Purattasi month is here and one can expect to hear jubilant cries of Govinda, Govinda, calling out to the heavens. The auspicious month is sacred to the Vaishnavites of South India, as the month that the Lord Vishnu descended to Earth. It is the sixth month in the Hindu Tamil calendar.
It is also the month that elders of the family ask us to abstain from eating non vegetarian food. But why do they say that? What is the story behind the rituals and fasts in this month? Are you following the correct method of fasting and offerings? Head on to our full blog, to know just everything about Purattasi.
Purattasi is the 6th month of the Tamil calendar. This month is generally celebrated by the Vaishnavites of India, particularly South India. When the name Purattasi comes up in any conversation, people always tend to think that this is the month where Hindus don’t eat non vegetarian food. Even Practising Hindus themselves who observe this month, don’t know why they are doing the rituals that they have been doing for generations in their homes.
In this blog on Puratasi month rituals, learn what should be done and why we are doing them for a happy and spiritual life
Story of Purattasi
A long time ago there lived a potter named Bheeman in the holy town of Tirupati. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. He taken a vow to perform fasting every Saturday for the Venkatachalapathy. Unfortunately his duties did not afford him the time to visit the temple to get the Darshan of the God.
He decided to bring the Lord to him and made an idol of clay. He was too poor to buy flowers. Instead he made flowers from the left over clay and hung them in garlands on the clay idol. he could not make sweets and other Prasad to be offered to the god. He could only afford to share the humble curd rice that he himself ate, to Vishnu. The king of the realm, Thondaiman was also a devout Vaishnavite. He visited the temple every Saturday and adorned the deity in the temple in Gold chains. But when he came the following Saturday he would find garlands of sand flowers on the idol. He came to suspect the priests of stealing them. However Vishnu appeared to him in a dream and told him about the potter.
King Thondaiman sought the man out and offered him financial aid. But Bheema refused all that and remained devout in worshipping the Lord. The King was so impressed by his piety that from then on, offerings to the god in Purattasi were made in a clay pot. Even when a grand feast is prepared and offered to Vishnu, devotees always keep a clay pot of curd rice among the offerings.
The sacred month of Mars
The Planet Mars is revered as a God in the Hindu religion. He is called as Budhan and the midweek day of Wednesday is attributed to him, and is called Budhan Kizhamai (Budhan – Mars; Kizhamai – day). He governs the astrological sign of Kanni or Virgo. The Planet Mars is said to enter the house of Virgo in the month of Purattasi. Since Budhan is believed to be fond of Vegetarian dishes, Hindus tend to abstain from eating Non vegetarian dishes for the duration of this month.
Fasting on Purattasi Saturdays
Despite the overall abstention from Non vegetarian food, rigorous devotees observe a full fast on the Saturdays of this month. Fasting on Purattasi Saturdays, will nullify or at least reduce the negative effects of the God Shani on us. It can remove many obstacles from our endeavours.
Fasting on every Saturday of Purattasi will gain the attention and blessings of Lord Vishnu upon our home and family. The positive effects of the Purattasi Saturday fast are powerful enough to match that of fasting on every Saturday and performing puja to Lord Vishnu throughout the year.
Even if you don’t have a particular way of fasting, any kind of fasts, pujas and acts of charity are considered to be returned manifold. There is no act that will be considered small, nor is it that only grand gestures, spending a lot of money will be rewarded by the Gods. Whatever we do has only to be done with a pure heart and intentions. This spiritual magnification is applicable only to the Purattasi Saturdays.
Science behind the Purattasi fast
Puratasi month falls from mid September to mid October. This is the season where the climate changes from hot and sultry to cool breezes and intermittent showers of rain. People are more prone to catch diseases, and get colds and fevers brought on by the change in weather. Non vegetarian food may aggravate this condition. Pure vegetarian food is healthy and wholesome, and helps flush the toxins from our body. One also gets the chance to explore vegetarian cuisine and appreciate local flavours.
While all Pujas involve lighting of lamps, the Pujas on the First, Third and Fifth Saturdays of Purattasi are made special by lighting the Maavilakku. Maa is derived from the Tamil word Maavu, meaning Flour and Vilaku means Lamp. It is essentially a lamp made of Flour. It is prepared by soaking and grinding Rice to make a coarse flour. This flour is mixed with jaggery, cardamom, raw camphor , grated coconut and Ghee. The flour mix is shaped into a sphere and set on a silver plate. It is pressed down and a depression is created in the middle and filled with ghee and a wick. After this lamp burns out, the wick is taken out and the lamp is divided and offered as Prasad.
Purattasi Fasting method
While it is generally advisable to wake up early in the morning, during the month of Purattasi, it is extremely beneficial to rise during the Brahma Muhurtham, between the time of 4am to 6am.
Make sure the house is cleaned thoroughly. Take a bath and wash your hair, without applying any oil.
Place the Thiru Namam, a sigil of Lord Vishnu on your forehead. Thiru is a term of respect and Namam means Name. It symbolically translates into the Name of God. Vaishnavites of South India who bear the Thirunamam on their foreheads are referred to as Ayyavazhi people, meaning they follow the path of or descended from Lord Vishnu. It is a Three pronged mark made with a red line in between two white lines. The white clay used to make this mark is also called as Naama Katti. This mark is made to keep God and his divinity always in our consciousness.
Adorn the house with beautiful Kolams and tie Mango leaf thorans at each doorway, or at least on the main door frame of the home.
If you have the habit of performing Lakshmi Puja on Fridays, then replace the oil from the lamp with fresh oil or pure ghee from Cow’s milk. Replace the wick with a fresh cotton or cotton cloth wick and light the lamp.
Offer a simple naivedyam or prasad to Lord Vishnu. If one finds it difficult to make the prasad in the morning, a simple offering of Roasted dal with sugar or jaggery is enough to appease the Gods.
Take a Sombu and clean it with water. Wipe it dry with a soft, clean cotton cloth and place the Thirunamam thrice on it. Place some raw rice and coins in it. Place this Sombu in front of the deity.
After praying to God, take the Sombu and call upon at least four neighbours asking alms of rice from them. This is a lesson in humility that we are all equal in the eyes of God. Call out the name of the god – Govinda , Govinda when calling upon your neighbours.
Bring the rice home and prepare a vegetarian meal along with it. A typical vegetarian lunch during Purattasi consists of Boiled Rice, Sambar and roasted vegetables. Delicacies like South Indian sweets like Sweet Pongal, Payasam and Savouries like Vada are also made.
Before partaking of Lunch, the food is first offered to Perumal (Lord Vishnu). A Full Banana leaf is placed in front of the deity. Place a little of each food on the leaf. Perform a small puja, praying to Vishnu asking him to accept your humble offerings. Sit down as a family to eat lunch after the Puja.
It is also customary to ask the children from the neighbourhood to visit one’s home and offer them sweets and savouries or even the full meal. Ask them to chant Govinda, Govinda. The chant that comes from their pure souls will surely attract the blessings of Vishnu to your home. If you are offering food to the neighbourhood children, you and your family should eat only after they have eaten. One can also offer food and other aid to the poor, homeless , children and elderly people who are living in shelters.
Visit a Perumal temple in the Evening to imbue in the divine energy that is present in the temple.
The Puratasi month is a special and very personal celebration to South Indian Vaishnavites. Every household has different ways of celebrating it. We would love to know of unique and festive ways that your family celebrates it. Share it with us in the Comments Section below.