Monday, January 17, 2011

Book Fair 2011

Book Fair 2011

This is one fair I have been trying to go to for the past few years, but could succeed only this year.

Just before leaving for the fair, I checked out a few reviews on the net where it said that it is quite crowded on all days. Hence mentally I prepared myself for a rush, but was pleasantly surprised! The crowd was very much there, but the school grounds are so huge that it did not seem overcrowded. On the left side to the entrance, there was a dais and people were sitting in rows ready to hear a lecture by Mr. Satyaseelan. The right side was full of refreshment stalls. I went in through one of the 4-5 entrances and was zapped by the number of stalls! The stalls had mainly a variety of Tamizh books right from highly literary ones to pulp fiction! From what I could see, English books were mainly educational stuff and children’s books mostly with a very small collection of other varieties.

By the time I completed the row of stalls on either side of one line, I realized that it was more than half an hour since I entered! I just had time to browse through two or three such lines and managed to buy a few books for myself, my sister-in-law and her grandson in about 1 hour and 30 minutes. As I came out, I realised that I had not even covered 25% of the fair. Hope to visit this fair in a more leisurely fashion next year!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thai (தை)

Thai (தை)

This 10th month in the Tamizh calendar is considered most auspicious for weddings and has proverbs like “Thai pirandhal vazhi pirakum” (தை பிறந்தால் வழி பிறக்கும்) associated with it. It is harvest time and celebration time all around!

Pongal (பொங்கல்) 
The first day of Thai is always Pongal – a thanksgiving to the Sun God for a good harvest – the most important festival in Tamil Nadu.

 Pongal is a four-day festival – 1st day being Bhogi, 2nd day – the main day, Pongal, 3rd day – Maatu Pongal and the 4th day – Kaanum Pongal.
 On the 2nd main day, after the spring cleaning on Bhogi,the newly harvested rice is cooked with milk and jaggery as pongal in new pots painted in bright colours and decorated with manjal and inji bunches, mostly in open area facing the Sun. As the mixture of rice and milk boils over, people call out “Pongalo pongal” in a loud voice joyfully! Along with the Pongal, sugarcane and all vegetables are offered to the Sun God. All this happens in villages and small towns. Here in the city many households just make Pongal in the metal pot or pressure cooker for convenience with the manjal and inji kothu being tied around it after it is taken off the stove! But in all places, people offer their prayers to the Sun God thanking Him for a bountiful harvest!
Whichever way it is celebrated, this is the biggest festival of Tamil Nadu!

I am very happy to see Pongal being prepared in open area thanks to some of the residents of our colony. Above are photos taken this morning!
 Along with sweet Pongal, the savoury version, Ven pongal and many preparations with native vegetables, which are available in plenty around this time of the year, are made and it is a feast on this day.
Usually Pongal falls on 14th January, but sometimes it comes on the next day too, this year it is today – 15th January.

Maatu Pongal (மாட்டுப் பொங்கல்) 
The day after Pongal - it is 16th January this year - is called Maatu Pongal. This is an acknowledgement and thanksgiving to the cattle for their part in agriculture. On this day, prayers are offered to the cattle, decorating them with haldi/kumkum, paint and new bells, balloons etc.  on the horns, garlands, etc and feeding them with a mixture of rice and jaggery. The cattle are also allowed to roam around freely on this day.

Jallikattu (ஜல்லிக்கட்டு) – bull fight where young men try to tame the bulls - a game very much looked forward to by people despite the danger involved in it - also takes places in many villages on this day.

 This day is also celebrated as Kanu Pongal. Kanu Pongal is prayer offered by the womenfolk of the family for the welfare of their brothers. On this day, manjal leaves, taken from the manjal kothu tied around the Pongal pot the previous day is spread on a kolam and small balls of yellow, red and white coloured rice are placed on the leaves along with small quantities of Pongal, sugarcane and bits of banana. This again is done on an open area and the food is offered to the crows.

The feast for this day is usually, payasam or vella saadam and all other mixed rice like tamarind rice, lemon rice, curd rice along with aviyal and fried pappadams and vadams.
This day is also called Thiruvalluvar Day in tribute to the great poet!

Kaanum Pongal (காணும் பொங்கல்)
The fourth day of Pongal is Kaanum Pongal which basically means the day of visit. But people prefer enjoying an outing on that day than visiting relatives and friends. When we were kids, it used to be fun to watch people from the nearby towns coming in open bullock carts (the bulls very cutely decorated) for a visit to the city, but nowadays this is a rare sight. Overall, a visit to the beach and even traveling by bus is avoided in our household on this day as it is crowded everywhere!

