Thursday, 28 January 2016

ValaiKaappu



The most important and memorable phase of a woman in her life time would be when she carries her child in her womb. It is very important that woman is happy and healthy when she is pregnant.  Conducting Valaikaappu Function is also one function that makes her happy. This function is usually performed in the 5th or 7th month that is calculated based on the Tamil months. During the 3rd month of Pregnancy, mother of the pregnant woman used to gift a black color Saree/dress to the pregnant woman. This is called Masakkai Karuppu. 

Valaikaappu function is usually conducted by the girl’s family. The function is preferably conducted in the early morning. One more girl who got recently married or who is yet to get pregnant (Thunai Manai) is also invited for this function. The most important ritual is to put Bangles for the pregnant lady. The Bangles are made of glass. There is an order in which the Bangles are to be put to the pregnant woman. Vepilai Kappu, Thanga Kaappu and then Velli Kaappu is the order. After that the Glass Bangles are put to the pregnant woman. The lady who is putting bangles to the pregnant woman is usually an elderly woman of the family.  The number of Bangles also has significance in the function. In the right hand it is 21 and Left hand should have 20 Bangles (odd and even numbers). Have heard about wearing 21 and 19 Bangles in right and left hand respectively. The count of Bangles is excluding the 3 kaappu mentioned above.  The same numbers of Bangles are worn to the other woman who got recently married. In some families, a young girl who is yet to attain puberty (kanniya ponnu) is also invited and Bangles are worn in the same number as of the pregnant woman.  
Bangles should be picked and kept at the Swami room at the home before the function starts for Kula Deivam. After delivery, the bangles should be offered to the God in Kula Deivam temple.
After the Bangles are put to the pregnant woman, the visitors for the function are also offered with 4 Bangles each.

The pregnant woman should take head bath; wear the saree that was worn by her on the day of wedding (koorai Pudavai-9 yards). She should be worn with a garland as well.
A new saree is also gifted by her mother on the same day. Paruppu Thengai preferably Manoharam or laddu, Thirattipaal, Adhirasam, Murukku, Sweet are also offered to the Pregnant Woman on that day.

In families those following Tanjore Tradition do not keep the Roasted gram Paruppu thengai (Pottu Kadalai) on this day.  On the contrary, North Arcot Families prepare Roasted gram paruppu thengai for functions.

After completing the ritual, Aarthi is taken for both the ladies. 

Nowadays, seemantham function is also performed on the same day.  My next post is about Seemanthan and Poochoottal. 

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Maavilakku


One of the most traditional ways of worshiping goddess (Amman) is to offer Maavilakku that is prepared using Raw rice and Jaggery. Our family tradition is to offer Maavilakku only in our native place to our “Kuladeivam” (Mariamman). In my Mom’s family they used to offer this at home itself on the Fridays of Tamil month “Thai” and “Aadi”.  Usually ladies undergo fasting on the day and do this ritual. My Mil insists upon having tiffin in the morning without onion and garlic. Our family elders insists not do this with empty stomach. This has been the practice in my family for a long time. Ladies take head bath, wear our traditional dress Saree (Madisaar ). The dress is preferably new or washed and dried separately (Madi).  

The day offering Maavilakku is also important. Ashtami and Navami are usually not preferable to offer Maavilakku. Yogam should be Sidhayogam or Amirthayogam.

One cup of rice and a handful is usually the preferred measurement. If the family is considerably big with lot of members, 1 padi and one handful Raw Rice is used. The Raw rice should be washed and soaked in water for 1 hour. Then using a clean towel, strain the water completely. Use the mixie and grind the rice without using water. Those days, our ancestors used a wooden pestle or pounder (Ulakkai).  The rice after grinding should undergo the process of sieving using a circular sieve. The left over grains on the sieve can be grind again and again twice or thrice.

Use same amount of Jaggery or Naattu Sakkarai and mix it with the Rice flour. The flour will be not be completely dry at this stage. This stage of rice is preferred for Maavilakku. Add a pinch of cardamom powder. We used to mix the rice and nattu sakkarai on a Banana leaf and make it in the shape of a mount. Then press a lemon on the top to create a dent.  Pour pure ghee preferably prepared at home and fill the dent. Cotton wick (Thiri) is used to lit lamp on the Maavilakku.

Two Lemons, 1 coconut, One pair of Betal leaf and Betal nut (Vethalai & Paakku), and two Bananas are required for the offering. Also flower garland is placed around the Maavilakku. Kumkum and Sandal is used to decorate the lamp on all four sides. The lamp should be lit facing east side. Allow it to glow for 15 mins to 20 mins and ensure there is adequate ghee. Do not let the lamp to turn off due to insufficient ghee or due to the force of air. After 15 to 20 mins show karpoora (Camphor) Deepa Aradhanai to Maavilakku and perform Neivedhyam (offer to god). Then the wick should be picked and placed on the lamp that we usually lit at our home for god.

Once this ritual is completed, mix the ghee with the flour. You can also use grated coconut (offered as Neivedhyam) to the flour and distribute to neighbours and relatives.  

When there is a pending ritual for ancestors or elders in our family who expired within a year, this ritual should not be performed.

