Saraswathi Pooja 2009

Goddess Saraswathi

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Saraswati Pooja is celebrated all over India by Hindus. Saraswati is the goddess for Education, Arts and Crafts. It is a festival celebrated by the youth, particularly students who invoke the blessings of the goddess for success in learning, arts and crafts. More than any other state, Saraswati Pooja is celebrated in West Bengal in a splendid manner. Next to West Bengal it is celebrated in southern states of India such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh etc. in schools, colleges and homes. Saraswati Pooja is celebrated as Basant Punjami (or) Vasanat Punjami in many states of India. Bakdevi, Biraj, Sarada, Brahmi, Satarupa, Mahasweta, Sarbasukia, Prithudar, Bagiswari are some of the other names of Goddess Saraswati. The main event on the day is the initiation of children into the world of letters and knowledge. Children are taught to read and write for the first time on this day. The day is considered to be the most auspicious day in a year to initiate children into the world of learning. Education institutions organize special Saraswati puja on this day. Regd the pooja of saraswathi, first we do pillaiyar pooja and then start reading slokas on saraswathi and namavali on the name of the goddess. There is also a famous temple for this goddess in the place called “Koothanur”. Special poojas will be undertaken on this day and many kids come to the temple with their parents to go ahead in their learning process.. What wonderful moments!!! Also,  students do not touch their books to study on this particular day…  They enjoy to the core on this day since they do not sudy this particular day!!! During those days in our school time, this day would be the last day to go to neighbour’s places and sing classical songs on the name of goddesses. We would come home with different tastes of kondai kadalai sundals. Since, today is the last day, we would enjoy a lot. The next day, 10th DAY “VIJAYADASAMI”— we would offer our respect to all our elders and other teachers and they will shower thier blessings towards us.Lovely moments!!! Also, nice time for a feast too…

Neivedyams

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Today’s menu:

  • Semiya Payasam
  • Nool Kol Kootu
  • Ladies Finger Morkuzhambu
  • Kondai Kadalai Sundal
  • Ulunthu Vada
  • Curd

Source: Internet + my thoughts

Navarathiri Festival:

 Navratri is a Hindu festival of worship and dance. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit; Nava meaning Nine and Ratri meaning nights. During these nine nights and ten days, nine forms of Shakti/Devi i.e. female divinity are worshipped. Dasahara, meaning ‘ten days’, becomes dasara in popular parlance. The Navaratri festival or ‘nine day festival’ becomes ‘ten day festival’ with the addition of the last day, Vijayadashami which is its culmination. On all these ten days, the various forms of Mother Mahisasura-mardini (Durga) are worshipped with fervour and devotion. There are different kinds of navarathiri too.. To name a few,

  • Sharad Navaratri
  • Vasant Navaratri
  • Ashada Navaratri

These navaratris are celebrated depending upon the seasons. The kind of navaratri which we celebrate now is sharad navarathri which is the beginning of winter season(Sep-Oct). Nine forms of Shakti are worshipped during the Navaratris. The Devis worshipped depend on the tradition of the region.NavaDurga

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  • Durga :goddess beyond reach
  • Bhadrakali: the auspicious power of time
  • Amba or Jagdamba: mother of the world
  • Annapurna: giver of food and plenty
  • Sarvamangala: auspicious goddess
  • Bhairavi: terrible, fearful, power of death
  • Chandika or Handi: violent, wrathful, furious
  • Lalita: playful
  • Bhavani: giver of existence.     

  According to Hindu mythology, a very powerful Asura-demon king Mahishasuran prayed to the almighty and asked for a boon – that his death should at the hands of a woman and by no other human being or any form of living being.On being granted his wish, he started inflicting atrocities on all human beings on the earth. He considered himself to be immortal as thought that it was impossible for a woman or any female form of a human being to be powerful enough to kill him. When his cruelty became unbearable, people prayed to Sakthi the consort of Lord Shiva to save them from the demon and to provide them with salvation. Sakthi then took the form of Durga and slayed the demon. 

