How to Celebrate Aadi Perukku Festival | Padinettam Perukku
Aadi is the Tamil month in which the Avatar of Bhoomi Devi is believed to have taken place.
Goddess Parvathi wished to see the effulgent form of both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu together. So Goddess Parvathi deeply meditated upon Lord Shiva to fulfill her wish.
Lord Shiva pleased by Her meditation, appeared as Lord Shankara Narayana on the day of Aadi Perukku. Lord Shankara Narayana is a combined deity form of Shiva (Shankara) on the right with Nandi and Vishnu (Narayana) on the left with Garuda.
Another version is that it is on this day, Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam, as a Brother, visits His sister Cauvery, at Amma Mantapam (Trichy) and offers Gifts (Turmeric powder, bangles, kumkum, and new saree) which are kept in a Muram (used for sifting impurities in grain) and carried by the temple elephant with great pomp and splendor from Srirangam Ranganathur temple.
In Treta Yuga, at the time of the epic war between Ravana and Rama, Rama was mentally disturbed after killing the Asuras and Ravana in the battle. It was on this day Rama took bath in the holy river Cauvery to get rid of the sins of destroying the Asuras in the battle, as advised by Sage Vashista.
In the battle of Kurukshetra, Pandavas defeated the Kauravas and won the battle. After taking bath in the river Ganga, the Pandavas were advised by Lord Krishna to wash their weapons and to have a holy dip in the river Cauvery to cleanse their sins. It was on this day of Aadi Perukku, the Pandavas took bath in the river Cauvery for slaying the Kauravas in the battle.
It is believed that great hermits who perform Prithvi Yagam on 18 places under the earth, come to have their bath in the river Cauvery on this day. Therefore, it has become a tradition of having a holy dip in the river Cauvery to receive the blessings of these great hermits.
So this festival Aadi Perukku has been celebrated even by Gods and has gained importance ever since the Ramayana period as per the Puranas.
Another version is that the river Cauvery rushes on this day to see her daughter Mahalakshmi rising from the ocean.
Story of River Cauvery:
The Mountain Vindhya looking tall and handsome was feeling jealous of the Mount Meru and started to grow taller towards the sky blocking the sunlight. People, birds, animals, and forests pleaded to stop such growth.
But Vindhya never paid any attention. The Sun was at a loss and even the Gods were in despair and so they decided to seek help from the powerful Sage Agasthiya.
Sage Agasthiya asked Vindhya to lower himself so that he could cross the mountain and get over to the South. The Sage made a request to the mountain that he should not grow till he returns back.
Vindhya promised that he will not grow till the Sage returned. After coming to the South, Agasthiya happily stayed there as the people wanted him to settle there. The Sage decided to get married and wanted to have children.
Lord Brahma’s daughter Vishnumaya was longing to serve the people on the earth. So with the blessings of Lord Brahma and with the Yogic powers of Sage Agasthiya, Vishnumaya was born as Lopamudra.
Sage Agasthiya gathered the most graceful parts of various creatures in the forest (such as the eyes of the deer etc.) put them together into a beautiful baby. He gave life to his creation. The baby created by Sage Agasthiya was Lopamudra. He now wanted someone to raise the baby which he had created.
As king Kavera was praying to have a baby, Agasthiya gave this baby to him. After some years Sage Agasthiya met Lopamudra on his travel. Now Lopamudra had grown into a very beautiful girl. Agasthiya told king Kavera that he was willing to marry Lopamudra.
With his beard and sage-like dress, his appearance was not pleasing and was also much elder to her. But Lopamudra agreed to marry him. She laid a condition that she would leave him if Agasthiya leaves her alone for a long period of time. Agasthiya agreed to her proposal.
Lopamudra married Agasthiya and happily settled in his Ashram (hermitage). One day, when the Sage was traveling with Lopamudra, he was not feeling well.
Agasthiya fell ill and was unconscious. He was too heavy for Lopamudra to carry. But Lopamudra being a strong-willed person somehow carried her husband and was on her way to their home.
She was carrying her husband with his feet dangling. It was getting dark. Suddenly his foot touched a holy man who was sleeping. As the path was dark, Lopamudra did not realize it. Raised by anger, the holy man cursed that the person whose foot touched him would meet his death at sunrise.
Lopamudra felt that the curse was unfair, as she was carrying her husband and never intended to humiliate the holy man. So she said, “Let the Sun not rise if I have been a good wife by helping my husband” and the Sun never rose.
The earth was in total darkness. Gods were extremely worried and came to Lopamudra, pleading her to lift the ban. She explained her reason and accepted to lift the ban only if they agreed to help to remove the curse of the holy man.
