on the next day and then move the idol slightly towards North. The Idol used for the Pooja is usually put into the well on the third day. Nowadays the Idols are placed in common places in their respective area and they are collected and carried to the river/sea to dissolve them.

You can make use of my sister's website for the Ganesh Chathurthi recipes.

Wishing you all a Very Happy Vinayagar Chathurthi....