The Month of Aadi and its Auspicious Days
Why the month of Aadi is significantly auspicious?
Among the twelve Tamil months, the birth of two of them is celebrated with some prominence. They are the months of Chitthirai and Thai; the first is observed as the beginning of the Tamil New Year, and the second, popularly known as Thai Ponggal, is celebrated as a harvest and thanksgiving festival. The birth of the Tamil month of Aadi (mid-July to mid-August), also has to its credit a special recognition amongst the Hindus. The author of the book, Saiva Samaya Punniya Kaalam(1957), T.Subramaniam says that although the birth of the Tamil month of Aadi, is not specifically mentioned in Aagamas or ThirumuRai, the Tamils have been celebrating the day from ancient times.
A couple of reasons can be given for considering the beginning of the month of Aadi as being auspicious. Although the planets are said to be moving around the sun in the physical world, the sun is taken to be moving through the twelve zodiacal signs (raasi), in a clockwise direction, in astrology.In Geography, the sun is said to be travelling between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. The sun is said to be moving northward from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer and vice versa. It is said to move northward from about the 22nd of December and southward from about the 21st of June, each year. In Hindu Astrology, the northward movement of the sun is said to start on the first day of the month of Thai (mid-January), and the southward movement on the first day of the month of Aadi (mid-July). The sun’s northward movement is known as Uttharaayanam and the southward ThatchiNaayanam; aayanam means ‘movement’; uttharam means ‘north’ and thatchiNam means ‘south’. The first day of Aadi indicates the start of ThatchiNaayanam.
Uttharaayanam is said to be day time for the celestials and ThatchiNaayanam night time. Most of us will be familiar with the fact thatour one year is equivalent to one celestial day. The month of Thai is equivalent to 6.00 am to 8.00 am, and the month of Aadi is equivalent to 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm in the celestial world. The month of Aadi is generally said to indicate the beginning of divine festivals and fast. It is useful to make note of the fact that, even the temples which have only one poojaa a day, choose the evening to do the prayers. Though, both mornings and evenings are considered to be equally important for prayers, evening prayers are generally more elaborate in temples. Hence, the whole month of Aadi, which corresponds to the time of evening poojaa, is filled with various kinds of fasts and festivals.
The season of divine festivals and fasts goes on till the month of Thai, after which the fasts and festivals is said to be on a low profile. The period from the month of Thai to Aadi is said to be more prominent for auspicious activities related to our lives on this earth. There seems to be some logic behind this sort of a trend. The six months which follow the month of Aadi is night for the celestials; people would not have wanted to have their family functions during night, especially in those days when there was no electricity; nevertheless, we would not want to have our family functions in the late hours of night, even if we have an ample amount of electric supply.
As the start of the month of Aadi marks a significant point of time from the geographical, astrological and puraanic points of view, it is acknowledged by making sweet delicacies like Aadikool(z)(a sweet thick gruel made of rice flour, coconut milk and brown sugar, adding small pieces of coconut) and Kol(z)ukkattai (rice flour with the dressing of a mixture of boiled green dhal, coconut scraping and brown sugar) and enjoy them with kin and kith.
Why Aadi is very auspicious for worshipping Devi?
It was noted earlier that the month of Aadi indicates the beginning of festive season which specifically displays divine fasts and festivals; but it is interesting to note that the month of Aadi itself is packed with various fasts and festivals.
In fact, practically all Devi temples have daily special prayers in the month of Aadi. Books on astrology refer to Aadi as the month of Sakthi. According to Astronomy and Astrology, in the month of Aadi, when the Southward movement of the sun starts, subtle energies are disseminated from the sun and there is a surplus amount of oxygen supply; this is also the time when basic supportive energies are provided for the souls. Hence, the force of Sakthi is more pronounced than the force of Siva in the month of Aadi. In otherwords, this seems to be a very suitable time to pray for God’s grace, because Sakthi is none other than the grace of God.
