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Given below is the list of important Festivals for Mandayam Iyengars. They are listed in the order of the Chandramana/Souramana Calendar.


Calendar of festivals in VIRODHI Samvatsaram
             Year 2009 - 2010



1 Lunar New Year Day (Ugadi) Virodhi Samvatsara 27 March 2009
2 Sri Ramanavami 4 April 2009
3 Solar New Year Day (Chitravisu) 14 April 2009
4 Sri Ramanujacharya Thirunakshatram 29 April 2009
5 Adi Fridays 17, 24, 31 July,
7,14 August 2009
6 Thiruvadipooram 25 July 2009
7 Upakarma – Rig Vedic 5 August 2009
8 Upakarma – Yajur Vedic 5 August 2009
9 Gayathri Japa 6 August 2009
10 Upakarma - Sama Vedic and Vinayaka Chaturthi 23 August 2009
11 Sri Krishna Jayanthi 12 September 2009
12 Mahalaya Amavasya 18 September 2009
13 Navarathri begins 19 September 2009
14 Maha Navami- Saraswathi, Ayudha, Hayagriva Puja 27 September 2009
15 Vijaya Dashami 28 September 2009
16 Naraka Chaturdashi / Deepavali 17 October 2009
17 Tula Sankramanam 18 October 2009
18 Bali Padyami,  Deepavali 19 October 2009
19 Uthana Dwadashi (Tulasi Pooja) 30 October 2009
20 Vishnu Deepam - Yanai Pandigai 2  December 2009
21 Dhanurmasa Begins (Margazhi) 16 December 2009
22 Vaikunta Ekadashi 28 December 2009
23 Makara Sankranthi - Pongal 15 January 2010
24 Adai / Charadu Pandihai 14 March 2010
25 Lunar New Year Day (Ugadi) - Vikruti Samvatsaram 16 March 2010

16 March 2010- Lunar New Year Day (Ugadi) Vikruti Samvatsaram.


Thanks for the hardwork by M.T. Raghunath who has created the full Hindu Panchangam on Google Calendar for all to use.  Thanks to M.A. Singlachar and M. Rangarajan for collating the information. Click Here to enter.


Given below are details of some of the important Festivals of Mandayam Iyengars. They are listed in the order of the Gregorian Calendar, commencing from January each year.

Sankranthi: Humans tried to fix time according to celestial movements of the Sun and the Moon. In India, one group follows the Lunar movements and another the Solar Movements, for calculating months and years. Taking Earth as reference, the movement of the Sun from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer, due to tilting of earth is a well known phenomenon. The Sun changes his movement from going towards South to North, around 14 of January, each year. This day is identified as Makara Sankranthi (Start of month of Cancer), and is celebrated as a major Hindu Festival. It is known by various names in different regions in India, such as, "Uttarayana Punyakala", "Sankranthi", "Makara Sankraman" and "Pongal". This also coincides with the Harvesting Season in India.

Mandyam Iyengars celebrate the Sankranthi by showering children with a mix of pulses (roasted mix of Sesame Seeds, Peanuts, Bengal Gram, dried Coconut, Cashew nuts and small cut pieces of Jaggery), fruits and vegetables (Elachi Fruit, Sugarcane pieces and Avarakai) and Gold, Silver or Copper coins. This is to signify health and prosperity for the children.

Traditionally families prepare and distribute artistic sugar moulds (Sakkarai Acchu), silver cups, fruits, sesame mix, Sugarcane and coins in decorative packages on the first Sankranthi for every new born child. In addition, the revered cow is colorfully decorated and treated with a feast of food, fruits and vegetables.

Mandyam Iyengars prepare a feast with Pongal, Sweet Pongal, and a mix made primarily of roasted sesame seeds in celebration.

Significances:

    Distributing sesame seeds is an astrologically and traditionally accepted form of ensuring purity in life. To make sesame seeds acceptable and enjoyable it is mixed with the freshly harvested and roasted pulses and "jaggery" which creates a high protein, nutritious and iron rich mixture.
    Elchi fruit (Badari fruit) stands for Wisdom. It is commonly believed that the famous and intelligent, St. Vyasa, who was responsible for the sorting of the Four Great Vedas, was born amidst the trees bearing this fruit.

