Aadiperukku festival, 2019, poor water flow dampened the spirit of the people in Tamil Nadu


The Aadiperukku festival of this year was celebrated yesterday by the Hindus though with some religious fervor in some places, it lost it lustre in many places along the Cauvery river, the lifeline of Tamil Nadu. The Cauvery river at Srirangam and Thiruvaivaru and its tributaries, Kudamuruti, Veerachozhan and Arasalaru presented a pathetic look - parched and dry with pockets of water here and there. The catchment area of the Cauvery, Kudagu in Karnataka did not receive enough rain this year as SW monsoon did not bring in enough rain. Disappointment was writ on a large section of people, particularly, womenfolk who converged at the river banks because they had to be content with showers and piped water arranged by the  civil body. This year, it is not a happy occasion as the river Cauvery in the last few years has not carried enough water due to insufficient monsoon rains. Being an old timer I used to travel across the Cauvery and its tributaries in the 1950s, the scenario in those days was breath-taking. The water in these rivers was running in full flow and there used to be occasional dry spell that would reduce the flow of water in these rivers.

The Tamil month Aadi falls between July and August and farmers would begin the agricultural work now as it is the right time. Preparing the lands, sowing seeds and raising nurseries begin 
in this month. The harvest season in the delta areas is in January 
and farmers start the preparation well a head. Tradition has been that on this day newly married women go to the river banks 


and perform certain rituals for the welfare of their spouses and families by invoking the goddess and replacing their old sacred Thali/ Mangala sutra with a new one dip

ped in turmeric paste.  Further, it is also an occasion to pay our respect to our ancestors. This festival has been around since ancient time. Much of this month is spent doing pujas and prayers  to Goddesses like Mariamman, Mundakanni Amman to eliminate the inauspicious aspects associated with this month, so, no family function, etc are held in this month; not even any business deal or land registration. 

Aadi Perukku is a unique South Indian festival  particularly in Tamil Nadu that falls  on the 18th day of the Tamil month of Adi (mid July). Yet another purpose of this festival is to pay our gratitude to water bodies by way of doing pujas to the rivers,etc  that give us the  potable water and the needed water for other purposes - agriculture, industries, etc. It is a celebration of water bodies - lakes, wells and river basins that sustain our lives, heralding the onset of  NE Monsoon October- November. We also pray to god to have good monsoon rains in the coming months that may wet the parched lakes, etc across Tamil Nadu.  Before the  harvest season in the delta areas  in January, we need enough rains to raise various crops to meet people's demand.

At Srirangam in places like Ammamandapam, more than 1000 people performed various rituals. At Kambarasampettai and Geethapuram near Tiruchi, the govt. built check dams and people in large number took a holy dip in the Cauvery. In the temple town of Kumbakonam, womenfolk  celebrated the festival in the Mahamaham tank where 'Theerthavari' for Adikumbaeswarar temple was held.  People also went the cauvery bank where the civic body made special arrangement. At Thiruvarur town, people happily took a holy dip in the Kamalalayam tank as there was enough water. It is the largest temple tank in India with natural springs undergeround. 

An interesting but sad fact is some places like Nagapatinam and Karikal, this festival was  marked by ''Oppari'' (lamentation) by womenfolks as the Cauvery river bed was bone dry. The villagers in Palaiyr did the same thing -(moaning over the parched water bodies) observed the festival with a heavy heart and devoid of joy and happiness. For the Mayiladuthurai devotees, the festival was not a happy one  as they depend on the water from Pushkaram tank in Cauvery Thula Kattam. In the coastal areas like Karikal, etc people went to the beach and took a dip in the salty water. 

In many rivers, there was a little water and as the available water was dirty, the people faced hardship to celebrate this otherwise happy festival. The poor water condition across the state dampened the spirit of the people, but their religious fervour never slackened. 
'Aadiperukku' loses its sheen in Delta districts, The New Sunday Express dated 4 August, 2019.