Ennapadam Bhagavati


Bhagavathi at Ennapadam Temple at Kerala

Thursday, April 14, 2011

JOYOUS NEW YEAR (PUTHANDU) IN
TAMILNADU AND (VISHU) IN KERALA

V.SUNDARAM I.A.S.



The Tamil calendar is used in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in India, and by the Tamil population in Malaysia, Singapore and Sri Lanka. It is used today for cultural, religious and agricultural events, with the Gregorian calendar being largely used for official purposes by the Government both within and outside India. The Tamil calendar is based on the classical Hindu solar calendar which is also used in Assam, Bengal, Kerala, Manipur, Nepal, Orissa, Rajasthan and the Punjab.

There are several festivals based on the Tamil Hindu calendar. The Tamil New Year follows the nirayanam vernal equinox and generally falls on 13 or 14 April of the Gregorian year. 13 or 14 April marks the first day of the traditional Tamil calendar and this day remains a public holiday in both Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka.

Tropical vernal equinox fall around 22 March, and adding 23 degrees of trepidation or oscillation to it, we get the Hindu sidereal or Nirayana Mesha Sankranti (Sun's transition into nirayana Aries). Hence, the Tamil calendar begins on the same date in April which is observed by most traditional calendars of the rest of India - Assam, Bengal, Kerala, Orissa, Manipur, Nepal, Punjab etc. This also coincides with the traditional New Year in Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

The recurrent 60-year cycle of years is also an inherent part of an ancient custom and tradition. This cycle of 60 years is observed by most traditional calendars of India and China, and is related to 5 revolutions of Jupiter according to popular belief, or to 60-year orbit of Nakshatras (stars) as mentioned in Surya Siddhanta.

The Surya Siddhanta is a Siddhanta or treatise of Indian astronomy whose authorship is disputed. Varahamihira in his Panchasiddhantika contrasts it with four other treatises, besides the Paitamaha Siddhantas (which is more similar to the "classical" Vedanga Jyotisha), the Paulisha and Romaka Siddhantas (directly based on Hellenistic astronomy) and the Vasishta Siddhanta. Citation of the Surya Siddhanta is also found in the works of Aryabhata.

The work referred to by the title Surya Siddhanta has been repeatedly recast. There may have been an early work under that title dating back to the Buddhist Age of India (3rd century BC). The work as preserved and edited by Burgess (1858) dates to the Middle Ages. Utpala, a 10th century commentator of Varahamihira, quotes six shlokas of the Surya Siddhanta of his day, not one of which is to be found in the text now known as the Surya Siddhanta. The present Surya Siddhanta may nevertheless be considered a direct descendant of the text available to Varahamihira.

This year, the traditional Tamil Hindu New Year starts on 14 April 2011, Kaliyuga 5113. There are several references in early Tamil literature to the April new year. Nakkirar, the author of the Nedunalvaadai writes in the 3rd century that the Sun travels from Mesha/Chitterai through 11 successive Raasis or signs of the zodiac. Kūdalūr Kizhaar in the 3rd century refers to Mesha Raasi/Chitterai as the commencement of the year in the Puranaanooru. The Tolkaapiyam is the oldest surviving Tamil grammar that divides the year into six seasons where Chitterai marks the start of the Ilavenil season or summer. The 8th century Silappadikaaram mentions the 12 Raasis or zodiac signs starting with Mesha/Chitterai. The Manimekalai alludes to the Hindu solar calendar as we know it today. Adiyaarkunalaar, an early medieval commentator or Urai-asiriyar, mentions the 12 months of the Tamil Hindu calendar with particular reference to Chitterai.


Sixty-year cycle



I have already referred to this 60-year cycle of the Tamil calendar, which is common to North and South Indian traditional calendars, with the same name and sequence of years. Its earliest reference is to be found in Surya Siddhanta, which Varahamihirar (550 CE) believed to be the most accurate of the then current theories of astronomy. However, in the Surya Siddhantic list, the first year was Vijaya and not Prabhava as currently used. This 60-year cycle is also used in the Chinese calendar.

After the completion of sixty years, the calendar starts anew with the first year. This corresponds to the Hindu "century." The Vakya or Tirukannitha Panchangam (the traditional Tamil almanac) outlines this sequence.

