Thursday, November 18, 2010

TV Programme - Kannapiran Kadhai Amudham

TV Programme - Kannapiran Kadhai Amudham

In this morning's episode of Kannapiran Kadhai Amudhu on Podhigai TV, Sri Velukkudi Krishnan gave a very cute example of why God punishes bad men. He first put a question - is God partial? Being God, how would He judge people as good or bad? Sri. Krishnan also gave a reply with this sweet example


A child plays with a stick. The child's mother keeps an eye on him. As he plays, the child tries to poke his own eye with the stick. Mother's reaction is to warn the child and if the child tries to do it again and again, she throws the stick away and beats the child.

Mother = God
Child = Jeevathma
Stick = The body Jeevathma takes

As the child (jeevathma plays), mother (God) just observes. Once the child (jeevathma) tries to hurt himself, mother (God) hits the child (jeeavathma) and throws the stick (body) away!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Karthigai (கார்த்திகை)

Karthigai (கார்த்திகை)

This eighth month in the Tamizh calendar is one of the darkest months as it is one during which it rains the most, the others being Purattasi and Aippasi Daytime is quite less in this month as it becomes dark by 5.30-6.00 pm during this month.

First day of Karthigai

Today is the first day of Karthigai.
The first day of Karthigai is well known for Iyappan. People planning to visit Sabarimala for Makara jothi, start their vratham on this day. Iyappan vratham starts with the wearing of tulasi mani maalai on this day and following the strict rules and regulations of this vratham. Iyappan temples are beautifully decorated and special pujas are done for the Lord on this day.


The other very old significance of the first day of Karthigai is Mudavanuku moksham  (முடவனுக்கு மோக்ஷம்) – the moksha of the lame man. The story behind this is that a lame man wanted to bathe in the Cauvery waters in Kumbakonam atleast on kadaimugam day (last day of Aippasi) as bathing in Kumbakonam Cauvery on all days of Aippasi is considered to give one moksham.
Even today this is followed and people throng the river on the kadaimugam day to ensure they atleast have a dip in the river on that day. By the time he reached Mayavaram (aka Mayiladuthurai), Aippasi ended and the month of Karthigai had begun. To fulfill the lame man’s wish, God blessed him saying that he will attain moksham even if he bathes in the Cauvery in Mayavaram.

Karthigai deepam(கார்த்திகை தீபம்)


The most important festival of Karthigai is Karthigai deepam, which falls on the full moon of the month of Karthigai. This year Karthigai deepam falls on 21st November. Karthigai deepam is mainly celebrated in all Sivan temples with the most important being Thiruvannamalai Deepam. The main deepam being lit in Thiruvannamalai is a great sight and is always telecast on TV every year.  Lighting of the deepam takes place in all other Sivan temples also on a grand scale. At home, people light agal vilakku (lamps made of red clay) filled with oil and new cotton wick and place them decoratively near the front door as well as backyard. Lighting of the lamps in this month must have started mainly because, as mentioned above, this is one of the darkest months and lamps were lit to get rid of the darkness. As in everything else, this is being celebrated as a festival. In fact, a couple of lamps are kept at the entrances to homes in the evenings on all days of Karthigai in yonder days. Even nowadays many people follow this including our household. Whatever maybe the reason, it is a joy to see the rows of lamps on the people’s balconies on the day of Karthigai deepam.


Since Karthigai deepam comes quite close to Diwali, bursting of fire-crackers for Karthigai is also observed.

The sweets made for Karthigai are the Karthigai pori and adhirasam. Karthigai pori is a very healthy sweet as there is no deep frying or ghee used in it.

