The significance of ‘Thai Pusam’ | Daily News

The significance of ‘Thai Pusam’

Thai is regarded as one of the most important months in the Tamil Hindu calendar. On the first day of the Tamil month Thai, Tamil Hindus celebrate the Thai Pongal. It is widely celebrated in India and all over the world by Tamil Hindus. In other words, the Thai Pongal festival takes place on the first day of the Tamil month of Thai.

The festival is known as Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka. It takes place on the first day of the Hindu Tamil calendar Thai. Even though it is generally considered a Hindu Tamil festival, especially in Sri Lanka, it is considered as Ullavar Thirunal. Ullavar means farmer and Thirunal means auspicious day.

The Thai month in the Tamil calendar is preceded by the month of Markali which is associated with several Hindu events. Markali is normally considered as a dull and rainy month. It is followed by the bright and pleasant month of Thai. The farmers make two varieties of Pongal rice. One is the non-sweet Pongal prepared with cow milk and coconut milk and the other variety is the sweet Pongal rice made out with fresh jaggery, coconut milk, cow milk, ghee, honey and numerous other ingredients for the flavour and is offered to Sun God as a thanksgiving offering.

This year the particular festival took place on the 14th of January. Normally Thai Pongal falls on the 14th of January, except in leap years. In leap years it falls on the 15th of January. A year consists of 365.24 days, yet we normally take 365 days for a year. The extra .24 days in each year is added as one more day for February every four years. So in a leap year, the month of February has 29 days. Thai Pusam is another auspicious day that follows the Thai Pongal. It is a festival dedicated to Lord Muruga.

The Hindu calendar is mainly based on the Hindu constellation or Natchathra or star named Pusam. It falls on the full moon day of the Tamil calendar. This year Thai Pusam falls on 18th January 2022. It is widely celebrated in India and by the Indian migrant population in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, Mauritius and South Africa. It is also celebrated in South Asian states like Indonesia and Thailand. At present, it is celebrated by the migrant Tamil Hindu population of Europe, Canada and America.

It is believed that on this auspicious day Goddess Parvathi gave the spear which is commonly known as “Vel” to Lord Muruga. It was presented by Goddess Parvathi to Lord Muruga to destroy the demon (Asura) family of Surapadman who created untold misery to Devaloka and Pooloka (world).

Origin of Kaavadi

According to Hindu history, Idumban was one of the survivors of the Asura (demon) family in the war between Lord Muruga and the Demons. However, Idumban repented over it and later became an ardent devotee of Lord Muruga. According to Hindu Puranic history, one day there was a dispute between Lord Muruga and his brother Lord Ganesha over a mango fruit. To win a mango fruit between the two brothers was arranged by their father Lord Siva. Philosophically, the divine mango was the fruit of knowledge.

Lord Ganesha won the competition and Lord Muruga decided to leave his abode despite several appeals made by his father Lord Siva. Lord Muruga left his abode and reached a place called Thiru Ayanankadu which is located near the Adiyaram. It was at the foot of Shiyagiri hills. Lord Siva provided the Palani or the fruit resembling wisdom or knowledge. Ultimately, Lord Muruga settled at the top of the mountain Palani.

A devotee of Lord Muruga called Demon Idumpan carried the Shivagiri and Shakrigiri on his shoulders as a form of Kaavadi and walked a long distance. At one stage he felt tired and kept the Kaavadi down and rested. After that Idumpan wanted to continue his journey, but he could not lift it. Lord Muruga did not allow him to carry his heavy Kaavadi. He wanted to test his real devotion towards him. At a distance, Idumpan saw a young boy wearing yellow robes and sought his assistance to lift the Kaavadi. But the young boy (Lord Muruga) flatly refused to do so. At last, Idumpan lost his temper and attacked the young boy. Then Lord Muruga disclosed his identity by removing his yellow robes. He appeared before Idumpan and showed his divine appearance.

From that day onwards Lord Muruga appointed him as his guard. He further declared that those who carry the Kaavadi for his festivals, especially on Thai Pusam day which symbolizes the two hills (Shivagiri and Shakrigiri) for his worship, would always be blessed and granted relief from all their sins and problems.

Idumpan is the guardian deity of Murugan temples all over the world. On Thai Pusam day Kaavadi plays an important role. The people prepare Kaavadi Attam about 48 to 50 days before the festival. Normally the Thai Pusam festival is celebrated for two days.

Many varieties of Kaavadis are used for Attam. It is a street procession. There are different types of Kaavadi such as Pal (milk) Kaavadi, Puspa (flowers Kaavadi), Paneer Kaavadi (particular scented water), Paravai Kaavadi (bird Kaavadi), Anna Kaavadi (swan Kaavadi), Unjal Kaavadi (swing Kaavadi), Alavu Kaavadi, Macha Kaavadi (fish Kaavadi), Thol Kaavadi and Sarpa Kaavadi (snake Kaavadi). Originally only particular music called Kaavadi Sinthu was used for Kaavadi. It is closely associated with the worship of Lord Muruga.

In the 19th century, Annamalai Reddiar compiled a series of songs on Lord Muruga, the presiding deity of Kalkhu Malai temple, in Tamil Nadu. His compositions are specially used for Kaavadi Attam as background music. And today Kaavadi is used as background music for devotional songs and devotional Tamil films.

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