The following list presents the current 60-year cycle of the Tamil calendar:

No. Name in                             Name in                       Gregorian Year
       Tamil                                  English                                
                                                                                               
01.
பிரபவ
Prabhava
1987–1988
02.
விபவ
Vibhava
1988–1989
03.
சுக்ல
Sukla
1989–1990
04.
பிரமோதூத
Pramodoota
1990–1991
05.
பிரசோற்பத்தி
Prachorpaththi
1991–1992
06.
ஆங்கீரச
Aangirasa
1992–1993
07.
ஸ்ரீமுக
Srimukha
1993–1994
08.
பவ
Bhava
1994–1995
09.
யுவ
Yuva
1995–1996
10.
தாது
Dhaatu
1996–1997
11.
ஈஸ்வர
Eesvara
1997–1998
12.
வெகுதானிய
Bahudhanya
1998–1999
13.
பிரமாதி
Pramathi
1999–2000
14.
விக்கிரம
Vikrama
2000–2001
15.
விஷு
Vishu
2001–2002
16.
சித்திரபானு
Chitrabaanu
2002–2003
17.
சுபானு
Subhaanu
2003–2004
18.
தாரண
Dhaarana
2004–2005
19.
பார்த்திப
Paarthiba
2005–2006
20.
விய
Viya
2006–2007
21.
சர்வசித்து
Sarvajith
2007–2008
22.
சர்வதாரி
Sarvadhari
2008–2009
23.
விரோதி
Virodhi
2009–2010
24.
விக்ருதி
Vikruthi
2010–2011
25.
கர
Kara
2011–2012
26.
நந்தன
Nandhana
2012–2013
27.
விஜய
Vijaya
2013–2014
28.
ஜய
Jaya
2014–2015
29.
மன்மத
Manmatha
2015–2016
30.
துன்முகி
Dhunmuki
2016–2017
31.
ஹேவிளம்பி
Hevilambi
2017–2018

32.
விளம்பி
Vilambi
2018–2019

33.
விகாரி
Vikari
2019–2020

34.
சார்வரி
Sarvari
2020–2021

35.
பிலவ
Plava
2021–2022

36.
சுபகிருது
Subakrith
2022–2023

37.
சோபகிருது
Sobakrith
2023–2024

38.
குரோதி
Krodhi
2024–2025

39.
விசுவாசுவ
Visuvaasuva
2025–2026

40.
பரபாவ
Parabhaava
2026–2027

41.
பிலவங்க
Plavanga
2027–2028

42.
கீலக
Keelaka
2028–2029

43.
சௌமிய
Saumya
2029–2030

44.
சாதாரண
Sadharana
2030–2031

45.
விரோதகிருது
Virodhikrithu
2031–2032

46.
பரிதாபி
Paridhaabi
2032–2033

47.
பிரமாதீச
Pramaadhisa
2033–2034

48.
ஆனந்த
Aanandha
2034–2035

49.
ராட்சச
Rakshasa
2035–2036

50.
நள
Nala
2036–2037

51.
பிங்கள
Pingala
2037–2038

52.
காளயுக்தி
Kalayukthi
2038–2039

53.
சித்தார்த்தி
Siddharthi
2039–2040

54.
ரௌத்திரி
Raudhri
2040–2041

55.
துன்மதி
Dunmathi
2041–2042

56.
துந்துபி
Dhundubhi
2042–2043

57.
ருத்ரோத்காரி
Rudhrodhgaari
2043–2044

58.
ரக்தாட்சி
Raktakshi
2044–2045

59.
குரோதன
Krodhana
2045–2046

60.
அட்சய
Akshaya
2046–2047

 

The Malayalam New Year Day is called Vishu. This Year Vishu falls on 15 April 2011. Vishu is a festival celebrated on this day in the State of Kerala. This festival marks the first day of Malayalam Year and falls in the month of Medam (April – May). This occasion signifies the Sun’s transit to the zodiac – Mesha Raasi (first zodiac sign) as per Indian astrological calculations.

Kani Konna (Cassia fistula), Kerala's regional flower, is a popular vishukanni

The most important event in Vishu is the Vishukkani, (please see the picture above) which literally “the first to be seen on the Vishu day”. The Vishukkani consists of a ritual arrangement of auspicious articles like raw rice, fresh linen, golden cucumber, betel leaves, arecanut, metal mirror, the yellow flowers konna (Cassia fistula), and a holy text and coins, in a bell metal vessel called uruli in the puja room of the House.

The VISHUKKANI, also called Kanikaanal, is inseparable from Vishu. According to the age-old belief of Malayalees, an auspicious kani (first sight) at the crack of dawn on the Vishu day would prove lucky for the entire year. As a result, the Vishukkani is prepared with a lot of care to make it the most positive sight so as to bring alive a wonderful, propitious and prosperous new year! Normally, the responsibility to put the Kani in order falls on the experienced shoulders of the eldest lady of the house. A traditional Kani is prepared as described below. There are also beliefs that if you do not see a proper Vishukkani, then you will lose a year from your life or have bad luck, depending on how much you see!!