Lord Mahi

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 The fight between Durga and Mahishasuran is said to have lasted for nine days and nights.The period of nine days and nights when Goddess Durga fought the Asura is celebrated as Navarathiri in Tamilnadu. The Goddess is worshipped during these nine days and nights as it signifies the fight of the good over evil. Goddess Durga is considered as the personification of courage, strength, and power and praying to the goddess, helps one to be blessed with all these qualities especially during Dasara. First three days: The goddess is invoked as a spiritual force called Durga also known as kali in order to destroy all our impurities. Second Three Days: The Mother is adored as a giver of spiritual wealth, Lakshmi, who is considered to have the power of bestowing on her devotees inexhaustible wealth, as she is the goddess of wealth. Final Three Days: The final set of three days is spent in worshipping the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati.In order to have all-round success in life, believers seek the blessings of all three aspects of the divine femininity, hence the nine nights of worship.
In Mysore, this festival is celebrated in a very grand manner. Mysore palace will be illuminated during that time. wow!! what a treat for our eyes!!! There are also kinds of dances associated with this festive.The kinds of dances are “Garba” and “Dandiya” which are famous in Gujarat. Mysore Palace

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In Southern states of Tamil Nadu and to a lesser extent in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, the festival of Navrathri is called Kolu or Navratri Golu, where women set up decorated planks in a corner of the house and decorating it with dolls which are collected over the years. The origin of the word Kolu can be traced to Tamil Kolu or Telugu Koluvai, which means a sovereign sitting in his royal durbar. As per belief the concept of arranging these Navrathri dolls on the plank is to depict that Goddess Mahishasuramardini is sitting in her Kolu, prior to the slaying of the demon Mahishasura.   The dolls are only decorated during these ten days but the collection of dolls may have started over years. These dolls can be very simple to very complicated ones as per ones likes. Every year women enthusiastically arrange these dolls as per their tastes. They either remodify the existing dolls with some new additions or they add couple of new dolls to the existing stacks to decorate the plank every year. These Navratri dolls are arranged in several tiers. Maximum no of tiers in which dolls are arranged are 9 depending on time and space constraints. Steps 1-3:These steps are dedicated to— are devoted to the Gods. So all the different idols of various Gods are arranged here. The kumbham or the ceremonial jar for holy water, which is a conical vessel, is filled with fresh water. A silk cloth covers the mouth of the vessel, a coconut and mango leaves are placed on top of it. This is kept on the first step. Steps 4-6: The next three steps are devoted to saints like Sai Baba, great men like Swami Vivekananda, demigods and even national leaders who have sacrificed their lives for the country.Dolls of Sangeetha Mummoorthigal

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Step 7: Various sets such as the marriage set and pongal set, which signify the various human activities, are placed on the seventh step. Step 8: The eighth step is devoted to various businesses and crafts, say the Chettiar dolls (equivalent of Sethji) —a businessman and his wife are placed and their commodities like rice, pulses in cups and other utensils are kept in front of them. Step 9: The ninth step is the last stage where the traditional wooden dolls called Marapachi — the male and female dolls that are dressed in colorful and shining clothes — are placed. Dolls of animals, birds, reptiles and other forms of evolution are also kept on this step.   On the 10th night after the ceremonial arti and prayers, the dolls are put to ‘sleep.’ And the next day, the exhibits are packed carefully in cloth or paper and preserved for use the next year. Another novel trend is the concept of `community kolus’, when many women, unable to keep kolu in their homes, join hands and put up a Navratri kolu in a common place.   Arranging Navrathri Kolu is also an event in itself it means inviting neighbors, friends and other relatives to visit your home and view the Kolu decorated. Pleasantries and small gifts are exchanged amongst women generally women exchange coconuts, cloths and sweets amongst themselves. Sumangali (married) women also exchange bags containing a small mirror, turmeric, comb, beetle leaves with supari. For each day, a different kind of sundal is prepared and offered as neivedyam to goddess…  

Navratri is the longest celebrated Indian festival. Since me and my sis learnt carnatic music during our school days, during navaratri times we along with other friends used to go to a lot of neightbour’s places to sing songs and see the decorations of kolu.Then, will be back home with a collection of tastier sundals. Those 10 days will be a great feast for us… Good old days which we cannot forget!!! I love this festival very much since we are able to meet different people, then many snacks to eat and the exchange of gifts too… Hope i start my kolu exhibits by next yr atleast by god’s grace!!! Quite a looonger one, but i feel it as an interesting one!!!

