Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Maargazhi ThingaL

About 10 days back, I’ve started fasting for Sabarimala (means I wake up early these days. He.. he…). It really feels good to wake up early, have cold water bath, go out to visit a temple amidst such cold weather.

And now Margazhi has started. A month filled with festivities, spiritualism and arts. The word “Margazhi” itself takes my memory down the line, to my child hood days at my home town.

There used to be real big Kolams in front of our houses on a wet surface. And a nice Pumpkin flower fixed on a ball of cow dung, used to decorate at the middle of the Kolam.

My parents wake us up and push us to have bath early and make us study for half yearly exams.

But there used to be a great excuse for me to have a break before opening the books. The biggest Savior was the “Ramar temple” on our street. The whole Margazhi month used to be too active there from early mornings. Boys and girls of our age group land up in the temple sharply before the end of Poojas there. Few children were taught Slokas, Thiruppaavai etc., at the temple itself and they chant them even before we arrive there.

Few of us never had any inclination to learn Thiruppaavai etc., as it was considered girlish stuff by us. But jealosy would start when we see them chanting Thiruppaavai or Sukthams during temple Poojas. One can almost see the pride on their faces while reciting. Reason was, their parents watch them recite and talk high of their kids to others. Another major reason was the preference given to them while distributing hot “Ven Pongal”. They were the first to get the blessings along with Pongal Prasaadham. (Sambavanai).

Once I get Prasaadham, mind starts thinking about the studies and parents waiting to see us studying. I used to go home half minded, carry the books and go to the terrace (what a relief!!) to study. Those days, near our house, there used to be lot of trees around housing lots of monkeys with their families. My study will start with loud reading with brisk walk on the terrace. It all would last only for 15 minutes till the first monkey hits the sight. Then it all would turn to monkey gazing even without my knowledge.

It all ends when mom comes to the terrace to keep food for “Kaakkaa” (crow), which means food is ready. Come down, have breakfast, pack the bag and leave to school and wait till the evening.

Come home in the evening, have coffee, go to temple (excuse, again) to watch those budding artists (!!) singing and other Urchavams. Then come home, open the books and study for sometime till 9 pm or till I fall asleep on the book (whichever happens early). Thank God! There was no TV set at home those days. If there were Chithi, Kolangal, Pogo or Power Rangers, my studies would have gone for a six (as if, without them I was a rank holder!?!?).

Coming back to Margazhi, believed to be inauspicious month among others. In Margazhi no one enters a new house or a new project. No weddings performed. No new purchases.

But just thinking of so many things, that Margazhi has to offer.

In Bhagavad-Gita, God says to Arjuna, “Maadhangalil Naan Maargazhiyaaga Irukkiren”. That is “Among all months, I am Maargazhi”. That’s the purity and sanctity of Maargazhi.

Well renowned Thiruppaavai was written and sung in the month of Maargazhi. Till today, Thiruppaavai is sung in all temples and even at homes during Margazhi.

Thiruppaavai, starts with the lines “Maargazhi Thingal”, celebrating the dawns of Maargazhi offering prayers to Lord Vishnu.

Thiruppaavai was written by Aandal who lived centuries back. Sri Aandal was found in a flower garden by Periyazhwar. As per mythology she was born in Kali Yuga 98. According to the above belief her date of birth is 8th June 3004 B.C. Anyhow many modern historians predict that she lived during 8th Century AD. Whatever it is, Thiruppaavai is at least 1300 years old or more, which is being chanted even today.

Sri Andal in one of her 30 pasurams in Thiruppaavai sings…

புள்ளின் வாய் கீன்டானைப் பொல்லா அரக்கனைக்கிள்ளிக் களைன்தானைக் கீர்த்தி மைப்பாடிப் போய்ப்பிள்ளைகள் எல்லாரும் பாவைக் களம்புக்கார் வெள்ளி எழுந்து வியாழம் உறங்கிற்று புள்ளும் சிலம்பின காண் போதர்க் கண்ணினாய்குள்ளக் குளிரக் குடைந்து நீராடாதேபள்ளி(க்) கிடத்தியோ! பாவாய்! நீ! நன்னாள் கள்ளம் தவிர்த்து கலந்தேலோரெம்பாவாய்

Meaning :

All the girls have reached the place for 'Paavai nonbu', singing the praise (keerthi) of the Lord, who split the mouth of the bird shaped asura; who sniped and disposed off the heads of the cruel Rakshasa.

Venus (velli) has risen (ezhundhu). Jupiter (viyaazhan) has gone to sleep (urangitru). Birds are chirping, See! You have eyes like the honey bee on a flower! You are lying in bed and sleeping, without dipping in and bathing in the harsh cold water. Oh girl! On this good day, leave your tricks behind and join us.

