– Sri Vinaayahar Sadhurtthi –
‘Sadhurtthi Thithi’ is Auspicious for Sri Vinaayahar
‘Sadhurtthi’ denotes the fourth phase of either the waning or the waxing moon. The fourth phase of the waning moon is known as ‘thaeypiRai sadhurtthi’ and that of the waxing moon, ‘vaLarpiRai sadhurtthi’. The moon’s phase is called ‘thithi’ in Tamil. The Hindus consider ‘sadhurtthi thithi’ to be auspicious for Sri Vinaayahar. Therefore, the two ‘sadhurtthis’, occurring every month are specially observed by Ganesha’s devotees; the ‘sadurtthi thithi’, occurring on the waning (darker) side of the moon is known as ‘Sanggadahar sadhurtthi’, while the one on the waxing (brighter) side is just termed as ‘sadhurtthi’. Nevertheless, the ‘vaLarpiRai sadhurtthi’ which occurs in the Tamil month of ‘AavaNi’ (mid-August to mid-September), is celebrated as the most significant festival of Sri Vinaayahar, and consequently acknowledged as ‘Vinaayahar sadhurtthi’ or ‘PiLLaiyaar sadhurtthi’.
Why the ‘vaLarpiRai Sadhurtthi’ in the Tamil month of AavaNi is most Auspicious?
The ‘sadhurtthi’ on the brighter side of moon occurring in the Tamil month of AavaNi is said to be the day when Sri Vinaayahar appeared; in short, ‘AavaNi sadhurtthi’ is PiLLaiyaar’s birthday.
Many stories are found in various PuraaNams as regards the appearance of Lord Vinaayahar. We shall see in brief, the story narrated by the Sage Thatheesi to the demon Thatchan / Thakkan, in Kantha PuraaNam.
At one time, when the ‘asurar’ had lost to devas, the king of ‘asurar’ sought the advice of their guru, Sukkiran. The guru told the king to get one beautiful girl from their clan to attract one great sage, ‘Maahathar’, who had come in lineage the famous Vasittar, and get off-springs through him. The king gave the task to ‘Vibudhai’ a very attractive girl in their ‘asurar’ clan. When she saw sage ‘Maahathar’, she realized that it was not going to be easy to distract the sage away from his penance. Therefore, she decided to get the sage as her husband by doing penance.
As ‘Vibudhai’ was doing penance, one day two elephants were having pleasure in front of Sage ‘Maahadhar’. He was moved by this sight; ‘Vibudhai’ took this instance to appear in front of the sage and spread her charm. Both the sage and ‘Vibudhai’ respectively took the forms of male and female elephants and had their pleasure. This resulted in the birth of ‘Kayamuhaasuran’; many more demons appeared from his hairs. At that point, the sage realized that he had committed a mistake.
On the advice of Sukkiran, the guru of ‘asurar’, ‘Kayamuha asuran’ did penance toward Lord Siva. He drank the nectar, ‘amudha thaaraNai’ (the nectar which is present at the crown of our head; it pours out on the successful completion of proper meditation), which flowed after 3000 years of penance; but he continued with the penance until Lord Siva appeared in front of him. When asked ‘Kayamuhan’s’ need, he asked that all devas inclusive of Biramman and VishNu should lose to him, he should not be killed by any weapon and he should not be destroyed by any species like human, demons and animals. He also asked that even if a person like him happens to combat with him, his weapons should not affect him, and even if he happens to die he should not be born again.
As ‘Kayamuhaasuran’ received his boons from Lord Siva, naturally he subdued the devas and got all of them to serve him. He ordered the devas to knock at the temples (of their forehead) three times with their fists (thalaiyil kuttudhal) and squat down and get up alternatively while holding the ears with crossed hands (thoappu karaNam), also for three times. When the devas could not endure their misery anymore, they sought Lord Siva’s help to save them. The Lord said that He will relieve them from their misery soon.
One day Lord Siva went to a beautiful garden near Mount Kailaasam, along with Devi Paarvadhi. They entered an art gallery of Manthras. They saw two photos of which one was ‘samashti piraNavam’ (aum) and the other was ‘viyashti piraNavam’ (a-u-m); ‘samashti’ means ‘the aggregate of all parts’; ‘viyashti’ means ‘separation’. When Lord Siva and Devi gazed at the photos, the two piraNavams took the form of male and female elephants, and got together; as a result appeared Lord Ganesha. Lord Vinaayahar prayed to His parents. Lord Siva blessed His son and said, ‘fulfill the task of those who pray to you before starting it, and may there be obstacles to those who do not pray to you before starting their task’.
