Goddess in her different forms is the popular deity of Aadi Month in Tamil traditions. Her worship, of course, has to include preparation of tasty dishes!
Aadi (Sanskrit: Kataka) is the fourth month in the Tamil panchangam (solar Hindu calendar). It is from mid-July to mid-August.
It is the month in which the Sun is viewed in Kataka Raashi (constellation of Cancer in western astronomy). It is considered the start of Dakshinayana.
This is also the time for change of season. When the monsoons have arrived after a hot summer.
In Devi Bhagavatam, one of the four Navaratri-s mentioned is that of Aashaadha Navaratri. A Navaratri no longer in popular practice.
However, the Aashaadha approximates to the month of Aadi. Maybe, the Aashaadha Navaratri got converted from a nine day worship of Devi to the current practice of a whole month worship of Her.
A number of events get observed during this month. Three of them are - Aadi pirappu, Aadi perukku, Aadi velli.
For the deva-s, six months is day time and the other six months is night time. Aadi marks the dusk of their day. When their day transitions to night.
The twilight time is considered auspicious. So, if it is twilight for Deva-s and it is auspicious for them, it is auspicious for us too. Hence this month is considered auspicious.
Aadi pirappu (also known as
Aadi pandigai) is observed on the first day of Aadi month. So, Aadi pirappu is a celebration in anticipation of the coming month's
In Aananda Ramayana, this day is mentioned along with fifteen other days as important festival days. It is mentioned in the context that Rama's sons and his brothers' sons visited their in-laws on this day and the other fifteen days of the year.
A special lunch on this is day is the highlight. As my grandmother says - Vada-paayasattoda saappaadu - Lunch with Vada and Payasam. It is another way of saying 'special meal' which, of course includes Vada and Payasam.
The peninsular rivers are full again after a dry summer. The rivers are in free flow with fresh water.
Kaveri is one such river. Aadi Perukku or Padinettaam Perukku is celebrated in the Tamil tradition to mark this extra flow in Kaveri.
This is observed in the regions where river Kaveri flows, especially in the Kaveri Delta region. This festival is observed on the eighteenth day of Aadi month (first week of August).
Here the Goddess, in the form of river Kaveri, is worshiped.
I asked my grandmother how she used to observe Aadi Perukku. Here is a paraphrase of what she said:
We prepare varieties of rice dishes. People of the street walk together to the river bank along with the dishes and puja items.
Kids pull decorated Chapparam (small wooden carts). An idol or a picture of a deity is placed on the Chapparam-s and then decorated with flowers.
Once we reach the river, an idol is made from the river mud. Deities are invited to it and a simple puja is performed.
At the end of the puja, we normally eat the dishes that we brought along.
The dishes that are usually prepared are: Sakkarai pongal (sweet rice), Thengai sadam (coconut rice), Ellu sadam (sesame rice), Puliyodharai (tamarind rice), Thayir sadam (curd rice)
In the past, the first flow in the river, after summer, happened in mid-June. Aadi Perukku (about 45 days later) marked the time of plentiful flow.
My mother recollects doing Puja to Kaveri when the first waters come in mid-June. Puja items are taken to the river bank, and Puja performed to Kaveri. Kaveri is given a warm welcome.
These days, in the Kaveri Delta region, the first waters come only on Aadi eighteenth. At times even after that.
There has been a reduction in flow of Kaveri over the years. According to my grandmother, who spent most of her life in the Kaveri Delta region, in the 1940s there was no flow only for a month.
In the 1960s, for about three months, the river went dry. These days (2010s), the river delta has no flow for almost seven months.
In the urban situation of present day, Aadi Perukku is observed in a
simpler manner. A Kumbham (traditional water pot) is filled with water,
decorated, and water deities invited into it.
Thanking them for the past prosperity and praying for the future prosperity, prepared food dishes mentioned above are offered to the deities.
Before the advent of paper, palm leaves were used to write on. The palm leaves have their wear and tear.
When the palm leaves get worn, the writings were copied to new palm leaves. The old palm leaves were set aside for immersion in the river.
That immersion of old palm leaves used to be done on this day - Aadi padinettaam perukku.
All Velli-s (Fridays) are Devi's days. And Aadi Velli (Aadi Fridays) is more special.
My memories of Aadi Velli (during my school days) is of Kozhukattai and Maavilakku.
My mother used to prepare Kozhukattai every Aadi Velli (also every Thai Velli). I used to look forward to Fridays during those months.
My mother used to wake up earlier than usual on those Fridays to prepare Kozhukattai. Kozhukattai was ready and neivedhyam done before we left for school.
Which meant we got to eat a few before we left for school. Some got packed for eating at lunch. And we used to hog more of those Kozhukattai-s after our return from school.
One got to eat three varieties of Kozhukattai. There was the sweet one and there was the Uppu Kozhukattai (salty ones). And then there was Veruma Kozhukattai.
One of those Aadi Velli-s was also the day Maavilakku was prepared.
On a foundation of (sweet) flour, ghee is poured and lamps lit. This is then dedicated to Ambal (Goddess). After the lamp gets exhausted, we get to eat the flour.
My grandmother adds:
On Aadi Velli-s, in the temple (in our native village) abhishekham was performed for Ambal. And Lalitha Sahasranama Archana was done.
At home, two sumangali-s (married women) were invited, honored, and lunch served to them. Sumangali-s are considered human manifestation of the Goddess.
Thus, we have celebration and worship happening together in the Aadi month especially on Aadi velli-s.
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