Source: My thoughts + Internet(Compiled from various sources)

 

A Visit to Puttaparthi

    Last Saturday, we started around 9 a.m. and reached around puttaparthi by aftenoon 12.30 p.m. It was around                                   Grapes Thottam

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three and half hrs journey. We went in bus. The places in the middle were covered by mountainy areas and some other places covered by grapes, plantain “Thottams”(via CHICKBALLAPUR). It was very nice to see those things. When we entered “Prashanthi Nilayam” after security checks, we enquired abt the accomodation facilties. The facilities for accomodation were “dormitories”(A huge common hall where every one can share their space alone),Furnished and unfurnished Apts. Furnished Apts are always full. In unfurnished apts, we do not even get a cot to have a peaceful night’s sleep. Food is also not that good. We were able to get only unfurnished apt. Darshan of Bhagawan is only important so, we did not mind it a lot. Gents and ladies are allowed separately in book stalls, shopping malls and for food too with specified timings allocated for both. There are also separate accomodation for foreign nationals who come to visit from various foreign  locales. 80% of the indian population is north-indians including the ladies who serve food for us there.   Bhagawan’s Darshan is only once  a day. Saturday evening 3-6 pm we had darshan of bhagawan. Seeing the people and the queue, we can  say it as another “tirupati”. We are being seated in the outer hall for nearly an hr. Before entering the main hall, security checks are made again. Then, in the center of the huge hall, a beautiful mantap for lord ganesha has been erected with lighting arrangements. In both sides of the mantap, persons seated start at 4 pm-Reciting mantras of pillaiayar, then-rudras, and finally bhajans on the name of sairam. Around, 5.20 in the wheel chair, with the help of another person, he gave the darshan to thousands of devotees who were awaiting his                                                              Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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arrival.At that time, lighting arrangements are switched on. The few seconds we are speechless. It was such a wonderful moment. Today morning we had bhajans and mantra recitals only.   There are also many books available on the name of sairam in book stall in many indian and foreign languages. The languages were–Tamil, English, Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Italian, Malayalam, German, Vietnamese, Japanese etc.. It was very nice to browse the books over there. All such wonderful moments.. We returned by 12.30p.m. Bus from puttaparthi to bangalore. We reached around 6 p.m. to bangalore on last sunday. During those days, when we go out for a vacation out of chennai and return back, we used to narrate it in the form of story to my grandpa from the start of journey to the end. My grandpa is excellent at topography. Since he had travelled a lot in india, he knew many places. He is a very good guide to us whenever we need to travel to new places in chennai.. I remember him a lot during my travel times…

Onam 2009……

 ONAM… A GRAND FESTIVAL OF KERALITES: Onam is the biggest and the most important festival of the state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm all over the state by people of all communities. According to a popular legend,

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the festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the time of Onam.   Onam is celebrated in the beginning of the month of Chingam, the first month of Malayalam Calendar (Kollavarsham). This corresponds with the month of August-September according to Gregorian Calendar. Carnival of Onam lasts from four to ten days. First day, Atham and tenth day, Thiruonam are most important of all.   Origin of Onam: Story goes that during the reign of mighty asura (demon) king, Mahabali, Kerala witnessed its golden era. Every body in the state was happy and prosperous and king was highly regarded by his subjects. Apart from all his virtues, Mahabali had one shortcoming. He was egoistic. This weakness in Mahabali’s character was utilized by Gods to bring an end to his reign as they felt challenged by Mahabali’s growing popularity. However, for all the good deed done by Mahabali, God granted him a boon that he could annually visit his people with whom he was so attached. It is this visit of Mahabali that is celebrated as Onam every year. People make all efforts to celebrate the festival in a grand way and impress upon their dear King that they are happy and wish him well. Pookalam is an intricate and colourful arrangement of flowers laid on the floor for onam. Tradition of decorating Pookalam is extremely popular in Kerala and is followed as a ritual in every household during ten-day-long Onam celebrations.   ‘Pookhalam’ consists of two words, ‘poov’ meaning flower and ‘kalam’ means colour sketches on the ground. It is considered auspicious to prepare Pookalam, also known as ‘Aththa-Poo’ during the festival of Onam. The most impressive part of Onam celebration is the grand feast called Onasadya, prepared on Thiruonam. It is a nine course meal consisting of 11 to 13 essential dishes. Onasadya is served on banana leaves and people

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Sweet dish

sit on a mat laid on the floor to have the meal.   During my school days, would watch the malayali neighbors doing pookalam decorations and had great fun. When I was in dubai, during onam time, there would be many flower decorations and many events going on for the eve of this festive. I have quite a number of malayali friends too. Since onam is the prominent festival of kerala, they have more adjoining events to the festive like dances, boat race, and other games too. Wow!!! A wonderful time for enjoyment in kerala!!! “Wishing malayalees all over the world a very HAPPY PONONAM 2009”

Source: Internet + my thoughts