Archive for the ‘Festival Special’ Category
One hand holds a “Kumbha” or water port and the other rosary. She personifies love and loyalty. Bhramcharni is store-house of knowledge and wisdom. Rudraksha is HER most adorned ornament.
Maa Durga should be worshiped with PANCHOPCHAR (Fragrances, Flowers, Inceses, Diayas and Rice) or Shodshopchar.
Worshipping Maa Durga’s incarnation as Brahmacharini
Maa Durga’s incarnation as Brahmcharini is worshiped on second day of Navratri. Its meditation and Mantras are as follows:
Dadhana karpadmabhyaamakshmaala kamandaloo.
Devi praseedatu mayi brahmacharinyanuttama..
Mantra: Om Brahmacharinyay Namah
Durga Shaptashati Recitation:
Same way as the first day’s resolution Durga Shaptashati’s recitation should be done; process is same as explained earlier.
If you are reciting according to the Charitras, then you should recite First and Uttar Charitra.
Recitation of Shri Ramcharitmanas
Worship as same as the first day; thereafter, start couplet recitation of Baalkand from Ramcharitmaanas, “Jo sumirat siddhi hoi gan nayak, kari bar badan…..” And after first rest start recitation from Baalkand’s 120th couplet till 239th couplet.
At the end, do the Aarti of Shri Ram and Hanuman.
Tags: 2nd day of navaratri, navaraathri, second day navratri, bramacharini, brahmacharini, brahma chaarini puja vidhanam, method of 2nd day of navarathri puja
Navratri is the 9 day long Hindu festival of worship and dance. In Sanskrit the word Navratri literally means nine nights. Nava means nine and Ratri means Nights. During these 9 nights nine forms of shakti (power) are worshipped. Each day is dedicated to a Goddess and has very important significance. In Gujarat it is the festival of dance. All 9 days observe dandiya and Garba (regional dance of Gujarat).
The Sharad Navratri is the most important of all three Navratris. It is celebrated during Sharad (beginning of winter, Sept-Oct). It celebrates the slaying of Mahishasura by the goddess Durga. The festival is observed in most parts of India, particularly in Northern India, Eastern India, and Western India.
The Nine day celebrations: The celebrations takes place in the form or 3 sets of 3 days. Each set dedicated to the three Goddesses. The first set of three days is dedicated to Goddess Durga (The goddess of Power), the second set of three days is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of wealth and Prosperity) and the third set of three days is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of Arts and Education)
1st – 3rd day of Navratri - In the First three days of Navratri The goddess Durga is invoked as kali in order to destroy the evil and our impurities. Many people fast on the first and the last day only. But, there are many who fast on all nine days. The celebration starts by preparing a mud bed at the place where pooja takes place. Barley seeds are sown in it.
Each day is dedicated to an avatar of Maha Durga. First day is dedicated to Kumari, the girl child. 2nd day is dedicated to Parvati, the young woman. The third day is dedicated to Goddess Durga’s Kaali avatar in order to acquire triumph over the evil and impurities.
4th – 6th day of Navratri -On this set of three days Goddess Lakshami is worshipped. Here she is the giver of spiritual wealth and prosperity to the worshipper. She is also the symbol of peach and prosperity. It is believed that the worshipper is blessed with inexhaustible wealth, peace and prosperity. The fifth day is known as Lalita Panchami. All the literature in the house is displayed in the pooja place and a lamp is lit. Goddess Sarasvati is then invoked.
7th – 8th day of Navratri -The final set of three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. Saraswati is the Goddess of Art and Education. The worshipper is blessed with immense knowledge. The eighth day is known as Durga Ashtami. Im majority of the households a Havan (holy fire) is performed. All the family members participate in this havan.
Mahanavami -The ninth day is known as Maha Navmi. The day starts by Kajak i.e. the girl Childs are fed with Puri, Halwa and Chane. There must be atleast a set nine girls. Before offering food, their feet are washed and cleaned as a symbol of respect for the Goddess Durga. On Navami all the girl child are considered to be the form of Goddess Durga. After offering food they are given clothes or fruits or money. The number of girls could be any, depending on the worshiper’s will.
The tenth day is Dussehra, also known as Ravan dahan, Dashmi, Vijay Dashmi. On the tenth day, the shoots which were sown on the first day are about 3 – 5 inches in length. These seedlings are then pulled out and given to devotees in the form of Prasad.