Kargaladai festival:The beginning of the month of Meena (Pisces) or Panguni, is celebrated as Adai festival, by Mandyam Iyengars.

Women tie new Charadu, a turmeric smeared, hand spun, tri-stranded cotton thread, after performing obsequies to the God.

Mandyams prepare a feast with Adai (Pancake sandwich), which consists of two Dosas, with a sweet filling (Pooranam) made of cooked Chick peas and Jaggery.


Chitra Visu: The solar New Year’s Day, which is the first day of the month of Mesha (Aries) or Chittirai, is celebrated as Chitravisu, Baisaki or Bisu in the regions of India. This heralds the arrival of spring.

Mandyam Iyengars celebrate it with new clothes and feasting. Early in the morning subsequent to a purifying bath, a mixture of raw mango and jaggery is savored. This is to signify that the life is full of sweet and sour events, which are to be faced in a balanced manner in the coming year.

Ugadi: In view of their living in Karnataka, Mandyam Iyengars also celebrate the Lunar New year day, Ugadi ( also called Gudi Pudva), with the same vigor. On this day they eat Neem leaves with Jaggery. This signifies Bitter and sweet of life.

Significance of Neem: Freshly sprung Neem leaves have proven antibacterial properties and hence consuming them is believed to protect against possible infections. It is consumed with Jaggery reciting the sloka -

" Shataayur Vajra Dehaya, Sarva Sampath Karayacha,

Sarva Arishta Vinaashaya, Nimbhakam Dala Bhakshanam".

Meaning I eat these Neem leaves, to live a hundred years with strong body, to obtain all prosperity and to erase all evils.

Sri Ramanavami: On the Navami day, the ninth day after Ugadi, Sri Ramanavami is celebrated according to followers of Lunar calendar. Mandyam Iyengars celebrate it according Solar Calendar, on Punarvasu Nakshatram in Chittirai month. The usual practice, on this day is to make Panakam comprising of fruits(Fruit Juice), salted butter milk, and Kosambari with Cucumber, chickpeas and greengram (Salad). The reason may be that the festival comes in the summer season in India and it will good to consume this type of dishes.

The month of Adi, usually starts around the 15th of July. This month heralds the beginning of a series of festivals for Iyengars. The saying goes "Adi Alaithu Vanthathu", meaning Adi heralds festivals.

Adi Fridays: On all the Fridays in this month, women light lamps made of Raw rice flour with wick dipped in Ghee, to Goddess Lakshmi. They also prepare Laddus (balls with raw rice flour, sugar powder, grated coconut, cardamom, saffron and Ghee fried cashew nuts and raisins) They then distribute it to other women with five different types of fruits like banana, apple, Guava, orange, pears with betel leaf and nut.

Thiruvadippooram: Sri Andal, daughter of Peri Alvar, had devoted herself to Lord Ranganatha and is considered to be Goddess Mahalakshmi. She was born in Pubba (Pooram) nakshatram in Adi month and hence on that day we celebrate Thiruvadippooram. On that day women recite Sri Andal’s composition "Naychiyar Thirumoli". On this occasion Maapanyaram or Puttu ( a sweet dish made of rice floor fried and steamed.)

Upakarama: On the full moon day of Shravana month, the men folk celebrate Upakarma. This is also called "Avani Avittam" in Tamilnadu. The occasion is to change the thread (Yagnopavitham, Poonalu), followed by Tharpanam. This is followed by Yajur and Rig Vedis. The Samavedis do it during Ganesha Chaturthi day. Next day is "Gayathri Day". Men chant 108 or 1008 times Gayathri Mantra on this day.

Sri Krishna Jayanthi: The birth day of Sri Krishna, in Avani month, on Rohini Nakshatram, is celebrated in a grand manner by Mandyam Iyengars, for three days. Usually the deity is arranged in an artistic manner with fruits bedecked top (called Phala Vastram), flowers and greenery. The variety of dishes made for the occasion is enormous. Usually it will number between twenty to twenty-five. People from other communities will be waiting for this festival by Iyengars, to partake dishes like Chokkali, Muchadi, Thengolalu, Ompudi, Kharasevai, avalakki, Kodubalai, different varieties of Sweet Laddus of Aral, Aval, fried cxhickpeas, roasted groundnut, Pullagai, roasted cashewnutetc, cubes like Mysorepak, Copra, peanut bar, cashew bar etc., others like Amavadai, Appam, etc.

