It might sound horrible to compare the Nobel laureate Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan in the same light along with Karunanidhi. But then they do seem to react in the same way when it comes to things that they are not acquainted with. I doubt whether Dr Venkataraman had done some elementary study of astrology or homeopathy before dismissing them as fake. The same holds good for Karunanidhi also who is never tired of abusing anything Vedic and of Hinduism without even knowing what they are about. The comparison between them ends here.
The one issue that has some relevance in Hinduism but supported by Karunanidhi unknowingly of it – is Thai-p-pongal as the New Year day. I refer to his recent outburst on Jayalalithaa's decision to restore the Tamil New Year's day to the original Chiththirai – which he changed during his tenure. The ironical part of it is that the day of Pongal or the first day of Thai, which he claims to be the New Year day for the Tamils, has a deeper connection with Vedic system and the north Indian "Aryan" culture which he despises.
I have written in many posts in the past on how there is no mention of Pongal festival in any source that speak about Tamil's culture. An inscription attributed to Rajaraja Cholan mentioned 34 days of festivals in a year. They were Sadhaya festival ( Sadhayam or Shathabhishak was the birth star of the King) celebrated every month (12 in number), Kaarthigai festival, 12 Sankaranthi festivals and Periya Thiru Uthsavam for 9 days (perhaps Brahmothsavam).
Yet another inscription found in Lalgudi speaks of two Vishu festivals – one at Chiththirai and another at Aippasi (Libra). Vishu festival finds mention from Pallava times itself. Gathering from all the available inscriptions, we can say that Tamils have celebrated Chiththirai Vishu, Vaikasi Vishaka, Thiruvadhirai festival, Aippasi Barani, Thai-p-poosam, Maasi Magam, Kaarthikai Deepam and Chiththirai-th- thirunaal (Chithra Pournami). The only kind of festival celebrated in the month of Thai was Thai-p-poosam (Full moon in Thai when bathing in sacred rivers or ocean is done even today with festivals arranged in temples) at a mass level and in temples and by the King.
Apart from these, there is no mention of Pongal or a harvest festival. Harvesting time is found mentioned in the inscriptions, but they have no connection with Margazhi (solar month of Sagittarius) thereby not giving any scope for connecting it with the next month (Thai / solar month of Capricorn) in which Pongal was celebrated. Instead, there is mention of two other months, namely Karthigai (Solar month of Scorpio) and Chiththirai (Solar month of Aries) in which payments were made for the harvested produce.
There is mention of Kaarthigai- k- kasu in Chozhan inscriptions of payment made for the harvested produce of the Karthigai month thereby giving the information that harvest took place in Karthigai and not in Maargazhi. The karthigai harvest and the payment for the same had a greater relevance because the Karthigai Deepam festival was a grand occasion in those days. We find a mention of this festival in not less than 4 places in Sangam texts and also in inscriptions. The farmers got paid in Karthigai which they used
for the Deepam festival.
Similarly harvest has taken place in Chithirai which is mentioned as 'Chiththirai-k- kaar' in the cave inscriptions of Trichy belonging to the Chozhan king Rajaraja. Chiththirai had Chiththirai festival or Chiththirai-th-thirunaaL'. Perhaps the payment on Chiththirai harvest came in handy to celebrate this festival.
Thus we find 2 major harvests followed by 2 major festivals namely Karthigai deepam and Chiththirai-th-thirunaaL or Chithra Pournami festival which was celebrated from the 1st sangam onwards. None of these festivals that followed harvest were marked with cooking of Pongal or celebrated as thanks-giving to Lord Surya as it is made out now.
On the other hand the festival of Pongal finds mention only in astrological books! Nearly 250 days of the year have some sort of importance either by way of festivals or Vrathas (austerities with fasting and pooja). One among them is Pongal. Even then this festival which Karunanidhi claims to belong to the Tamils is not a Tamil festival, but a festival of the Yadavas (cowherds) belonging to the Krishna-cult.
This Tamil book on astrology called as "Varushadhi nool' which is the guide book for writing panchangas (almanacs) gives the genesis of all the festivals and Vrathas. It says that Makar Sanakaranthi was celebrated on the first day of Thai (Pushya masa) as a mark of release from the hardships faced in the last 6 months when the cattle and people suffered due to Dakshinayana (rains and fear of tigers and other predatory animals). With the onset of Thai, the people were able to experience the warmth of the sun and were able to drive out the tigers with the help of the cattle. So the second day of Thai was dedicated to the cattle.
The next version of this book is totally based on Krishna cult. Indra has always been considered as the Lord of rains. The worship of Indra was prevalent in olden days due to this reason. (The Indra festival at Poompukar was based on this rationale). But Krishna stopped this and instead asked his people to worship Govardhana hill as it gave fodder for the cattle which they depended on for their livelihood. This angered Indra who poured as torrential rain. Krishna countered this by holding the Govardhana as the umbrella for his people. Humbled by this act of Krishna, Indra sought forgivance from Krishna. Krishna obliged and ordained that people must worship Indra on the day before Makar Sanakaranthi. Since Indra was also known as Bhogi, that day came to be called as Bhogi festival day.
