Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Marriage - Day 2 - Part I

This day is most memorable in every one's life. Tamil Brahmin wedding - day starts with Mangala Snanam. Athai is the most preferred person to do this. Next choice would be Maami. The bride and groom's family does this for them separately. Basically they are made to sit in a Manai palaga which was decorated with Kolam and then offer Santhanam and Kumkum to them. Then gingely oil is applied on their head. They need to then have bath.

Before this event, Athai of the Bride has to give Appa koodai. This includes appam, a mirror, Betal leaves and nuts. This is accompanied by Toilet items which we call as Pal theikkara Bakshanam. This includes Soap for taking bath, Shaving set items, towel, Powder, Comb etc., Parijaragan (cooking assistant) has to place a tub filled with warm water for taking bath. Believe this was a habit in those days where marriage is performed in home itself combining few more houses in the same town or village.

The groom has to be prepared for the Kasi Yathirai now. The Bride's family will keep the umbrella, Bagavat gita book, Hand fan and Chappals ready for this occasion. The brother of the Bride accompanies the groom and lift the umbrella for him. 

When the bride and groom proceed for the kaasi yaatra occasion they have to wear the garlands. This is usually done by their respective Maternal uncle. 

Paternal Aunt of the groom applies Kaajal (kan mai) to the groom on the cheeks. 

The groom then walks towards the out gate starting his journey to Kaasi. We need to be prepared with the mentioned items for this occasion. The bride should be prepared with the dressing and come forward to proceed with the exchange of the garlands. The bride should now wear a six yards saree purchased for Uunjal function. This saree is usually gifted by the maternal uncle. It is also a practice that the Uncle gift Metti to be worn after marriage and a Neli modhiram (finger ring). The bride's father interrupt and ask him to come back and marry his daughter. The groom then accepts the offer and return back.

All these rituals are supported by the Sastrigal himself. The groom now holds the hand of Bride which is called as Paanigrahanam. The Saastrigal explained this clearly during the wedding. Paani means Hand. Grahanam means hold (patrudhal in tamil). So the occasion of holding the hands of bride is called as Paanigrahanam.



Exchanging of garlands is a very interesting occasion which everyone enjoys. Maternal Uncle of the bride and the groom supports them in exchanging the garlands. The bride and the groom challenges each other before accepting the garland. They are lifted by the Uncle in their shoulders making it a challenge for the other one. Have heard that those days when the bride and groom are too young these are done to make them have fun. Maalai Saatrinal Kothai Malai Matrinal is a famous song sung during this occasion.

Then the groom holds the hands of the bride and proceeds towards the Uunjal. Now the singers of the family should be prepared to sing Uunjal songs which is a super hit in our family.  Kannunjal aadi irundhal and Seetha kalyana Vaibogame are famous songs sung during this occasion. My cousins are super veterans in singing and they fill every marriage in our family with super good songs that we cherish for ever. 

While the singing is happening the Palum pazhamum is offered to the bride and groom. Those days we used to have hand towels ready to swipe the hands. Nowadays small handy silver cups are bought and used to have the palum pazhamum. The Maami and Athai are the most important people who need to mandatorily do this. Mom's and other elders also need to do this. The first one to start this is the groom's mom followed by the Bride's mom. Then maami, athai and other elders. They need to wear madisaar while performing this ritual. First they need to dip their thumbs in milk kept in the cup and apply on the foot of the bride and groom thrice. Then wipe the same using the Saree Pallu. Then they offer the milk and plantain fruit mixer to the to be couple thrice. The Maami or Athai of the bride does this first to the Groom and vice versa.



 Once this is done then comes the hilarious Pachapidi ritual. This is basically to remove the dhristhi to the young to be couple.  Rice balls in Red and yellow colors are kept ready for this function. Again the same elders have to perform this ritual. Usually, 5, 7, 9 or 11 Sumangalis are expected to do both these rituals. The plate in which the Rice balls are kept need to be rotated thrice clock wise and anti clock wise facing the to be couple. Then one by one the rice balls are picked and again rotate thrice as above. First ball to be thrown on the east, west, south and North directions respectively. these balls fall on those who stands on the sides at times. We used to have fun during this event when the Rice balls hit some one's head or while the ladies target some one purely for fun.