Iyengars will fast from morning to night, on that day till the birth of Krishna, in their house. This is heralded by chanting of mantras and prayer. Immediately after Krishna’s birth the family gets to eat things which Krishna liked most like butter with sugar, Aval with jaggery, Aval with curd, Dry Ginger with Jaggery, cut banana with jaggery, etc.

Next day is the Cradling day. Relatives are invited to witness the Cradling of Krishna in a silver cradle, which is performed as they do for any new born baby. This also gives occasion for others to see the exhibited talent of the household.

 

 Mahalaya Paksha (Fortnight): The fifteen days after the Full moon day in Bhadrapada month of the Lunar year, (Krishna Paksha), is known as Mahalaya Paksha. It usually falls in September-October each year. A Ceremony (Shradha) is performed during these days, either on the Thithi day (day corresponding to the death) of the Parents or on the Mahalaya Amavasya day (New Moon Day),. This practice is prevalent among all Hindus, all over India, irrespective of their sub-castes. It is generally believed, that performing Shradha during this period, can even substitute the annual Shradha performance, on the exact death day. During this fortnight no auspicious function should be performed.

Mandyam Iyengars perform this on the particular Thithi day of the death of their parent, with usual Tharpanam. A Brahmin Bachelor boy ( Brahmachari) is invited to partake the food and is honored with Sambhavanai. The Paksha ends on the day of Mahalaya Amavasya (New moon day at the end of this fortnight)

Navaratri (Dasara): Navaratri is known by different names such as Dasara, Durga Pooja, and is celebrated in most parts of India in a very grand manner. This starts on Ashwayuja Shudha Padyami and ends on the tenth day known as Vijayadasami. The Vijayadasami day Dasara Procession and connected activities in Mysore has been World famous during the rule of Royal Family. Even now the tradition is continued as Nada Habba (Festival of the State).

Mandyam Iyengars celebrate it by arranging dolls, idols of deities, made terracotta, porcelain, wood, bronze, ivory, Sandalwood, soapstone, marble in a grand manner in nine steps. Because of this it is also known as Kolu Pandigai ( Festival of dolls). It is an opportunity for ladies to exhibit their artistic talent by arranging these in exclusive designs. It is normal practice to invite young girls to each others house to witness the Arathi and also partake different variety of sweet all the nine days. It is a sight to see the young girls in colorful dresses. All small children are given an oil bath in the morning, for the occasion.

It is normal practice to read a portion of the Ramayana Epic on each of these days , culminating with Sri Rama Pattabhishekam ( throning of Sri Rama) on the Vijayadashami day.

Saraswathi Pooja and Ayudha Pooja is performed on the ninth day (Mahanavami). Every sort of automobiles, instrument, implement, tool is cleaned and decorated for the Pooja. Even factories and office perform the Ayudha Pooja with full vigor and devotion. It is the one day, on which we say thanks, to the implements we use everyday for our livelihood or comfort. Saraswathy is represented in the Pooja by keeping all the musical instruments, books and educational gadgets, apart from the photo and idols.

Vijayadashami: The last day of Dasara, known as Vijayadashami, is a very special day and is performed with different meanings. It is considered to be the day of Rama’s victory over Ravana and is considered to be the day to perform Sri Rama Pattabhisheka. It is the day on which Arjuna goes to Shami tree to collect his armory to go for the famous Mahabharat War, which Pandavas win eventually. Hence the name Vijayadashami. The King in Mysore used to perform Pooja to Shami Tree and go in a procession in a Golden Howdah on an elephant, with his army, cavalry in the front and ministers following him. Presently, Goddess Chamundi is taken in the Howdah in the absence of the King.

The doll arrangement in the houses is removed the next day.

 

Importance of Gayathrimantra: An article by Malathi Singlachar.

