Friday, October 29, 2010

The power of Namajapam - Ajaamilan's story

The power of Namajapam - Ajaamilan's story

For the past few days Sri Velukkudi Krishnan has been telling us the story of Ajaamilan (அஜாமிளன்) – a classic example of how taking the name of God will help us. This was part of the Bhagavatham by Sri Velukkudi Krishnan telecast on DD Podhigai at 6.30 am Monday to Friday.

Ajaamilan was born in a Brahmin family and did his duties well. He was married to a very pious lady who served him well and had good children. One day when he went to the forest to collect wood for homam, he met a woman there. He found her very attractive and in his lust for her, forgot his wife and children and started living with her in the forest. He was ready to do anything for his new found love and even killed animals for the meat for her sake. He lived a sinful life with her and had many children. He was very close to his youngest son whom he had named Narayanan. Years rolled on and it was time for Ajaamilan to leave this world. Yama dhoothas came with the pasa kayiru to take him away and Ajaamilan experienced the fear of death. He panicked and called his son Narayanan. The young son was playing at a distance and did not hear him. Ajaamilan had to call him many times uttering the word “Narayana, Narayana” Bang came the Vishnu dhoothas hearing the name of Narayanan. The Vishnu dhoothas who were replicas of Vishnu in colour and appearance, asked the Yama dhoothas to go as they had to take Ajaamilan to Vaikundam.

The Yama dhoothas who had come there in the first place to take Ajaamilan to Yamalogam because of his number of sins, were surprised to see the Vishnu dhoothas there ready to take him to Vaikundam. The Vishnu dhoothas told the Yama dhoothas that Ajaamilan had cried the Lord’s name “Narayana” several times and that is why they had come to his rescue. Not able to understand how despite so many sins Ajaamilan was being helped by the Vishnu dhoothas, the Yama dhoothas went back to Yamaloga to ask their master Yamadharman about this. Yamadharman explained to the dhoothas the greatness of Namasangeerthanam and instructed them not to go anywhere near Ajaamilan. Here, Ajaamilan lost his fear of death once the Yama dhoothas left and the Vishnu dhoothas blessed him and let him continue his time on earth. Regretting his sinful life so far, Ajaamilan went to the banks of River Ganga and spent the rest of his life doing the namajapam of the Lord. Finally when it was time for him to leave this earth, Vishnu dhoothas alone came and took him to Vaikundam.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Aippasi (ஐப்பசி)

Aippasi (ஐப்பசி)

Aippasi is seventh month in the Tamizh calendar from October 16 – November 16. This happens to be the most festive month as the biggest festival in India – Diwali falls in this month.


Aippasi pournami is Annabishekam in all Sivan temples. The Siva lingam is covered with cooked rice and also decorated with vegetables and fruits around. This is basically a thanksgiving to the Lord for providing us with Annam! It is a great sight to see the Lingam fully covered with white cooked rice with the fruits and vegetables lending colour! Witnessing Annabishekam is said to relieve one from the cycles of birth.

I have heard that it is a magnificient sight to see the annabishekham at the Brihadeewarar temple in Thanjavur as the Lingam is really huge there.

This year Aippasi Pournami was on 22 October

This great festival falls on Aippasi Amavasya
This festival of lights is said to have been started with the celebration of Rama’s return to Ayodya after vanavasam. Another story is that when Krishna defeated Narakasura, this Asuran requested Krishna that his death be celebrated as festival of lights. Whatever the story behind may be, this is one festival which is not regional but celebrated all over our country.

When we were kids, our priority was crackers, new clothes and then sweets in that order!
These days crackers have the least priority. What with the pollution it causes and the child labour involved in making the crackers, it is good that nowadays children give less importance to this, but I personally cannot imagine a Diwali without crackers! When we were kids, I remember that Appa used to make a detailed list of crackers keeping every family member’s interest in mind (and ofcourse the budget!). Bursting the crackers was a pucca family thing with right from my grandfather participating in it. I am happy that even in 2008, my Thatha at 95 years of age enthusiastically accepted my request and burst some electric crackers along with my Chittappa (73 years) and Appa (75 years)!

Nowadays Diwali means shopping! The offers given on every item right from clothes, household applicances to jewellery is incredible but good fun and of real use if you have a need, else it is just that you go to the shop planning to spend a few thousands and end up spending double or treble the amount thanks to the various offers!