Once this is done, 5 Sumangalis wearing Madisaar should be prepared with the below mentioned Brass vessels.

1. Pithalai Sombu - 2
2. Pithalai Adukku - 1
3. Kuthu Vilakku - 1
4. Pithalai Padi - 1

The Sumangalis usually include the Bride and the groom's mom, Maami and athai. The first one and the last one has to take the Sombu filled with Water, the second one has to Lit the Kuthu Vilakku (the upper half portion of the lamp alone) and place it inside the Adukku, the Padi to be filled with Paddy and a coconut on top and then one more person with the Sombu filled with Water. These 5 ladies are already informed in advance by both families. The 5 ladies in inclusive of both Bride and bride groom's family. They have to go around the Swing thrice. The first and last one has to slowly spread the water while going around the Swing. At the end Aarthi is taken for the bride and the groom with the left over Rice balls mixed in water. This Ritual is also guided by the Saastrigal. So you may just be prepared with the Pachapidi saaman ( which the marriage contractors take care) and Sumangalis to do this Ritual. The below picture depicts how the adukku need to be held during this occasion.


Then the bride and groom are taken to the stage where the marriage is proposed to happen. The Saastrigal again takes care of the Rituals to be conducted which includes Kannigaa dhanam. While Kanniga Dhaanam takes place the Kothram of the bride is changed to that of the groom.



Then the koorai pudavai is offered to the bride and she is accompanied by the to be sister in law to drape the 9 yards saree. When she is back wearing the 9 yards saree then Maangalya Dharanam takes place.  The slogas or the Mantras all carry lot of meaning which I heard in one of the marriages was explained well by the Sastrigal. While marrying the groom and the bride agree to be supporting each other throughout the rest of the life. Be it any situation they agree to will handhold each other.



The Sastrigal also explained that Mangalya dharanam is not part of marriage before several decades. However this is the announcement that the groom is making to those who witness the marriage that he is now marrying the bride and accepting her as life partner. This is done while the bride sits on the lap of her father. The first knot is made by the groom and the other two knots are made by the sister in law.

Once the marriage is done, Sastrigal advises us not to hand shake with the couple till the Sapthapathy is completed.



Now both the families has to give Paladhanam to each other's family members. This includes a set of Betal leaves and nuts, a Banana, Sandanam and Kumkum, a small amount of cash which can even be a Re. 1/-.  This is given to the family members both gents and ladies.

While Sastrigal takes care of the the other rituals, you may now start treating the guests with Lunch and offer them the return gift and Bakshanam.

The brother of Bride should be now made available for the Pori idara function. When he performs this, the Groom's family honors him with a golden Ring. If it is not affordable, a small amount of cash can also be offered.

The sister of the groom who tied the two knots of the Maangalyam is also honored with Saree as a token of love and thanks.

Ensure that the Parents of the bride and groom and the bride and groom themselves observe fasting till all the Rituals are completed.

Badhil Mariyadhai to the sampandhi's is also important. Saree and Dhothi are purchased for each other which we call as Badhil mariyadhai.

Maami will help in wearing the toe rings (metti) for the bride.

Once the Sastrigal confirms that the rituals are all done, the guests can come over and start blessing the newly married couple.

I will write the event of Nalungu in a separate post since I think this is a lengthy one.











Saturday, 2 February 2019

Marriage - Day 1

I am excited to write this post since I recently attended my Brother's wedding. I did took note of the happenings during few more recent weddings I attended in the recent past.

The traditional method of Tamil Brahmin marriages happen for 5 days while it is now shrunk to 3 or 2 days. While the Rituals are significantly taken care by the Sastrigal, there are quite a lot of things to be taken care by the Bride and groom's family.