Tags: 9 nights of navarathri, navaraathri,
1st night devoted to the puja of Ma Shailputri. Shail means mountains; Parvati, the daughter of king of Mountains Himavan, is known as “Shailputri”. Her 2 hands, display a trident and a lotus. She is mounted upon a bull.
In Ashwin month (Ashwayuja masam), from Shukla Paksha Pratipada (Padyami) to Navami thithi, Navaratri Pooja is performed.Kalash Sthapana or Ghat Sthapana is the First Step of Durga Pooja during Durga Navratri.
Kalash sthapana is performed on the next day to Mahalaya Amavasya or on First day (Padyami / Prathami Ashwayuja masam) during Durga puja.
In some places, First three days of Navratri puja rituals are dedicated to Goddess Durga. And the next three days to Goddess Lakshmi and the final three days are to Goddess Saraswati.
In south India, Saraswati Puja is observed on the seventh day of Navaratri which is also observed as Durga Saptami or Maha Saptami. In Bengal and other East Indian states, Durgashtami (the eighth day of Navratri) is the biggest event among Navratri festivals.
According to your family’s custom, if you are doing Kalash Sthapana on the first day of the Navratri, then it would be done in the ABHIJINH MUHURAT. For different places Abhijinh Muhurat’s time would be different, so you should do your Kalash Sthapana according to your nearest place’s Abhijinh Muhurat.
- At the time of Kalash Sthapan you should reap the barley as per your family custom.
Worshiping Maa Durga
- Maa Durga should be worshiped with PANCHOPCHAR (Fragrances, Flowers, Inceses, Diayas and Rice) or Shodoshopchar.
Kalash Sthapan Puja steps
Take a fresh silver or bronze or copper or earthen pot and fill it (upto its neck) with holy water place Pancha pallavas (five types of sacred leaves) or mango leaves. Kalash is decorated with haldi (turmeric powder), chandan (sandalwood powder) and kumkum (vermillion powder).
Keep a coconut on the Kalash and cover it with a blouse piece. The coconut is also decorated with chandan paste.
While chanting the Durga Pooja Kalasha Sankalpa mantra, recite the sloka given below:
Karishyami vratham matarnavaratra manuththamam
Sahayyam kuru mei devi ! Jagadamba ! mamahkhilam
Mother Goddess! I am observing the fruitful Navratra vrata. Jagadamba! Please give me courage, patience and devotion and help me in every aspect during Durga pooja.
Worshiping Maa Durga’s incarnation as Shailputri
On the first day of Navratri Maa Durga’s form of Shilputri is being worshiped. Maa Shilputri’s meditation and Mantra’s incantation is as follows:
Vande Vanchitlabhaya Chndrardhkritshekhram.
Vrisharoodhaam Shooldharaam Shailputreem Yashasvineem..
Mantra: Om Shailputraye Namah
Kumari Pooja should be done on daily basis as per system. However, in this matter Family’s custom is more important. The days are fixed for Kumari Poojan and it depends upon the custom of family or clan, it can be done from sixth day till ninth day of Navratri.
In Maa Durga’s worshiping recitation of Durga Shaptshati is very popular, it is done in Navratri.
It is having 13 chapters. By reciting the Durga Saptashati, deep wishes can be fulfilled. Here’s how you can do it:
1. All three Charitras should recite of Durga Shaptshati.
2. In a condition of inability, read first till middle Charitra.
3. In case of inability, you can only recite the following Mantra:
Namo Devyay Mahadevyay Shivaya Santatam Namah.
Namah Prkratyay Bhadraye Niyatayah Pranatah Smataam..
4. Read the Mantras by keeping the Shaptashati on a wooden stool, after putting the new cloth on it.
5. Reading should not be done silently and in hurry.
6. Read its third, fifth, seventh, ninth, eleventh and twelfth chapters in sequence for peace, sickness of family member, nasty violence or epidemic and for the devastation of the enemy.
7. Read it for 100 times in case of distress, physical problem, ineffectiveness of medicine, distraction of age and clan, enhancement of illness, loss of property and to expand empire.
