Tamil month of Aadi - why does this women-centric month give no importance to family functions?

Tamil month Aadi. shutterstock.com

The celebration of family functions such as weddings, grahapravesam, valaikappu, etc  is part of Indian culture and is quite visible across Tamil nadu. They are held almost in all months according to Tamil Calendar. Exceptions are Aadi and Margazhi months. Paradoxically, many temple functions are held in these months.  Aadi Pooram festivals are held in many Hindu temple like Sri Andal temple of Srivilliputhur (Andal jayanthi- 10 day event.), Srirangam Ranganathar temple (celestial wedding of Andal with sri Ranganathar- 10 day event). 

Aadi Perukku  festival, TN tamil.oneindia.com

 In Margazhi.Vaikunta Ekadasi, Hanuman  Jayanthi and Arudra Darshan are held with devotion. Srirangam Perumal temple is famous for Vaikunta Ekadasi. Yet another significant  temple event in Margazhi is chanting of devotional hymns "Tiruppavai"composed by poetess Andal Nachiyar.  Each of 30 verses of Thiruppavai in Tamil in glory of Vishnu is chanted on each day of Margazhi in the early morning at all Vishnu temples.   Another highlight in this month is in front of each Hindu home is the drawing of Kolam (rangoli) of different designs.

With reference to Aadi Masam  (July 16-August 17) the day of Aadi Pooram is widely  observed as the day of Goddess Shakti  as in the case of  Goddess Andal Nachiyar. On the Pooram day, it is believed goddess herself  visits the earth  to bless Her devotees with prosperity and welfare. Aadi month emphasises the worship of goddess, a symbol of wisdom, valor and compassion. It is natural in this month, devotees  worship their deity with true devotion.

That  no family functions are held though  a number of auspicious days are available in  Aadi  month is a surprising one and it has been a tradition for  centuries.  As for temple festivals,  there is no restriction. Why this paradox is a moot question.  Neither business decisions nor opening of a new enterprise or even the start of a new project is shunned in Aadi and is  postponed to the following month.  Both in the villages and cities in temples dedicated to goddess, one can witness a series of religious events throughout the month. In rural areas people pray for good harvest in the following season  as Aadi month marks the end of the harvest season  and the beginning of next cycle.  In Tamil Nadu, the ‘Aadi’ month marks the onset of monsoons.

The Tamil month of Aadi has numerous propitious  days - Aadi Pirappu, Aadi Ammavaasai, Aadi Karthigai, Aadi Pooram, Aadi Peruku, Aadi Velli and Varalakshmi Nombu (worship of Lakshmi)  and they are celebrated by  Hindus with religious fervor.  But, they avoid happy family functions in this month and this incongruity is very much there  between temple or religious festivals and happy family functions in this month. The astronomical reason is the Sun changes its direction during this period and next six months is the night time of the gods. So no special celebrations  like marriages, valai kappu,  purchase of homes, etc  are held in the month.

Dakshinayana Punyakalam,(Aadi is the dusk of their day when their day movess into night) .the night of the Devas, begins on the first day of Aadi. This day offers an opportunity to express our kind remembrances and gratitude to our forefathers. Head of families from countless communities perform what is called tharpanam on this day to invoke the blessing of  pithroos (forefathers). The right choice of place is the banks of Cauvery, Vaikai, Krishna, Ganga, etc. 

On the Aadi Pooram day women in large number flock to the nearby Amman temple and offer bangles to the deity so that young girls will be blessed with a good husband. This is also true of Aadi Perukku day when women go the river banks with their married daughters and offer prayers to the river deity for the family welfare and longevity of married couples. Aadi month highlights the worship of goddess. It is under the Pooram star in the month of Aadi that Goddess Bhooma Devi took avatar as Andal in Srivilliputhur  and showed humanity how to reach God through humble devotion to the almighty. Shakti worship is widely common in this month. Patriarchal in nature, it is a symbol of acceptance of womenwood, gender equality and their vital role in the society. 

 Also common in this month are offerings of  food - pongal, etc to the people at the Amman temple by women,  paal kudam (devotees carrying milk pots to the nearby temple as offering to the goddess)  and  Thee mithithal (walking barefoot on the  burning embers) in front of the temples. These rituals of aadi month are tradition bound and have been around for generations and all these are marked by  dedication and trust in God. 

 All festivals have some kind of social relevance  to develop bonding among different communities,  creating an atmosphere of friendship and harmony and in this respect, such festivities including the temple rituals act as a catalyst to bring the various communities under one umbrella.  Rituals are part of a society and it is their expression of their long-held religious or social belief.  

There are certain sort of  taboos in this month like not holding panthakkal Muhurtham to mark the beginning of wedding preparations, betrothal (Nichayathartham) - fixing the marriage between a girl and boy after agreeing to certain conditions in the presence of relatives, buying machinery for the factory or motor vehicles. One interesting tradition being followed in this month with respect to newly-wed couples is putting  restriction on them from having sex during this month. The purpose is to avoid childbirth  during  ensuing hot summer month (Chithirai month). Climate being the factor, it will be  uncomfortable for both mother and and the kid. These festivals have a positive impact on the society as a whole, bringing them together for a common cause. In this respect religion is used as a tool promote amity and unity.