Sunday, 15 October 2017

Deepawali - Festival of lights

One of the big festivals celebrated across India is Deepawali/Diwali. Diwali is celebrated on Chathurdhasi thidhi on the tamil month of Iyppasi. The crackers we fire on this day is the unique way of celebrating this festival which attracts kids of all ages.

The day when Lord Krishna killed Narakaasura is celebrated as Diwali. In North India people lit lamps at their homes on this day as a matter of celebration. South Indians take oil bath in early morning known as Ganga Snanam which is most important and mandatory on the day of Diwali. Elders used to prepare the oil that is used for the Snanam on this day. Early in the morning gingely oil is poured in a small kadaai and then few rice flakes, fenugreek seeds & 5 to 6 pieces of Pepper will be added to the oil. The oil is then heated mildly and then flame is switched off. This oil is used to take oil bath early in the morning usually at 4 AM in the morning. Elders at home used to make the kids and others sit in a manai palagai and apply kumkum and a handful of oil on their head by singing gowri kalyanam. After a while we take bath using luke warm water. New dresses will be kept ready the previous day itself in the pooja room. Elders used to offer that to the family members. We wear the new dress and seek the blessings of god and elders at home on this auspicious day. My mother in law insists upon not cleaning the vessel in which is the oil is heated on the day of Diwali.



Sometimes Amavasai thithi starts in the same day of Diwali festival. Even then the early morning ganga snanam is mandatory.

"Jale Ganga & Tahile lakshmi" is a saying which means Goddess Ganga hails in water and Goddess Lakshmi in Oil. Both water and oil are important for this festival worshiping goddesses.

Only on this day, the neivedyam including the oil, shikakai, crackers, New dress and all Sweets & Savories are kept in front of god and the elder member of family perform the neivedyam. My mom used to crack a Saram kept in the neivedyam first before anyone start early in the morning.

Diwali legiyam or Diwali Marundhu is one of the most important items we used to prepare for Diwali. Immediately after taking bath, my mom used to offer this in empty stomach. I like this legiyam very much while my sister don't. Its my all time favorite. Though this legiyam is prepared traditionally using 21 varieties of medicial products, we have a simple version of preparation in my sister's website.

After having the legiyam, we start hunting the Bajji, Vadai and other sweets prepared for that day.

Moms starts preparing sweets and savories just before a week ahead of Diwali. The bakshanams are distributed to neighbors and relatives to share the joy of celebration. When my Mom is young she used to prepare lot of snacks which primarily includes 7 cup cake, Payatham urundai, Mixture, Mullu Murukku, Somasi, Ukkarai and the Diwali Marundhu. You will find a good variety of Diwali recipes in Jeyashris Kitchen.

We start distributing the snacks bit early allowing our friends to taste our snacks well before others start distributing. My mom and my grandma are good in preparing tasty snacks and handling the distribution. They also help neighbors to prepare sweets at their home. Myself and my close friend used to sit behind the kitchen when the 7 cup cake is under preparation. Immediately after it is ready, we grab it without even allowing it to cool.

My sister belongs to a family that hails from North Arcot. They have the practice of preparing the brass vessel in which the water is kept for boiling for Diwali Snanam. Those days they used to have a hot water stove and a boiler separately. Most of us would not have even seen this. The vessel/boiler is cleaned, applied with slaked lime and Santhanam, kumkum. Then Suriyan and Chandran are drawn on the vessel using kumkum and water is filled in the vessel for boiling next day morning for ganga snanam. They call it as Neer Roppara pandigai. They also apply Nalungu while applying oil to the children at home and take aarthi.

We prepare Paruppu Payasam, Vengaya sambar & Urulai curry on the previous day for dinner.

North Indians Celebrate Diwali as they consider that it is the day Lord Rama Returned from forest. They celebrate this on amavasya day. Since the night will be dark they lit lots of lamp welcoming  Rama reach kingdom. It is also called as Day of lights in North India.

For the couple celebrating  first Deepawali after Marriage which we call as Thalai Diwali, the bride and the groom are invited to the wife's house for the celebration. Mother in law make them sit in a manai palagai apply Nalungu to both daughter and son in law and apply oil on their head for bath. New dresses are given to both of them and Sweets & Savories are also packed to them during their return to home.

Wishing you all a wonderful Diwali.....




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.



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.........