The sweets! The variety available is unimaginable! And that too all the packs decorated beautifully that you don’t have the heart to open the packaging!

There are so many types available in the market that people prefer it to buy from the shops and gift to others rather than distributing home made stuff. But still sweets – at least two or three varieties with a couple of different savouries are made at home.

Diwali day starts with oil bath. Traditionally, one is not supposed to take oil bath on amavasya day but Diwali is an exception. This is why oil bath is taken before sunrise as this means that day has not officially begun! The Holy Ganga water is said to flow through our water taps and hence the term “ganga snanam” for the bath on Diwali day.
After the oil bath, new clothes are a must be it a grand or a simple one!

In our place, the first thing you have to pop into your mouth right after brushing is diwali marunthu – my mother makes this at home with so many medicinal ingredients bought from naatu marunthu kadai. Nowadays, readymade marunthu is available in naatu marunthu kadai. This is supposed to help our digestive system as we really give it a lot of work even from few days before Diwali! We give our system further work with a heavy feast for lunch!

Again these days, Diwali means TV programme for many. All the channels compete with telecast of patti mandram and new movies and Diwali celebration of one star or the other. This has resulted in less interaction with relatives on this day as TV takes the prime place!

Diwali is on 05 November this year

Kanda Sashti
Right after Diwali Kanda Sashti festival starts. It starts on the first day after Diwali amavasya and ends on the sixth day – Sashti
Lord Muruga fought with Soorapadman on these six days and defeated him on Sashti.
This is celebrated in a grand scale in all Murugan temples and the celebration at Tiruchendur is supposed to be the best. Last year, I had the opportunity to witness the Soorasamharam at Vadapalani temple, thanks to my sister Jayashree.

Kanda Sashti is from 06 November to 11 November 2010.

Aippasi Sadhayam

The greatest Tamizh King – Raja Raja chozhan was born on Aippasi Sadhayam and his birthday is celebrated on this day even now. This year I hope the celebration will be even more what with the completion of 1000 years of the Brihadeeswara temple built by this great King.

Aippasi sadhayam falls on 15 November 2010

The last day of Aippasi is said to be Kadaimugam. Bathing in river Cauvery on this day is said to be very sacred. This is on 16 November this year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Recipe : Kathirikkai rasavaangi

Katharikkai rasavaangi (கத்திரிக்காய் ரசவாங்கி)

This is one of the specialities of my mother and a hot favourite in our house.

Eggplant  ( கத்திரிக்காய்) - ¼ kg
Toor dall ( துவரம் பருப்பு) - ½ cup
Dry karamani (காராமணி) – 2 tbsp
Tamarind - size of gooseberry / Tamarind paste (புளி விழுது) – 1 tsp
Sambar powder (சாம்பார் பொடி) – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder (மஞ்சள் பொடி)– ½ tsp
Asafoetida  (பெருங்காயம்) - ¼ tsp
Grated coconut (துருவிய தேங்காய்) - 3 tbsp
Mustard (கடுகு) - ½ tsp
Urad dall (உளுத்தம் பருப்பு) - 1 tsp
Curry leaves (கறிவேப்பில்லை) - 2 sprigs
Green chillies (பச்சை மிளகாய்) - 2
Lemon (எலுமிச்சம்பழம்) - ½
Salt (உப்பு) - to taste
Oil (எண்ணெய்) - 3 tsp

Pressure cook the karamani and toor dall in separate vessels. Cut the egg plants into 2 inch pieces and cook directly adding water, turmeric powder and salt. Once cooked, add the cooked karamani, tamarind paste, sambar powder and cook for 10 minutes. Add the cooked toor dall and boil for 3 minutes and then add the asafoetida

Heat a kadai, add oil, mustard and when mustard crackles add the urad dall. When the dall becomes golden colour, add the vertically slit green chillies, curry leaves and grated coconut. Roast for 2-3 minutes. Add this to the cooked egg plant. Squeeze the lemon and mix well. Your katharikkai rasavaangi is ready to be relished with rice or rotis.

Dry karamani can be replaced with any other dry pulse like brown / white channa etc.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Temple Trails Tamil Nadu : Golu at Nandalala Temple, Mylapore

Golu at Nandalala Temple, Mylapore

I again have to thank Dorai Thatha who had told me about the Golu in this temple.
I went there on Saturday evening with my husband and we are happy about the Golu as well as the temple
First we went to see the Golu in the basement of the temple

There was a proper Golu with seven steps in the centre and in the sides were details about Ashtalakshmi with many illustrations.