I have heard, Maavilakku being offered to Lord Perumal and Lord Muruga also. The one offered to Lord Muruga is prepared using Foxtail millet flour (Thinai Maavi) and Honey. My  sis-in-law’s family used to do offer Maavilakku on Purattasi Saturday to Lord Venkatachalapathy. 

Friday, 15 January 2016

Kanu Pidi




I feel very enthusiastic to write about this Kanu pongal. The celebration of Pongal does not end in one day. I used to select favorite Kolams to be drawn at my House in Madurai. We had a very big place to show my Talent of drawing Kolam. The preparation for Kanu pongal begins on the day of Pongal festival itself. Most importantly, this is performed only by ladies.
My mom and my Grandma plan for the quantity of cooking on the day of pongal itself since the rice and Pongal we cook on the day of Pongal is saved to Complete this formality of Kanu to be performed on the next day early morning.  Usually Tanjore based people do this before they take bath in the morning. Since it is usually known as “Kanu Peedai” we complete this kanu pidi and then take head bath without much delay.  I have heard few people, doing this after taking bath.  We don’t consume food before completing the formality of Kanu.

On the day of Kanu, we visit elders and they use the Pasu Manjal to bless the younger ones. The Pasu Manjal Stick will be softly rubbed on the cheeks and forehead before we perform the Kanu pidi. Elders tell the below blessing.

“Seerodaiyum Sirappodaiyum chinna ambadaiyanukku vaakkapattu, periya ambadaiyanukku pillai pethu nanna irukkanum”

Meaning behind this is to get married early and get gifted with children at early stage. Long live with good health and wealth.

We used to giggle when our grandmas tell this to us without knowing the actually meaning.
Items to be kept available the day before Kanu.

1.       Turmeric leaves/ Pasu Manjal plant Leaves
2.       Sugarcane pieces
3.       Plain rice mixed with Turmeric powder
4.       Plain rice mixed with kumkum
5.       Plain rice with Curd
6.       Sakkarai pongal/Sweet Pongal
7.       Ericha koottu/Koottu
8.       Camphor / Karpooram
9.       Match box
10.   Pancha pathiram and udhruni with Water
11.   Kola maavu

We used to get early in the morning, around 5 0 Clock and go to terrace. Nowadays, most of the houses in cities are Flats. Hence we can do it in Balcony. Draw simple Kolam, one for each person. Draw the Kolam east faced preferably and stand in the same direction. Place the turmeric leaves on the Kolam. Use 2 to 4 leaves per person. Then keep the Sakkarai Pongal, Turmeric Rice, Kumkum Rice, Curd Rice, Ericha koottu, Sugar cane pieces one my one on the leaves. While we place the above items we have to tell “ Kakka pidi vaichen, Kanu pidi Vachen Kakka koottam kalaiyadha madhiri En koottamum kalaiyama irukkanum”  

Since Kanu pidi is formally known to be celebrated for our brothers, the above stance is mentioned to ensure that we have a good relationship with our family. Wash your hands and Show the Karpoora Aarthi to the items placed. Do the Neivedhyam for the items placed. Then perform Namaskaram towards Sun.  

These items should not be allowed to be consumed by dogs. Usually crows are expected to eat these items.

After  taking oil bath we have to consume at least a bit of the Curd rice and Ericha koottu.  We like this combination of Curd rice and Ericha koottu and consume this to manage our hunger while my Mom and Grandma prepare the food.

Usually Sisters are invited to their house by Brothers for Kanu pidi and they are gifted with Sarees , Cash or some gift to Thank them for performing this ritual for the goodness of the family.
During my mom’s Childhood they used to go the nearest river Bank and complete this ritual, take bath and have the curd rice there itself. They reach home and then start cooking.

We prepare Variety Rice on this day. It usually includes, Coconut Rice, Tamarind Rice, Lemon Rice and Curd Rice. The highlight is Kalkandu pongal that my mom makes. Aviyal and Vadam are the side dishes we prepare on this day.  Rasam is not prepared on this day.

Few years back when my family visited my sister in Singapore during Pongal holidays, we did this on the washing machine since there were no facilities like a balcony there. There are no crows as well in that country. Still we did this for the good relationship within brothers and sisters.


Enjoy this Kanu with your brothers and Sisters by performing Kanu pidi……….

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Pongal Festival




Pongal, being the first Tamil festival that we celebrate in New Year is very special. The lengthy celebration that last for 3 days and the holidays of course add more charm to the festival. Most importantly celebrations include lot of interesting recipes being cooked and shared among friends and relatives.

The day of Pongal is the Day 1 of Tamil month “Thai”. On this auspicious day, we used to get up early in the morning, take bath and wear new cloths. My mom and my grandma will be too busy preparing the lengthy list of food.

However, the preparation for the same starts the previous day itself. We used to prepare Pongal in the Bronze Vessel (Venkala Paanai). This vessel needs to be cleaned. We buy Pasu Manjal (Turmeric Plants), flowers for Pooja, Veggies for the food, Banana Leaf, Banana fruit, Betal leaves, Sugarcane and coconut.