Apart from the fact that the entire Aadi is auspiciously observed, specific days seem to be observed with added auspiciousness. When we think of the name of Aadi, we are reminded of AadiAmaavaasai, Aadippooram, Aadipperukku, Aadicchevvaay, AadiVeLLi, AadipPaurNami (Guru PoorNimaa or ViyaasaPaurNami) and AadikKirutthihai. These are the more popular ones; there seems to be many other auspicious days in the month of Aadi.
Varalakshmi Fast also mostly occurs in the month of Aadi. It is supposed to be observed on the Friday which occurs before the full moon day of either the month of Aadi or AavaNi. The Varalakshmi Fast is said to occur on the Friday before the full moon day which occurs in the month of SraavaNa of the Lunar year; SraavaNa corresponds to the month of AavaNi on the Solar year.
From all the observations of the significance of the month of Aadi, it becomes clear that there are a lot of auspicious days in this month. We shall see the ones which seem very popular among all the Hindus. We shall see about Aadippooram, AadiAmaavaasai, Aadicchevvaay, Aadipperukku, AadiVeLLi, AadiKirutthihai and AadiPaurNami in a brief manner.
As the name suggests, this day is observed when the asterism of Pooram is in the ascendant in the Tamil month of Aadi. The asterism of Pooram is contained in the zodiacal sign of Leo (simmaraasi); this means that the moon is in simmaraasi on this day; the sun, on the other hand, is in the zodiacal sign of Cancer (kadaharaasi) on this day. The planetary lord for simmaraasi is the sun and for kadaharaaasi, the moon. The day of Aadippooram is significant on this basis, where the sun is in the ruling house of moon and vice versa.
Aadippooram is said to be the birth star of the female Vaishnavaite saint [aal(z)vaar], AaNdaaL. One other Vaishnavaite saint Periyaal(z)vaar found AaNdaaL as a baby by the side of thuLasi maadam (a raised altar with the basil plant) on a Saturday when the asterism of Pooram and the fourteenth phase (sadhurtthasi) of the waxing moon were prevalent in the month of Aadi of the Hindu year, NaLa.
It is said that Goddess Umaadhevi came of age on the day of Aadippooram. This is a simple way of reflecting the astrological observation; we have seen earlier, the force of Sakthi is overwhelmingly prevalent in the month of Aadi. Nevertheless, in the Amman Temples or the Siva Temples, having a special shrine for AmbaaL, the Brammoatchavam Festival is celebrated where the Theertthoatchavam takes place on the day of Aadippooram.
Aadipporam falls in line with the fact that the month of Aadi is auspicious for Devi.
This is the new moon day in the month of Aadi. It is auspicious for doing Siraattham, a ceremony done for the manes (pithir) with the offering of oblations. In some families, the sons and unmarried daughters who do not have their father observe fast on this day. Nowadays, the siraattham rite is done in groups in a common place under the guidance of a priest or a religious elder.
Generally, all days of amaavaasai are suitable for the performance of siraattham; but why AadiAmaavaasai gains a specific importance?
It was seen earlier that the sun starts its southward journey on the first day of the month of Aadi. The residences of the God of death and the manes (yamaloaham and pithirloaham) are in the South; AadiAmaavaasai happens to be the first new moon day occurring in the Southward journey of the sun. Therefore the new moon day in the month of Aadi seems to have a special significance with regard to the God of Death and the manes.
(a)Tuesdays in the month of Aadi are observed as auspicious days. If we ask the question ‘why?’, we have to resort to astrology and puraanas for the answer.
The planet Mars is referred to as Sevvaay or Anggaarahan inTamil. According to astrology, Lord Muruhan is the presiding deity for Mars. We will be seeing that the month of Aadi has auspicious days with special prayers for Lord Muruhan as well.