One has to go in order so that nothing is missed out. First on the left, opposite the Golu was a beautifully decorated Saraswathi.

Next was AdhiLakshmi with Mahavishnu next to her. There were also dolls of people praying to Adhilakshmi and Mahavishnu and a photo of a newly wedded couple. There was also a picture of Adhilakshmi on top.

Above this set, there was also a small write up which is part of Sri Madhi Oli mandiram about meaning of Adhi with benefits of praying to Adhilakshmi

Then it was Santhanalakshmi with idols of Aalilai Krishna, Krishna in a cradle, dolls of animals with their young ones and a cardboard crèche with a picture of Santhanalakshmi on top. The write up about Santhanalakshmi was missing.

Next was Dhanalakshmi with beautiful display of jewellery, different golden ornaments, models of different shops in Chennai with their festival offers. The picture of Dhanalakshmi above this was looking beautiful. Sri madhi Oli mandiram here says that Dhanalakshmi resides in every one and hence one has to show love towards his fellow beings and be content to have Her blessings in full.

After this, there was a beautiful picture of Krishna playing the flute flanked by two elephants and a picture of Sri Madhi Oli’s hands

In the centre was the seven steps golu. I liked the Rajasabhai set in this best. See how the king and the ministers are sitting with pots of wealth. A lady there was kind enough to explain that it is a King’s court and the King and his ministers are wondering how to make best use of so much of wealth available with them!

I just thought, that was how India was once upon a time much before the arrival of Mughals and British!
Do not miss the embroidery on the cloth below the last step.

Next was Thiruvaanaika set with a picture of the Ambal praying to Jalakandeswarar and the Uchikala Go puja there.

There were many spatika lingams near the Thiruvaanaika set, but the people there specifically told me not to photograph it.

After this was Dhanyalakshmi with pictures of people doing various jobs in the field and ladies cooking food at home. There were also tubs with really crops. On top of the picture of Dhanyalakshmi was the Sri Madhi Oli mandiram for this Goddess saying that She is in the form of food grain and in addition to satisfying our hunger, we should offer food to people who come to our homes. Anna dhaanam is the best dhaanam there is and by doing it, we can get her blessing.

Next was Vijayalakshmi with a model of a well built house showing that it is the fruit of one’s efforts. Sri Madhi Oli mandiram above the picture of Vijayalakshmi says that with good efforts, hard work and faith, one will be victorious and Vijayalakshmi will always be with him

Vidyalakshmi had models of school and library with different musical instruments and pictures of children at school. The mandiram above Vidyalakshmi says that the Goddess is in the form of intelligence in all. One has to use it in the right way, talk softly and not hurt others to get her blessings.

Last this was Dhairya Lakshmi with pictures of Karate classes and a police station model

This also had a picture of Kiran Bedi and a lady train driver. Above the beautiful looking Dhairyalakshmi picture the mandiram says that courage has to be in one’s mind. One should be courageous enough to accept and admit his faults and mistakes

Finally it was very cute looking light house model complete with a sea wall paper and a real light on top.

We completed the visit of the lovely golu and went up for Nandalala’s darshan

First it was a very huge Ganapathy. Next we went near Nandalala’s sannidhi and were amazed looking at him. Krishna playing the flute and his cow standing behind him was so beautiful. His eyes were magnetic and one gets drawn towards same. There was recital of Vishnusahasramam when we entered and hence we went for a pradikshinam. Behind Krishna was a very cute looking Ganapathy urchavar complete with his mooshika vahanam. As we completed our pradakshinam of the hall, there was an endearing statue of Hanuman that I couldn’t take my eyes of him. It is a very small statue, in the usual praying posture of Hanuman, but the expression on his face was so sweet. He was decked with vadamalais. We went around him a few times and came back to Krishna’s sannidhi for deeparathanai as the recital was over by then.

There were also huge pictures of Durga, Lakshmi, Sarawathi kept in front of Krishna’s sannidhi for Navaratri.

We came out to collect thamboolam and sundal satisfied with a lovely darshan.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Durga Puja at Bengal Association, T.Nagar

Durga Puja at Bengal Association, T.Nagar

I had the opportunity to see the Durga Puja in Bengal Association T.Nagar on Friday. I went there around 6pm and puja was on in full swing with about 50-60 Bengalis taking part.