8. Those who reads Shaptshati on Sunday, get nine times benefit, on Monday get Thousand times benefit, on Tuesday get hundred times benefit, on Wednesday get one Lakh times benefit, on Thursday and Friday get two Lacs times benefit and on Saturday get one Cr times benefit by its reading.
9. The devotee who starts reading from sixth day till fourteenth day of Shukl Paksha, they get benefit in all areas of life.
10. By disciplined recitation of Durga Shaptshati, all wishes can be fulfilled.
Following are some important Mantras from Durga Shaptashati:
1. For relief from grief and poverty
Durge Smrata Harsi Bhitimsheshjantoh
Swasthayeha Smrata Matimteev Shubhaam Dadasi.
Daaridraya-Dukh-bhayaharini ka tvadanya,
2. For peace from various violences
Rakshansi yattrogravishashach naga, yatrarayo dastu balani yatra
Davanalo yatra tathabdhimadhye, tatra sthita tvam paripasi vishvam..
3. For happiness and destruction of adversity
Karotu sanh shubhetureeshvari, shubhani bhadranyabhihantu chaapadah..
4. For destroying worldwide disasters.
Devi: prapanartihare praseed,praseed matrjagtokhilasya.
Praseed visheshvari pahi vishvam,tvameeshvaree..
5. For objection savior
Sarvasyartihare devi, narayani,namostute
If Possible Chant Durga Saptashati or Devi Kavach Daily in Navratri.
Reciete Lalitha Sahasranamam (1000 Names of Devi) Daily in 9 days of Navratri.
Recitation of Shri Ramcharitmanas
Devotees of lord Ram are reciting Ramayana in Navaratri. For this Tulsidas, Valmiki, lord Shiva and Hanuman should be worshiped on the first day. Thereafter, Shri Ram-Seeta and their brothers (Bharat, Laxman and Shatrughna) should also be worshiped. Afterwards, NAVANHPARAYANA should be recited, which is in Balkand as follows:
Hiyam Harshe Kaamari Tab Sakar Sahaj Sujaan.
Bahu Bidhi Umahi Prsansi Puni Bole Kripanidhan..
During Navratri Pooja Try to
- Avoid eating non-vegetarian food during Navratri vrat.
- Avoid Maithuna (Sexual activities) during Navratri.
- Do charity and donation as much as you can.
- Food charity is the main thing of this puja. Kumari Puja, Suhasini Pooja and Brahmin santarpana has to be performed during Vrata. Atleast a single Kanya or suhasini should be fed.
- Spend as much as time in Devi prarthana (in chanting devi stotra).
Those who are not able to observe fasting can also take meal one time a day.
Ghatasthapana / Kalasha Sthapana is performed on Pratipada tithi. Grow seeds of grains in a clay pot or bowl. Install Mahakali, Mahalakshmi, and Maha Saraswati and worship the Goddesses.
Offer Arghyam with flowers, fruits, and other puja material. Perform Aarti.
On the day of culmination of Navratri vrat, offer ‘dakshina’ to the Brahmin.
Tags: 1st day of navaratri, navaraathri, first day navratri, sailaputri, shailaputhri, saila puthri puja vidhanam, method of 1st day of navarathri puja
During the festival of Navratri, Goddess Durga Devi is worshiped in nine avatars. During these nine holy days, each day of goddess Durga Mata is worshiped in different avatara.
First day of Navratri – Kalasha Sthapana (Kalasha Pooja) or Ghata Sthapana – Shailaputri Puja
Second day of Navratri – Preeti Dwitiya – Brahmacharini Puja
Third day of Navaratri – Chandrakanta pooja or Chandraghanta puja
Fourth day of Navaratri – Kushmanda pooja
Fifth day of Navratri – Skandamata Puja – Lalitha Panchami
Sixth day of Navratri – Katyayani Puja – Maha Shashti or Durga Shashti
Seventh day of Navratri – Kaalratri Pooja – Durga Saptami or Maha Sapthami
Eighth day of Navaratri – Maha Gauri Pooja – (Durgashtami Puja/Maha Ashtami/Veerashtami)
Ninth day of Navaratri – Siddhidatri Puja – (Mahanavami/Maharnavami or Durga Navami)
Tenth day of Navratri – Aparajitha Puja or Shami Pooja – Vijaya Dashami or Dasara
Nine Forms Of MAA Durga Devi:
Mata Shailputri – First Avatara of Durga :
Mata Shailputri is a daughter of ‘Parvata raju’ (mountain king) – Himalaya / Himvanth. She is the first among nine avatars of Durga and worshiped on the First day of Navaratri . In her previous birth, she was ‘Sati Bhavani Mata’, the daughter of King Daksha. Mata Shailputri, also known as Parvati got married with Lord Shiva. On the first day of Durga Navratri, Paravathi Devi she is worshipped. Mata Shailputri holds a ‘Trishul’, a weapon, in her right hand and a lotus in her left hand. She rides on bull. She has pleasant smile and blissful looks.