Karthigai Amavasya


Karthigai amavasya is celebrated as Sridara Aiyyavaal urchavam  (ஸ்ரீதர அய்யவாள் உற்சவம்) in  Thiruvisalur The legend behind this is that Sridhara aiyyavaal on the day of his mother’s ceremony, went to have bath in the river nearby to get ready for the ritual. On his way back, he met a few untouchables begging for food. Moved by their condition,  Aiyyavaal brought them home and fed them with the food made for the ceremony. Immediately the agraharam where he lived  disowned him and he could not get any Vadyar (priest) to do the ceremonies for him. He prayed to God and suddenly three men came out of nowhere and offered to do the ceremonies and have lunch too. Immediately after lunch, the men vanished and  Aiyyavaal understood that it must have been the Mumoorthigal – Brahma, Vishnu, Sivan. Despite this, the he was advised to go to Varanasi and bathe in the River Ganga for the sin of feeding the untouchables. He again prayed to God as he was too old to travel all the way to Varanasi. God blessed him that on Karthigai amavasya day, River Ganga will flow from the well behind his house. Ganga overflowed in his well on this day. To this day Ganga is said to have kept her promise and flows in that well and it is considered sacred to have bath from the waters of that well on Karthigai amavasya day. This day is being celebrated as Sridhara Aiyyavaal urchavam even today. This urchavam is celebrated for ten days with the Amavasya day being the concluding day. This year Aiyyavaal urchavam Amavasya falls on 5th December. Aiyyavaal who lived about three hundred years ago is said to be one of the gurus of the nama japa sampardaya.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Recipe : Karunaikizhangu Thuvayal

Karunaikizhangu thuvayal (கருணைக்கிழங்கு துவையல்)

This is my favourite among the dishes made out of karunaikizhangu, the other one being karunaikizhangu masiyal, my sister Sabi's favourite! I have never personally made this dish as the slightly itchy karunaikizhangu is not relished in my inlaw's place but I love to hog it whenever Amma makes it for me.

Karunaikizhangu  (கருணைக்கிழங்கு) (yam)- 2 numbers  
Mustard seeds (கடுகு)   - 1 tsp
Urad dall (உளுத்தம்பருப்பு)  - 2 tsp
Dry red chillies (காய்ந்த மிளகாய்)   - 4
Tamarind (புளி)          - 2 inch strip / 2 tsp of pulp
Asafoetida (பெருங்காயம்) - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder  (மஞ்சள் பொடி) -1/2 tsp
Salt (உப்பு)     - to taste
Gingelly Oil (நல்லெண்ணெய்) -  2 tsp

Peel the yam and cut into small round pieces. Wash well and pressure cook in water adding turmeric powder. It should be well cooked with two whistles. Take out the cooked yam, drain the water completely and let it cool.
In a kadai take oil, add mustard seeds and when it crackles, add the urad dall, let it become golden, add the red chillies and switch off the gas. Put these in a mixie along with tamarind, salt and asafoetida and grind. 
Mash the cooled yam with a masher and add the ground mixture to it. Mix the whole thing together and your karunaikizhangu thuvayal is ready to eat with hot rice and gingelly oil!


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Temple Trails Tamil Nadu : Kandakottam, Chennai – Soorasamharam – Part II

Soorasamharam at Kandakottam - Part II


We waited for about 15 minutes witnessing the police organising the crowd very well. Slowly the traffic was stopped on our side of the road and the Sooran came first and positioned himself.

Many young men dressed up as Murugan’s soldiers including Veerabahu followed and next came the much awaited Murugan. What a beautiful deity! His vahanam was the horse. He had the Vel which his mother Parvati had given in one hand and a beautiful bow in his other hand. I saw Murugan as Parimelazhagar for the first time!


There was a commentary going on about the events on one side. First was the Veerabahu thoothu. When Sooran did not listen to Veerabahu, war was declared. Sooran came with his sword and kedayam for the battle and Murugan nipped his head with his Vel. Sooran went back and came again with Yaanai mugam (elephant-face). Murugan removed this head and he again came back with Singa mugam (lion-face), Yaali mugam, Aatu mugam (goat-face), Puli mugam (tiger face) and Kudhirai mugam (horse-face). Murugan detached all the heads with his Vel and finally Sooran came with his original face. Every time the head was removed with the Vel, the whole area resounded with the chant of “Vetrivel, Veeravel” and “Arohara”!

Then Sooran went around the Lord and when he came to the front, he took the form of a tree. The ever benevolent Murugan did not kill him like any other Gods do to the Asuras, but split the tree into a cock and peacock and kept the Sooran near him always!
Here is the video of the Soorasamharam

video

The Soorasamharam here ended with the Sooran taking the form of a tree and deepaarathanai (aarti) was performed to the Lord. Once the deepaarathanai was done, the crowd started moving and we also proceeded home satisfied with a great darshan of the Soorasamharam.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Temple Trails Tamil Nadu : Kandakottam, Chennai – Soorasamharam – Part I

Soorasamharam at Kandakottam - Part I

When we had a great darshan of the Soorasamharam at Vadapalani temple last year, Jayashree decided that she will take me to Kandakottam for this year Soorasamharam. Who will get such a sister, who instead of just enjoying herself, ensures that I also get the pleasure out of such visits. Thank you Appa and Amma for such a sister and thank you Jay, Love you!