Few decades ago, the entire background work like the catering, preparing the items required during the event including Aarthi, garlands, Kolam, decoration were taken care by the family members. While the concept of outsourcing is now becoming a successful trend, all these are taken care by a contractor for which they charge a bulk amount of money. This has now become unavoidable due to the smaller size of family as well unlike olden days where there will be a minimum of 4 brothers/sisters who take the responsibility of each department.

Before the 3 days rituals are started both the families perform Samaradhanai and Pondugal in their home. The Groom's family performs the Pondugal after marriage/ Daughter in law steps in which will also help her understand the rituals of her new family.
Pondugal should be completed first and then Samaradhanai.

Before the bride and the groom's family start from their home towards to the Kalyana Mandapam, elders used to advise to go to a near by Vinayagar temple and offer a Sathur thengai. This is to pay homage to god seeking blessings so that the function goes on well.

Day 1 starts with Vratham where both the bride and groom's family complete the Ritual with the assistance of the Sastrigal appointed for the purpose. Nowadays these are performed in the Chatram/Marriage Hall booked. Both the parents and the bride and groom need to fast until the Vratham is completed.



Few Basics to be followed:

1. Madisar and Panchakacham is the mandatory costume for the Parents of the bride and groom during the Vratham, Nichayadhartham and Paanigrahanam.
2. The sister of the bride groom accompanies the Bride during the saree draping session and welcoming her to the stage where the function happens. this is basically to develop the relationship between them.
3. During the Aarthi sessions, one elder from each side bride and groom to accompany.
4. Appam to be brought and placed during Vratham by Athai of bride and in turn the Bride groom family offers a small amount as a token of respect.
5. Paaligai thelikkaradhu is an important activity performed during Vratham. Sumangalis used to be part of this Ritual. In turn the bridge and groom's family has to give them Sandanam, Kumkum, Vethalai Paakku and a small amount as Sambavanai.
6. New dress offered by the mom's family of the parents at both end.
7. Paruppu thengai to be placed during the Vratham and betrothal separately.
8. Ensure the Bride groom's sister and the Bride's brother are available at the stage since they need perform few activities during the Betrothal
9. When there are more than one Brother or Sister it will be even more happy and they share the activities
10. There will be guests who visit only on the day 1 and may not be able to visit on the day of marriage. Need to ensure that Thamboolam is provided to those without fail.

The importance of Paaligai is that the elders bless the to be couple and apply water on the  Dhanyam which will sprout well notifying that their life will be flourished well in a similar manner. Sastrigal takes care of these rituals and guides us to perform this. For the sake of information, the below picture depicts about how we perform this ritual. There are 5 mud cups in which the Dhanyam are kept. We need to start from the center and then the one on the top and then clockwise order. In all functions the rotation is clockwise.




Naandhi is also performed on the day 1 by both families. We need to purchase 9 sets of Veshti and Angavasthram, Rice packets (Raw Rice), Raw Plantain, Coconut, Betal leaves and nuts, Panchapathiram.

The family members should wait around since the Saasthrigal will ask us to go for Prathakshanam around the 9 Brahmanas to whom the above mentioned items will be offered.



Since the reception is usually scheduled on the day before wedding, the Nichayadhartham is performed after the Vratham. While we perform a Betrothal well in advance before the marriage, the one that is conducted also is significant. The reason behind is to announce the Poorvigam of both the families where a good number of friends and relatives are present. In olden days where the media for communication is less, this helped a lot to announce the background of the families including their Native place, ancestral details of both families, date of marriage, Muhurtham time and the venue are included in the Nichayadhartha Pathirikkai. This is loudly read by the Sastrigal of both sides so that all of them are aware of the details.

In case of any discrepancies noted the same shall be raised at this time. Decades back when communication is slow this method of announcing helped in identifying the background of the families and clarify any doubts that may arise.