Mata Brahmacharini – Second Avatara of Durga :
Mata Brahmacharini is worshipped on second day of Navarathri. Brahmacharini is the goddess who performed ‘Tapa’ (penance) (Brahma – Tapa , Charini - Performer ). Mata personifies love and loyalty. She holds japa mala in her right hand and Kamandal in left hand. She is also called as ‘Uma’ and ‘Tapacharini’ and provides knowledge and wisdom to her devotees.
Mata Chandraghanta – Third Durga :
Mata Chadraghanta is worshipped on the thrid day of Navratri. She is very bright and charming. Durga Maa is astride a tiger, displays a golden hue to HER skin, possesses ten hands and 3 eyes. Eight of HER hands display weapons while the remaining two are respectively in the mudras of gestures of boon giving and stopping harm. Chandra + Ghanta, meaning supreme bliss and knowledge, showering peace and serenity, like cool breeze in a moonlit night.
Mata Kushmanda – Fourth Durga :
Mata Kushmanda is worshipped on the fourth day of Navrathri. . She shines brightly with a laughing face in all ten directions as the Sun. She controls whole Solar system. In her eight hands, she holds several types of weapons in six hands and a rosary and a lotus in remaining hands. She rides on Lion. She likes offerings of ‘Kumhde’, hence her name ‘Kushmanda’ has become popular.
Ma Skanda Mata – Fifth Durga :
Skanda Mata is worshipped on the fifth Day of Navratri. She had a son ‘Skandaa and holds him on her lap . She has three eyes and four hands; two hands hold lotuses while the other 2 hands respectively display defending and granting gestures. Its said, by the mercy of Skandmata, even the idiot becomes an ocean of knowledge. The great and legendary Sanskrit Scholar Kalidas created his two masterpieces works “Raghuvansh Maha Kavya” and “Meghdoot” by the grace of Skandmata. Mata is considered as a deity of fire. She rides on Lion.
Mata Katyayani – Sixth Durga :
Mata Katyayani is worshippedon the the Sixth Day of Navratri. Rishi Katyayan observed a penance to get Jaganmata as his daughter. She blessed him and took birth as his daughter on the bank of river Jamuna for getting Lord Krishna as a husband. She is considered as prime deity of Vraj mandal. Ma Katyayani has three eyes and four hands. . One left hand holds a weapon and the other a lotus She rides on Lion.
Mata Kalratri – Seventh Durga :
Mata Kalaratri is worshipped on the Seventh Day of Navratri . She is dark and black like night, hence she is called as ‘Kalratri’. Her hairs are unlocked and has three eyes and four hands.while the remaining 2 are in the mudras of “giving” and “protecting”. HER vahana is a faithful donkey. The destroyer of darkness and ignorance. She spills out fire from her nostrils. She holds a sharp Sword in her right hand and blesses her devotees with her lower hand. As she blesses her devotees with prosperity, she is also called as ‘Shubhamkari’.
Mata Maha Gauri – Eighth Durga :
Mata Maha Gowri is worshipped on the Eight Day of Navratri. Maha Gauri looks as white as moon and jasmine. She has three Eyes and four hands. Peace and compassion radiate from HER being and SHE is often dressed in a white or green sari. SHE holds a drum and a trident and is often depicted riding a bull . Her above left hand is in fearless pose and she holds ‘Trishul’ in her lower left hand. Her above right hand has tambourine and lower right hand is in blessing mudra.