"Gayathrimantra", which has reached us through the ages, from the Great Sages, is a boon to Hindu Culture. Shastras state that daily recitation of the mantra, eradicates our sins.

Following is the mantra:

Aum (om) Bhoorbhuvaswaha Thatsat Viturvarenyam

Bhargodevasya Dheemahi Dheeyoyonaha Prachodayaat

Meaning: "Aum Bhoorbhuvaswaha": It is addressed to God Vishnu, an eternally happy Man of great character, creator of the Universe, husband of Lakshmi.

"Tatsat------Prachodayaat" : These 24 letters in Sanskrit, are the most important utterances of the mantra. I pray to Him, the Creator of the universe, who orchestrates our life, who controls our every activity, who is liked by everyone, who has a aura of knowledge, who has a Poorna Roopa, who gives Eternal Peace(Moksha).

The twenty four letters also represents twenty four important parts of the human body. They are toes, feet, ankle, knee, urinary tract, sex hormones, hip, naval, stomach, breast, lungs, heart, veins, neck, face, jaws, nose, eyes, arms, forehead, ear, scalp, nerves, brain,

Gayathri is a goddess, with five heads, ten arms. The heads represent the Five main needs of life (Pancha Bhoota), such as Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Cosmos (Bhoomi, Jala, Agni, Vaayu, Akasha). The ten arms are meant to control the Cosmic rays emanating in the universe, from all the ten directions, to protect the health of the living beings. There is also an effect of the nine planets on us. The twenty four letters in the mantra represent the five heads, ten arms and nine planets.

One is supposed to be living in comfort, only when he is physically and mentally healthy. Three essential things for life are the "Thri Dhatu", Vayu, Agni and Jala (Air, Energy, Water), and is represented by the three letters Ga Ya Thri. Hence praying her regularly gives us a strong, healthy body.

It is usual practice to do Panayaama (breath control), before uttering Gayathrimantra. Repeated recitation of the Mantra, with proper timing, is a form of meditation which ensures peace of mind, exercises the nerves and encourages blood circulation.



Bibliography: Gayathri Mantrada Mahatva by H.K.S.Rao.

 

Thula or Alpishi Sankramanam: The birth of Kaveri river coincides with the commencement of the month of Alpisi or Thula Sankramanam. The river has its birth place in Bagamandala, in Coorg District, Karnataka, India, and this place known as Thalakaveri. It is believed that a dip in the river, on this auspicious day absolves you of all sins. Mandyam Iyengars celebrate it with devotion and reverence to Kaveri. After a dip, a Pooja is performed to the river and ladies exchange "Phala,Thamboola". Usually five varieties of fruits, coconut, flowers, betel leaf and nut are given with cash(Dakshine). It is also customary for parents or brothers, to give cash for the festival, for their daughters or sisters, to meet the expenses for the Pooja. Those who are unable to go to the river, can do Pooja at home, with a Silver Pot filled with water.

 

Deepavali: Festival of Lights: Based on a talk by Rama Srinivasan:

Deepavali is celebrated for three days, as Naraka Chaturdasi, Lakshmi Pooja and Bali Padyami. It is said that Ugadi is feast for food and Deepavali is feast for bath.(Undu Ugadi, Mindu Deepavali). Naraka Chaturdasi is the day on which Krishna killed the demon Narakasura and gave him Moksha. At the time of death he desired that the people should celebrate it as a festival, in view of his past misdeeds. It has now remained as practice to have an oil bath before sunrise on the Naraka Chaturdasi day, amidst fire works. The previous day (Thrayodasi) is known as Neeru Thumbuva Habba, when all the water carrying and boiling vessels are cleaned well in the evening, decorated with mango leaves, flowers, Shanka, Chakra, and Namam. Presently water geysers or boilers are given the pride of place. The entire Pooja is in the name of God Krishna, who saved the world from Narakasura. It is usual practice to make Kolakatte or Kadubu for Pooja. After the early morning bath, everyone wears new dresses. The whole day is celebrated with grandeur, fireworks and meeting relatives. In the night Oil lamps are lit inside and outside the houses, to denote arrival of brightness after death of Narakasura. It will be a sight and Heaven on Earth, when lamps are glowing on both sides of the street.

