Marghazhi Thingal

Today is the first day of the ninth month of the Tamil Calendar year – Marghazhi.  It starts today on the 16th Dec 2009 and ends on 13th January, 2010.

Even though this month is considered inauspicious for conducting weddings (Shoonya Masam), it is one of the months which has a festive fever attached to it.  From the early morning hours till the end of the day, it is festivities of various kinds.

I am just walking down my memory lane, to remember those days of unending fun.

Generally we get up very early, as early as 4am in the morning, as our first task of the day is to decorate our house entrance with wonderful kolams.  And I must tell you, at this point, that we used to fill in the streets also with kolams.  The moment we get up, we first go out, clean the entrance and first draw the border for our kolam to block that entire space for us, much before our neighbours get up.  The team consisted of myself, my sister, my Mom and My grandmother.  We would have all practised the kolam the earlier evening very well. So, as one person starts keeping the dots, the others keep drawing the kolam.  Then we do the beautification and the border too in the form of kolam. By 5.30am we finish the kolam project for the first day.  We light a single Agal Vilakku (Diya), outside the house every  day of this month, in the early morning hours.

Then its time to make the yummiest dish of all – Venn pongal.  It’s actually a khichdi of rice and moong dal, with tadka done in ghee.  This Venn pongal is a must on all days and we used to love it all time.

Then its time to go to a temple.  All the temples are open from early in the mornings for the devotees who throng to visit their favourite God. And the favourite God of this season is Vishnu / Krishna. There are bhajans happening from early morning hours. The bhajan group even goes around the nearby streets waking up the sleepy lot.

There’s an interesting story, which I am reminded at this juncture.

My maternal grandfather was part of a bhajan group. And so, I’ll tag along with him, on those early morning hours.  Actually, my interest was in the prasadam, which we get after the bhajans are done with. Then one fine day, I asked him, why should we do this bhajans so early in the morning ?????

His answer really surprised me.  And the explanation is as follows.

One year in the life of an ordinary man is considered as one day in the life of God.  So, this marghazhi masam, being the ninth month, is considered to be early morning hours in the day of God.   The previous months, where we have the monsoons, are the time, when God is sleeping – maybe.  So, in order to wake God in a nice way, we sing bhajans and please the God.  And there is this particular day in this Marghazhi called the Vaikunda Ekadasi – where the God gives dharshan through the Swarga Vasal (Heaven’s entrance, if I literally translate).  Maybe that’s the day, when God wakes up and blesses his devotees.

As a kid, I was totally amused and surprised by the fact how one year of us would equal one day in the life of God !!!!

Marghazhi masam is not complete without the mention of Thiruppavai – which is a collection of 30 hymns sung in praise of Vishnu by Andal Nachiyaar.  The musical version of this is just so soothing to the soul.  Andal Nachiyaar, calls out to her friends to get up early morning, have a bath and go and worship Vishnu.

Another important festival in this month, is the Thiruvadirai – which is of great importance to the Saivites.  Also known as Arudra Darisanam, it is a celebration of Lord Shiva.  This day, we make the yummy Vella Kali and all the more delicious Kootu to go with it.

And not to forget the fact, that the December is the month of Art Festival in this city of Chennai, which is a must visit for all art lovers.  You can read about it all here.

So, on the whole, it’s a month of festivities, singing, kolams, art festivals, visiting temples, not to forget the yummylicious prasadams.

It’s a month I look forward to.  Today morning, I did the kolam, lighted a single agal vilakku, made venn pongal, sakkarai pongal and I am very happy to welcome this Marghazhi masam.

Marghazhi Thingal – the title means the month of Marghazhi.