Mata Siddhidatri – Ninth Durga :
Mata Siddhidatri is the worshipped on the Ninth Day of Navratri. Maha Shakti gives all the eight siddhis – Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapti, Prakamya, Iishitva and Vashitva. According to ‘Devi Puran’, the supreme God Shiva got all these siddhis by worshipping the supreme Goddess Maha Shakti. With her gratitude, his half body has become of Goddess, hence Lord Shiva’s name ‘Ardhanarishvar’ has become famous. According to some sources she drives on Lion. Other sources say, she is seated on lotus. Siddhidatri Devi is worshipped by all Gods, Rushis, Muniswaras, Siddha yogis, and all common devotees who want to attain the religious asset.
Tags : 9forms, durga avatars, durga forms, differnt durgas, navratri, navarathri, ma durga , 9 durgas, maa durga forms , idols, worshiped, devotees, puja, day 1 to 9days,navaratri days, dussera puja
Pongal is the only festival of Hindu that follows a solar calendar and is celebrated on the fourteenth of January every year. Pongal has astronomical significance: it marks the beginning of Uttarayana, the Sun’s movement northward for a six month period. In Hinduism, Uttarayana is considered auspicious, as opposed to Dakshinaayana, or the southern movement of the sun. All important events are scheduled during this period. Makara Sankranthi refers to the event of the Sun entering the zodiac sign of Makara or Capricorn.
In Hindu temples bells, drums, clarinets and conch shells herald the joyous occasion of Pongal. To symbolize a bountiful harvest, rice is cooked in new pots until they boil over. Some of the rituals performed in the temple include the preparation of rice, the chanting of prayers and the offering of vegetables, sugar cane and spices to the gods. Devotees then consume the offerings to exonerate themselves of past sins.
Pongal signals the end of the traditional farming season, giving farmers a break from their monotonous routine. Farmers also perform puja to some crops, signaling the end of the traditional farming season. It also sets the pace for a series of festivals to follow in a calendar year. In fact, four festivals are celebrated in Tamil Nadu for four consecutive days in that week. ‘Bogi’ is celebrated on January 13, ‘Pongal’ on Jan 14, ‘Maattuppongal’ on Jan 15, and ‘Thiruvalluvar Day’ on Jan 16.
The festival is celebrated for four days. On, the first day, Bhogi, the old clothes and materials are thrown away and fired, marking the beginning of a new life. The second day, the Pongal day, is celebrated by boiling fresh milk early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel – a tradition that is the literal translation for Pongal. People also prepare savories and sweets, visit each other’s homes, and exchange greetings. The third day, Mattu Pongal, is meant to offer thanks to the cows and buffaloes, as they are used to plough the lands. On the last day, Kanum Pongal, people go out to picnic.
A festival called Jalli kathu is held in Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjavur,all in Tamil Nadu, on this day. Bundles of money are tied to the horns of Pongal ferocious bulls which the villagers try to retrieve. Everyone joins in the community meal, at which the food is made of the freshly harvested grain. This day is named and celebrated as Tamilian Tirunal in a fitting manner through out Tamil Nadu.
Thus, the harvest festival of Pongal symbolizes the veneration of the first fruit. The crop is harvested only after a certain time of the year, and cutting the crop before that time is strictly prohibited. Even though Pongal was originally a festival for the farming community, today it is celebrated by all. In south India, all three days of Pongal are considered important. However, those south Indians who have settled in the north usually celebrate only the second day. Coinciding with Makara Sankranti and Lohri of the north, it is also called Pongal Sankranti.
Preparations for this festival start early and the first thing that is always found in Hindu homes before the start of Pongal is the ‘kolam’. This is a form of decoration for the Hindus’ homes. This decorative pattern is made with rice flour & is usually drawn on the floor outside the door. The kolams serve as a symbol of welcoming guests to the entrance of the house. In order to prepare for the festival, old clothes are thrown away before the festival starts. The houses are cleaned and decorated to prepare for Pongal. For the festival, the Hindus buy new clothes and the ladies of the households would prepare sweetmeats. There is also a belief in the Hindus that the harvest festival will bring great wealth and goodness to their homes. During the festival entertaining events like bullfights would also be organized.
The first day is a tribute to the God of Rain and it is known as ‘Bogi’ festival. This day falls before Pongal on the 13th of January. On this day, Hindus will burn rubbish & unwanted items from their houses. The Hindus feel that this practice of burning rubbish in fire is like getting rid of the bad and evil from their houses.
