Tamil New Year- Hindu Holidays Throughout the year -(as per Hindu Lunar calculations)
2009 Interactive Indian Hindu Interfaith Calendar
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Quick Contents: Tamil New Year, Thrissur Pooram, Akshya Thirithya, Onam, Rakhi, Krishna Jayanthi, Ganesha Chathurthi, Fall Navarathri, Diwali, Karthigai Deepam, Bhogi, Pongal, Maha Shivarathri, Holi, Ugadi/Spring Navarathri, and Ramanavami. |
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Tamil New Year

Saturday, April 14, 2007

 

This is the first day of the Tamil Calendar akin to the Western January 1st New Year. However, according to the Western Calendar, Tamil New Year starts on April 14, spring time.

More on Tamil New Year here.

 

Very few dates of Hindu festivals happen on the same time every year, especially when related to the Western Calendar. Tamil New Year always falls on April 14.

 

 

 

Akshya Thirithya: End of April, Begining of May

 

This is typically a Jain holiday. However, Hindus also celebrate this day. The main ritual done on this day is to buy new gold or silver jewels. It is considered auspicious to buy and wear new jewelry on this day.

 


pookalam Onam: End of August- Begining of September


My articles about Onam:
Onam Ashamsakal - An American's Journey to Understanding Onam
The Dance of Slow Gracefulness: Thiruvathirakali
Vedic Tamil Hindi and Malayalam Calendar
Our Onam Photos (flickr slideshow)
GRAMNY Malayalee Association, Rochester NY USA 
Onam Sadhya Overload

The design made of flowers is called POOKALAM (Poo- flowers, Kalam- design). The design is of a Kathakali dancer's head dress. Kathakali is the classical dance of Kerala. The Pookalam was designed by the author of this site. Click on the photo to see a bigger version.
Journal entries on Onam, including our Sadhya (feast) details and cultural celebration where I dance Thiruvathirakali, Kerala dance (youtube video included).

Rakhi: July/August

 

Rakhi, or Raksha Bandhan is a festival that originated in North India, but the younger generation celebrates this in Chennai. Girls and Women pray for the welfare of their brothers during this festival. They symbolically demonstrate this by tying a thread with or without trinkets on it on their brother’s hand.  The girl can tie the Rakhi on a blood brother, a cousin brother or a close friend that is a male. If a boy has a Rakhi tied on him it means two things, one is that he must protect the girl and, two, the girl is a sister to him, and, due to that, should not think of marrying this girl. Hence, during this time, guys try to avoid girls tying Rakhi on them at any cost. It is noted that any one receiving a Rakhi returns the favor. Whoever tied the Rakhi on the boy, must receive a ‘thank you gift’ from the boy. This can include a small present or money.

 

 

Krishna Jayanthi: Janam Asthami aka Gokul Asthami: August end/ September begining

 

Read the story of Krishna Jayanthi here.

Ganesh Chathurthi: Sometime in September

 

Alai Ganesh Links to articles I have wrote about our favorite holiday:
A Promise to Lord Ganesh: One Americanís Journey to Celebrating Ganesh Chathurthi in America
2008 Ganesh Chathurthi Celebrations at Hamlin Beach, NY, USA.

Photos of past Ganesh celebrations in US:
Photos of 2007 Ganesh Chathurthi Visarjan at Cowanesque Lake, Pennsylvania
Photos of 2006 Ganesh Chathurthi Visarjan Celebrations at Canandaigua Lake, NY
Photos of 2004 Ganesh Chathurthi Visarjan Celebrations in Mendon Ponds, NY
Photos of 2003 Ganesh Chathurthi Visarjan at Cowanesque Lake, Pennsylvania

 

Related Narrations:
Lessons From Ganesha Chathurthi (9/25/07)
Lord Ganesh Freed India From the British? (9/25/07)
Ganesh Chathurthi in Mauritius (10/12/07) More about Ganesh on my site: Ganesha - The Story of Ganesha | Ganesha - Drawing (Freehand) by Bill |Ganesha - MS Paint Drawing by Kamatchi | | Ganesh Chathurthi in Mauritius | Lessons from Ganesh Chathurthi | Did Lord Ganesh Help Free India from the British? | Other articles by Jayanthi on Ganesh Chathurthi

 


 

Fall Navarathri: September end/ October begining Mantle with reflection 1

 

Fall Navarathri usually falls a day after the new moon in Puratasi month, which is September-October month in the Western calendar.  Nava means nine and rathri means night, hence this festival lasts nine nights.

