Festivals are generally a great celebration either at home or at religious establishments in Tamil Nadu. The festival becomes a cause for Religious, Social and Family Gathering at different places on various occasion to worship, enjoy and have fun. We shall hereunder follow some of the important festivals of the State. The Pongal Holidays of the state start with Bhogi either on the 13th or 14th [ based on Tamil Calendar] of January of every year and the next day is the start of the Tamil month THAI [Jan-Feb], 2nd day is celebrated as PONGAL, 3rd Day as Mattu Pongal and the 4th Day is popularly called by common man as Kaanum Pongal and government celebrates it as Thiruvalluvar Day. Festivals, though marked in individual name it is totally to be called as UZHAVAR THIRUNAL or the FARMERS FESTIVAL.
This festival basically symbolizes THE THEORY IS TO GET RID OF THE EVIL OR OLD AND WELCOME THE GOOD OR NEW . The people clean their houses, paint them new and get rid of the old and junk by burning them. By burning the old, it is believed that evil or old things destroyed to pave way for the transformation of new things in our life. Awareness is being created by the Government and the Pollution Control Society to celebrate this festival, without deviating from the traditional practices, but to ensure pollution free environment.
It is also called as the Makara Sankranthi and auspicious first day of the month THAI [makaram] and it is being celebrated as a thanks giving day dedicated to SUN GOD. It is because of its astronomical significance: that it marks the beginning of Uttarayana, the Sun's movement northward for a period of next six month and enters into zodiac sign of Makaram. Pongal is generally celebrated as the Uzhavar Thirunal or the Farmers Festival. All the people, specially in Villages, Cook Pongal with new and colorfully painted Earthern Pots , with New Rice from the harvest and Milk. The entire family joins in welcoming the day and the festival to mark a new beginning. Being the season for the ripened Sugar cane it finds a prominent place in the festival throughout, when people especially children can be seen crushing bits of sugarcane in their mouth and relishing the Juice.
This is a festival that is being celebrated to show the people’s gratitude towards the Bulls who help the farmers to plough their lands and also the cows and buffalos for providing milk through out the year. The cattle are thoroughly cleaned, their horns are painted with colours, adorn them with new and colourful clothes and take them around with the Jingling bells around their neck. Normally cattle trucks were and even now used in some villages to transport men and materials.
A festival event called Jalli Kathu or Manju Virattu is held on Mattu Pongal day in Southern Districts popularly called as Alanganallur Jallikattu, where thoroughly bred fighter bulls are reared and brought to the arena for fight of control between Men and the Bull. It is an event of prestige for the Owner of the bulls. Community Dining is very popular in which the food is made of the freshly harvested grain. This day is named and celebrated in a fitting manner through out Tamil Nadu.
The Government celebrates this day as Tiruvalluvar Day in honour of the Tamil Poet who had created TIRUKKURAL, popular and respected 1330 couplets. It is also called as Pothu Marai or General Code of Conduct. It has been translated into many foreign languages too. It is Kaanum Pongal for common man. They start off early in the morning on an outing spree to visit Places and People. It is a mass GET TOGETHER where lakhs of people are out on the streets, malls, parks, restaurants, religious establishment, amusement parks and other places of interest to spend time with Friends, Kith and Kin.
It falls in the month of Aani [Jun-Jul] and culminates on the Full moon day of the month. Unjal in Tamil means a Swing with a solid plank of wood connected to the Ceiling by Chains and it is made to swing by gentle push forward and backward. Both Lord Sundereswara and Goddess Meenakshi will be seated on the Swing. Songs will be sung in praise of them along with Nadaswaram playing those songs while the swing is in motion. It is celebrated in the 100 pillared hall of the temple.
This festival Brings the enactment of the Celestial Wedding of Meenakshi with Sundareswarar. During this festival Lord Vishnu rides on his Golden Horse Chariot and arrives at the veneue of his Sister Meenakshi’s Wedding. Tourist Festival is being organized by the Department of Tourism within the Thirumalai Naiker Mahal to showcase the Tradition and Culture of the State, during the Pongal Festival days. The Tamil Nadu Government conducts a month long Chithirai Exhibition during the Chithirai Festival is another Tourist Festival of Madurai.
Like the English Calender, month of Chithirai embarks the New Year and the time of festivals. This day falls generally on the 14th of April. The new calendar of the Tamil Months starts from Chithirai, the first month of the Tamil Calendar Year. The people celebrate the New Year by visiting the Temples nearby for success and it will be a festival menu for the day. A platter full of Good Things like, Gold, Silver, Flowers, Fruits etc is kept in the Puja Room and people start their day after viewing with a belief that this will bring them all good things in the year. The Panchanga Padanam [reading the almanac], a ritual that is held to explain the special features of the New Year. Good and bad of the year is also briefed. Kerala Malayalee Community celebrates this as Vishu Kani.
