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Festivals Of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu has been a pilgrim’s favourite for ages. This southern state of India is frequented by people seeking spiritual awakening and transformation. Travellers from across the world embark on a journey to Tamil to revel in the religious festivities. Festivals of Tamil Nadu take place throughout the year, from Pongal to Sivarathri, Good Friday to Janmashtami. Here is a list we compiled.
Pongal is celebrated for more than three days and is one of the most important festivals of Tamil Nadu. It takes place in the month of Thai, the Tamil month that occurs in mid January. Pongal is celebrated for more than three days and is the most important festival in Tamil Nadu. On the first day Tamilians celebrate Bogi Pongal. On Bogi Pongal people burn the household items like mats, brooms etc before sunrise and then offer delicious treats to God. On the second day, Tamilians cook Melagu Pongal and sarkarai pongal in earthen pots and make an offering to the Gods. Maatu Pongal (Maatu-cow) is celebrated by worshipping cattle. Cows are bathed, their horns are painted and taken to the temple. Competitions are also held during this period. On the fourth day, Kaanum Pongal is celebrated by giving maids and servants new clothes.
The Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation conducts the tourist fair on Island Grounds in Chennai in January. There are regular dance shows and food festivals to keep the travellers enchanted.
The Department of Tourism conducts dance festivals at Mamallapuram in January. Amidst the monolithic rock sculptures of the Pallava kings, dances are held to entertain the soaring crowds. Bharatha Natyam, Kathakali, Kuchipudi and Odissi are the four forms of dances that are performed during the festival.
This holy festival is celebrated in all Shiva temples of the country usually in February or March. Special poojas and chanting is performed to remark this auspicious day. Devotees observe fasting and remain awake throughout the night. Anointing and purification of Lingams begins from midnight.
Chitthirai festival is the cardinal festival celebrated for 10 days in all temples across Tamil Nadu in April. This festival is also known as Brahmothsavam. Every deity is carried for procession every day on different carriages sculpted in the forms of bull, horse, lion, swan, moon and sun. Millions of people visit Tamil Nadu to participate in this festival. Arubathumoovar is a similar festival wherein all 63 Saivaite saints are accommodated in a procession along with Lord Siva.
Tamil New Year
Tamil Nadu Purappa (Tamil New Year) celebrates the threshold of the spring season. The Sun appears from the 1st constellation Aries on this auspicious day. People read their astrological prospects and offer prayers to their family deity. This event takes place during mid April.
In order to celebrate the opening of the gates of heaven, Vaikunta Ekadasi is commemorated in late December. All Vishnu temples get a decorative erected known as ‘Vaikuntha Vasal’. Hundreds of people enter the gate and offer special prayers and Bhajans. Many stay awake throughout the night and break their fast by feasting early in the morning.
The Mahamagam Festival comes once in 12 years. This festival occurs when the planet Jupiter enters the constellation of Leo. Mahamaham is a Hindu festival celebrated in the Mahamaham tank located in the South Indian town of Kumbakonam in Tamil Nadu. All the rivers of India are believed to meet at the tank on this day and a purificatory Bath at this tank on this day is considered equal to the combined dips in all the holy rivers of India.
Good Friday is a day before Easter. A Christian holiday, this divine day is mourned by Catholics. They observe fasting and attend mass. There are masses conducted in all churches across Tamil Nadu.
Hill stations including Ooty and Kodaikanal celebrate the summer festival with great pomp and frolic. Food, fruit and flower festivals are conducted to entertain the crowd. A visit to hill stations in Tamil Nadu during the summer festivals adds to the charm of the trip.
Aadi Perukku is the eighteenth day of the Tamil month Adi, (mid-July to mid-August). The rivers over flow and are immensely flooded with water. People celebrate this day by preparing sweet treats and traditional delicacies. People offer prayers and float their offerings on the river.
Krishna Janmashtami is celebrated on the birth of Lord Krishna. Butter treats and balls are offered and exchanged. People commemorate this occasion by preparing delicacies and traditional food. This occasion is celebrated all over Tamil Nadu in August–September.
The birthday of Lord Vinayaka (elephant-headed god) is the most prominent in Tamil Nadu. The date usually falls between 19 August and 20 September. The devotees of Lord Vinayaka and Shiva dance in rejoice. This festival celebrated in Pillaiyarpatti shrine of Lord Vinayaka has gained immense popularity. ‘Modhaga' a sweet treat loved by Lord Vinayaka is prepared in almost every household and temple.
Navarathri is celebrated for nine continuous nights. ‘Navam’ means nine and 'rathri' means night in September - October. This festival celebrates the achievements of Goddesses Lakshmi, Saraswathi and Durga. The first three days are dedicated to Goddess Durga and Parvathi. They are known as the goddesses of valour. The next three days are dedicated to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. The last three days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswathi, the goddess of knowledge. This festival is followed by Dussehra and Vijayadasami celebrated to commemorate victory of good over evil.
The renowned and revered church of Velankanni near Nagapattinam has divine legends. This church has a wondrous image of Our Lady of Velankanni. Portuguese sailors had suffered from a shipwreck and had built this shrine as a thanksgiving. They wanted to thank Our Lady of guiding them safely to shore. Our Lady of Velankanni is known to have miraculous powers which attract thousands of visitors every year during September and October.
This festival is devoted to celebrate saint Quadirwali. This festival has a secular nature. On this auspicious day, one of the descendants is declared as a successor or ‘peer’. This peer is then offered gifts. The tomb of the saint is anointed with sandal paste which is later distributed to all devotees. This holy sandal paste is believed to possess special powers and acts as a remedy for illness. Kanthuri Festival is celebrated at Nagore durgah near Nagapattinam.
Also called as ‘Naraka Chathurdasi’, Deepavali is celebrated when the fierce Narakasura was killed by Lord Krishna. People take Bath in oils at wee hours of the day, called "Ganga Snanam". People prepare sweets, make Rangoli and light crackers. The following new moon day is known as "Kethara Gowri Viratham" and married women fast to bless their husbands with a long life. Oil lamps are lit in every household and the entire state of Tamil Nadu looks illuminated. Deepavali is celebrated in October or November.
Sri Rama Navami is the day Lord Ram was born. It is celebrated in houses and Vishnu temples all over Tamil Nadu in the month of Chaitra (March-April). Ram is believed to be an important avatar of Lord Vishnu. The entire Ramayan is recited on this holy day.
The Natyanjali Festival is celebrated for five days at the Nataraja temple in Chidambaram. The festival begins on same day as Maha Sivarathri. Dancers from India pay tribute to the cosmic dancer, Lord Nataraja. This festival is celebrated in the temple hall wherein 108 poses of Lord Nataraja are engraved. People dance all kinds of traditional dances ranging from Kathak to Odissi.
Saaral Vizha is a novel festival celebrated in the month of August to commemorate waterfalls in the region. Thousands of visitors bathe under waterfalls believing the water has special magical powers. The water rejuvenates the body and refreshes the mind. Safety arrangements are secured for men and women. This festival is celebrated in Kuttalam, Tamil Nadu.