Sunday, 14 August 2016

Sumangali prarthanai/Suhasini Poojai/Pondugal



Sumangali Prathanai/Mangili Pondugal is a great occasion during which the elders in the family who passed away as Sumangali are worshiped to get their blessings. We usually perform this every year or most importantly before performing a marriage or Upanayanam in the family. Though this occasion does not include any formal poojai there are lot of formalities to be observed.

If there are two or more brothers in a family, then each one should not do it on their own without considering others preference. Even cousin brothers are also considered who belong to same gothram or family (i.e) brothers of father and their families are also considered before performing this pooja. If one family member perform this Pooja on the occasion of a marriage of their kids then the same year another family should not do it. They may join together and do it combining both occasions. In some families, the cousins may not be in touch with each other in the next generation. In that case we may not be aware of the happenings in their family. So we need not worry much about the co incidence that might happen in terms of performing this pooja. As long as we do not have a close contact and unaware of what is happening in their families, we can do it at our comfort.

If any elders in the family passed away and it has not been a year yet, then we shall not conduct this Poojai. This is applicable to the ladies invited as Pondugal.

The number of Suhasini/Pondugal for this Pooja are invited in odd numbers. The count should be 5, 7 , 9 and so on. But 3 is not a accepted number for this function. The count is towards the number of servings (i.e. Ilai kanakku) and not the number of ladies. The Swami Ilai is counted as one, one small girl who didn't attain puberty and then 3 ladies which will aggregate to 5. You have to increase the number of ladies as per your wish. Few families used to have 2 small girls which we call as Kanya pondugal. This depends on their family tradition. In few families there will be no Kanya Pondugal.

Usually the daughters of the family who are married are considered as Pondugal. The elder daughter in law is primarily eligible person to conduct this Pooja. The one conducting the Pondugal should also be a Sumangali.

The day to conduct the Sumangali Prathanai should be an auspicious day. The most preferred day would be the next day of the Srartham performed for the elder lady who passed away as a Sumangali. We need not think about other factors to conduct the function on this day.

While purchasing the cloths either saree or blouse bit we should ensure that there is no black color mixed in it. The day we purchase the materials should also be an auspicious day. We have to ensure that the materials are purchased before a week's time and not very much in advance. In my mom's family they purchase only on the day before the Poojai. The Saree purchased for Swami Ilai should be 9 yards. This is usually offered to the daughter. If there are no daughters then shall be offered to a elderly Sumangali.

Pondugal/Suhasini should be invited by offering Kumkum, manjal, gingely oil and Shikakai on the day before if they are residing close by. If they are coming from long distance these shall be offered upon their arrival.

The sumangalis should wear madi saree. The 9 yards saree & blouse piece bought should be kept in front of Swami along with kumkum, manjal, oil and Shikkai and perform neivedyam. Then the daughter/daughters shall be offered with kumkum and invited for the Pondugal. Apply oil on her head. These shall be done before the daughter in law of the family take bath. Then the saree and blouse after taking bath by the host (Daughter in law) should be dipped nicely in water and then dried on sun. Do not allow anyone to touch this. This is also madi. The saree will not be soaked in few families and just be folded and kept in the manai palagai. You shall refer this page for the details.

The Banana leaves in which we are going to serve food should be first placed for Swami ilai in front of the Manai palagai where we kept the 9 yards saree. This should be facing east/west. The leaf should be placed as if the swami is sitting to have food. The nuni of the leaf on the left side. The rest of the leaves shall be placed facing east, west and north and not south. While we start serving food we should start with Swami ilai and end with the leaf in the north side. Ensure to serve all food in little quantity first including a small portion of rice.

Maa kolam is drawn on the house entrance, manai palgai, on the all places where we are going to place the leaves for serving food. Prepare akshadhai and mix flowers with that, prepare Aarthi, mix turmeric in water and keep it in a small container, mix nalungu and keep it ready, Pangam, Neer more, Sukku Vellam also should be ready, Pancha pathiram with water, Camphor and the Deeparathanai plate, Two Lamp cleaned and filled with oil should be lit before the pooja. The saree dried should be kept on the manai palagai before the swami ilai with the Blouse piece around it as shown in Picture. Jewels available at home shall be placed on the Saree along with garland.