During December - January, Mamallapuram Dance Festival attracts Exponents of Bharathanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Mohini Attam, Oddissi and Kathak who perform to the delight of International and Local Tourists as well.The Mamallapuram Dance Festival is held every year during Dec-Jan in Mamallapuram, Tamil Nadu. This dance festival is organised by Department of Tourism, Govt. of Tamilnadu. Mamallapuram was once the ancient port of the Pallavas. Mamallapuram is the renowned and ancient 7th century centre for Pallava culture and art. Exponents of Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Odissi, Mohini Attam and Kathakali perform against this magnificent backdrop of the Pallava rock sculptures. Mamallapuram was once the ancient port of the Pallavas. It now plays host to a vibrant festival of dance. Exponents of Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Kathakali perform against the magnificent backdrop of the Pallava rock sculptures. Mamallapuram is a popular beach resort and a culture front, especially for the tourists, who come from the world over who love to imbibe and soak in the rich traditions. This town beach is full of ancient monuments, sculptures, caves, monolithic temples and beaches. In Mamallapuram there is a Shore Temple that was built during the reign of Narsimha Varman of the Pallava dynasty in 8th century A.D. During the dance festival time the stones of temple begin to resonate with music and dance rhythms.
It was started in 1981 as a annual event, to revive and consolidate the art of Bharatha Natyam and it takes place in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple. The Five Days event now features about 300 to 400 dancers performing Bharatha Natyam, Kuchupudi, Mohini Attam, Kathak, Odissi. 300 or more accompanying artistes also converge at Chidambaram. The festival organized by the Trust known as ‘Natyanjali Trust’ attracts International attention.The Natyanjali Dance Festival is held every year during the months of Feb-March and it is a five-day festival. This dance festival is one is a dedication to the universal dancer Lord Shiva who is known as Lord Nataraja. This festival is held in the city of Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. The festival begins on the Maha Shivaratri, a day that is dedicated to the Lord Shiva and is held in the prakara of the Chidambaram temple. This magnificent temple built thousands of years ago as a dedication to the Lord Nataraja forms a beautiful backdrop. The setting is truly divine with the gold-roofed temple and pillars adding splendour. They depict Lord Shiva in the 108 poses or mudras of Bharatnatyam, the classical dance of Tamil Nadu. The Department of Tourism, Government of Tamil Nadu, The Ministry Of Tourism, Government of India and The Natyanjali Trust, Chidambaram jointly organize this festival or Utsav . This festival provides unique opportunities for dancers from around India to come and perform in front of an enormous crowd.
Chennai Celebrates the Great December Music season of Carnatic Music and Dance performances of Artistes of all Denominations. The Sabhas as they are popularly called, will be buzzing with frenzy activity on all the days of the Music Season. Along with the Musical treat the Sabhas make arrangements for good culinary treat from excellent catering establishments with exclusive dishes. The Rasikas enjoy both music and food.
It is a very colourful popular event that takes place once in 12 years in the month of Masi 9Feb-Mar] on Magam Star Day at the Divine Tank in the heart of the city called as the Mahamagam Kulam. Lakhs of pilgrims from all over Tamil Nadu assemble here to take dip in the tank at the auspicious hour. All the deities of the temples in and around the Tank turnout here to have dip at that time. Elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims are made by the Government of Tamil Nadu with the help of the Town Committee. There is a legend: That Lord Siva Shot and spill the content for creation from the pot held by Brahma into this Mahamagam tank.
Thyagarajar [Father of Carnatic Music] Music Festival is celebrated annually in the month of January for Eight Days at Thiruvaiyaru, the birth place of Saint Thyagarajar. This festival is popularly called as Thyagaraja Aradhana. On Pushya Bahula Panchami, the day when Saint Thyagarjar attained Samathi [ passed away] and this day which falls during January is celebrated as Aradhana. Carnatic Musicians of all denominations from all over the world , converge here to honour the embodiment of Carnatic Music – Thyagarajar.
This is the Annual Colourful Procession of replicas of all the 63 Nayanmars [Saivite Saints] called Arubathu Moovar, during the Brahmotsavam Festival of Kapaleeswarar Temple at Mylapore in Chennai. The procession goes around the Four Mada Veethi [four streets around the temple]. Thousands of people turn out on this day and the Chariot Festival day of the Brahmotsavam. This takes place in the month of Panguni(MAR/APR)
Udhagamandalam or popularly called as Ooty hosts the Summer Festival in this exotic hill station during the month of May. It is the time when thousands of Local and International tourists flock to this pleasant Tourist Location. Cultural Programs, Flower show and a special Rose Show of nearly 8000 varieties, Fruits and Vegetables Shows, Boat race and Pageantry tops the list celebrations during the Summer Festival. Apart from these activities, there will be many more to please the visitors. At Kodaikanal the district administration conducts a 10-day summer festival as well as two-day flower show at Bryant Park. Dog show , Colourful Boat pageant, Fishing, Sports, track and field events, Cultural programmes, Special programs for women are some attractions of this 10 day festival at Kodaikanal. Likewise many smaller hill stations too hold such entertainment packages during summer.
