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Praying for a sunny, prosperous life
Margazhi is celebrated as Lord Krishna’s month and through her Tiruppavai, Andal shows devotees the way to achieve Saranagati through simple, effective means.
She enjoins upon devotees to embrace Prema bhakti, which is nothing but easy-to-follow guidelines on a daily basis. She asks devotees to sing out loud about the Lord; to offer Him tulsi or flowers from the garden, and to think about Him and focus one’s mind upon Him. Through the pasurams, Koodarai vellum seer Govinda Karavigal pinn chendru, and Chittran chiru, kale she recommends the chanting of Govinda, thrice for one’s sins to vanish. Adi Sankara too recommends the chanting of Govinda namam in his work, Bhaja Govindam. Devotees are advised to follow such simple but effective guidelines in the month of Margazhi, since the month is dear to Krishna as well.
When the month ends and Thai, the next month begins which is again an auspicious month. This is celebrated as Pongal or harvest festival. Scientifically, this is the time when the Sun changes direction, and turns northwards from the south. As the sun transits from Dhanur rasi to Makara rasi, the festival is also known as Makara Sankaranti. Surya is worshipped as the Sun God and the ultimate source of energy. The practice of Sun worship dates back to at least the 2nd Century BC. The Aditya Hridayam in the Ramayana, is likewise about worshipping the sun, while the Vedas recommend praying to Sun to grant one a healthy life. In his work, Tirukkural, Tiruval
luvar gives Sun the prime status.
Being a predominantly agrarian country, we celebrate Pongal on a grand scale, praying for a sunny, prosperous life. The freshly harvested rice is cooked as Pongal and offered to the Gods. Bhogi, celebrated on the last day of Margazhi is a reminder to all of us to discard old, negative thoughts and turn one’s mind towards salvation. Pongal is observed on a grand scale in rural areas and the next day, Mattu Pongal is celebrated with fervour. Cattle are the backbone of farmers and they are treated as one’s family by the rural communities. The last day of the four-day Pongal festival is the Kanni Pongal. In the past, young girls worshipped the nine rivers, prepared food offerings for them and prayed for a good husband. The nine rivers are Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Godavari, Krishna, Cauvery, Narmada, Tungabadra and Sarayu. However, over the years, Kanni Pongal has transformed into Kaanum Pongal, a day when one visits one’s elders and seeks their blessings for prosperity.
— The writer lectures on spirituality