Chitthiraa Paurnami for the new Tamil Year, Saarvari, occurs on Thursday 7th May 2020.
This auspicious day has three main attributes:
- It is an auspicious day to conduct special prayers for Devi, as it falls on the full moon day of the month of Chitthirai.
- It is also known as Chitthirakuptha Viradham. Chitthirakupthan is the one who keeps an exhaustive record of the good and bad deeds of all souls throughout their life span in a particular birth. The constellation of Chitthirai in the month of Chitthirai is said to be Chittirakupthan’s birthday. People observe fast and pray to him on this day so that the effect of their karma will be considerably reduced.
- People also observe fast for their deceased mothers on this day.
Chitthiraa Paurnami as a Day of Fast for One’s Deceased Mother
Chitthiraa Paurnami is observed by people for their deceased mothers in the following manner:
Kitchen utensils, which are exclusively reserved for cooking vegetarian dishes, are cleaned. The kitchen and stove are cleaned, and the house is swept and mopped. A head bath is taken before starting any work related to the cooking of the food. As the food is being offered to the soul of the deceased mother, the food is not to be tasted during preparation. Milk, sweet rice, vadai and paayasam form an important part of the spread of the meal.
To prepare for prayers, the photo of the deceased mother is placed on a table and adorned with garlands and flowers. The theebam, thoobakkaal, water and incense (oodhupatthi) are also placed alongside the photo.
The food is served on the tip portion of a banana leaf (thalai vaazhai ilia). It is placed in front of the photo and covered with another piece of thalai vaazhai ilia. The sweet rice, milk, vadai and paayasam are also served along with the meal.
Prayers are conducted in the usual manner. The reciting of Panja Puranam is encouraged. Once the prayers are complete and the camphor is naturally extinguished, it is time to enjoy the banana leaf meal! Before eating any of the food, make a ball of rice with all of the curries. Feed this ball of rice to the birds or animals before or after your meal. It is ideal to feed it to a crow, which is considered to be the representative of Yama.
After lunch, the fast is continued with only a light meal for dinner. If necessary, a cup of tea may be taken in the evening.
The guidelines stated in the paragraphs above is the manner in which most Saivites observe theChitthiraa Paurnami fast for their deceased mother. Some people also offer sesame seeds along with water (ellu thanneer tharppanam) to their deceased mother, however, it is not possible for Chitthiraa Pauranami this year since we are unable to visit a temple. Therefore, it will suffice to follow the guidelines as indicated in the paragraphs above.
A Point for Our Contemplation
Before we wind up, I would like to share a small clarification with regards to the offering of sesame seeds and water.
This article on the Dinamani website (https://www.dinamani.com/religion/religion-news/2019/apr/04/amavasya-never-do-these-3127053.html ) mentions that certain thithis are auspicious for certain deities, and continues to list the pairs as follows: Shadhurtthi – Lord Vinaayahar; Sashti – Lord Muruhan; Ehaathasi – Mahaa Vishnu; Ashtami – Bairavar; Sadhurtthasi – Lord Siva; Pauranami – Amman. The article proceeds to say that likewise there is a thithi for the manes, and that is amaavaasai.
In his article, ‘Pauranami – Amaavaasai’, on page 9 of the book ‘Saiva Viradhanggalum Vizhaakkalum’, Sri P. Sivananda Sarma says that the Sasthras generally mention Amaavaasai as being auspicious to the manes (although ‘pithir’ popularly refers to forefathers, in this context it means the souls of the deceased, in general); considering Paurnami to be auspicious for the deceased has become a customary norm among people.
From the two citations above, it is clear that Amaavaasai is the ideal thithi for the ellu thanneer tharppanam to the deceased. The ellu thanneer tharppanam done on Amaavaasai benefits the deceased in general. This implies that, it suffices to observe the Chitthiraa Paurnami fast at home in the manner mentioned above for the deceased mother.