Thai Poosam(தைப்பூசம்) 
Thai poosam is on the full moon day of the month of Thai with the star being poosam. Thai poosam is a day when special prayers are offered at Amman and Murugan temples. Rituals like poomidhi – walking on burning coals and kavadis are followed on this day.

Another important event that takes place on Thai poosam is the Jothi darisanam by Vallalar on this day – where he showed to the world that God is in the form of a Jothi. On this day, every year, Jothi darisanam takes place in temples and tributes paid to this saint.

This year Thai poosam falls on 20th January.

Bagula Panchami (பகுள பஞ்சமி) 

 It is a pleasure to hear all the carnatic musicians paying tribute in unison to Tyagaraja – one of the music trinities – on this day. Abhishekams are performed to the idol of Tyagaraja in Thiruvayaru and all the carnatic musicians – big and small – sing the Pancharatna Keerathanais in front of the idol. The live telecast of this programme by the TV channels have really helped people like me to understand this tradition to an extent.
This year Bagula Panchami is on 24th January.

Thai Amavasai (தை அமாவாசை)
 Though tribute to ancestors is usually performed on all amavasyas, it is specially followed on Thai amavasya. 
This year's Thai Amavasai is on 3rd February.

Ratha Saptami(ரத சப்தமி)

 The Earth’s rotation around the Sun is completed by 180 degrees in the month of Thai and hence the six months from Thai to Aani it is called Utharayanam and the balance six months from Aadi to Margazhi is called Dakshinayanam. The Sun is said to turn his chariot (actually the earth completes half a circle around the Sun) in the month of Thai. The day this event actually happens is called Ratha Saptami Ratha meaning chariot and Saptami is the seventh day after Thai amavasya. This year it is on 10th February.
On this day, kolams in the design of chariots are drawn in front of the houses and Chakara Pongal is offered to the Sun God. A ritual of bathing with Erukkam leaves placed on one’s head is also followed on this day.
Though I came to know about the significance of this day much later, I remember looking forward to the procession of Perumal from the Nungambakkam Perumal temple in seven different vahanams on this day every year.

Thai Krithigai (தைக்கிருத்திகை)
All Krithigais are days of prayers to Lord Muruga, but the Krithagai of this month is one of the most important days. Special poojas are performed to the Lord on this day and people offer kavadis and alagu in the Murugan temples.
It is falling on 12th February, the last day of Thai, this year.

Fridays (தை வெள்ளிக்கிழமை) 
Like the Fridays of Aadi, Fridays of Thai are also very auspicious and special prayers are held in all Amman temples. Usually ladies follow the custom of offering thamboolam to each other as a prayer for their family welfare. Ladies also follow the special prayer of Maavilaku (மாவிளக்கு) - lighting ghee lamps in dough made of rice, jaggery and ghee on one of the Fridays.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 30

 Thiruppavai - Day 30

வங்கக் கடல்கடைந்த மாதவனைக் கேசவனைத்
திங்கள் திருமுகத்துச் சேயிழையார் சென்றிறைஞ்சி
அங்கப் பறைகொண்ட ஆற்றை, அணிபுதுவைப்
பைங்கமலத் தண்தெரியல் பட்டர்பிரான் கோதை சொன்ன
சங்கத் தமிழ்மாலை முப்பதும் தப்பாமே
இங்கிப் பரிசுரைப்பார், ஈரிரண்டு மால்வரைத்தோள்
செங்கண் திருமுகத்துச் செல்வத் திருமாலால்
எங்கும் திருவருள்பெற் றின்புறுவ ரெம்பாவாய்

The story of how the Gopikas obtained the blessings of the Madhavan, Kesavan who churned the Thirupparkadal to give the divine nectar to the Devas was described by the daughter of Periyaazhwar, the lotus garland clad Andal, in thirty verses. One who recites these verses without fail will have the blessings of the broad shouldered, red eyed, handsome faced Thirumaal and will be happy forever!

The 30 verses of Thiruppavai ends today. Hope this simple direct translation, without the explanation of the inner meanings which are quite long has been a kind of introduction for people who are not familiar with Thiruppavai.

Special thanks to Mr.Parthasarathi for giving me the idea and Sundari for complete support!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 29

Thiruppavai - Day 29

Reciting this verse every morning is considered to be very beneficial to us as this emphasizes our relationship with God!