In the phrase Velli Ezhundhu Vyaazhan Urangitru, she means that the Venus has risen in the sky and Jupiter has gone to sleep (vanished). This proves the fact that Tamils knew astronomy as early as 1300 years ago. (If you ask, in which college Aandal graduated or was she an astronomer, I can’t answer!! Enough said. “Raamaa! Raamaa”!!)

Tiruvadirai Star in Maargazhi marks the auspicious time for Arudra Dharsanam of Nataraja in Saivite temples all over Tamilnadu especially Chidambaram. That was the day where Sri Nataraja gave Dharshan to Sri Adisesha (Vishnu’s Serpant) and Saint Vyaagrapadha at Chidambaram.

Vaikunda Ekadasi, one of the auspicious days for Lord Vishnu is celebrated during Maargazhi, where Perumal gives Dharshan to the devotees through the Sorgha Vaasal. This is again a major festival in all Vishnu temples celebrated with pomp.

All Sabhas are already filled up with concerts and performances by renowned artists for Maargazhi Season. I hop between sabhas at least for those sumptuous dishes offered in canteens by reputed caterers. Famous sabha canteens are in Narada Gaana Sabha, Music Academy, Vidya Mandir etc., where you can taste some of the delicious and innovative dishes (like paruppu podi sevai etc).

Thyagaraja Aaradhana is celebrated at Thiruvaiyaru also starts somewhere around Maargazhi (I think so), in memory of Saint Thyagaraja. Saint Thyagaraja was born in Thiruvaarur in 1767 and later settled down in Thiruvaiyaru (on the banks of river Cauvery) till he attained Mukthi in 1847. As a divine Rama Bhaktha Saint Thyagaraja has composed many Keerthanas which are filled with Bhakthi and remain ever green even today. His Pancharathna Keerthanas (5 gems) are a boon to listen, even for a layman who doesn’t know Carnatic Music.

Maargazhi is the time for harvest for the farmers. It’s the time they reap their produce and make their living. After getting good harvest in Maargazhi, they thank the Sun God on the day of Pongal festival (Sankarandhi) in the month of ‘Thai’.

Unjavruthi is another popular tradition followed by people especially during Maargazhi. People from the neighborhood wake up early in the morning and walk around in the all the streets singing Bhajans accompanied with musical instruments.

But why all these good deeds happen only in Maargazhi? It is believed that 1 year of human beings is 1 day for the celestial counterparts (Devas and Gods). The first 6 months from mid Jan to mid July (Utharayanam) is the day time and the next 6 months mid July to mid Jan (Dhakshinaayanam) is the night time for the Gods. And this Maargazhi (Dhanur Maasam) being the dawn of the day (Brahma Muhurtham) for the Gods, singing and chanting the glory of God is considered most auspicious.

Moreover, they say that the Ozone layer is so clean during the early mornings of this month and you can breathe fresh and pure oxygen during that time. Imagine waking up early in the morning, having bath and going for a walk amidst fresh air. And during the course you get to breathe the fresh oxygen without any pollution.

Result of which, it is said that, the biological rhythm of our body is set appropriately with a good walk early in the morning with some good thoughts, timely breakfast, good lunch and a limited dinner at night after attending a Kutcheri (food for ears) before you sleep.

People those days have devised such practices only for the good of the society. The question that remains is “Are we really sticking on to them in our fast paced life style of today?”

And when so many good things are attached to Maargazhi, why should we call the month “inauspicious”?

Let’s try to enjoy every minute of Maargazhi!


  1. Marghazi varnanai migha arpudham. Many people follow the traditions without even knowing why they are doing it. Good explanation about each and everything.
    --- Mythili

  2. Very good article. Photos of Sri Andal & Thyagarajar are excellent. Thanks for your time & effort in posting them.

    I wish all of us practice our tradition and get the blessing of Almighty.

    Have a nice time.

    N Guruvelavan

  3. What a lovely post! You have given all the background for the Margazhi celebrations, with very interesting personal touches. It is very important to be informed about why we do what we do, and your site provides so much invaluable information.

  4. Hi...

    got to see your blog just today.

    As there are so many informative links about temples.. hope u can help me to find a detail.

    Have you heared a slogam (vinayagar potri)which starts as below:

    ஓம் எனும் பொறுளாய் உள்ளோய் போற்றி
    பூமெனும் பொருள்தொறும் பொலிவாய் போற்றி

    would like to get the full lyrics... Can you please post the lyrics if you have or send it through mail

  5. i just saw your comments on margazhi, why we are not doing good things is not because Margazhi is inauspicious, it is because this month we should only concentrate on GOD, because for Devas,this month is the morning period, so we are putting big kolams and lit vilakku in the early morning and welcome Bhagwan Krishna and other Devalogha people to our house and do only pooja this month. If we have other auspicious occasions in our house then we will not be able to fully dedicate our time to Bhagwan, that is why our ancestors have done like this(As told by my elders)

  6. Sara,
    Nice post.Narrated the importance and various happenings of this month in simple also along with your personal experience of childhood memories. Great.
    Keep posting many.


I welcome your comments...