 

Navarathri Posts

Nothing like Navarathri: An Americanís Passion and Continuation of Navarathri in US Part 1 (of 3)
Nothing Like Navarathri: Preparing for Festivities Part 2 (of 3)
Nothing Like Navarathri: What Is Celebrated During Navarathri Part 3 (of 3)
Saraswathi Puja Tribute 1 Reading Retreat
Vijaya Dashami Festival in Mauritius (Part 1 of 2)
Vijaya Dashami in Mauritius (Part 2 of 2)

Other posts about Hindu Goddesses:
Vinzai Devi's Utsav, April 2007 (Part 1 of 3)
Vinzai Devi's Utsav, April 2007 (Part 2 of 3)
Vinzai Devi Utsav - Hymn To Gayatri Mata (Part 3 of 3)
Varalakshmi Vratham

Our Navarathri Photos

Golu at night Navarathri 2008
Photos by Krishna
Photos by Jennifer

Navarathri 2007
Photos by Krishna

Navarathri 2006
Photos by Jennifer

Navarathri 2003
Photos by Jennifer

Vijaya Dashami 2003
Photos by Jennifer
Add your Golu/ Dolls displays/Hina Matsuri photos to my flickr group! Click here.

Other Navarathri reflection articles by Jayanthi

 


 

Diwali: October end/November begining

 

Day 1: Dhanteras – Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped on this day. Dhan means wealth, and one form of Lakshmi is Dhannalakshmi.  Many businesses in India use this day as their financial new year, or audit time. People decorate their homes with plants, colorful kolums, floor designs, and burn oil lamps all day and night.

Day 2: Choti Diwali- On this day, Lord Krishna had killed an evil demon king. After the battle, Krishna returned before sunrise to bathe. He was given bath in scented oils.  It is tradition on this day to have an oil bath on the entire body and hair also.  People prepared scented oil from different oils. I was aware of using sesame oil and some additional spices. After taking oil bath, one takes some shikakai or other herbal mixed powders to rub the oil off. These powders soak up the oil and also exfoliate the skin, leaving it with a healthy glow. People also elect to take a bath with soap and water after this as well.

Day 3: Lakshmi Puja

Day 4: Padwa- This marks the coronation of King Vikramaditya and Vikaram-Samvat. Hence Diwali, if treated as a new year, is called Vikram New Year.

Day 5: Bhayya Dhuj – This is the day that Brothers visit their sister’s homes and sister’s pray for their brother’s welfare. It is also on this day, brothers give their sisters gifts.


These five days are explained in more detail on this page.

For more on Diwali, visit other pages in my site:
Diwali - The Story of Diwali | Diwali - More About Diwali | Diwali Celebrations 2001 |

 

Karthigai Deepam: November end/ December begining

 

This festival is widely known only in Tamil Nadu.  It is the festival that ends the end of the festival season. Karthigai is the name of the month, and deepam means light. Though Diwali is known over India for being the festival of lights, Karthigai Deepam is truly the Tamil festival of lights. Some begin burning oil lamps throughout Diwali and until this festival.  Temples are full of small oil lamps; you must be careful where you step! The number of oil lamps, sizes, shapes and smells of burning oils and butters is a fabulous experience for your eyes and nose!  Many burn oil in a five wicked deepam, each wick stands for elements of a successful life- health, wealth, learning, courage and longevity.

 

This festival is famous in the town of Thiruvanmallai in Tamil Nadu. On this day, they ignite a flame that can be seen for 35 kilometers. This flame is powered by 1,000 kilos of ghee and 350 meters of wicks in a cauldron ten feet high and five feet in diameter. During the night devotees can climb the hill to offer ghee to this fire. As this fire is large and extremely hot, the ghee is fed into the fire through a ten foot tube. Many also note that walking around this hill is good for health as many medicinal plants grow there. It is noted that as this festival falls near the winter equinox, the days are very short at this time of year and the lit oil lamps brighten up the night in a grand way.



