The glory of Margazhi
Women singing bhajans ... a typical Margazhi scene.
THE TAMIL calendar is punctuated with festivals. In no other month does the festival mood spreads unbroken over one full month like Margazhi. Festivals like Vinayaka Chaturti, Krishna Jayanti, Dusserah and Skanda Shashti is of unlimited duration during the other months.
The month of Margazhi is unique. The atmosphere is suffused with religious fervour and sanctity that draws people from different sections of the community. `Among the months, I am Margazhi,' said Lord Krishna in the Gita. Wrapped in shawls or bare bodied, people join bhajan groups and go round the streets, unmindful of the cold and nipping air. Womenfolk, particularly in villages and small towns, decorate the front yard and the streets with striking kolams made of rice flour. (Now-a-days lime powder is the substitute for rice flour). Devotees rush to listen the discourses on Tiruppavai and Tiruvembavai, depending on their choice or religious persuasion. The discourses provide the spiritual diet, while pongal spiced with ginger and pepper satisfies their palate. Religious discourses are then supplemented and/or complemented by music in sabhas of which there is no dearth. In fact, one can, if one chooses, spend every day in the month of Margazhi listening to discourses and music.
The air is resonant with the choric chant by Ayyappa devotees for the greater part of the month. Christmas adds its own dimension to the season.
Series of festivals
The peak points in the month-long celebration are touched in Vaikunta Ekadasi, Arudra Darshan, Hanumanth Jayanti and the observance of the Jayanti and Aradhana of spiritually eminent personages like Bhagwan Ramana Maharishi and Sri Seshadri Swamigal. The point of culmination is reached with the advent of the Tamil month Thai. As Margazhi merges into Thai, the mood of religious fervour gets intensified during the Tyagaraja festival.
Early morning pooja performed at a Vinayakar Temple in Triplicane. Pics by K. V. Srinivasan.
Whatever be the changes in public and private life, the cycle of festivals goes on according to a set, pre-established pattern. The cultural rhythm of the community recurs with unfailing regularity.
The old is ever new. The members of the community relive and re-enact the experience of the ages to renew, rejuvenate and fortify their faith and devotion.
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