Saral Vizha is a ceremony which involves bathing in the Courtallam Waterfalls. The bathing at the magnificent waterfalls is believed to welcome prosperity and well being. The event is magnified into a ritual which is believed to bring about a pleasant change in the life and body of the devotees. The waterfalls endowed with medicinal properties helps to tone the body and wash away the toxins collected in the body. This helps in the smooth functioning of the human body, and the mind and brings about a feeling of peace and tranquility.
It is a truly secular festival, where devotees flock to the shrine of saint Quadirwali. One of the descendants of the Saint is chosen as a Peer or spiritual leader, and is honoured with offerings. On the tenth day of the festival, the Saint's tomb is anointed with sandalwood, and later the holy sandal paste is distributed to everyone. . This is popularly called as Santhana[ sandal] Koodu Festival. The sandal paste is distributed to the devotes.
Kavadi Attam is a ceremonial sacrifice and offering practiced by devotees during the worship of Lord Murugan. It is the special feature of the Tahaipoosam and emphasizes debt bondage [nerthi kadan]. The kavadi is two light weight bamboo basket supended on both the ends of a long Bamboo stick and carried on the shoulders by the devotee. Devotees dance to the tune of accompanying instruments along the pilgrimage route and also at the Temple bearing these Kavadi. The baskets are normally filled with Flowers or any thing else vowed by the devotee. This Kavadi concept is the result of the legend which says: Idumban carried two sacred hillocks suspending them on both the ends of a pole and carried it on his shoulders.
The Portuguese Sailors in the 16th Century who passed the Nagapattinam coast is believed to have vowed to build this church as a gratitude to Virgin Mary who saved their ship from sinking during a storm. The Church is called locally as Arokiya Matha Church . The festival is held between 29th August to the 8th of September every year . Car Festival in the evening and cultural programs follow after the Car Procession. Pilgrims from all walks of life beyond the religious barriers gather here to witness the colorful festival. Miracles have earned this church the name Lourdes of the East. Velankanni is famous for its annual 'Feast of Our Lady' celebrated for 10 days during August-September, starting on 29th August.
It is a Nine day festival widely celebrated throughout India. The term Navratri literally means Nine Nights. It is the worship of Divine Mother Shakthi. She is worshipped in different forms and incarnations. Women at home arrange a Thematic Doll exhition Called Kolu and invite near and dear to view that. In temples, Goddess Devi is Worhipped and it is believed, we invoke the energy aspect of God in the form of Durga Lakshmi and Sraswathi, who represent Power, Wealth and Knowledge. Populary celebrated Navrathri is in the month of every year at the beginning of Winter during Purattasi Month [Sept –Oct]. Temples, Mutts and Religious establishments celebrate another Navratri during the summer called as Vasantha Navarathri. It is said these two Navratri’s occur at two very important junctures of climatic change and solar influence.
It is called as Festival of Lamps celebrated in the month of Aipasi [Oct-Nov]. It is a festival of prayer to greet Goddess Lakshmi to bestow prosperity and wealth. Legend says: Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasura on the day before Depavali and as wished by the demon, Lord Krishna ceded his request and blessed that this day will be celebrated by one and all in the country as Deepavali to remove the darkness. On this day the homes are lit with lamps that brings brightness. New dresses, Firing of Crackers and distribution of Sweets are the order of the day. Both young and Old fire crackers and enjoy the festival. Every one exchanges seasons greetings and varieties of Sweets and gifts.
This is celebrated in the month of Karthigai. In all the house holds, lamps made out of mud is lit and placed all round the house to give a very divine look. It is also celebrated in all the Siva Temples in the State and all over India with reverence. This festival also relates to Lord Murugan called as Karthigeya as mentioned in Skanda Puranam. Special sweets are made and offered to God and also distributed to one and all. The Popular Karthigai deepam is the colourful Festival of Tiruvannamali Temple where a very huge deepam is lit on top of the hill that is visible miles and miles away from the Tiruvannamali Hillock. On the same day or the day before, they light the BHARANI DEEPAM on the Bharani Star and Later on the KARTHIGAI deepam is lit on the Hills on Karthigai Star. This festival is witnessed by millions of devotees in person and also through live telecast of Television Channels.
Tea and Tourism are inseparable twins of Nilgiris District. With the initiatives of the Tourism Department, Government of Tamil Nadu along with Ministry of Tourism , Government of India, the Tea and Tourism Festival is being held annually. The tourism department arranges: Cultural Programs, visits to Tea Estates and Factories, other entertainment events to add colour to this annual Festival. Tea lovers around the globe converge in Nilgiris during the festival period. Certainly, this is an occasion that should not be missed.
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