Reception is not usually a traditional occasion. You can handle it in the way you desire discussing with your friends and family.

Few tips for the bride and the groom's family to get prepared with the below for the function:

Buy gifts for the visitors and guests. It may be a Sarees and Dhotis for elders and some return gifts. this is definitely not mandatory and may vary as per the convenience.

Badhil Mariyadhai for the sambandhi at both sides is also required. This is usually a nice Silk Saree and a dress for the elders.

Bride groom's sister is the one who will tie the 2 knots during the Mangalya Dhanranam. The Bride's family honors her with a return gift which is usually a Saree.

Nowadays Palum pazhamum during Unjal is offered in a small silver cup so that the to be couple dont wet their hands. You may choose to get that or keep a towel ready to wipe their hands.

The Seer Bakshanam is a traditional one that we follow. It is usually 7 rounds Murukku, 7 Rounds Mullu Murukku, Adhirasam, Big Laddu and Mysore Pak. It is offered usually as 51 or 101 numbers.
Ensure that you have a good plan to distribute these to relatives.One of the relatives usually takes care of the distribution of gifts, Sweets and Thamboolam.

The households for the to be couple is also bought in advance so that they have all they need to start their new life. In few families, these are bought but not used since these are already available in abundance in the bride groom's home. Plan well and get only those that are required.

Pachapidi samaan is mandatory to be purchased and kept ready. This includes Brass Kuthi Vilakku, a wide Brass bowl, Brass Sombu - 2, Brass Padi used as a measurement.

The Bride groom's sister usually takes care of the Vilayaadal saaman. This is to create a good rapport with the new daughter in law to the home. This includes dresses, Comb, Bangles, Mirror, Nuts, Studs, Neck sets etc;

Will continue in the next post about Marriage - Day 2










Sunday, 2 September 2018

Srartham

It had been a very long time that I wrote. Got struck somewhere. Today we performed my Mother in law's Srartham. I thought I should write about this most important ritual since this has lot of formalities and cumbersome too. The significance of performing Srartham is well known in our families and that is why we are continuing to do this year on year without any excuses. People who are very old follow the system of Hiranya Srartham because they cannot sit for long and nowadays because of health issues could not starve for long. But for people who are healthy and young should be strictly following the method of performing Srartham along with homam.



The ritual is performed on the same Tamil month and thithi when the elder demised. Since the thithi comes twice in a month, it should be noted if it is after Amavasai or Pournami (Full moon day). So it is most important to note down the details. I would suggest to make note of this in a diary for future reference. Usually the Sastrigal helps us in identifying the Srartha Thithi. It is also important to inform the Sastrigal who will perform the Srartham well in advance.

The first and foremost step for Srartham is the preparation of Madi vastram for those who are performing the Srartham. This includes the Karta, his wife, brothers and their wife, sisters who will provide theertham during the time of serving food and the one who is cooking the food. It is always preferable to prepare the food by the Karta's wife. Madi vastram is most preferably the wet dresses that are made wet during the time of taking bath on the day of Srartham and wearing the same. The Vastram is 9 yards Saree for women and Panchakacham & Angavasthram for Gents.
However nowadays this system is not followed by all. The day before the Srartham first thing in the morning, take head bath and wear wet cloth and then dip the dresses that are about to be used on the next day and dry it thoroughly without the access of anyone. These wet clothes are usually dried in a place where no one access. These are then taken on the next day morning after taking head bath and with wet dresses. Preparation of Madi Vastram should be done before taking food. Also include clothes used for cleaning the floor after taking food and used in the kitchen for holding the vessels.

The day before the Srartham, the food that we prepare should be home made after taking head bath. This should be no onion and no garlic food. The food along with Rice can be taken once the previous day and for dinner any tiffin items are suggested for the Karta, his wife and brothers and their wife, sister who is participating in the Srartham. Outside food is strictly not allowed. Any left over food of the previous day is also not allowed.