Vengala Paanai will be decorated with Turmeric Plants tied on the top of it, all four sides with Kumkum and Sandal powder. Click here for Pongal Special recipes.
Usually, in villages the new plantation of raw rice is used for Pongal. Nowadays, in cities not sure people get this for sure. But Pongal is strictly prepared using raw rice.

Below is the Basic list of items that are cooked on the day of Pongal.
Sweet Pongal,  Ulundu Vadai,  Sambar with 7 veggies (Odd Numbers) that includes Carrot, Fresh Mochai, Sweet Potato, White Pumpkin, Yellow Pumpkin, Avarai and Yam.  Plantain Curry, Broad Beans (Avarai) Curry, Thayir Pachadi (Tomato or carrot or cucumber), Sweet potato curry
Tomato Rasam, Curd and Rice.

You can alter the veggies according to your taste. Since there is a ritual (Tharpanam) performed to ancestors on the day, Brinjal, Drumstick, Radish, Onion and Garlic are generally not included on this day. We should not take oil bath on this day as well. 

Those who are have to perform Tharpanam should complete this ritual first and then perform the Pooja.

The stove should face the east side and kolam should be drawn on and beneath the stove. Sun and Moon Kolam is also drawn on this day. First cook the roasted dhal in the vessel and then add the raw rice, boiled milk and required water. When the Milk starts boiling and come on the top of the vessel, we should say "Pongalo Pongal" and perform Namaskaram towards the stove where the vessel is kept. Once the food including the Sweet pongal is ready, we perform the Pooja and Prayer, offer the food to Sun god (If possible in terrace) facing east direction.



We celebrated Pongal Festival upstairs with our neighbors and relatives. We cooked Pongal and performed Pooja in the Terrace. That was a wonderful experience we had last year and this year also we have planned the same. I personally love to have Pongal and Rasa Vadai on this day.

And finally, elders insist to keep the vessel in which Pongal was cooked without washing completely. We pour water in the vessel and set it aside. The vessel will be washed on the next day only. 

Enjoy this festival season and share your experience……….

Friday, 8 January 2016

My First Post - Aarthi

I thought of publishing the procedure of taking Aarthi as my first post, since this is a basic thing that we need to know and is a requisite on every gracious occasion. I have explained the simple procedure that is followed in our family and there are no do and don’ts here. Anyone can adopt this procedure.

When to take Aarthi:
Aarthi is usually taken on Auspicious days after performing Pooja to the god and goddess. However, it is also believed as a way of Welcoming newly married couple, new born baby, after performing the Rituals of Poonal, Avaniavittam etc. It is also believed to remove the bad effects or removes Dhristhi.

How to prepare Aarthi:
Take one cup of plain water. Mix a pinch of turmeric powder. Add a drop of Sunnambu that we use at home. This will make the color a bright red color. The Aarthi plate is preferred to be in Pithalai (Bronze) metal. My Mil use kumkum to get the bright color. Finally, add few Atchadhai to the Aarthi. 


How to take Aarthi:
The bride and the groom or the respective people to whom the Aarthi is performed should stand/sit facing east or west. Usually two ladies preferably Sumangalis are required to take Aarthi. The ladies have to stand facing north and south. They have to hold the plate and rotate the plate clockwise thrice and then will usually place a thilak or a small drop on the forehead of the Couple. The ritual is that the lady standing on the North should pick the plate after performing the Aarthi and empty the plate on the Kolam at the entrance of the house or the Kalyana Mandapam.  It is believed that performing this ritual removes the Dhristhi  after the goodness happened at home.
In our family we don’t use betal leaves while taken Aarthi.  However, some families use Betal leaves and is placed on the Aarthi plate. It is now becoming a gorgeous performance that there are finely decorated Aarthi plates being prepared. 

The ladies performing Aarthi are also gifted with good amount of money or articles depending on their willingness and status. Usually, coins are placed by couple while performing the Aarthi and the coins are shared by the ladies. Even if it is a small amount ladies love to get their portion since it is a matter of respect.








About Me

Introduction: 
Happy to welcome you all to my blog. To introduce myself, I am Mythili Sivakumar. I am born and brought from Madurai a famous Town in South India.  I did my schooling and Higher studies in Madurai. I am currently associated with a Private Bank from Chennai.

Myself and my sister thought of registering our traditional values that will be useful for the forth coming generation. There are lot of interesting rituals that are practiced in our culture. Since I am a Hindu by Birth, I am going to talk more about the culture practiced in our family. I have a good team of elders in my family who have a great passion towards following the rituals. I will explore their practices and traditional values that are followed in our culture even during very small functions.
Hindus as such have lot of interesting traditions that are followed in different families and is significant to specific regions they belong to.

These are basic steps followed in our families. I am not going to involve much into the spiritual aspect of it but the tradition of doing it.

I am not going to read any article published in Social Network, but fully depending on the elder’s experiences to write this blog.

I will also share few photographs/Videos that will be useful and interesting while reading the articles.
To make reading interesting, please share your experiences too…

I trust I make this blog interesting and useful.


You can connect with me in my e-mail ID mythilisivakumar15@gmail.com