On the next day which is New moon day(Amavasya), business community performs Lakshmi Pooja in the establishments, and open new account books for the New Year. They distribute Sweet packets to associates, friends and relatives and celebrate with fireworks.

Mahabali, who was pressed down to Pathala Loka, in Vamana Avatara, comes to visit his citizens on this earth, once every year, on Balipadyami day, which is the third day of Deepavali. Citizens have made it a practice to Welcome Bali in grandeur with sweets, lamps, new dresses, and fire works, as Bali gave away everything to god as gift. It is also customary to recite Vishnu Sahasranamam in the evening after lighting lamps all over. Mandyam Iyengars of Bharadwaja Gothram celebrates only Balipadyami.

You would have observed that men and women are blessed before oil bath, by application of a few drops of oil, by elder women in the family. The person is made to sit on a platform, which is decorated with Rangoli designs, lamps on both sides. The person is applied Kumkum on the forehead, handed betel leaf, nut, and arathi is done. The elderly lady will take the oil cup and dip a flower bud in it and apply drops of it on the inside of the left arm, chanting names of men or women of great achievement.

 

Enney Shatsram:(Pooja for Oil Bath):

For men the names of Seven achievers to be recited are as follows :

" Ashwthamo, Balir Vyaso, Hanumanshcha, Vibhishanaha,

Krupaha Parashuramashcha,Saptaite Chirangivinaha"

For women the five names are as follows:

"Ahalya, Draupati, Seetha, Tara, Mandodari Tatha,

Panchakanyaha Smarennithyam Mahapataka Nashanam"

Reciting as above, the oil from drops set on the arm, is taken in the fingers by the lady and applied to the head, cheeks, shoulders, waist, knees and feet, repeated three times. It is Ashirvadam for the youngster to live long and prosperously.


By Malathi Singlachar

Uthana Dwadasi (Thulasi festival): This festival falls on Karthika Shudha Dwadasi, in the month of Alpisi. The Thulasi plant is considered to be a very sacred plant and the leaves of Thulasi is used as garlands in Vishnu temples. It is believed that God can be propitiated by offering a single Thulasi leaf, which is available even to the poorest among the poor. There is a well known Mythological story "Sri Krishna Thulabharam", of how a single leaf of Thulasi tilted the balance, when the entire wealth of Sathyabhama, could not out weigh Sri Krishna. Thulasi leaves have many medicinal properties and is also used as a herb in cooking, in many parts of the world.

The Pooja to Thulasi plant in the Brindavan, is usually performed in the evening on that day, in presence of invited ladies. A twig of the Gooseberry tree (Nellikkai or Amla) with a few fruits, which represents Sri Krishna, is set by the side of the Thulasi plant, in the well decorated Brindavan. This is considered to be the wedding of Krishna and Thulasi. Lamps made out of five gooseberries are lit in front of the Brindavan and oil lamps are lit all over the house, and Arathi is performed to Thulasi. The Pooja ends with distribution of betel leaf, nut and fruits to the invitees.


Yanai Pandigai (Vishnu Deepam): This festival is on the Poornima day (Full moon day) of Karthihai month. The practice is to hand make a couple of small elephants out of wet clay, decorate it suitably, including Namam, and arrange it for Pooja. It gives an opportunity to exhibit all the other collection of elephants made of silver, bronze, wood, marble, etc. Food for the elephant will consist of Dosa, appam, green grass, banana, raw rice, piece each of coconut, jaggery, sugar cane, and a coin. Lamps in different shapes are lit around the elephants and all over the house. Women (in traditional Madishar sari) and girls in the family, go around this, three times, spilling drops of coconut water and milk and ending with Arathi. The arrangement will be kept for three days and ladies are invited to attend Pooja on these days. Ladies will fast in the evening. Mandyam Iyengars consider this festival as very important and it is performed in a grand manner. Saying goes that "Karthihaiyo Kalyanamo".

In the first year after wedding, this festival is performed with more zest with Arathi to the new bride, in the in-laws’ house.