Vishu Kkani in Kerala on 15 April 2011

The grandmother or mother who arranges the Vishukkani will sleep in the puja room. On Vishu day, during the auspicious hour of the Brahma muhurata (4:00 to 5:30 a.m.), she will wake up and light the oil-lamp wicks and have her first auspicious sight of Vishukkani. She will then go to the rooms where the rest of the family is sleeping and wake them up one by one. Covering the eyes of every one, she will then lead them to the puja room, where the family members will have the full darshan of the auspicious Vishukkani.


A traditional vishu kani setting

Upon opening one's eyes, every one in the family would be overwhelmed by the glorious darshan of the Lord. The mirror placed behind the Vishukkani, which is symbolic of Bhagavati (Devi), not only enhances the lustre of the Vishukkani through the resplendent reflection of the Vishukkani, but also projects our own face or for that matter of any devotee who is blessed enough to watch the Vishukkani on that sacred day. The mirror placed behind Vishukkani also points to the importance of making our mind pure enough to render devotional service (Nava vidha bhakti) with true and unsullied love to Lord Sri Krishna.

Vishu (Malayalam:വിഷു) New Year festival celebrated in the state of Kerala is similar to the New Year festivals observed elsewhere in India like Baisakhi in Punjab, Bihu in Assam, Pohela Boishakh in Bengal, Bisu in Tulu Nadu region in Karnataka, Vishuva Sankranti in Orissa, Puthandu  in Tamil Nadu and Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh.


"VISHU" is celebrated with much fanfare and vigour in all parts of Kerala. Bursting crackers is part and parcel of the celebration especially for children. Elders gift firecrackers to children and every child vie with each other to make a world of their own. People wear new clothes (Puthukodi) for the occasion and elders of the family distribute tokens of money, called Vishukkaineetam, to children, servants and tenants.

Vishu is also a day of feasting, wherein the edibles consist of roughly equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items. Feast items include Veppampoorasam (a bitter preparation of neem) and Mampazhapachadi (a sour mango soup).
video

Vishukani is important in many famous temples such as Ambalappuzha Sri Krishna Temple, Guruvayur Temple and Sabarimala.


Bengali New Year 2011

Bengalis celebrate New Year during the month of Baisakh that is the first month of the Bengali calendar. It is celebrated on the first day of the Baisakh month. Bengal new year day is called the ‘Pohela Baisakh’.  In the year 2011, ‘Pohela Baisakh’ falls on 15th April.

Pohela Baisakh is considered the auspicious time for new beginnings like marriages, business etc.  People clean their houses and decorate them at the occasion of the festival.  They make rangolis with flour which are called Aalpana and place an earthen pot in the middle of the rangoli.  They use flour to make designs in front of their houses. The designs have a pot in the middle that is made up of clay, decorated with a red and white color swastika and is filled with vermilion and holy water. The pot also has a branch of mango tree that has five twigs and few leaves. The ritual of placing this pot is a symbol of good wealth for the family.

A tradition of Prabhat Pheri is also followed in the morning to greet the first day of the New Year. Women generally wear white sarees with red borders and men are dressed in kurta and dhoti to be a part of Prabhat Pheri.

People wish each other ‘Shubo Nabo Barsho’ which means ‘Happy New year’. Bengali New Year marks a new start for the Bengalis and thereby sets new goals for them.

Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth is worshipped with flowers like daisies, roses, hibiscus and marigold.  Devotees take a dip in the nearby rivers.  Businessmen pray to Lord Ganesh and open new account books.   There is also a tradition of starting the day with a breakfast which is made with soaked rice called Panta Bhaat.  People take onion, green chillies and fried fish along with Panta Bhat.

All around west Bengal, Baisakhi fairs are organized.  Apart from stalls of agricultural products, toys, handicrafts, food items, cosmetics, sweets people can enjoy cultural programs in these fairs.  Puppet shows, recital of Nabo Barsho poems, singing, drama, gambhira gan, narrative plays etc are the popular attractions of these fairs.

To conclude in the most inspiring words of Sri Aurobindo: “When we look at India – more particularly the past of India --- what strikes us most is her stupendous vitality, her inexhaustible power of life and joy of life, her almost unimaginably prolific creativeness. … Thus an ingrained and dominant spirituality, an inexhaustible vital creativeness and gust of life and, mediating between them, a powerful, penetrating and scrupulous intelligence combined of the rational, ethical and aesthetic mind each at a high intensity of action, CREATED THE HARMONY OF THE ANCIENT INDIAN CULTURE.”





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