The website, http: //aanmeegam.our24x7.com/ says that, at one time when Devi Paarvathi was away from Lord Siva, and HE was in deep meditation as usual, one drop of sweat from HIS third
eye fell on earth. The drop became a child which was grown up by Boomaa Devi (Mother Earth). The child was named Sevvaay, as he was of reddish complexion. Sevvaay gained the status of a planet by Lord Siva’s grace through the performance of penance toward the Lord. According to “MacchaPuraana”, Veerapatthirar, who was sent by Lord Siva, to destroy the fire sacrifice performed by Thakkan, was roaming around in great fury after fulfilling his mission. When the devas pleaded him to cool down, Veerapatthirar did so, and it is said that it is he who became Sevvaay. Neverthless, both puraanic stories imply that Sevvaay is considered as a son to Lord Siva; hence Sevvaay is a son to Devi.
The month of Aadi is auspicious for AmbaaL and Muruhan as well. The puraanic stories indicate that Mars is a close kin of Lord Muruhan and Sivasakthi. In astrology, Mars has a special effect on matters related to earth (Boomikaarhan); He is responsible for energy, will-power,valour, etc. It was mentioned earlier that in the month of Aadi there is a flow of energy around the earth. Considering all these facts together, having special prayers on the Tuesdays falling in the month of Aadi, will endow us with remarkable spiritual and physical power.
(b )Incidentally, in the Kanyakumari districts, Aadicchevvaay is exclusively observed by women as a fast for Poetess Auvaiyaar. The special offering for the prayer is kol(z)ukkattai made of rice flour and vellam (jaggery) without the addition of salt. All females of all ages, married or unmarried, in an area, gather at 10.00 pm in the house of an elderly lady living thereat. The elderly lady will narrate the story of Auvaiyaar. Those gathered in the house ensure that they eat up all the kol(z)ukkattai and wash up the place before the men could enter the house the next morning. The men are sent out of the house before the start of the prayer at night. This fast blesses on its observers prolonged status of married life to a married woman, and speeds up
good marriage for unmarried girls. It is to be noted that when the chief of the Parambu Hills, Paari, died, it was Auvaiyaar who got his two daughters, Anggavai and Sanggavai married.
The month ofAadi brings the rainy season along with it. Therefore, the rivers overflow with water. The river, which brings the water which is essential for life, is hailed as a mother. The eighteenth day of the month of Aadi, is said to bring the tide of the first rains; it is observed as Aadipperukku whereby thanksgiving prayers are offered to rivers. As far as Tamil Nadu is concerned, it is River Kavaeri which is given special elaborate prayers. God’s grace pours as rain, flows as tidal water and brings happiness to the farmers on this day. Farmers start their work during this month.
As the month of Aadi is auspicious for the worship of Devi and rivers are esteemed as mothers, married women change their marital yellow string during this celebrative occasion. According to an article Aadi Madhatthil Thaedivarum DheivanggaL, Devi Kaamaatchi is said to have done penance and married Lord Siva in the month of Aadi. This instance enhances the suitability of the month of Aadi for replacing the old marital yellow string with a new one.
A Friday is considered as very auspicious for prayers, by the Hindu community as a whole. Generally, Fridays are said to be very auspicious for AmbaaL, Muruhan and Vinaayahar. Therefore, it is natural that in the month of Aadi, which is considered to be auspicious for the worship of Devi, the Fridays become all the more auspicious. Hence, special abishegams and prayers are performed for Devi on all Fridays occurring in the month of Aadi.
We are aware that the lunar constellation known as Kirutthihai or Kaartthihai is auspicious to Lord Muruhan. When Lord Muruhan appeared in the SaravaNapPoyhai as a baby, six celestial ladies, collectively known as KaartthihaipeNgaL were assigned to take care of the divine baby. To make the work of the celestial women easy, the divine baby took the forms of six babies. When Lord Siva and Goddess Paarvathi came to the SaravaNa Pond to take Lord Muruhan to Kailaash Mountain, AmbaaL, notwithstanding her overwhelming love, carried all the six babies together; at that moment, the six babies took the form of Aaumuhar, having one body with six heads and twelve shoulders.
