Saturday, 13 January 2018


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 Dhakshinayanam which is From Tamil month Thai to Aani. Aadi to Margazhi is not suitable to perform Upanayanam. Marriages can be planned during Uthrayanam. The best suitable month is Maasi for performing Upanayanam. If the boy was born during the month of maasi, then it should 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.

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.........

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Kaarthigai Deepam

Kaarthigai Deepam is a festival celebrated in the tamil month Kaarthigai. Thiru Kaarthigai occurs on the full moon day of Karthigai month. The interesting part of this function is that people lit lot of lamps in their homes. The lamps are also placed outside the houses and the entire town looks pleasant in the evening. This festival is most significant for Lord Muruga and Lord Siva.

Since the festival is celebrated in the evening, we have time in the morning for the preparation. Elders in my family insist on lighting all the lamps in house including those we have in silver. Most people celebrate this Karthigai deepam festival on the same day when Tiruvannamali deepam is also lit. Kids at home helps to clean the lamps, apply sandal and kumkum, place the wick and pour oil. All these are completed by noon. Elders prepare Pori urundai in the morning itself after taking bath. This pori urundai is not preferred to be made at home during the other months. While preparing the urudai, initially two small Paruppu thengai are prepared and placed aside. My MIL used to prepare Nel pori urundai as well. Payasam, appam, Ulundu vadai are prepared for Neivedyam. Few people also prepare adai on this day. People from Tirunelveli as native do not prepare Urundai, they just mix the Pori with Vella paagu and keep it loose.

Ladies decorate house with Maakolam. All rooms in the house are lit with lamp and electrical lights in the evening. None of the room is left dark including bath rooms. Elders are specific about completing the pooja before 6 PM in the evening and lit lamps by 6'o clock without delay. Married ladies wear Madisar saree while liting the lamps. Agal Vilakku made of mud is most importantly used on this day. It is a tradition that we buy few new lamps every year. Women who are recently married and for whom it is Thalai Kaarthigai celebrate this ritual with special efforts. Since this is the first time for them in their in laws house, they are careful about learning the rituals followed in their home. My mom used to get new dress for us on Kaarthigai.

Neivedyam is offered to god along with Betal Leaves & Nuts, Fruits, Coconut and the Neivedhyam prepared at home . Then the lamps are placed both inside and outside the house.

During this month, we lit minimum 1 lamp in our entrance from day 1. This continues till the last day of the month.

Kids also keep a portion of the crackers & Sparkles purchased during Diwali and celebrate kaarthigai.

This festival continues for 3 days. The last day is called as Kuppai Kaarthigai. Brothers used to gift their sisters.

Celebrate Kaarthigai with your family and live our traditions....