The Bronze vessels are mostly used while performing Srartham. These should be cleaned the previous day itself and kept ready. The basic necessities of the bronze vessel includes the below.

1. Srartha kinnam - 6
2. Pancha Pathram and Udhruni - 2 Sets
3. Thambalam - 3
4. Sombu - 2
5. One medium size bowl for Ghee
6. Anna Karandi
7. Vengala Panai for cooking Rice

Purchase all provisions required for preparing the food on the day of Srartham. It is preferred to keep everything separately from the daily cooking provisions. The basic list of provisions include the below:

1. Vellam
2. Pasi Paruppu (Moong dhall)
3. Urad Dhall
4. Raw Rice
5. Pepper
6. Jeeragam
7. Mustard Seeds
8. Sesame Seeds
9. Refined Oil
10. Gingely Oil
11. Salt
12. Elachi
13. Wheat flour
14 Honey and Nattu Sakkarai
15 Sikakkai for Brahmana to take bath

The list of basic Vegetables/Fruits include the below:

1. Raw banana
2. Bitter guard/ Seppangkizhangu
3. Avaraikkai/Palakkai
4. Snake guard (Pudalangai)
5. Raw Mango
6. Vellarikkai
7. Curry Leaves, Ginger
8. Pirandai
9. Banana/Mango/Jack fruit (either one or three of these)
10. Lemon

Other items includes Banana Leaves for serving food, Milk for preparing curd and Coffee, Ghee (Prepared at home) for Homam and food. The Banana Leaves should be bought as full leaf and handed over to the the Brahmanas who come to accept the food that we offer. The long full leaves are cut and then they prepare the Dhonnai as well from the leaves. Two leaves are used to serve food for one brahmana. In our family we serve food for Vishnu Ilai and then the food will be consumed by the son in law. This depends upon the practice that each family follows.

Items for Homam. Usually Sastrigal gives the list of items required.

1. Homa kundam/ Bricks and sand
2. Viratti
3. Srai
4. Ghee
5. Mat for sitting
6. Hand Fan (Visiri)
7. Nel (Paddy kennels)

The previous day night clean the kitchen tiles (medai), Gas Stoves, Fridge, boil milk and arrange for fresh curd.

Do's and Dont's

1. Do not take oil bath on the day of Srartham
2. Do not consume any other beverages other than coffee or tea
3. Do not use cosmetics, soaps, shampoos or perfumes even for taking bath
4. Apply kumkum after the end of the ritual. Instead apply little turmeric on the forehead
5. Bangles must be worn
6. Do not leave the hair loose. Preferably dry immediately after taking bath and apply a top knot. Do not comb the hair until the ceremony is completed.
7. Ensure the house is cleaned and swiped first thing in the morning. this is preferably done by one of the persons at home and not by maid
8. Do not apply Kolam on the entrance. Only swipe and wet the floor
9. Poojai Vilakku shall be lit only after the completion of the Ceremony
10. Do not consume tiffin or food for dinner on the day of performing Srartham. Usually it is only one time food or Vadai and Athirasam for dinner that was prepared for lunch.
11. Do not consume milk on the day of Srartham
12. The left over food should not be shared with outsiders or served to dog. Shall be provided only to the cow. Even the leaves used to serve food should be kept separately and given to a cow or buried in ground without access to dogs.
13. Provide Gingely oil and Sikakai for the Brahmans who come to accept the food that we offer. This should be provided to them before we take bath
14. Akshadhai for srartham is usually taken from the Rice that is soaked for preparing Saadham
15. People who follow Bodhayana Soothram should take Kanchi while the Rice is boiling and keep it aside for Homam
16. Bothayana Soothram is little elaborate and this requires additional rice for preparing 24 Rice balls (Pindam)
17. Avoid talking while performing this Ceremony
18. Do not make noise in the vessel while serving the Rice for Brahmanas
19. Children are not allowed to participate actively in the ceremony


The basic samayal or food that we serve for any Srartham shall include the below menu. You may refer to your elders at home for any practices that they follow since this differs for each family. But there is no drastic change in the way it is followed.

