Tamil month Margazhi - time of festivals, devotion and music

The Tamil month Margazhi, (mid December to mid January)  being  an auspicious month for the Tamil Hindus and  others, is a time  of  festivals, devotion (Bhakti) and music. It is a spiritual engagement for the devout Hindus. The Tamil calendar based on the classical ''Hindu solar calendar'' as used in many Indian states and SE Asian countries, starts from  mid December -  at this time of the year, it is the coolest season because the northern portion of the planet is facing away from the sun because of  inclination of the central axis. 

Sri Andal temple, Srivilliputhur, TN.'Thiruppavai' sung here. tamilnadu-favtourism.blogspot.com
There are many festivals  associated with Tamil months according to the Hindu Tamil  calendar.  The Tamil New Year normally follows the 'Nirayanam vernal equinox' ('The March equinox or Northward equinox is the equinox on the earth when the Sun appears to cross the celestial equator, heading northward. The March equinox is the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere and the autumnal equinox in the southern hemisphere.') and generally falls on 14 April of the Gregorian year. Hence 14 th April marks the first day of the traditional Tamil calendar. Margazhi  Masam marks the time  of the winter solstice when the days are shorter and the nights are longer.
Andal Thirupavai. play.google.com
The important festivals associated with Margazhi are Vaikunta Ekadasi, Hanuman Jayanthi and Arudara Darshan. Unfortunately for unknown reasons,  this month, it is believed, is not good for  unmarried girls to find a groom and consequently weddings are not held in this month. In the great epic Mahabharata written by sage Vyasa, it was in this month Lord Sri Krishna gave the  ''Geeta Upathasam''- the essence of life and spiritual exposition to warrior Arjuna on the battle field of Kurushetra. All Hindu temples follow special pooja  protocol in this month. At Vishnu temples  rendition of Tamil hymns of Tiruppavai of Andal, daughter of Periyazvar is done with devotion.  Every  day of Margazhi, one verse of Thirupavai is  chanted in the early morning. (Thirupavai has a collection of 30 devotional pasurams/ verses in praise of Maha Vishnu in chaste Tamil). Thirupavai rendition is quite popular at Sri Andal temple at Sri Villiputhur.  At home, in the morning ladies sing Thirupavai and this  will continue for the whole month of Margazhi. 

This month is significant for the Sri Ranganathar temple at Srirangam that celebrates Vaikunta Ekadasi - opening of Sorgha Vaasal or Paramapadha vaasal Thirappu (opening of heavenly gate),  the Pagal pathu and Raapathu – the chanting of Tiruvaimozhi and Aryiyar Sevaai. Poojas in the temples start usually very early in the morning - around 3 am during this month; lots of devotees, after morning ablution, throng the temples for prayer, blessings and prasadams.

Margazhi-  Chennai-classical  dance and music festival. indiaunbound.com.
Arudra Darisanam (Thiruvaadirai star in Tamil) is the most auspicious day in this month. The offering made to Lord Siva is the Thiruvaadirai Kalee - a sweet boiled pudding. People both women and men normally shun non-vegetarian food. In all towns of Tamil Nadu, in particular at Srivilliputhur, women folks get up in the early morning and after head bath and puja, joyfully draw the kolam or rangoli  of different designs and of  different geometric patterns, using colored rice powder in front of their home.
Common in Margazhi. Kolam or Rangoli. sivakasiweekly.com
It is a way of propitiating the deity to bring in prosperity, peace of mind and good health for the families and the nation.

Yet another highlight of Margazhi Matham is the time of rendition of  classical music and also of performance of traditional dances associated with the state of Tamil Nadu. Traditional music and dances  are yet another  way of paying obeisance to the almighty in this month of divinity. Indian classical dance, in particular, is interwoven with the spiritual beliefs and the mythology of the ancient Hindu culture. Important cities, in particular Chennai and Coimbatore come alive where the Sabhas (music clubs) are thronged by music lovers to listen to the well-known classical singers and instrumentalists  in the comforts of  cool and congenial weather - a deserving respite from the uncomfortable  months after unbearable hot summer. However,  this year in Chennai city because of the unprecedented rain and the resultant flooding in many places, the winter music season went off on a low key.

Margazhi Maasam is believed to be  auspicious early morning for the celestial humans - Devas. One year on our planet is equal to a day for them. The night time of Devas begins during Dakshinayana Punyakalam. 

The name Margazhi, derived from Margashira in Sanskrit, is actually a holy month However, Hindus do not celebrate  important family functions and also avoid opening of new business and buying of immovable properties, etc., in this month. They also avoid purchasing of gold  jewelry and wedding dress for the prospective bride  in this month. Anyway, for numerous  people, getting  out of the warm, cozy blankets  in the early cool morning  may be an uneasy  one, but they feel thrilled  to get up to taste a cup of steaming well-flavored filter coffee to get rid of morning lethargy and listen to the classical music or slokas coming from TV or near by Hindu temple through loud speakers perched on the tower. This is really an  enchanting, pleasant month when the  atmosphere is thick with reverberating devotional hymns and mesmerizing classical devotional Tamil and Carnatic  music.

The Tamil month Thai begins on the 15th of January every year with an important Hindu festival called Pongal in Tamil region and Sankaranthi in other states. It 's a harvest festival associated with worship of  the Sun God without whom the entire planet and its denizens will perish for ever. It is also a month of weddings for the Hindus.