The Gods removed the curse. The Sage survived and Lopamudra lifted the ban. The Sun rose and all the activities started and the life on the earth was back to normal. Such was Lopamudra’s mental strength and divine power.
Another version of the story is that Lopamudra served Sage Agasthiya as his wife and also flowed as river Cauvery thereby serving the people on the earth.
Sage Agasthiya once turned Kaveri (Lopamudra) into the water and kept her in his kamandala. Lopamudra realized that she had been left alone in the kamandala for a long time and flowed out as a river.
Another version goes like this:
While traveling South, Agasthiya came across a place affected by drought and famine. He prayed to the Gods to guide him. Lord Ganesha took the form of a crow and toppled the kamandala and made the water to spill from the kamandala. The water spilled and started to flow as a river. This is how Lopamudra turned into river Cauvery.
As Lopamudra was the daughter of king Kavera, she was spelt as Kaveri before the British period after which it was spelt as Cauvery.
Cauvery is known as the Ganga of the South:
As Cauvery wanted to become the most sacred river, she prayed to Lord Vishnu to fulfill her wish. Granting her wish, Lord Vishnu said that the river Ganga flows from His feet, whereas Cauvery will be worn as a garland close to His heart and will be the most sacred river.
Therefore, the Vishnu temples namely Adi-ranga, Madhya-ranga, and Antya- ranga at Srirangapatna, Shivasamudra, and Srirangam, are on an island with Cauvery encircling them, as garland. As once in a year Ganga takes a cleansing dip through an underground route to Cauvery, it is revered as the Ganga of the South.
Note: Kamandala is an oblong water pot made of a dry gourd (pumpkin) or coconut shell, metal, the wood of the Kamandalataru tree, or from baked clay, usually with a handle and sometimes with a spout.
Significance of the month Aadi:
Aadi being the month of favorable winds is considered to be auspicious for worshipping Goddesses like Mariamman, Mundakanniamman as these Goddesses are related to water and other natural forces.
As Amman would bring rains to cultivate crops during the following months, poojas are performed to seek Her blessings, and prayers are offered to eliminate all bad aspects that are associated with this month.
In the month of Aadi, the newly married daughter and son –in- law are invited to the house for a feast. New saree, blouse piece, thamboolam, new Dhoti, towel, and shirting cloth are gifted to them. Variety rice, coconut milk payasam, vadai are served to them. The newly married girl stays in her mother’s house in the month of Aadi for some scientific reason. This tradition is still followed in Tamil Nadu.
Reasons for the month of Aadi not recommended for major functions:
This is the month in which the transition from “Uttarayana” to “Dhakshinaya” takes place. “Uttarayana” is the day time for Gods and “Dakshinayana” is a night for them. During this period Gods and Goddesses will be in their celestial sleep. Therefore, it would be difficult to seek their blessings to perform functions like marriages, house-warming, etc.
Significance of Aadi Perukku celebrations:
“Aadi Perukku” is celebrated on the eighteenth day of the Tamil month “Aadi”. It falls around the 2nd or 3rd of August every year. It is also known as “Pattinettam Perukku.” All the perennial river sources of the state of TamilNadu including the lakes are worshipped. As rivers are the main source of living, “AadiPerukku” is celebrated as a monsoon festival to show gratitude to all rivers and lakes.
Place of celebration:
It is celebrated by Hindus of the Tamil community in South India. This festival is celebrated across TamilNadu.
Reasons for the festival being known as “PattinettamPerukku”:
“Padinettu” signifies eighteen and “Perukku” denotes the rise in the water level. Rivers usually overflow their banks during this period.
Reasons for celebrating this festival:
As the water in the reservoirs is released well before “Aadi Perukku”, people have a holy dip in the river on this day, offer flowers, and Akshatha to river Cauvery as a mark of honoring Her as Mother Nature for showering Her bountiful grace on mankind. Variety rice like tamarind rice, lemon rice, coconut rice, sakkarai pongal (a sweet dish made with rice, moong dal, jaggery, ghee, nuts, and raisins), curd rice and fried papads are offered to Her as Neivedhiyam.
How the festival is celebrated:
On the day of Aadi Perukku, offerings and prayers to the rivers mean so much to the lives and prosperity of the people. There is a belief that the girls who perform this pooja offering "Kaadholai" (earrings made of palm leaf),"Karugamani" (black beads), and "Kaapparasi" (a sweet made out of pounded rice and jaggery) will be blessed with a good husband.
On this day of "Aadi Perukku", the newly married couples have their bath in the river and the women change their "mangalsutra" (thali thread) and leave their old threads in the water. A mention about this tradition is found in "Sillapathikaram"( Tamil epic of the Sangam literature). This festival is celebrated on the banks of the rivers, and families spend the evening by the river, eating the variety rice, etc. Celebrating this festival on the river banks was patronized by the ancient kings.