The second day is known as ‘Pongal’ the most important day of the entire festival, where prayers are offered to the Sun. On this day, the Sun is given great importance. On the morning of this day, the family will gather outside their houses and cook ‘pongal’ in clay pots. When the rice inside the pot overflows, the people will cry out ‘Pongal O Pongal’ and pray to the Sun. The overflow of rice symbolizes a prosperous farming season for them. On this auspicious day, people will visit each other and dine. Sweets are also cooked in the Hindus homes for the guests.
The third day is known as ‘maathu pongal’ where the people offer their thanks to their cattle, especially to the cows. Cows are decorated with bells hanging around their necks and served milk and food. If you are a tourist who visits Tamil Nadu around this festive period, you will find it an unusual sight to see cows being lavished with flower garlands and bells. On this day, farmers would also proudly parade their cows in the village after feeding them.
The last and fourth day of the celebrations is known as the ‘Thiruvalluvar Day’. This day is a tribute to Thiruvalluvar, a great poet who had given a remarkable contribution to the Tamil Literature.
Overall, Pongal is a popular and important festival for all farmers in Tamil Nadu.
The harvest festival of Pongal has its unique regional significance. The festival of Pongal is celebrated all over India on the same day, but has different names in each region. However, being a harvest festival, bonfires and feasts are the main thing common to all the celebrations of this festival. Almost all the states of India celebrate this festival with varied festivities including singing and dancing. In northern India, the festival is known as Lohri while in Assam it is called Bhogali Bihu, in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar it is known as Sankranti, and in Andhra Pradesh it is celebrated as Bhogi, when each household puts on display its collection of dolls. Following is the state wise regional significance of the Pongal festival.
Pongal in Maharashtra:
In Maharashtra, January 14 is celebrated as a festival of Makar Sankranti and is marked by the flying of kites. The entire sky becomes a showcase of colorful kites of various sizes and shapes. On this day, people exchange homemade delicacies like til and gur laddoos and wish each other the sweetness of speech, throughout the year just the way the gur tastes.
A newly wed woman gives away oil, cotton and sesame seeds to mark the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti. This is believed to bestow upon her and her family long life and prosperity. The women wear new clothes, new glass bangles, and relatives are invited to attend the Haldi Kumkum celebration to welcome the new bride into their family.
Pongal in Gujarat:
In Gujarat, Pongal day is celebrated as Makar Sankranti. Here, kite-flying is a major event for this day. Traditionally celebrated on the 13th or 14th January, it is a day when every family can be seen outdoors ‘cutting’ each other’s kites. Kites of myriad hues, shapes and sizes decorate the skies from dawn to dusk during this festival. The vast panorama of the sky dotted with thousand of kites becomes a wonderful sight to see.
The International Kite Festival is held at the capital city Ahmedabad on January 14 to coincide with the festival of Uttarayan or Makar Sankranti. The people of Gujarat celebrate Uttarayan with a lot of enthusiasm and all business comes to a grinding halt for 3 to 4 days. It is also a celebration to mark the end of winter. The excitement does not end with nightfall, which is the time for illuminated box kites, often in a series strung on one line, to be launched into the sky. Known as “tukals”, these add a touch of splendor to the dark sky.
Pongal in Uttar Pradesh:
In Uttar Pradesh, the day of Pongal is celebrated as Makar Sankranti. Here, taking a ritual bath in the river is considered mandatory on this day. According to a popular belief in the hills of Uttar Pradesh, a person who does not take a bath on this auspicious day will be born as a donkey in his next birth. Apart from this ritual bathing, donating khichri (a cooked mixture of rice and lentils) is also one of the important aspects of the Makar Sankranti celebration in Uttar Pradesh.
To mark the occasion of Makar Sankranti, a big mela or fair is also organized at the Triveni Sangam in Allahabad. As the mela is held in the beginning of the month of Magha, this fair is named as Magha Mela. Apart from Triveni, ritual bathing is also organized at places like Haridwar and Garh Mukteshwar in Uttar Pradesh. Many kite-flying competitions are also held in various localities to mark the occasion.
Pongal in Andhra Pradesh:
In Andhra Pradesh, Pongal celebrations start a month in advance. Bhogi is the day preceding Sankranti and Kanumu is the day after. On Bhogi day, in the early morning, a bonfire is lit up with waste before the traditional special bath. Pongali (rice pudding with milk) is an important item during this festival. Special dishes, like ariselu (sweet rice cakes), are prepared. On Kanumu day animals are decorated and races are held, sometimes the banned cockfights, bullfights and ram fights are included. Sun, Mahabali (a mythological Dravidian king) and Godadevi (Goddess Goda) are worshiped during this harvest festival.
