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.