At that moment Lord Siva blessed the celestial women to become the lunar star, Kaartthihai; the Lord said further that Lord Muruhan will be also called Kaartthihaeyan (it is to be noted that the ruling deity of the lunar constellation of Kaartthihai is the fire-god, agni), and those who observed fast on the day of lunar Kaartthihai will be blessed by Lord Siva in this world and the other; but why AadiKirutthihai is considered special?
We have seen that the month of Aadi is auspicious for having special prayers for Devi. Lord Muruhan especially his manifestation as Lord AaRumuhar, appeared from the sparks from Lord Siva’s third eye of wisdom. The six sparks were actually Lord Siva’s energy, which is called Sakthi, inTamil. Therefore, Lord Aarumuhar is a manifestation of Lord Siva’s Sakthi. We saw earlier that an ample amount of supply of oxygen and energy are said to be prevalent in the month of Aadi. Moreover, Lord Muruhan has been given the Vel, which is none other than an embodiment of Sakthi; He is also called Sakthitharan (One who bears ‘sakthi’). Hence, it is not surprising that Kaartthihai in the month of Aadi is looked upon as more auspicious than those occurring in the other months, except the month of Kaartthihai.
(a)We have been seeing that the full moon day is auspicious for the worship of Mother Goddess. In astrology, the position of the sun is used to predict about the state of affairs of one’s father, and the moon about one’s mother. Aadi being an auspicious month for Sakthi worship, the full moon day occurring in this month qualifies to be a very, very auspicious day for having special prayers for Mother Goddess.
(b)AadiPaurNami is also observed as Guru PoorNimaa; it is specifically called as ViyaasaPaurNami. Sage Vyasa is said to have been born on the day of AadiPaurNami.
“VedaVyaasa did a yeoman service to the cause of Vedic studies by gathering all the Vedic hymns extant during his times, dividing them into four parts, and teaching them to his four disciples (Paila, Vaisampayana, Jaimini and Sumanthu). It was this dividing and editing that earned him the honorofic ‘Vyasa’ (vyas=to edit, to divide).” (adopted from http://dharmcharcha.com/kb/hindu-culture/festivals/guru-purnima/ ).
Veda Vyaasa’s original name was Krishna Dwaipayana, which means ‘one, who is with dark complexion, and born in an island’ (‘Krishna’ means ‘darkness’ and ‘Dvipa’ means ‘island’). He also authored the great epic Mahabharatha which includes the world famous Bhagavad Gita. He is the author of the 18 MahaPuranas (Main puranas) 18 UpaPuranas (secondary puranas). He is also said to be the author of the BhagavataPurana and the Brahms Sutras.
Veda Vyasa is revered as the Guru of all Gurus, as he has helped us to know the vedas and puranas and lead life in a righteous way. Guru means ‘the dispeller of darkness’.
Apart from the popular significance of VyasaPaurNami seen above, it will be of interest to note the following excerpt from http://www.ishafoundation.org/Isha-Celebrations/guru-poornima.isa: “This sacred day marks the very first transmission of the yogic sciences from Shiva – the Adiyogi or the First Yogi – to the Saptarishis, the seven celebrated sages, This momentous occasion took place on the banks of the lake Kantisarovar, which stands a few kilometers above the Kedarnath Temple in the Himalayas. Thus, the Adiyogi became the Adi Guru or the First Guru on this day. The Saptarishis carried this knowing offered by Adiyogi throughout the world. Even today, every spiritual process on the planet draws from the spine of knowing created by Adiyogi”.