We had enquired at the temple and found that Soorasamharam will take place around 7 pm. To find a comfortable place to stand, we reached the temple by 5.30 pm to have the darshan of the Lord. Despite hearing a lot through my parents and grandparents, this was my first visit to this temple.  I was thrilled to see the well decorated gopuram (temple tower) but was a little bothered about the long queue which stretched to the road on the side of the temple. But the queue moved so fast that within 7-8 minutes, we were inside the temple.



 
It was a very quick darshan and volunteers were pushing people as they had to accommodate a huge crowd. I just glimpsed the idols of Vallalar and Pamban Swamigal on the left. On our right was Murugan. Murugan looked very very cute in full alangaram. I was surprised to see such small idols of Valli Deivayanai sametha Murugan. On either side of the sannidhi were separate sannidhis for Valli and Deivayanai.
We moved further to have darshan of Ganapathy in front of us and I was just allowed to read the words Suriyan and Veerabagu by which time the volunteers pushed us out. I promised myself to make a detailed trip to this temple again and blog about it including the legend and history.

As we came out the Dwajasthambam was to our left and many ladies were lighting ghee lamps nearby. We moved to our right and reached a very beautifully decorated mandapam. On the left side on a raised platform there were beautiful water rangolis on plates. The rangolis were of Ganapathy, Valli Deivayanai sametha Arumugan, Gnanapandithan, Murugan on his mayil vahanam, Natarajar and Vallalar. Inspite of being six days old, the rangolis were looking beautiful and a lady nearby wondered how it would have been on day one.



On the right side near the decorated pillars was the Urchavamurthy on Mayil vahanam. It was a pleasure to have his darshan. Like Thatha used to say, the youthful Murugan gives one so much cheer and energy! We had our fill of this Murugan and proceeded further.


The staircase next to this had “way to Kandan Kalaiarangam written on it and people were going up and down. We too went up out of curiosity. We were delighted to see the gopurams from there.


There was no programme happening at the Kalaiarangam. But people were just sitting around and relaxing there.We came down and moved further right to have darshan of another Urchavar. This happened to be Valli Deivayanai sametha Arumugan complete with his Vel and Sevalkodi. All the six faces were looking so beautiful and  benevolent!



We reached the side entrance of the temple and came out. While coming out, I could feel the presence of Murugan everywhere and the Bhakthi of the people in that area and all around there were shops in  the Lord's name.   



We once again enquired about the timings and exact location of Soorasamharam with a few people. We then reached the main road near Eithirajulu Naidu Sons and stood a comfortable place hoping to get a good view. The traffic was in full swing and people around were saying that it will be stopped the moment, Murugan comes out of the temple in oorvalam (procession). While waiting in such a huge but organized crowd, I could not stop feeling proud of our country where we never give up such festivities and celebration for the sake of our livelihood, but make it a part of our lifestyle!



Thursday, November 4, 2010

Diwali Legiyam

Diwali Legiyam  (தீபாவளி லேகியம்)



This is a digestive prepared during Diwali and eaten early in the morning to ensure that the heavy food consumed this time gets digested easily. This is one of the most important things in the Diwali list at home.

Ingredients

1. Sukku (சுக்கு) (dry ginger)               25 gm
2. Kandanthippili (கண்டந்திப்பிலி)      25 gm
3. Arisi thippili  (அரிசி திப்பிலி)          25 gm
4. Parangipattai   (பரங்கிப்பட்டை)      25 gm
5. Sitharathai   (சித்தரத்தை)           25 gm
6. Milagu  (மிளகு) (pepper)          25 gm
7. Dhaniya (தனியா) (coriander seeds)   15 gm
8. Jeera  (சீரகம்)            10 gm
9. Omam   (ஓமம்)      20 gm
10.Adhimaduram  (அதிமதுரம்)   25 gm
11. Jadhikkai   (ஜாதிக்காய்)           1/2
12. Jadipathiri (ஜாதிப்பத்திரி)      5 gm
13. Elakkai (ஏலக்காய்) (Cardamom)  10 gm
14. Ginger   (இஞ்சி)         50 gm
15. Jaggery    (வெல்லம்)  1/2 kg
16. Ghee (நெய்)        100 gm
17. Honey  (தேன்)     100 gm