Following this, Lord Ganesha wages war against Kayamuhaasuran. On realizing that the demon could not be killed by any means and any weapon, the Lord recollects His Father’s boon to the demon; therefore, Lord Ganesha broke one of His tusks and fells the demon with it. The broken tusk came back to Vinaayahar’s hand. As the demon had drunk the nectar ‘amudha thaaraNai’ and asked Lord Siva that he should not be born (indicating that he should not die), he turned into a ‘perucchaaLi / moonchooRu’ and came toward Lord Vinaayahar with anger; but he cooled down at the graceful gaze of the Lord, who took the ‘perucchaaLi’ as His vehicle. The “Tamil-English Dictionaries” give the English equivalent of ‘perucchaaLi’ as ‘a musk-rat’, ‘a scented mouse’ and/or ‘a bandicoot.
This is the story found in Kantha PuraaNam, as regards the appearance of Lord Vinaayahar.
How to observe the Vinaayahar sadhurtthi Fast?
Although Vinaayaha Sadhurtthi is looked upon as a festival, it is a day for fasting to get the Lord’s grace. Hence, we get up in the morning, have our bath and perform a special prayer by offering sweets (especially ‘moadhaham’). If we offer a few kinds of sweets, it is said that it is auspicious to offer 21 of each kind of sweets. The same applies to flowers and fruits also. In the case of auspicious leaves, 21 different kinds are recommended. If we are doing special prayers at home, we may be able to offer 21 ‘moadhahams’ along with 21 ‘aRuhampul’ and 21 of any flowers which are available. If we want to have a proper special prayer, we have to get the premises cleaned, tie a white cloth above the altar, hang mango leaves and ‘thoaraNam’ and place the necessary kumbams and others; we have to call a priest to set the kumbam at home.
In the present day life style, we need to observe our fasts and festivals, within the limits of our practical situation. Therefore the plausible way will be at least be vegetarian for the entire day of Vinaayahar Sadhurtthi; pray at home as usual, may be with some extra ‘manthras’ or
‘thaevaarams’ and some special songs for PiLLaiyaar. It is more important to be thinking and speaking about God and His grace during the day, making sure that we free ourselves from negative deeds, words and thoughts. We make it a point to go to temple and join in the special prayers and get Lord Vinaayahar’s blessings. This practice during the days of fasts and festivals should become permanent throughout our lives, with the passage of time.
Some significant points about PiLLaiyaar.
Lord Siva and Vinaayahar are not different deities: Vinaayahar’s form is unique as it is seen with an elephant head. This uniqueness helps to remind us that PiLLaiyaar has the form equivalent to that of the primordial sound ‘OM’. ‘OM’ is the source of origin for the world. As ‘OM’ is called ‘piraNavam’, PiLLaiyaar is called ‘PiraNavan’ and ‘Onggaaran’. According to Saiva Sitthaandha Philosophy, creation of the world and all the beings is made of 36 thattuvams (tools). The very first one to appear was ‘OM’, which is called ‘Naadha thatthuvam’; this ‘thatthuvam’ denotes Lord Siva; hence it can be noticed that both Vinaayahar and Siva are indicated by the primordial sound, ‘OM’.
PiLLaiyaar easily avails Himself: Lord Vinaayahar can be easily formed with sandal paste, turmeric paste, cow-dung and even earth. He is quick to respond even with a simple fervent prayer; offering of one ‘aRuhampul’ with true devotion will please Him.
The auspiciousness of the number, four: We saw that Sadhurtthi is the fourth phase of the waning or waxing moon. It is said that we have nerve centres along our spinal cord. They are six in number with the seventh placed at the crown of our heads. They are called ‘aadhaarams’ or ‘chakkarams’. The very first one is found at the anal region and is called ‘moolaadhaaram’. In the yogic path, each of the ‘chakkaram’ is said to be presided by a deity. The presiding deity for the ‘moolaadhaaaram’ is Lord Vinaaayahar. The interesting point is that the ‘chakkarams’ are said to have certain number of petals, and the ‘moolaadhaaram’ is said to have four petals; hence we can see the connection between Lord Vinaayahar and the number, four.
Lord Vinaayahar is accepted everywhere: Lord Vinaayahar goes beyond the boundaries of religious factions. He is acknowledged by Saivism, Vaishnavism and Buddhism; He is prayed in Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Nepal, China, not to mention, Malaysia, Singapore and Mauritius.
Originally, it was in Maharashtra that Vinaayahar Sadhurtthi was celebrated elaborately; as Lord Vinayahar was a fond deity in practically all the states of India, Lokmanya Tilak changed the Vinaayahar Sadhurtthi Celebrations to a grand public event to bridge the gap between Brahmins and non-Brahmins and also to unite the Indians against the British in their fight for Independence. (http://www.ssivf.com/ssivf_cms.php?page=748) and (http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/what-is-ganesh-chaturthi-why-is-it-celebrated/1/475604.html)
Hence, Lord Vinaayahar is a deity who brings devotees from all factions and locations together. Such is the uniqueness of Vinaayahar!