(c)The ideal way to offer worship to our Gurus is to read the writings given by them for our benefit, understand the beautiful messages contained in them, live in accordance with their guidance and lead a successful life in this world; we should, at the same time, aspire to attain Salvation by God’s grace. In line with this mode of prayer to the Gurus, the sanniyaasi(s) start their ChathurmaasyaVratha (four months’ fast) on the day of AadiPaurNami. They will stay in the same place for four months, devoting all the time for study of Vedas, Brahma Sutras and other relevant scriptural texts, and teaching those texts to their followers, disciples and devotees. They also use this four months for deep contemplation. Naturally, the sanniyaasi(s) start their four months’ fast by performing special abishegam and prayers to Veda Vyasa.
There is also one more reason for staying in one place for the four months, starting from the Tamil month of Aadi. The month of Aadi indicates the commencement of the rainy season. Moving from place to place is a hard job during rainy season. New shoots would appear and worms and insects come out on earth during this season. Sanniyaasi(s) avoid harming these small plants and creatures by practically not moving around from one place to another. Nonviolence (ahimsai) is obligatory for sanniyaasi(s). Apart from these, the sanniyaasi(s) follow a strictly regulated diet during this fast. This also helps toward the maintenance of their health during rainy season.
The auspicious days, which we have seen as occurring in the month of Aadi, reflect one interesting point. Not only there are a lot of special days for having special prayers for God, but there are days auspicious for offering special prayers for our Guru, our manes and, literary scholars (like Poetess Auvaiyaar) who were also spiritually blessed; even the heroine of the epic, Silappadhihaaram, is offered special prayers in the month of Aadi. There are temples, both in Sri Lanka and South India, for KaNNahiyamman. KaNNahi had been deified, in line with the great words of ThiruvaLLuvar, who has said, “If she, who does not worship God, but who rising worships her husband, say, “let it rain,” it will rain” (translation of KuRaL from http://www.gokulnath.com/thirukurals/6).
An extract of a very relevant article attributing KaNNahi’s life to be having a fair share in designating the month of Aadi to be auspicious for Amman worship is given as Appendix; it’s author is Jayasreetharan.
Hinduism has obligated a householder to five obligations. To emphasize the importance of these duties, they have been exalted as the five great yaagams (panjamahaayaknja). Swami Sivananda has explained these five thus: “The Rishis, the Devas, the Pitris, the Bhutas and the guests expect help from the householders. Hence, they should perform these five sacrifices daily. Teaching and study of scriptures is Brahma Yajna; Tarpana or offering of water to the ancestors, and Sraaddha, form PitriYajna: Homa or oblations into the fire is Deva Yajna; Bali or offering of food to all creatures is BhutaYajna; and hospitality to guests is ManushyaYajna or AtithiYajna.”
On the benefits of fulfilling these five obligations he says thus: “By daily doing such acts of kindness and sympathy, man develops mercy. Hatred vanishes. His hard egoistic heart is gradually softened. He cultivates cosmic love. His heart expands. He has a wider outlook on life. He tries to feel his oneness with all beings. His old feeling of separateness on account of selfishness and egoism is gradually thinned and eventually eradicated. He learns that he can be happy only by making others happy, by serving others, by helping others, by removing the sufferings of others and by sharing what he has with others. The five great daily sacrifices teach man his relations with his superiors, his equals and his inferiors.
Man has no separate individual existence. He is connected with the world. He is like a bead in the rosary. His whole life must be a life of sacrifice and duties. Then only he will have rapid evolution. Then only he will realise the supreme bliss of the Eternal. Then only he will free himself from the round of births and deaths and attain immortality.”
The fasts and festivals in the month of Aadi seem to cover all the five great sacrifices. Guru PaurNami and Chathurmaasyavratham fulfill Brahma/Rishi yagnja. AadiAmaavaasai Fast fulfills Pithriyagnja. When Aadippooram is celebrated on a grand scale, the oblations put in the fire-sacrifice will also benefit the Devas; this is Deva yagnja. When we fast, we keep aside a handful of rice before eating, and we offer that rice-ball to crows (or other birds or animals), thus fulfilling Bhuthayagnja. During festive occasions, we are able serve devotees in the name of Annathaanam. This becomes the Maanushyayagnjam.