More on Karthigai Deepam here

 

The myth or story behind this festival is that many years ago Vishnu and Brahma had an unresolved conflict. At this time, they prayed to Lord Siva for an answer. Lord Siva came to them as a column of fire, of which neither end could be discovered. Hence, we pray to Lord Siva on this day as one of the five elements, this one being fire.


 

Bhogi

Monday, January 14, 2008

 

Bhogi day falls on the last day of Margazhi month. On this day, spring cleaning is done from top of the house to bottom. In villages it is a grand scene. Those living in mud huts will clean the outermost layer of mud off their walls and replace with mud and smeared cow dung. It is said the cow dung has medicinal properties. And against most belief, there is no adverse smell from this process.  Also, the grounds in front of the home are dug up and removed and resurfaced. Families like to purchase new implements for their home, and on this day they are installed. For example, my friend’s family I stayed with in the village installed a ceiling fan on this day.

 

 

Pongal, Maatu Pongal, Kannum Pongal

January 14, 15, 16, 2008

 

Bhogi, and all Pongal festivals fall on the same date in the Western calendar every year. These fall in the tenth month of the Tamil calendar. Interestingly, Pongal is the equivalent of American Thanksgiving, which also falls in the 10th month, November.

The three days of Pongal are a grand sight in the villages of Tamil Nadu. Though city folk will celebrate Pongal, it being a harvest festival, the real fun is in the village.

For details on how each day of Pongal is celebrated, read:
Pongal 2000- Pakka Pongal Celebration in Tamil Nadu Village with Photos
Other articles of interest: Pongal Recipe | More articles on Pongal by Jayanthi.

 


 

Maha Sivarathri: February/March

 

The 14th day of the dark half of every month is called 'Sivaratri''. The one in the month of Maasi (February-March) is known as 'Mahasivaratri'.  Of all the major Hindu festivals, Mahasivaratri is the only one that is more a serious affair. There is practically no festivity, revelry or gaiety in its observance, the whole thing being one of continuous solemnity.

This vrata or penance is open to all human beings. The basic disciplines to be kept up on this day are ahimsa (non-injury), satya (speaking the truth), Brahmacharya (continence), daya (compassion), Ksama (forgiveness) and anasuyata (absence of jealousy).

On Mahasivarathri night all fast and stay up all night praying to Lord Siva. On this night, it is considered auspicious to do abhishekham to Lord Siva. That means bathing him with milk, honey, water, and nectars. Devotees stay up all night and as they do abhishekham, they also sing bhajans, or religious songs, chant mantras, and participate in homa, or fire worship.  It is also said that on this night, Lord Siva and his wife Parvathi ride around the earth on their bull, Nandi.  If devotees continuously repeat a wish of theirs, if Siva, Parvathi and Nandi hear it on their way by, they will grant your wish. In fact, this is incorporated into some Siva rathri rituals as devotees whisper a wish into the statue or murthi of Nandi.


For more on Sivarathri, visit this page in my site:
Maha Sivaratri Experience: Lambodara Das- March 13, 2002

 


 

Holi Festival: March/April

 

More about Holi on my site, submitted by Ajoy.
Eco-Friendly Holi Great site all about Holi!

 

 

Ugadi/Spring Navarathri: March end/ April begining

 

Ugadi is the New Year for the Telugus, the people of Andhra Pradesh living to the north of Tamil Nadu.

 

Spring Navaratri is the nine days in the year dedicated to the goddess and welcoming in the spring weather. It is also, again, during this time, Lord Rama is worshipped, as at the end of Navaratri is Rama Navami, or Lord Rama’s birthday.  It is during these nine nights devotes of Lord Rama recite the Ramayana.

 


Ramanavami: 9 days after start of Spring Navarathri

 

Ramanavami is the birthday of Lord Rama. Navami means the ninth night. This day is celebrated as the ninth and last night of the spring Navarathri, the nine nights of spring.

 

Lord Rama is the beloved brother of Lakshman and husband of Sita. On this day, devotees will read the Ramayana, the epic story that depicts Lord Rama's life.  On this day, people also sing bhajans to Lord Rama and/or attend music festivals. During this time of year, people prepare to perform or watch Tyagaraja compositions. Saint Tyagaraja was a South Indian music virtuoso who was a devotee of Lord Rama, and his compositions are revered during this time of year.

 

 


This page has been visited times since it's inception in August 2005. Updated Oct. 2006. Updated January 2008. Updated October 2008.