Sunday, 27 January 2019

A Prayer For Mother Tamil

We Tamils have deified our mother tongue as a goddess and call her Tamil Annai or Tamil Thaai (Mother Tamil), representing the Tamil language and the Tamil society itself.

We have also dedicated a prayer song or vaalthu for Her. Deification is against the religious teachings of the non-Hindus like Muslims but It is not a problem for the rest of us Hindus.

In a circular dated November 23, 1970, the Government of Tamilnadu designated the Tamil Thaai Vaalthu as a “prayer song" and not as an anthem. This means it has a religious significance unlike Jana Gana Mana which is the national anthem of India.

Therefore, the Tamil Thaai Vaalthu is actually a form of Sakthi worship. It is the core principle of Saktam as seen in several Hindu slokas because the mother tongue (Tamil Annai) also represents consciousness, intelligence and race.

The Saktam religion teaches Hindus to see Sakti in every aspect. Whenever you sing the Tamil Thaai Vaalthu, you are worshipping the Divine Mother in the form of Mother Tamil even if you happen to be an Atheist.

Yaa Devi Sarva Bhooteshu Chetanetyaabhi Dheeyate
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha
(Meaning:Salutations again and again to the Devi (Goddess) who abides in all beings as consciousness)

Yaa Devi Sarva Bhooteshu Buddhi Roopena Samsthita
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha
(Meaning:Salutations again and again to the Devi (Goddess) who resides in all beings in the form of intelligence)

Yaa Devi Sarva Bhooteshu Jaati Roopena Samsthita
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha
(Meaning:Salutations again and again to the Devi (Goddess) who resides in all beings in the form of race)

Yaa Devi Sarva Bhooteshu Matru Roopena Samsthita
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namaha
(Meaning:Salutations again and again to the Devi (Goddess) who resides in all beings in the form of Mother.)

The lyrics of Tamil Thaai Vaalthu
நீராருங் கடலுடுத்த நிலமடந்தைக்கெ ழிலொழுகும்
சீராரும் வதனமெனத் திகழ் பரதக் கண்டமிதில்
தெக்கணமும் அதிற்சிறந்த திராவிட நல் திருநாடும்
தக்கசிறு பிறைநுதலும் தரித்தநறுந் திலகமுமே
அத்திலக வாசனைபோல் அனைத்துலகும் இன்பமுற
எத்திசையும் புகழ்மணக்க இருந்தபெருந் தமிழணங்கே!
உன் சீரிளமைத் திறம்வியந்துசெயல்மறந்து வாழ்த்துதுமே!

Brimming Sea drapes exuberant Dame Earth!
With Beautified face in this exalted Indian Continent!
South In particular Divine Dravidian Country!
As Aesthetic Thilakam on its beauteous curved forehead!
Like the Fragrance of that Thilakam, for the entire world to be delirious!
your fervor spread in all directions!
Oh! Tamil Lady!
Ever remain afresh Thee alone! Purity intact too!
Delighted! Praise thou beauteous Tamil, youthful forever! Awestruck!
Praise unto thee!
Praise unto thee!

Monday, 14 January 2019

Ponggal Is Not A Secular Festival

Many of us would have been told that Ponggal, the harvest festival of the Tamils is a secular festival. What we Tamils celebrate as Ponggal is also celebrated by other cultures under different names. 

Ponggal is actually the first day when the Sun enters the 10th zodiac, Capricorn. This happens at the angle of 270 degress - 300 degrees of the celestial sphere. 

This is derived based on the Sidereal solar calendar and it also marks the Winter Soictice. Capricorn is called as Makaram in Tamil and Makara in Sanskrit. Hence, Ponggal is called as Makara Sankranti in Sanskrit.

So any community which uses the Sidereal Solar Calendar will celebrate this moment if it has any religious or cultural significance. However, that does not mean the celebration is the same because in the Tamil society, only the Hindu Tamils use the sidereal calendar.

The date and time of Ponggal is calculated and decided by the Gurukkals (priest) of the Hindu temples. They are the only ones who keep track of the Panjangam (Almanac). 

The Pastors or Imams do not do this. This is because Tamil Christians follow the Gregorian calendar. The Tamil Muslims follow their Hijri calendar which is a lunar calendar. 

Therefore, the Pastors and Imams will not announce any Christian or Muslim celebration based on the Panjangam which uses the sidereal solar system.

Only Hindu Tamils use this. Only Hindu Tamils have festivals based on this calendar system. But we can see churches celebrating Ponggal based on the date and time given by the Hindu temples. Well that is another lets look at the celebration of Ponggal itself.

The eve of Ponggal is called Bhogi Pandikai. How did it get that name?

Heaven is a place of enjoyment. This is where the celestial dancers known as Apsaras and celestial musicians known as Gandarvas live along with the Devas and many other celestial beings. The lord of heaven is Indra, hence heaven is also known as Indraloka. 

Those who attained Yogam through Yoga practice is called a Yogi. To enjoy and indulge in pleasure is called Bhogam. Therefore Indra being the lord of heaven is also called Bhogi. 

