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The month when Ganges comes seeking Cauvery
This Tuesday marks the first of the Tamil month of Aippasi, which is significant in many ways.
Being the sixth month in the Tamil calendar, Aippasi signifies a balancing act, all the more since the month is born in Thula rasi, symbolised by a pair of scales. Additionally, astrologically, the sun is said to enter Thula rasi. The weather too would be salubrious, neither too hot, nor too cold, but rather temperate.
In fact, many people refer to this month as Aippasi Vishu, representing new beginnings. Justice will prevail since the balancing scale will be at work. This is the time when rivers, lakes and streams in Tamil Nadu will be full of water. This is the month when the river Cauvery should ideally be flowing well and flowing full. There is a very important reason for the water flow. It is said that the river Ganges, after absorbing the sins of all those who come and unburden themselves on her shores, finds her way to Cauvery basin in the state this month. Ganges is said to cleanse herself of all the overload of sins in Cauvery, refresh and rejuvenate herself for the full month of Aippasi here. The Cauvery water in Mayavaram in particular is said to the be place where a purified Ganges is said to rest awhile, This is also the reason why people greet each other on Deepavali, with the question, Ïs Ganga snaan over?”. Ganges comes to the state, seeks out its purifying properties and blesses everyone. This is the reason why the spiritually inclined make a trip to Mayavaram during this month. In Tamil Nadu, the agricultural community waits with bated breath for this month, as the entire sea son’s harvest hinges upon the water level and flow this month.
In fact, a number of people plan pilgrimages to rivers during Aippasi, across India, specially in Tamil Nadu, Andhra, Kerala and Karnataka. India is one of the few countries where people continue to revere water bodies as a goddess. Spiritual solace apart, th eertha yatra , as the river pilgrimage is known, is believed to have curative powers as well. Those taking a dip in rivers and streams are said to benefit immensely—they shed their mental worries. Head massage is a great stress-buster and it originated along our rivers, streams and lakes.
A steadily flowing stream, brook or river is a sign of stability. Since people seek a sense of balance all the time, this month is a precious one for many. There is no strict abstinence from meat and other food items, as is done in the month gone by, namely, Purattasi, in which people try to live an austere life. Rather, this is the month when people find their inner chakra, or balance, with more ease. There is a sense of positivity in the air, and that sense of mental stability arises in large measure from the sight of full rivers and lakes.
Aippasi is also the month when three great Vaishnavite preceptors were born, just a day behind one another. Poigai Alwar was born in Kancheepuram. The next day Boothaalwar was born in Mamallapuram while Pei Alwar was born in Mylapore on the third day. Years later, the three meet on a small thinnai (bench outside a house) in Thirukovilur. That meeting resulted in a great exchange of poetry— and the great, sacred Tamil work, Nalayira Divy aprabhandam, extracts from which have been part of our school curriculum, was born out of that chance meeting.
Aippasi is a month for journeys, of the mind and body, for the ultimate upliftment and stability we all seek.
— The writer is a scholar who lectures on spirituality and devotion