சிற்றம் சிறுகாலே வந்துன்னைச் சேவித்துன்
போற்றா மரையடியே போற்றும் பொருள்கேளாய்;
பெற்றம்மேய்த் துண்ணும் குலத்தில் பிறந்து நீ
குற்றேவல் எங்களைக் கொள்ளாமல் போகாது;
இற்றைப் பறைகொள்வான் அன்றுகாண் கோவிந்தா!
எற்றைக்கும் ஏழேழ் பிறவிக்கும் உன்தன்னோடு
உற்றோமே ஆவோம்; உனக்கேநாம் ஆட்செய்வோம்;
மற்றைநம் காமங்கள் மாற்றேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்

Oh Lord, we have come this early in the morning to pray at your lotus feet, please listen to us. Lord, having born amidst us, the cowherds, it is incorrect of you not to accept our services. We have come here not only to get your blessings. Not just today nor just in this birth, even in all our future incarnations, we must not think of anyone else and we must always be at your service. Please grant us this boon!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 28

Thiruppavai - Day 28

Here Andal underlines the relationship between the Gopikas and the Lord

கறவைகள் பின்சென்று கானம் சேர்ந்துண்போம்;
அறிவொன்றும் இல்லாத ஆய்க்குலத்து  உன்தன்னைப்
பிறவி பெறுந்தனைப் புண்ணியம் யாம் உடையோம்;
குறைவொன்றும் இல்லாத கோவிந்தா! உன்தன்னோடு
உறவேல் நமக்கிங்  கொழிக்க ஒழியாது!
அறியாத பிள்ளைகளோம் அன்பினால் உன்றன்னைச்
சிறுபேர் அழைத்தனவும் சீறி அருளாதே,
இறைவா, நீ தாராய் பறையேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்

We go behind the grazing cattle to the woods and have our food there. We are really blessed to have you amidst us, unintelligent cowherds. Faultless Govinda, no one can break our relationship with You!  In our ignorance, we may have addressed you with simple names, please do not be angry with us for this, please grant us our wishes


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 27

Thiruppavai - Day 27

Here Andal says how they will complete the nombu

கூடாரை வெல்லும்சீர்க் கோவிந்தா! உன்தன்னை
பாடிப் பறைகொண்டு யாம்பெறும் சம்மானம்;
நாடு புகழும் பரிசினால் நன்றாக,
சூடகமே தோள்வளையே தோடே செவிப்பூவே
பாடகமே என்றனைய பல்கலனும்  யாம் அணிவோம்;
ஆடை உடுப்போம்; அதன்பின்னே பாற்சோறு
மூடநெய் பெய்து முழங்கை வழிவார
கூடியிருந்து குளிர்ந்தேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்

Govinda! who defeats all evil, please bless us. We will adorn ourselves with bangles on our hands, armlets on our upper arms, lovely earrings for our ears. We will also wear new clothes. We will have food with ghee overflowing upto our elbows and celebrate with all! We will sing your praise and complete our nombu!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 26

Thiruppavai - Day 26

Here Andal lists their requirements for Nombu and requests Kannan to grant same

மாலே! மணிவண்ணா! மார்கழிநீ ராடுவான்
மேலையார் செய்வனகள் வேண்டுவன கேட்டியேல்
ஞாலத்தை  எல்லாம் நடுங்க முரல்வன
பாலன்ன வண்ணத்துன் பாஞ்ச சன்னியமே
போல்வன சங்கங்கள் போய்ப்பா டுடையனவே
சாலப் பெரும்பறையே, பல்லாண் டிசைப்பாரே,
கோல விளக்கே, கொடியே, விதானமே,
ஆலின் இலையாய்! அருளேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்

Maale - the one who is very affectionate towards Bhaktas! Manivanna - The one who is blue coloured! If you ask us what we need to follow the nombu - We need conches like your milkwhite Panchajanyam to wake up our friends, Drums (parai) which can make booming noise in your praise, devotees who sing your Pallandu, beautiful lamps which will give light as we walk, flag posts to show that we are observing the nombu and pandal to keep away the mist. O, Lord who reclined on the Aal ilai, please grant us these.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 25

Thiruppavai - Day 25

Andal sings His praise and requests him to grant their needs

ஒருத்தி மகனாய்ப்பிறந்து, ஓரிரவில்
ஒருத்தி மகனாய் ஒளித்து வளர,
தரிக்கிலா னாகித் தான்தீங்கு நினைந்த
கருத்தைப் பிழைப்பித்துக் கஞ்சன் வயிற்றில்
நெருப்பென்ன நின்ற நெடுமாலே! உன்னை
அருத்தித்து வந்தோம்; பறைதருதி யாகில்
திருத்தக்க செல்வமும் சேவகமும் யாம் பாடி
வருத்தமும் தீர்ந்து மகிழ்ந்தேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்