Pongal in Karnataka:
In Karnataka, the festival is called ‘Sankranti’, and cows and bullocks are gaily decorated and fed ‘Pongal’- a sweet preparation of rice. Special prayers are offered in the temples and houses. In the evening, the cattle are led out in procession to the beat of drums and music. In the night a bonfire is lit and the animals are made to jump over the fire.
Makar Sankranti is marked by men, women and children wearing colorful clothing; visiting near and dear ones; and exchanging pieces of sugarcane, a mixture of fried til, molasses, pieces of dry coconut, peanuts and fried gram. The significance of this exchange is that sweetness should prevail in all the dealings.
In Karnataka, an interesting tradition is followed. After the pujas, white sesame (ellu) mixed with pieces of jaggery, peanuts, dry coconut and sugar blocks (shakkare achchu) are exchanged. At Gavi Gangadhareshwara (Siva) temple in Bangalore’s Gavipuram, a rare phenomenon is witnessed in the evening. The Sun’s rays pass through the horns of the Nandi briefly to fall on the Lingam in the sanctum. It is an architectural marvel.
Pongal in Tamil Nadu:
Pongal in Tamil Nadu is celebrated to mark the withdrawal of the southeast monsoons as well as the reaping of the harvest. Pongal is strictly a rural festival. The Sun is worshiped for its rays are responsible for life on earth. It is the biggest harvest festival, spread over four days. The name of the festival is derived from Pongal, a rice pudding made from freshly harvested rice, milk and jaggery.
The first day, Bhogi Pongal, is a day for the family. Surya Pongal, the second day, is dedicated to the worship of Surya, the Sun God. The third day, Mattupongal is for worship of the cattle. In Chennai (Madras), a rath yatra procession is taken out from the Kandaswamy Temple. In Madurai, Tanjore and Tiruchirrapalli, where Pongal is known as Jellikattu, bundles of money are tied to the horns of bulls and villagers try and wrest the bundles from them. Community meals are made from the freshly gathered harvest and enjoyed by the entire village.
Pongal in Kerala:
In Kerala, on Makar Sankranti evening, at the hill shrine of Sabarimala, lakhs of pilgrims witness a star-like celestial light of incredible splendor appearing on the horizon. Known as Makara Jyothi, this miracle occurs at the time of the evening Deeparadhana. Pilgrims consider it a great moment of fulfillment. Lord Ayyappa is adorned with special jewels known as Thiruvaabharanam. Legend has it that these jewels were donated to the Lord by the erstwhile Pandalam Maharaja, considered the foster father of the Lord.
Sankranthi, or Makara Sankranti, is a harvest festival in Karnataka as is the case in other parts of India. Sankranthi is celebrated when sun transcends from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere. Sankranthi means ‘change of direction’ and is based on solar event and it also marks the arrival of Spring Season. In 2009, the date of Sankranthi in Karnataka is January 14. In Kannada culture, Sankranthi is synonymous with ellu (sesame-jaggery mix), sugar candies and sugarcane.
Uttarayana, the day time of Devas, begins from Sankranthi and the next six months are considered highly auspicious. There are also numerous other legends that are associated with Sankranthi.
The day before the festival all the houses are thoroughly cleaned. And on the day of Sankranti, green mango leaves are used to decorate doors and windows and the thresholds of houses and colorful rangoli is drawn on the doorsteps. People also fly kites on the day.
Talk about Sankranthi and the first things that a Kannadiga would remember is sugarcane. Stacks of sugarcane sticks piled up in the market herald the arrival of the Sankranti festival. Shredding the sugarcane with teeth and munching the juice off it is a major activity on the day.
People also exchange yellu – a mixture of fried sesame, peanuts and gram with jaggery and copra. People visit relatives, friends and neighbors on the day and exchange yellu balla. The festive feast includes rice and moong dal kichdi (both sweet and salt), curries with freshly harvested field beans, sweet potato, sweet pumpkin, etc. The list increases as one travels to rural Karnataka.
Numerous music and dance festival are also held during the period.