All Sumangalis should apply turmeric on their legs and wash with water and then stand on the entrance. Aarthi should be shown to invite them. Then the daughter in law should invite them from the entrance holding their hands one by one and direct towards the Leaves where food is served. While inviting Suhasinis the host clap hands and invite them.

The host should then show Aarthi to the God and to the Saree kept and then perform Neivedyam to the food, show camphor and then pray well. After completing the prayer host should mention the names of the elders who passed away as Sumangali in their families and call them to get blessings. In our family we used to mention the names and also tell "Arindhava Ariyadhava, therindhava, theriyadhava, oru paanikku ullava ellarum vandhu asirvadham pannungo". We might not know few members before 3 or 4 generations. Hence we used to tell the above in order to include everyone and get their blessings. Upon completion of prayer Akshadai is offered to the Saree by all the family members who host the Pooja.

After that serve theertham and we shall start serving the Sumangalis and ensure they had food without any dissatisfaction. Ask for rice finally if any required and ensure they had enough. After having food serve theertham and allow them to sit comfortably. Apply little turmeric on their foot and apply nalungu. Then offer them Sukku Vellam, Panakam, Neer more, Betal leaves and nuts. Then provide them thamboolam that includes, betal leaves & nuts, turmeric, Kumkum, Mehandhi, Comb, Small mirror, Bangles and saree with blouse piece/ blouse piece. While providing the thamboolam, the sumangali should be seated facing east/west. They get the thamboolam on the edge (Pallu/madi) of their sarees.

After providing to all Sumangali Aarthi is taken and the host family perform Namaskaram to all.

The Sumangalis who are invited as Pondugal should not have food at night. They can have some fruits/Kanchi and should not eat outside as well. The food is prepared wearing madi dress and without using onion and garlic. Freshly roasted and ground masalas are used for the cooking. Ladies who host and participate should tie their hair properly and not allowed to untie their hair. This is considered as a very important practice. Food should not be brought from outside. Outsiders are also not allowed to have food on this day. Ladies who are in their menstrual period also should not participate and have this food.

The daughters of the family who are invited for Pondugal shall be allowed to take food in night as per our family practice. The hosts also shall have food in the night.

The basic menu includes, Paruppu Payasam, thayir pachadi, Sweet Pachadi, Carrot Kosmalli, Sweet kosmalli, two varieties of curry, aviyal, pickle, paruppu, ghee, Ulundu Vadai, Poli, Sambar/pitlai, Rasam, Rice, curd, fruits.

Enjoy performing Sumangali Prarthanai and obtain blessings from elders.






















Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Varalakshmi Vradham/Varalakshmi Nonbu

Varalakshmi Vradham is followed by ladies in order to obtain the blessings of goddess Varalakshmi to remain as "Sumangali" for ever. So this Vradham is adopted for the wellness of the husband for the married ladies and for other girls, they pray goddess to bless them with the goodness post marriage.

This year the festival falls on 12 August 2016.

On the previous day evening of the festival, ladies invite Goddess "Ambaal" to their home. This is traditionally done by drawing the face of goddess on the Wall. In olden days, we can see this drawing in almost all houses. My grandma also does the same. Few families invite ambaal on the day of Festival in the morning.

Draw maakolam on the floor and Place a clean Banana leaf or a wide plate (thambaalam) on the top. Spread Paddy/Rice on the leaf and then place the Kalasam (prepared as explained below)
Take a clean Brass/Silver Vessel (Sombu), put raw rice, few Toor Dhall, 2 pieces of Manjal Kilangu, kadhora karugamani and Rupee coin. Apply Sandal and Kumkum on all sides of the Vessel. In few families, the vessel is filled with water instead of rice. Take a coconut, wash it in water, apply turmeric on it. On top of the vessel place the coconut upside down that don't fell into the vessel. The outer area of the coconut (between coconut and vessel) should be covered with few mango tree leaves end facing outside. On top of the coconut tuft (kudumi) Amman Mugam will be placed after decorating with jewels. A blouse bit will be fold and placed on the top of the Kalasam covering coconut. We can get a Paavadai to fold around the kalasam without covering the Mugham of Ambaal. Nowadays we get lot of decorative items in the shops. My sister's family insist karugamani as one of the jewels for Ambaal.