You were born to Devaki and on the same night, you became Yashoda's son and grew up in hiding. Kamsan tried to kill you, O, Lord, you were like a fire in his belly and you defeated him! We have come to you. Pray you grant us all our needs so that we can be happy.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 24

Thiruppavai - Day 24

This stanza is Andal's praise on Kannan requesting Him to grant their wishes

அன்றிவ் வுலகம் அளந்தாய்! அடிபோற்றி,
சென்றங்குத் தென்னிலங்கை செற்றாய்! திறல்போற்றி,
பொன்றச் சகடம் உதைத்தாய்! புகழ்போற்றி,
கன்று குணிலா எறிந்தாய்! கழல்போற்றி,
குன்று குடையா எடுத்தாய்! குணம்போற்றி,
வென்று பகைகெடுக்கும் நின்கையில் வேல்போற்றி,
என்றென் றுன் சேவகமே ஏத்திப்  பறைகொள்வான்
இன்று யாம் வந்தோம், இரங்கேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்.

Praise the feet that measured the worlds! Praise the Lord who killed the demons of Lanka! Praise the one who kicked Sakadasuran and destroyed him! Glory to the Lord who threw the demon in the form of a calf on another demon in the form of a fruit and killed both! Glory to the Lotus feet! Merciful Lord, you are the one who held Govarthana Giri as an umbrella and saved the Gokulam from rains! Praise the spear in your hand which destroys the evil! We are here to sing your glory. Please grant us our wishes

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 23

Thiruppavai - Day 23

Here Andal requests Kannan to get up and sit on his throne and listen to them

மாரி மலைமுழைஞ்சில் மன்னிக் கிடந்துறங்கும்
சீரிய சிங்கம் அறிவுற்றுத் தீவிழித்து,
வேரி மயிர்பொங்க எப்பாடும் பேர்ந்துதறி,
மூரி நிமிர்ந்து முழங்கிப் புறப்பட்டுப்
போதருமா போலே நீ பூவைப்பூவண்ணா! உன்
கோயில்நின் றிங்ஙனே போந்தருளிக் கோப்புடைய
சீரிய சிங்கா சனத்திருந்து யாம்வந்த
காரியம் ஆராய்ந் தருளேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்.

The lion resting in the mountain cave during rains, wakes up roaring with fiery eyes and comes out. You also come out of your resting place like the lion, sit on your throne and listen to our prayers and grant us our wishes, O, Kayampoo coloured Kanna.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 22

Thiruppavai - Day 22

Here Andal requests Kannan to look at them

அங்கண்மா ஞாலத் தரசர் அபிமான
பங்கமாய் வந்துநின் பள்ளிக்கட் டிற்கீழே
சங்கம் இருப்பார்போல் வந்து தலைப்பெய்தோம்;
கிண்கிணி வாய்ச்செய்த தாமரைப்பூப் போலே;
செங்கண் சிறுச்சிறிதே எம்மேல் விழியாவோ?
திங்களும் ஆதித் தியனும் எழுந்தாற்போல்
அங்கணிரண்டுங்கொண் டெங்கள்மேல் நோக்குதியேல்
எங்கள்மேல் சாபம் இழிந்தேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்.

Like the kings and emperors of this world standing humbly near your cot, we have reached you. Why don't you look at us with your lotus blossom eyes? Won't your kind sight fall on us? If you look at us just once with your eyes which are the Sun and the Moon, all our sins will go away.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 21

Thiruppavai - Day 21

Here Andal wakes up Kannan singing his praise

ஏற்ற கலங்கள் எதிர்பொங்கி மீதளிப்ப
மாற்றாதே பால்சொரியும் வள்ளற் பெரும்பசுக்கள்
ஆற்றப் படைத்தான் மகனே! அறிவுறாய்!
ஊற்றம் உடையாய்! பெரியாய்! உலகினில்
தோற்றமாய் நின்ற சுடரே! துயிலெழாய்;
மாற்றார் உனக்கு வலிதொலைந்துன் வாசற்கண்
ஆற்றாது வந்துன் அடிபணியு மாபோலே,
போற்றியும் வந்தோம் புகழ்ந்தேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்.

