I happened to witness the celebrations of Aadi Perukku this year at Mayavaram. I traveled to Mayavaram aka Mayiladuthurai a located 40 km from Thiruvarur where I am placed as part of my Milaap fellowship. I reached the place by Thursday night and I already felt the buzz among the local shops and vendors. People were purchasing the offerings and fruit from the vendors which will all be part of the celebrations next day.
Streets of Mayavaram
Aadi is one of the Tamil months between Mid-July and Mid-August. It is regarded as one of the auspicious months according to Tamil calendar. Every Fridays of the month “Aadi Velli” is an occasion of religious importance at Temples. Aadi Perukku is celebrated on the 18th of every Aadi month. Perukku meaning to multiply and the function is a prayer offered to gods seeking multiplied joy, health, prosperity and wealth for their families. It is a prayer offered to nature and especially rain for prosperity. It is widely celebrated in all parts of Tamil Nadu and is celebrated with much grandeur in the Cauvery delta regions. The month also marks the beginning of the monsoon season thus the people pray for the river to bring prosperity in the life.
As the Thirukkural saying goes “Neerindri Amayathu ulagenin” meaning the world can’t function without water. Since agriculture is the major occupation in this area it becomes inevitably important that they have good rains and adequate water to compliment their good harvest. Thus, it is believed that cometh the water cometh happiness and Aadi Perukku is a celebration for the good days ahead.
View of the river
View of the river
Over the years, owing to lack of water and rainfall the river was normally filled with pumped water just enough to make sure the festival was celebrated. But this year with Cauvery overflowing people got to celebrate Aadi with the actual river flowing. Though I have seen Aadi celebrations at my home they were all confined to my home or relatives home and a visit to the nearby temple. I heard from my office staffs about the ritual process by the riverside which actually excited me.
So curious about the rituals I started the day early. The time I reached the bank people has already started the prayers with lots of people incoming. Families started their day with a holy dip in the river and change into new clothes. While the elders returned to perform their pujas, kids remained in the river swimming and playing around. They return collecting sand from the bottom of the river which is then made into a small idol to which offerings are made.
Women make idols of Pullayar( Ganesha) from the sand taken from the river bed
Fruits, sweet rice, flour lamps add color to the offerings
Women then made small idols out of the sand from the river beds. The offerings one by one found their place on the banana leaf. All the banana leaves were topped with coconut, bananas, apples, mangoes, pears. Also, on the platter was Kaadholai (pink earrings made of palm leaves) and Karugumani or black beads together called as Kaadholai Karugumani. They had also brought rice soaked in water along with jaggery and ellu (sesame). Women offer their gratitude to the holy river and seek her blessings for prosperity and wealth. They pray for their family’s wealth and another important feature of this celebration is the Sumangali puja. Women add new threads to their thaali (manga sutra) as a mark of their strong relationship. It is even special for newly married couples who bring the poomalai (garland from their marriage occasion) and offer it to the river goddess. They see the flow down the river and pray the goddess to shower blessings for their new journey
Mangala puja is part of the Aadi Perukku where married women add new threads to their thaali.
This festival is believed to be auspicious for young women. Young girls pray the goddess along with married women in their families. They tie sandal dipped threads around trees. It is believed to bring them good matches in their future.
Threads dipped in sandal being tied around trees.
Miniature chariot- major things for children to rejoice during Aadi
Kids run around with a small ratham (toy chariot). The chariot is made of wood and is covered with colored papers in the heart is a photo of the god of their likings. They tie a thread and run around with the chariot along the banks and roads.
The plantain offered to the river.
Women are seen sharing the prashadam after the prayer.
After the pujas are over they offer the banana leaf with a lamp into the river. They share the fruits and rice with others. Some people remain by the river banks relaxing and munching over the fruits while some return home. Some kids return to take one final dip in the river before going home.
The sandal thread is tied on the hand as part of the celebration.
However, different the styles of celebration be the part about reuniting with your friends and families and sharing your happiness is all the same everywhere. It also got me thinking about how the world runs on water. The very essential life-sustaining element and the way people embrace it as their god was enthralling for me. In a time when water is at our reach from the taps and bottled dispensaries, we fail to realize how valuable water is. With cities going drought and many more on the verge of going water, its time that we embrace the gift by using it responsibly.