Dry roast ingredients number 1 to 13 separately one after the other. Take care not to over heat. Powder all the roasted ingredients together and sieve.
Dissolve jaggery in water, heat slightly and filter it. Take the filtered jaggery water in a pan (kadai) and boil it.
Grind the ginger and take out the juice. Keep this juice aside for a few minutes so that the sediment settles below. We will be using only the clear ginger water on top. Add this ginger water to the boiling jaggery. Add the honey and let the solution boil for some more time. Before  the jaggery reaches the paagu consistency but boils very well, add the sieved powder. Keep stirring till it thickens slightly. Add the ghee little by little to the thickening mixture. Once it starts leaving the sides of the pan, it is ready to be taken off the stove.
This legiyam is in the consistency of halwa and can be shaped into balls and eaten. As mentioned above it is a great digestive and helps our tummy when attacked by diwali sweets and savouries.

This medicinal legiyam can be made not just during Diwali but anytime one feels to have a natural digestive medicine.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Diwali Recipe : Adhirasam

Adhirasam (அதிரசம்)

I tried adhirasam for the first time yesterday and it came out well. I got the recipe from my mother

Ingredients:

Rice flour  (அரிசி மாவு)  : 2 cups
Jaggery   (வெல்லம்)    : 1 1/4 cup
Cardamom powder ( ஏலக்காய் பொடி) : 1/2 tsp
Ghee (நெய்)                    : 3 tsp
Oil (எண்ணெய்)  : for deep frying
Water  (தண்ணீர்)   : as required

Dissolve jaggery in water, heat it slightly and then filter it. Boil the filtered jaggery water well until huge bubbles form on the surface. This is much before any string consistency.




Take the rice flour in a wide bowl and part it circularly in the centre (like a well). Now, add the boiled jaggery to it and stir well with a ladle. Ensure there are no lumps. Let this mixture cool. Add cardamom powder and ghee to the cooled rice mixture and knead it well.

Heat the oil in a saucepan (kadai). In the meanwhile, take a small ball of the mixture the size of a lemon and flatten to the size of a puri on a greased plastic sheet. You can do this with your fingers.

 


Drop the puri into the hot oil and deep fry.


Once it becomes slightly brown, press it well with the help of two spoons to ensure any excess oil is drained and keep it aside to cool. Repeat the same procedure for the balance dough.

Adhirasam is ready to be enjoyed for Diwali!



 NOTE: In case one adhirasam breaks in the oil, then probably the jaggery is more. The taste varies with different qualities of rice/jaggery. Do check and add a few more tsp of flour if required.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Slippers - Lost & Found

Slippers - Lost & Found

The trip to Rameswaram for the wedding was very eventful, but the most hilarious thing was the story of lost and found slippers, not just one pair but two.


It started like this, when we were in the train on the way to Rameswaram, a couple in the same coupe got down at Ramanathapuram very early in the morning. When we reached Rameswaram, Amma got up and searched for her slipper and found that one was hers and the other belonged to the lady who had got down earlier. Lord knows how that lady who was at least 6-7 months pregnant managed to wear such mismatched slippers and walk!

As there was no other choice, Amma had to wear the other mismatched pair and walk down the station. She managed up to the Kalyana mandapam and gave up after that. Since it was quite early in the morning, we could not manage to find a shop to buy a new pair for her. Meanwhile I had left my slippers in the Kalyana Mandapam entrance like everybody else and after Vratham and lunch, I came out to find that mine were missing.


Now both of us were barefoot but managed to get into an auto to the lodge! Amma was too tired to go to the market and said she will manage without slippers for the day. In the evening we all got ready for the janavaasam and reached the mandapam. I had a casual look at the many pairs of slippers lying there and managed to find mine! Obviously somebody had worn them by mistake and had brought them back. First thing I did was to hide my slippers behind one of the pillars.

The story does not end here. Next day during the Muhurtham, I did the same thing of hiding my slippers behind a pillar and Amma continued to manage without hers. After the Muhurtham, Amma and I went to the market and bought her a new pair. We came back to the mandapam and had our lunch. We had to go back to the lodge immediately to pack as we had to leave for Chennai that evening. We came out to find that Appa’s slippers were missing! I began to wonder whether our slippers were jinxed.

I searched all over the mandapam and found Appa’s slippers lying in two different corners as the crowd had walked up and down pushing them all over the place!


I found the whole drama so funny that I could not resist blogging about it!