Friday, April 13, 2012

Happy Puthaandu!

Ah, yes. Another festival here in India. According to the Tamil calendar based on the solar cycle, today marks the Tamil New Year. (Of interest, the Tamil calendar has a sixty year cycle and each year has twelve months. Once a sixty year cycle is completed, a century has been achieved and the first year begins again). According to Hindu mythology, it is on this day that creation was initiated by Brahma the Creator.

Although I didn't see any particularly fancy kolams this morning on my walk, homes are traditionally decorated with beautiful kolams, along with mango leaves. Seasonal fruits and vegetables, along with money would be placed in the puja closet or altar in a Hindu's home. Their homes may be cleaned and even repainted in anticipation of this festivity. A Hindu colleague of mine described how she was anxious to return home after school, so she could make the special sweet food and take it to the temple for distribution to the poor and needy. Food prepared on this day would include equal portions of sweet and bitter flavors - a reminder that we need to take the good and bad in life. Her family (most Hindu festivities involve gathering with one's family members, particularly one's elders) would gather in the evening at the temple and partake of a special chant that would last for nearly an hour. Along with reminding devotees that bad must be taken with the good, they also look at the year now before them. Puthaandu ushers in the summer season (although it's been hot & humid like summer for many weeks now). Perhaps because it's too hot to do much celebration after this point, the Tamil Hindu festivity calendar is in a lull until July/August.

resource: THE HINDU newspaper, April 13, 2012.

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