Pasi Paruppu payasam, Thayir Pachadi, Mango sweet pachadi, Vazhakkai Curry, Avarakkai Curry, Bitter Guard curry/Seppankizhangu Curry, Pudalangai Koottu, More Kulambu, Curry leaves along with Pirandai thogaiyal, Cut Mango pickle, Lemon Rasam, Paruppu, Nei, Saadam, Curd, Vadai, Athirasam, Ellu Urundai, Banana, Nattu Sakkarai, Honey.



Avoid tamarind, Coconut, green chillies, Red chillies, Turmeric powder, nuts, asafoetida for cooking.

The cooking for srartham is also quite easy. Few people say that they dont know. The only Dhall used is the Yellow Moong dhall. First roast and cook the dhall in a separate vessel. This is used for Payasam, Kalathu paruppu, Koottu, Rasam. Then dry roast Urad Dhall and Pepper and finely grind it into powder. This is the masala used for all the items. In the Pan pour oil and throw the mustard seeds and then add the Curry leaves. This is made in bulk and used as seasoning for all vegetables, Koottu and More kulambu.

Nowadays lot of people engage a samayal maami for the samayal. I have heard that it is preferred if the Daughter in law prepares the food for srartham.

Finally, the son's are entitled to perform the Ritual as per our tradition.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Upanayanam

We are planning for my son's Upanayanam and recently completed the ritual of Upanayanam of my nephew. Had been thinking to write on this for a long time. Its quite lengthy too. Upanayanam is a two days ritual. Normally this is done when the boy reaches 5 years or  7 or 9 years of age. Basically the odd years of age is chosen to perform this ritual. Once Upanayanam is performed and Brahma Upadesam is made he becomes a eligible bachelor and then on starts performing Sandhiyavandhanam on a daily basis.

The Function is usually planned during Uthrayanam which is From Tamil month Thai to Aani. Aadi to Margazhi is not suitable to perform Upanayanam. Marriages can be planned during both Uthrayanam and Dhakshinayanam. The best suitable month is Maasi for performing Upanayanam. If the boy was born during the month of maasi, then it should not be conducted on this month. There is a saying "Maasila Poonal potta Paasi Padaraum"

While the family sastrigal helps in choosing the date for the function, he also guides to narrate the invitation. Before performing the function we need to perform the Pondugal and Samaaradhanai selecting a auspicious day. Pondugal should be done first and then Samaaradhanai. It's mandatory for the kid to participate in both functions. So ensure to plan on holidays when the kid does not have school or any other important activity to participate.

My sister's family hails from North arcot and they do the ritual of "Pongi Idaradhu" before the function. Basically, the kid is invited for the Athai;s [aunty] home on a auspicious day. They apply nalungu, apply oil on his head and make him take bath. Then food is served including Payasam, vadai. Finally gift him with dress. This is also being done before marriage in the same manner.

On the previous day of the Upanayanam, Uthagashanthi is performed. All items required will be listed by Sastrigal. The same day Naandhi is also performed. For this 9 Vaidhigaal will be coming to receive the Dhaanam. It is mandatory to cook food at home for Vaidhigaal. Else they don't take food ordered from outside. The person preparing food should wear Madi and serve food wearing madisaar saree.

Both the parents and the kid should not have food till the end of the function. After the poojai, the kid undergoes Abhishegam with the holy water in the kalasam. Parents should wear Panchakacham and Madisaar. Both Parents and Kid should take head bath and prepared for the function before Sastrigal comes. Kid should wear 4 muzham Dhothi. Be prepared with the towels for the kid to dry after undergoing the abhishegam.I am told that is is preferred to wear the Muhurtha Pudavai on the day of Upanayanam. So I did.