Though I have seen huge Durga idols in the Besant Nagar community hall earlier, here I had time and space to have a look in detail.

A very huge Durga was standing in the centre with weapons in all her hands, the demon was standing below her. Her vahanam was a very ferocious looking lion. On her right was Goddess Lakshmi and Ganapathy and on her right was Saraswathy and Subramanya.

Inspite of so many weapons in her hands the face of the Goddess was so benevolent and smiling that I felt like looking at her forever.

Goddess Lakshmi on the left also had a smiling face with her hand in a blessing posture

while Ganapathy was pink in colour and holding weapons in all his hands

Goddess Saraswathi on the right was also in a blessing posture with a veena nearby and her swan vahanam at her feet.

Subramanya was holding bow and arrow with his Mayil vahanam close by.

See the number of clothes and flowers in front of the deities!

Puja got over in about 10-15 minutes and after neivediyam, ladies were asked to repeat the mantra recited by the pujari and offer flowers to the deity. The ladies also lit the many lamps kept near the idols.

After the deeparathanai, prasadam was distributed and the Bengalis assembled moved out for the food stalls around.

I had another leisure look at the Goddess and came out!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Temple Trails Tamil Nadu : Golu at Triplicane Parthasarathy Temple

Golu at Parthasarathy Temple

Thanks to my grand father, Prof. T.K.Srinivasan (Dorai thatha), I came to know about this Golu. I am really glad not to have missed it. Thank you thatha!

Awesome! There is no other word to describe the Golu. I heard from Thatha that the trio who had arranged for the Ashtadik golu in Mylapore temple last year, had arranged for the same at Parthasarathy temple. I happened to meet one of them, Mr.Surendranath, who was very helpful. Thank you Mr. Surendranath!

The major difference between the Ashtadik Golu in the Mylapore temple last year and Parathasarathy Temple this year is that this golu was full of Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi!

The main four dikkus (directions) had seven steps each and the side four dikkus had three steps each, the last step being floor level in both. On all the ashta dikkus the last step was one of the Ashta Lakshmis

We started our darshan with Viswaroopam of Mahavishnu with Arjuna praying to him. The next step had Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi with idols of Rama hugging Guhan on one side and Krishna hugging Kuselar on the other.

The third step had Narasimhar, Thayar and Anjaneyar. Next step was Sreedevi, Boodevi sametha Mahavishnu with the periya thiruvadi, Garudan and siriya thiruvadi, Anjaneyar on either side. Next followed Trivikraman giving darshan to Mahabali, Sukracharya and others with Venkatachalapathy and Thayar on one side and Varahamoorthy on the other. Sixth step had Gajendra moksham beautifully depicted on one side and Rama, Lakshmana and Sita on boat with Guhan on the other side.

The first side dikku had Krishna with a pot full of butter on the first step along with dolls depicting the episode of Govardhana Giri and Krishna standing on one of his friends trying to take butter from the pot hanging on the roof.

Next was Radha and Krishna with the Lord playing the flute and a group of saadhus chanting and dancing.

Second main dikku had Narasimhar with Thayar on his lap on the first step. The next few steps illustrated the various incidents of Rama Avatharam beautifully.

See the birth of Rama and the Lord breaking the Shiva dhanusu on either side of the Rama, Lakshmana, Sita, Hanuman on the second step. Third step was Rama on boat with Guhan followed by the Soorpanaka episode; Maya Marichan; Ravana in a saadhu disguise and Ravana killing Jatayu. Fourth step was Hanuman meeting Seetha in Asoka Vanam; Vanara sena throwing boulders into the sea to build a bridge under the supervision of Rama Lakshmana and Hanuman bringing Sanjeevi Malai to revive Lakshmanan. Fifth step had Ramar Pattaabishekam and Lava Kusa bringing the horse on either side with a metal doll set of Rama, Lakshmana, Seetha and Hanuman in the centre. Sixth step was again Ramar with Seetha, Lakshmana and Hanuman and another lovely statue of Hanuman in meditation.