You are the son of Nandagopan who has herds of cattle providing milk which overflows the vessels held to milk them! Please wake up! The strongest! The Supreme! Our brightest light! wake up! Like the enemies who fall at your feet, defeated by you, we have come to your feet singing your praise!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 20

Thiruppavai - Day 20

Here Andal continues to wake up Kannan and Nappinnai

முப்பத்து மூவர் அமரர்க்கு முன்சென்று
கப்பம் தவிர்க்கும் கலியே! துயிலெழாய்;
செப்பம் உடையாய்! திறலுடையாய்! செற்றார்க்கு
வெப்பம் கொடுக்கும் விமலா! துயிலெழாய்;
செப்பன்ன மென்முலை செவ்வாய் சிறுமருங்குல்
நப்பின்னை நங்காய்! திருவே! துயிலெழாய்;
உக்கமும் தட்டொளியும்  தந்துன் மணாளனை
இப்போதே எம்மைநீ ராட்டேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்

The saviour of Muppathu Mukkodi Devas, please wake up! The one who has the power and strength to punish the evil and protect the bhaktas, wake up! Beautiful Nappinnai, wake up! Please provide us with the hand fans and mirrors needed for the Nombu and allow us to have the auspicious bath along with your husband!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 19

Thiruppavai - Day 19

Here Andal requests Kannan and Nappinnai to wake up
குத்து விளக்கெரியக் கோட்டுக்கால் கட்டில்மேல்
மெத்தென்ற பஞ்ச சயனத்தின் மேலேறிக்
கொத்தலர் பூங்குழல் நப்பின்னை கொங்கைமேல்
வைத்துக் கிடந்த மலர்மார்பா! வாய் திறவாய்;
மைத்தடங் கண்ணினாய்! நீ உன் மணாளனை
எத்தனை போதும் துயிலெழ ஒட்டாய்காண்,
எத்தனை யேலும் பிரிவாற்ற கில்லாயால்,
தத்துவம் அன்று தகவேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்.

Broad shouldered Kanna, you are lying on the cot with legs made of elephant tusks surrounded by soft lamps, fast asleep with your head on Nappinnai's breasts. Why dont you open your mouth?
Beautiful, kajal eyed Nappinnai! You will not let your husband wake up whatever the time maybe. You do not want to be separated from him even for a minute. This does not show your righteousness.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 18

Thiruppavai - Day 18

Here Andal has reached Kannan's chamber and requests his consort Nappinnai to open the door
உந்து  மதகளிற்றன் ஓடாத தோள்வலியன்,
நந்தகோ பாலன் மருமகளே! நப்பின்னாய்!
கந்தம் கமழும் குழலீ! கடைதிறவாய்;
வந்தெங்கும் கோழி அழைத்தனகாண்; மாதவிப்
பந்தல்மேல் பல்கால் குயிலினங்கள் கூவினகாண்;
பந்தார் விரலி! உன் மைத்துனன் பேர்பாட,
செந்தா மரைக்கையால் சீரார் வளையொலிப்ப
வந்து திறவாய், மகிழ்ந்தேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்.

Nappinnai, daughter-in-law of the strong elephant like Nandagopan who never retreats against enemies but fights with them valiantly, Fragrant haired Nappinnai, open the door; the rooster is croaking, the cuckoos on the jasmine creepers are chirping. We are singing the praise of your husband, our Lord Kannan. Please open the door with your bangle-clad lotus like hands!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Thiruppavai - Day 17

Thiruppavai - Day 17

Here Andal wakes up everybody in the palace of Nandagopan

அம்பரமே, தண்ணீரே, சோறே அறஞ்செய்யும்
எம்பெருமான்! நந்தகோ பாலா! எழுந்திராய்;
கொம்பனார்க்  கெல்லாம் கொழுந்தே! குலவிளக்கே!
எம்பெரு மாட்டி! யசோதாய்! அறிவுறாய்;
அம்பரம் ஊடறுத் தோங்கி உலகளந்த
உம்பர்கோ மானே! உறங்கா தெழுந்திராய்;
செம்பொற் கழலடிச் செல்வா! பலதேவா!
உம்பியும் நீயும் உறங்கேலோ ரெம்பாவாய்.

Nandagopa, our king who makes us happy by providing us with food and clothes, wake up!
The one who takes care of your womenfolk, our leading light, Yashoda, wake up
Devathi deva who measured heaven and earth with his feet, please wake up
Bala deva (Balaramar) wearing golden anklets, you and your younger brother, please arise!