On the day of Upanayanam, the kid should be made to sit in a manai palagai on which maakolam is applied. Mangala snanam should be performed for the kid by the Atahi {aunt} by applying nalungu on feet and oil on his head. He she wear  Muzham dhothi, apply Viboodhi on forehead.

Brahma Upadesam is the actual ritual that is performed on this day. The guru does this for the kid in the presence of mom and dad alone. The guru, kid, mom and dad are covered with a vastram and the guru teaches the Gayathri Manthram.



From the day of the Upanayanam, the Sharma name is applicable for the kid and we start using this while performing Archanai and in all Poojai. The kid is taught "Abhivadhaye" which he tell to his mom and perform Namaskaram. He is then mandated to perform Bikshai and handover the rice to his mom. The Mom should receive it in her Saree thalaippu. Keep it safe and cook the next day at home. All Sumangali ladies who attend function shall then provide Bikshai arisi along with little thoor Dhal. The kid should say "Bavathi Biksham Dhehi" to those ladies who offer Bikshai Arisi. It is a tradition to issue Murukku and Laddu to those ladies who offer Bikshai Arisi. The Bikshai arisi should be brought back to home and included in the Rice that is used for cooking.


On the day of Upanayanam,  a small portion of hair will be cut for the kid. Those days, the boy after Upanayanam keep Kudumi and this practice is now not followed as mandatory. People who belong to Sama Vedham shave the entire hair of the kid. After that the kid take bath and wear a fresh set of cloths. Athai has to apply a beauty spot {dhrishti pottu}.The maternal uncle {thai maama} of the kid used to carry the kid on his shoulders and bring him to the function hall. This is a practice followed and the uncle is honored for the same.

The kid and a boy who is a bachelor {for whom Upanayanam is already performed} are made to sit together and they are offered with food which normally includes a Sweet,Ven Pongal and Murukku Vadam. Kolam is drawn on the floor where the kids will sit and on the place where the Vazhai Ilai is placed to offer food. The food is normally served by Athai/Maami. Mother offers theertham before the kids start eating. This ritual is called as Kumaara Bhojanam.


The Kid's maternal grandma brings in "Paruppu thengai" for both days. One pair for Uthagashanthi and one Pair for Upanayanam. This is usually made of Laddu and Manoharam for those who hails from Tanjore. They also gift the traditional 5 round Murukku, Adhirasam, Mullu murukku, laddu, a vessel for Bikshai arisi, Thanga poonal  Velli Poonal and Pattu Veshti for the kid.
This Pattu Veshti is normally used while sastrigal perform the Brahma Upadesam to the kid which is the important part of the function.

Both days, maakolam is applied on the entrance, Vazhai Maram is tied on the entrance and all close relatives of the kid are invited to bless the kid. Nowadays, the function is performed in a mini hall.
The list of items required for Sastrigal will be provided by him. I would insist in performing the Rituals more with Religious importance.

The kid will be trained by the Satrigal for the next few days to perform Sandhiya Vandhanam.

We have to be prepared with the below list of items.

1. Manjal and KumKum
2. Garland for the kid for both days
3. Flowers for us and to the visitors
4. Thamboolam for the guests
5. Thambalam {Plates}
6. Arrange for caterers
7. Vazhai Maram in both Mandapam and home
8. Decoration if any in the Mandapam and Name Board
9. Pair of Lamps to be lit on both days and oil, Thiri.
10. Sandana Pela and Kumkum Chimizh
11. Dresses for us and kids to wear after Muhurtham
12. Sampandhi Badhil Mariyadhai
13. Coins {5 or 10 Rupee}
14. Aarathi liquid and Plate
15. 4 Muzham Veshti to gift for the boy accompanying Kumara Bhojanam
16. Pancha Paatram and Udhruni
17. Photographer
18. Maakolam Maavu
19. Photos of Elders and God
20. Return gifts {not mandatory}

We bought everything and packed in separate boxes to make it easily available on the day of function and the previous day.






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.