Hence the month of Aadi ensures that a householder performs all five obligations as he observes the fasts and festivals occurring in its span.
The epic Silappadhihaaram throws some light on the relevance of the month of Aadi for having special prayers for its heroine, KaNNahi. When KaNNahi gets Madurai to be burnt by the fire-god, and keeps wandering around with fuming anger, the deity of Madurai, Madhuraapathi, comes out , not being able to stand the heat of the fire. Madhurapathi was following KaNNahi, and drew the attention of KaNNahiby asking her to listen to her plea. When KaNNahi asked her who she was and what was her problem, Madhurapathi introduced herself and clarified the fact that the Pandyan kings had been always perfect and righteous rulers with graceful heart, and that it was already destined that Madurai will be burnt and the kingdom will decline on a particular day. The day was the eighth phase of the fading moon in the month of Aadi; it would coincide with the asterism of Kaartthihai which would fall on a Friday. Thus Madhuraapathi made KaNNahi realize that her husband, Kovalan was killed due to his former karma.
KaNNahi, who entered Madurai, with her husband, through its eastern direction, left it, all alone, from its western direction. She finally went up a hill, and stood under a vaengai tree; she was feeling sorry for having done a mistake (in her uncontrollable anger); she had realized that the king was not to be blamed because everything had happened according to Kovalan’s karma. She waited for her late husband, as Madhuraapathi had told her he would come to her after 14 days. The author of the epic relates the hill to Lord Muruhan who split the sea and the mountain with His Vel.
At this juncture, it will be useful to see the extract from Jayasreetharan’s article, as it reflects the opinion of some research scholars, as regards the month of Aadi being auspicious for Amman worship. The article is Why Amman festivals are popular in the month of Adi by Jayasreetharan (http://jayasreesaranathan.blogspot.com/2011/07/why-amman-festivals-are-popular-in.html):
“Amman festival as it is found today started after 1200 AD as a sequel of Kannagi episode.
Kannagi lost her husband in the month of Adi. To avenge that death, she set fire on Madurai on a day that happened to be the last Friday of Adi when the moon was transiting Kritthika on a Krishna Astami (waning phase). The city was devastated and people continued to suffer after that incident. There were no rains and people were stricken with heat related diseases such as measles. The King Neduncheziyan had died on the throne on hearing the mistake he had committed in ordering death sentence for Kovalan, Kannagi’s husband. He was succeeded by his brother ‘Vetrivelcheziyan” who conducted Shanthi Homa for calming down Kannagi, who by then had left the earthy plane.
The homa was conducted in one Adi month. Kings of Lanka (Kayabahu) and Malwa attended that homa. After the completion of homa, it rained and disease vanished. The country and its people came back to normalcy. Seeing this, Kayabahu started the tradition of Puja to Kannagi in Lanka in the month of Adi. The Kosars of Kongunadu (Coimbatore region) also did the same. In this way worship of Kannagi spread throughout Tamil speaking lands.
The importance assigned to Fridays in Adi for the worship of Amman, and Fire-walk in the last Friday of Adi, seem to be the result of Kannagi-effect on Tamils.
Worship of female Gods had been there even before Kannagi’s times, but restricted to certain regions of deserts (paalai) where Goddess KoRRavai was worshiped. This Goddess had a special presence in Tamilnadu right from Sangam times. There was a sangam poet by the name TheemithiNaganar whose name shows that he had done fire-walking. So these features had already been there; but the wider presence of Amman festivals with fire-walking seems to have come into vogue after Kannagi.”
(Note from the author Jayasreetharan: This was published in the Adi issue of Poojari Murasu circulated among temple priests of Tamilnadu).