This festival “Aadi Perukku” brings happiness and hopes to the farmers and their families. In villages, the major attractions of this festival are folk songs and Kummi performed by women. Kummi is a folk dance performed during village festivals or harvesting season, popular in Tamil Nadu and Kerala in India. In some places, the folk dance is accompanied by the rhythmic clapping with hands and in some places with the rhythmic striking of sticks (known as Kolattam).
Scientific reasons for planting new plants in the month of Aadi: The water level rises in the rivers during this season, as it receives abundant monsoon rains. Therefore, it is the favorable month for rooting, sowing, planting of seeds, and other forms of vegetation.
How we celebrate Aadi Perukku at home:
The day before Aadi Perukku, we prepare Pulikaachal (a spice mix or paste of tamarind extract with chilies and peanut toppings) for mixing the tamarind rice on the next day (that is on Aadi perukku).
On the day of Aadi Perukku, we get up early in the morning and take a head bath chanting the slokam, ”Gangae Cha Yamuna Chaiva, Godavari Saraswathi, Narmada Sindhu Kaveri, Jalesmin Sannidhim Kuru.” The meaning is, Oh rivers Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari, Saraswathi, Narmada, Sindhu and Kaveri please enrich the water I am bathing with your presence. As it is not practically possible to go to the river to take a bath, we chant this slokam while taking a bath in our homes.
We clean the house and the pooja room. The pooja room is decorated with flowers. Ezhai Kolam with red Kavi as a border is drawn in the pooja room and in the threshold of the house. Mango leaf festoons are tied in the entrance. Lamps and incense sticks are lighted in the pooja room.
Cauvery is worshipped as Amman by offering variety rice like coconut rice, lemon rice, tamarind rice, sakkarai Pongal with fried vadams, and pappads on a banana leaf. We keep four betel leaves, with betel nuts, two bananas, and a cracked coconut on a brass plate for neivedhyam.
We pour a drop of ghee on all the Neivedhiya items offered to Amman. It is important to do the neivedhyam at the auspicious time referring to our Hindu calendar. We sprinkle few Tulsi leaves on the offerings. Keeping the water in the right-hand palm, we sprinkle three times in clockwise direction around the neivedhiya items and the betel leaves with betel nuts, bananas and cracked coconut. Ringing the bell, we show camphor and do the namaskarams to Amman.
We use metals like silver, brass, copper for pooja purposes as these items receive positive waves.
Kolam is a form of art, drawing drawn by using rice flour, chalk powder, and color powders.
Ezhai kolam is drawn by mixing water to rice flour as a semi-solid paste during festivals.
Kavi is a red paint used as a border to make the Kolam look brighter and beautiful.
Vadam is a fried snack used as an accompaniment with the meals which is popular in TamilNadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh.
The term “ayana” meaning movement. The motion of the sun going from north to south is called “Uttarayanam” and the sun when it reaches north it starts moving south and it is called “Dhakshinayam”.
“Uttarayananam” stands for the end of winter and the beginning of summer. “Dakshinayanam” stands for the end of summer and the beginning of winter.
The name Lopamudra signifies the loss (lopa) that the plants and animals suffered by giving their distinctive beauties (mudras) when Agasthiya created.
Agasthiya and Lopamudra had a son named Dridhasyu, who became a poet.
Together with Her husband, Lopamudra bears the credit for spreading the fame of the “Lalitha sahasranamam” (the thousand names of the Divine Mother).
The story behind the month being known as Aadi:
Aadi, a celestial maiden from Devaloka took the form of a snake and without anyone noticing her, entered Kailasa (the abode of Lord Siva). She entered Kailasa in the absence of Goddess Parvathi who was in Her deep penance. Aadi disguised as Goddess Parvathi and approached Lord Siva.
When she approached Lord Siva, He felt a bitter taste and knew it was not His consort Goddess Parvathi. He became furious and took His Trishulam (Trident), to kill the maiden in disguise. The sparks of fire that emitted from the Trident purified Aadi. She pleaded to Lord Siva to forgive her.
Lord Siva told that it was an unpardonable sin to enter His abode in the absence of Goddess Parvathi. Saying so, He cursed her that she would be born as a bitter tree on the earth. Aadi told that she only wished that the blissful glimpse of Lord Siva should fall on her for a moment and requested Lord Siva to save her from the curse.
Lord Siva told that she would be worshipped as a divine tree like the way people worship Goddess Shakthi and a month will be named after her. Therefore, Lord Siva turned the curse of Aadi into a boon. She became the divine Neem tree and was worshipped as a form of Goddess Shakthi. The medicinal properties of the leaves of the Neem tree are attributed to this divine connection. Thus the whole month got the name Aadi.