Ambaal will be decorated with Jadai (Flowers on the backside as decoration in the plait). Cotton wick is used to decorate Ambaal. Using Screw Pine Flower (thazhampoo) is also much encouraged for decoration. A lengthy cotton wick is prepared and apply kumkum in equal intervals of approximately 1 CM. The wick is used as garland for Ambaal. A medium size mirror will be kept on the backside of Amman enabling us to see the Plait decorated with flowers.

Now Draw kolam on the place where we are going to keep the Ambaal to invite the day before. Place a wooden stool (manai palagai) and draw Maa Kolam on that too. Place a green Banana leaf on the stool. Put Paddy/raw rice on the leaf and spread it, so that it look like a circle with approximately 10 to 15 cm diameter. Then place the Kalasam on the rice. Ambaal will be placed facing east/west and should be able to be viewed from the entrance of the house.

We should be able to see Ambaal by bending enough and not on table that stands to our height.

If there are three married ladies, each one would have one Ambaal that was gifted by her mother at the time of her first Nonbu after marriage. All Ambaal Mugham will be placed for pooja. But only one kalasam will be used for the Nonbu.

If each one does the Pooja in separate houses, then they shall use separate Kalasam for the purpose of celebrating this Nonbu.

Usually the bride's Mom gift the Silver Vessel and Ambaal to the Bride during the first Nonbu after her marriage. Along with this, the Bride is entitled for Vethalai Pakku, manjal, kumkum, flowers and dress. Every year, the bride's mom used to offer thamboolam and gift to her daughter on the occasion of this festival.

Ladies sing songs to welcome Goddess on the previous day evening. They also prepare Sakkarai pongal and perform Neivedhyam.

The song they used to sing is "Varalakshmi Raave maa intikki" meaning goddess Varalakshmi, please come to my house.

They next day morning, ladies get up early in the morning, clean the house, draw decorative kolam in the entrance and apply the red color sand (Chemmann). They take head bath (not oil bath) wear madisaar (madi dress) and apply kumkum on forehead.

Amman is then invited formally, the kalasam will be taken from the entrance and kept in the Pooja room where we are going to perform the Varalakshmi Pooja. A Mandapam will be placed where we are performing the Pooja. There should be a top where we are going to keep the Amman with Kalasam.

The decorations on this day include 2 small banana tress, Thoranam, serial lights, flowers etc;

Ladies prepare Paruppu Payasam, Kozhukattai, Ulundhu Vadai, Pacharisi Idly, sundal, Saadam and Thoor Dhal and Buy fruits to offer to goddess.

In our mother's home, priest used to come and lead us to perform the Pooja.

Nowadays, ladies follow the books available in shops to perform Pooja.

At the end of the Pooja the Saradu will be tied on the right hand. It will be tied by a senior Sumangali lady. While the Saradu is being tied the lady who is wearing the Saradu should have a Thamboolam on her hands and then allow the Sumangali to tie the Saradu.

If there are no ladies at home on that day, then husband shall tie the saradu to wife. Ladies will perform Namaskaram to god, elders at home and husband to obtain their blessings.

Ladies used to offer Thamboolam to Sumangalis on the evening. After issuing thamboolam, Aarathi will be taken to Ambal and slightly move towards North.

Next day we perform Punar poojai and prepare some sweet for neivedyam. In my sister's family they compulsorily prepare curd rice.

The next day night, take the Ambal carefully and place inside the Vessel in which we keep Rice. After performing this, we should not enter into the room throughout the night. The reason behind is allowing Ambal to take rest. Amman is again taken out on the next day morning. The rice used is mingled with the rice in the container in our house. The coconut is used to prepare some sweet preferably Arisi thengai payasam.

Celebrate this auspicious day with your family...