Introduction to Margazhi
Margazhi Trivia Series: Author Radhika Radhakrishnana
Photo by Swathi Lakshmanan
Thoughts flush through the mind like a waterfall!
Its all in the one word “Margazhi”
Lots of activities …., young and old alike, there is something for everyone, devotional, art, music, dance, food you name anything it’s there . That is the speciality of the Margazhi month.
Let's unearth and find out what this speciallity is all about.
Margazhi is the 9th month in the tamil calendar. Its also called as ‘Margsirsham” in Sanskrit, Marga meaning the Path shirsha meaning heading towards, the spiritual goal of attaining moksha. In short it is a month suitable for reaching ones spiritual goal of Moksha. The cold weather, by Tamilnadu standard, helps in the spiritual pursuits. That’s the reason why Lord Krishna says in Gita he is the month Margasirsham itself. “masanam margasirsha ha”
The whole year is divided into two parts based on the movement of Sun from south to north and north to south hemispheres. The movement from north to south called the Dakshinayanam starts from the month Aashada or Aadi,which is known as Sadhanapada. The movement from south to north called the utharayanam is known as kaivalya pada. It is said that one year I,e 12 months make a day of the devas. Given that, the daytime starts from Ashada and ends with Margazhi. The time of the day when the sun sets is considered auspicious as sayam Sandhya and the early morning time as the brahma muhurtham . Margazhi being the last month of Dakshinayanam it is the sayam Sandhya of the Sadanapada and hence considered to be most suitable for spiritual sadana.
People wake up early in the morning,take bath and engage in spiritual activities, take up vrathas, japas, dhanams, strict dietary restrictions and life style. This makes the body and mind capable of rigorous practices and sadhana. The favourable climate strengthens one's focus.
The first thing that comes to mind when you say Margazhi is Andal and Tiruppavai. Andal, a small girl of 8 years was brought up by Vishuchithar aka Periyalvar by telling the stories from mythology. The stories of Gopis , Radha occupied her mind fully that she wanted to grow up like the gopis and wanted to marry Krishna. The Gopis of Brindhavan used to do Kathyayani vritham during the month of margazhi. They took bath in the river Yamuna early in the morning, made a figurine of Devi Kathyayani with river sand and did puja praying for a husband of their choice, who was none other than Krishna. This prompted Andal to take up Kathyayani vritham during Margazhi along with other girls of Sri Villiputhur where she was living. She used to get up early in the morning , go to her friends' houses, waking them up to go with her to do this vritham . She sings a song everyday filled with the greatness of Krishna, the benefits and bounties one would get as a blessing from him. This set of songs goes by the name Tiruppavai. Although she was a small girl of 8 years her songs are abound with Jnanam, Vairagyam,,bhakthi and basics of life which is generally not expected of a girl of that age.
The first song of Tiruppavai “margazhi thingal” gives a sort of introduction to what is it all about.
Andal is also called as “Choodi kodutha sudar kodi’ . Andal learnt to make garlands with colourful flowers for Rangan (Vishnu) , the deity in the local temple where Periyalwar used to do puja. Her love for Rangan, who is none other than Krishna, is so much that she wanted to make a most beautiful garland for him. She used to wear the garland herself first to see if it was perfect before giving it to God. It is a custom that flowers or garland worn by somebody should not be offered to God. Oneday while garlanding the God Periyalwar found a piece of hair in the garland and threw away the garland. On coming to know about her practice of wearing the garland he reprimanded her for her action and he stopped her from making garlands .Next day when he garlanded the one made by him to the God the Garland went down and he couldn’t put it on the God. Then he heard a voice saying he wanted the garlands made and worn by Andal only. That is why she is called”chhodi kodutha sudar kodi '' meaning the brilliant one who wore and gave the malai to the god.
Maybe that is why Tiruppavai itself is also known as Malai, a garland. Sanga Tamil Malai. Keeping up that tradition even today there is a practice to send a garland from SRivilliputhur Andal’s temple to Tirupathi Balaji on the first day of Margazhi along with a parrot which used to be her pet . Rest of the 29 days of Margazhi Balaji will be having a silver Parrot on his shoulder in memory of her love.
The first five songs, PASURAMS as they are called, narrates what is the nonbu or vratham is all about “ nam pavaikku saiyum kriyaigal”, parkadalil paiya thuyindra parman adi paadi, doing puja to the pavai kathyayani and singing the praise of Krishna,
how is it done’ narkkale neeradi’ taking bath early morning, following life of austerity by not having rich food with ghee ,butter, milk, will not waste time in dressing up with bangles , flowers etc,”nai unnom pal unnom” “narkalea neeradi” ‘mai ittu ezhudhom malarittu nam mudiyom”
we won’t be spending time on unnecessary things or gossips , we will be focused on our purpose of “ongi ulagalanda uttaman paer padi”
Ok, that’s alright why should I do this nonbu asks one girl not to be disturbed from the early morning sleep
“narayanane namakke parai tharuvan” Narayanan will give prosperity to us, it is not just for us ,it is for the “vaiyathu vazveergal’, for the people of the world also, There will be enough rain throughout the year,leading to good cultivation and then there will be more food available for the people, the rains will make plants to grow well which in turn benefit the birds and other living being. Such is the outlook of that girlthat what we should benefit everyone around us. That is the reason why she calls all her friends to do join her in this vritam.