The festival in honour of Indra is called Indravizha or simply as Bhogi Pandigai. It will be celebrated on the eve of Ponggal. It is a day to discard all negativity and honour Indra. It is a day to thank him for all the rain and good weather as this is a gift from the heavens.

The Christian Tamils and Muslim Tamils don't believe in Indra. Currently, only Hindu Tamils believe in Indra. 

Therefore, the eve of Ponggal, Bhogi Pandigai, is a Hindu event.

The first day of Ponggal is called Surya Ponggal. Although the Sun is a common celestial object for all earthlings, the Christians and Muslims are forbidden from offering any form of worship to it. Only Hindus offer worship to celestial object as we see it as part of the ultimate God. The Sun also represents Hari or Vishnu. 

Therefore, we dedicate our first day of Ponggal by offering worship to Surya Bhagawan, Vishnu and Lakshmi. This is done because the Sun gives us life and helps to preserve the world we live in. This is the role of Vishnu as preserver. 

Lakshmi being the symbol of prosperity is worshipped on this day to bless us with abundance of prosperity. For the farmers, Lakshmi's prosperity means good harvest. 

Therefore, the first day of Ponggal is also a Hindu event.

The second day of Ponggal is called Maatu Ponggal. It is dedicated to the bulls and cows. On this day, worship will be offered to this animals. The bull will be given special worship in Hindu temples. This is part of Nandi worship. Also, do read about the story of Nandi delivering a message on behalf of Shiva.

In the villages, Hindu temples have its own bulls. It is called Kovil Kaalai. During Jallikattu, the Kovil Kaalai enters the ring first but nobody is allowed to touch it. Maatu Ponggal is the day man and his beast play together. It also gives an opportunity for men to display their prowess and seek potential brides. 

Although Jallikattu is a rough sport, the bulls will not be harmed. It is the human participants who often get injured. The Hindu Tamils revere their bulls and cows. They don't eat beef. Maatu Ponggal is not a celebration for those who consume beef because they don't have such reverence unlike the Hindu Tamils.

Therefore, the second day of Ponggal is also a Hindu event.

Tamil Nadu celebrates Pongal with traditional fervour
Pic Credit: Thestatesman. Representative image Photo: AFP
Now lets look at the last day of Ponggal. It is called Kaanum Ponggal. Although some may attempt to give their own explanation, it is actually a day dedicated for fertility. In rural parts of Tamil Nadu, this day is celebrated by the farmers by honouring the virgin goddesses known as Kanni deivam. They are usually 7 in number hence called as SapthaKannimaar.

There is a ritual done which many have forgotten now. 7 cleaned bricks or rocks will be placed in a row. Prayers will be offered. Ponggal rice will be offered. A pit will be dug and it will be filled with water. Once the ritual is done, the 7 bricks will be placed in the pit and covered. 

The farmers believe that such rituals will earn the blessings of the virgin goddesses and make the land fertile. 

On Kaanum Ponggal, young unmarried virgin girls are honoured as SapthaKannimaar. They are given the priviledge to lead the rituals and prayers. They will be given gifts of new cloths and bangles. This is the day these girls will be given special treatment by the family members. They will be treated like princesses. There will be dancing and singing . It is part and parcel of Sakthi worship. It also gives an opportunity for families to seek potential brides.

Since Christianity and Islam does not have such practices, the last day of Ponggal can't be considered as secular. 

Therefore, even this day is a Hindu event.

Right from the calendar used, the method of determining the time and date of Ponggal, the classification of Ponggal days up to the rituals done, everything about Ponggal has elements which does not conform to the teachings of Christianity or Islam. 

It is clear that Ponggal is not a secular festival. It has many elements which can only be done by Hindu Tamils because the Hindus are the only ones that uses Sidereal solar calendar; that have Gurukkals to announces the date and time of Ponggal; that prays to Indra, Surya, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Nandi, Shiva and Devis; that does not eat beef; that venerates the bull and cow; that does karpoora aarti, applies kungkumam, vibuthi on their bulls and cows; that conducts Ponggal rituals which is not found in Christianity or Islam.

Although I am not against non-Hindus from celebrating Ponggal together with the Hindus, I have to admit that there is nothing Christian or Islamic about Ponggal. 

Sickular : Ponggal is not Hindu festival

Me: How do you know when is Ponggal?

Sickular : It was published in calendar

Me: How the calendar company knew?

Sickular : They refer to Hindu Panjangam

Me: Who uses Hindu Panjangam?

Sickular : Hindus

Me: Who announces the Panjangam every year?

Sickular: Hindu temples

Me: Who calculates the date and time for Ponggal?

Sickular: Hindu Gurukkals

Me: Do Christians and Muslims use Hindu Panjangam?

Sickular: No

Me: Why?

Sickular: Because they are not Hindus

Me: How do you know when is Ponggal?

Sickular : It was published in calendar

Me: How the calendar company knew?

Sickular : They refer to Hindu Panjangam

......start all over again from top until it hits your senses