The fourth dikku had Chakrathaazhwar, with Yoganarasimhar on the other side. A mirror was kept there for us to see the Yoganarasimhar on the reverse. On either side were a gurukulam set and Perumal with Sreedevi and Bhoodevi with a Palli Konda Perumal in the centre.
Next step was a lovely looking Pandurangan and Ragumayi with Radhe Krishna and Krishna with flute on either side 

Next dikku had Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi on first step and Narasimhar flanked by two Varahamoorthys all with their consorts on their lap on second step. Third step was Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi on Adhiseshan surrounded by Naradhar, Sukha Maharishi and other rishis with a Venkatachalapathy and Alamelumangai Thayar on either side.

Fourth step was a beautiful Andal with Vishnu on Garuda Vahanam on either side. There were very cute looking Krishnas also on this step. Next step was Guruvayoorappan with a Perumal Thirukalyana set on one side and a regular wedding set on the other side. Sixth step had the traditional Chettiyar/Chettichi with their fruit shop

Sixth dikku had a majestic looking Garudan on top step with Balaji and the Goddess on either side. There was a gorgeous golden Radha Krishna and a baby Krishna also on this step.

Second step had Trivikraman, Mahavishnu and Matysavathaaramoorthy.

Next dikku was really lovely with details of Krishna Avataram. First step was Parthasarathy and Vedhavalli Thayaar. Seeing this Parthasarathy was very similar to looking at the main deity of this temple, so clearly made was the idol. Second step had a golden Viswaroopa Moorthy and Krishna playing the flute with Krishna and Gopikas in the centre.

From the next step were displayed the dolls depicting scenes from the story of Krishna. See the jail in which Krishna was born. Krishna is being taken in a basket to Gokulam by Vasudevar and Adhiseshan acting as an umbrella. Krishna is playing on the swing and the cow is being milked in Gokulam. Krishna steals butter along with his friends and in the next step Krishna sheperds the cows, the story of Sakadasuran, Krishna waiting while Yashoda is churning butter, Kalinga nardhanam, Govardhana Giri and Krishna playing hide and seek with the Gopikas.

Fifth step starts with Radhe Krishna, Krishna with Gopikas, Geethopadesam, Radhe Krishna and Rukmini samedha Krishna

Sixth step had a very charming Krishna with his cows and two sets of Marapachi couples on either side.

Next dikku was again Krishna. This Krishna was so beautiful with his hand extended towards the pot of butter. Do not miss his headdress in the mirror behind him! This step had few more cute looking Krishna dolls and Perumal with Thayar and many saadhus around.

Next step had Krishna with his hand on the butter pot flanked on either side by Vasudevar carrying Baby Krishna

The dolls on the side are a must see. It starts with Thumbikkai Azhwar  as Vaishnavas call - Ganapathy  with a namam.

 Next was a huge Venkatachalapathy and Thayar followed by a golden mandapam.

On the window were dolls of Ramar, Seetha, Lakshmanan, Hanuman set and a Mahalakshmi.

Next was a very colourful Ramar set on the top step with Krishna playing his flute and standing in front of the cow with a Meerabhai and another Krishna troubling Yashoda while she is milking the cow on either side.

In the front was the Urchavmoorthy of Parthasarathy with his consort. See the marks on his cheeks. All due to the arrows that hurt him when he acted as sarathy to Parthan! On either side were the garuda vahanam and kudhirai vahanam procession.

Next was the most breathtaking scene in the whole set! It was the Parkadal and Paramapadham set. One gets a feeling that he is already in front of parkadal with Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi on Adhiseshan surrounded by the ten avatars of Mahavishnu. There is a Gajalakshmi in the front. Next step is Palli Konda Perumal with Paramapadha doors on either side; an Urchavamoorthy with consorts in the front and stairs leading to the paramapadham.

This step and the next had Azhwars and saints like Ramanujar and others.

Next scene was Mahavishnu with Andal and a sitting Krishna playing the flute with a few cows looking on. The cows looked so real.

The last step here had Balaji and Alamelumanga with a very cute theppa kulam (pond) in the front and a sitting Mahavishnu and Lakshmi on Adhiseshan on one side and Chakarathaazhwar on the other side.

All the doors on these structures had metallic sheets hanging on them with different scenes like Dasavatharam, Ashtalakshmi, Azhwars etc.

There was also a palanquin near the Golu and I could not resist clicking it.

All in all it was a grand Golu that was a feast for our eyes and we very reluctantly left the place!

As we were moving out, Swami procession was moving inside the temple and I managed a distant shot of same.