On the last day the Elephants are immersed, in a river or tank, with plain curd rice plastered to its tummy. It is customary to prepare four varieties of rice preparations like Kadambam, Ogare, Sakkare Pongal or Ksheerannam, Dadhiyodhanam(Curd rice) on this day. With these, people go to the water front in groups and enjoy it as a picnic, after the immersion. After the immersion and extinguishing of the lamps, the days following are considered inauspicious, till arrival of Thai masam(Sankranthi).

The festival is also known as "Karthikai Deepam", in some parts. The following are the Slokas recited at the time of Deepa Pooja, for future prosperity.

 

1. Deepaha Paapaharo Nrinaam, Deepa Aapannivarakaha,

Deepo Vidatthe Sukrutam, Deepaha Sampath Pradaayakaha,

Devanaam Thushtino Deepaha, Pitruunam Preethi Daayakaha,

Thasmaath Deepo Gruhe Poojitaha, Gruhasthai Shubhameepsubhihi.

 

2. Deepaan Aaropayed Vishnoho Mandiredhyanthare Bahihi,

Sarvapaapa Vishuddhatma Vishnuloko Mahiyathe.

 

3. Deepam Jyothi Parabramha, Deepam Sarva Thamopaham,

Deepena Saadhyathe Sarvam, Sandhya Deepam Namosthuthe.

 

Significance: It is believed that Gandhari, mother of Kauravas, performed Pooja to the royal and solid gold elephants, to exhibit her power and riches, ignoring to involve Kunti, mother of Pandavas, for the ceremony. Arjuna observing his depressed mother, brought Iravatha (Devendra’s royal white elephant) to earth, through a ladder made with his arrows. Kunti performed Pooja happily. As a mark of this we perform Pooja to a clay elephant.


Margazhi Thingal (Dhanus month): Based on a recording by Sri Sriram Bharathi.

In Bhagavadgeetha, Sri Krishna says, "I am Kalpavriksha in trees, I am Samaveda in Vedas, Margazhi in months". (Masanam Margashirsho-aham) We complete a day in 24 hours, when earth revolves around its own axis, whereas, it is one day for the Devas, when Earth goes around the Sun in twelve months. In the 24 hours of the day early morning 4to6hours, is called Bramha Muhurtham. At this time when the Sun is rising in the horizon, there is no angular movement and there is stillness. At this hour our mind will be in Satvagunam(Calmness) and it is in Rajoguna in the day and Tamoguna in the night. The brain will be sharp and there will be full clarity of perception. Similarly, for the Sun, who transits from Dakshinayana when he is in Rajoguna, to Utarayana in Tamoguna, the month of Margazhi, is the transit month and there is stillness. This is the Bramha Muhurta for the Devas. Therefore early morning hours of 4to6AM, in Margazhi, is Bramha Muhurtam in Bramha Muhurtam. This time is therefore preferred to wake Him up and pray. For this purpose Sri Andal has composed Thiruppavai, at the rate of one sloka for everyday of the month.

Srivaishnavaites consider Margazhi as a very sacred month and go to Vishnu temple everyday, in Brahma Muhurtham, for reciting Thiruppavai (Devotional songs by Sri Andal) and offer prayers.

It is customatry to make Pongal, every day of the month. On the eighteenth slokam day of Thiruppavai, starting with words "Undu Madagalitran", we make Blackgram Dhall Rice (Ulundu Ohare). On the twenty-seventh slokam day "Koodaarai Vellum", we make Sakkarai Pongal. Next day when "Karavaigal" slokam is recited, Curd Rice (Dhadhiyodhanam) is made.

Following Slokam by Periyalwar, is usually recited at the time of Mangalarathi to God.

 

Pallaandu Pallaandu Pallaayirathaandu

Palakoti Noorayiram

Mallaanda Thinthol Manivanna

Un Shevvadi Shevvi Thirukkaappu.

 

Adiyo Modum Ninnodum Pirivinni Aayiram Pallaandu

Vadivaay Nin Valamaarbinil Vaazhinna Mangaiyum Pallaandu

Vadivaarshodi Valathuraiyum Shudaraazhiyum Pallaandu

Padaipore Pukkumuzhalangum Appaanchajanniyamum Pallaande.