The rationale of this story is that, though the people of Gokula managed to earn their living in the absence of rains (personified by Indra), they did feel handicapped by the rains in the dakshinayana when their cattle could not move out freely for grazing. That was the time Vishnu also is said to go sleep. They made use of the rain water and raised crops, for which they thanked Indra on Bhogi, before Vishnu woke up and set his foot on the first day of Thai – a symbolism for the onset of Uttharayana.
The day of Bhogi has another connection to Krishna cult. It was the day following the Kalinga narthana leela of Krishna. Young Krishna suffered some snake bites and was treated on Bhogi day. Krishna had to be kept awake so that he recovered from the snake bite. This was made possible by keeping bonfire all night long and by the beating of the drums (paRai) by his friends (Gopas) – so says this Tamil book on astrology.
The next day, Sankaranthi was celebrated. The day after that, the cattle were let off freely, which were until then kept in the cowsheds (for nearly 6 months). That marked the Mattu-p-pongal day. Thus we find the description of Pongal entirely centred around a group of people – the cattle breeders whose God was Krishna.
We find support to this story in the practice of worship of Krishna in the preceding month, Margazhi, which continues even today. The Pongal dish is not special for Thai. It was cooked on all days of the month of Margazhi (Margashira) and offered to Krishna.
Another significance was that the entire month of Margazhi was dedicated to the worship of Kesava. That was the practice continuing from Gokula and Dwaraka! The 12 months starting from Margazhi were lorded by the 12 forms of Vishnu known by his 12 names (Dwadasa nama). The first form Kesava was the lord of Margazhi and the second, Narayana was the lord of Thai and so on. The worship of Krishna for one full month in Margazhi culminates in worship of Narayana in Thai. The day after that, worship of Cattle takes place by the name Mattu-p-pongal.
This is same as what we find in Krishna's homeland in Dwaraka and other places connected with Krishnavathara. For them the day after the New Year in Karthak month, was the day Krishna lifted the Govardhana giri. That was a special day for the cattle. In Tamilnadu, the day after Thai was dedicated to the cattle. By this it cannot be said that the first day of Thai marked the first day of the year. Krishna cult was not indigenous to Tamilnadu but was embraced in course of time by cattle breeders of Tamil lands (Mullai). The situation in Tamil nadu was such that Karthak was harvest time and it was followed by Karthikai Deepam.
So they entered into the Vratha in Maargazhi, after the festivities of Karthigai were over. Margazhi by itself has another important meaning to the Yadavas of Dwaraka. That month was called as Nakshathra maasa which started with the star Moola, having an important place in Nakshathra Purusha Vratha. The one who observes Nakshathra Purusha vratha would become a Nakshthra (Star) itself in the next birth – like how Druva became! That month (Sagittarius / Maargazhi) was also the first month in the line of 12 forms of Vishnu. The Tamil Yadavas (Aayars) have adopted the vratha in Margazhi and culminated it with the worship of Krishna on the first of Thai followed by worship of cattle – as a remembrance of Govardhana leela of Krishna.
This kind of worship had been confined to cattle breeders only (people of Mullai / Aayars) and that may be the reason it was not wide spread among others to have found a place in scriptures or in inscriptions. In fact there was an opinion that Pongal was a Vasihnavite festival. In course of time, all the people had started following it. Karunanidhi has given it greater importance and is claiming it to be the New Year by citing a meeting attended by people who had no idea of the causes for religious practices nor had knowledge of days / dates connected with such practices. By clinging to Thai-p-pongal as New Year, Karunanidhi is reinforcing Krishna–cult that was once confined to a section of people of Tamilnadu.
Another issue that he keeps harping around Pongal as the New Year is the Thiruvalluvar Year. The irony of it will be discussed in the next post.
சென்னை: "சித்திரைத் திங்கள் முதல் நாளில் விழா கொண்டாடுவோரை, நாம் வேண்டாமென்று தடுக்கவில்லை. அதே நேரத்தில், நம்மைப் பொறுத்தவரை, தைத் திங்கள் முதல் நாள் தான், தமிழ்ப்புத்தாண்டு தொடங்கும் நாள்' என, தி.மு.க., தலைவர் கருணாநிதி தெரிவித்துள்ளார்.
அவரது அறிக்கை: அ.தி.மு.க., ஆட்சி பொறுப்பேற்றது முதல், தி.மு.க., அரசின் முக்கிய திட்டங்களுக்கு எல்லாம் முற்றுப்புள்ளி வைக்கும் செயலில் தொடர்ந்து ஈடுபட்டு வருகிறது. எம்.எல்.ஏ., - எம்.பி.,க்களுக்கு வழங்கப்பட்ட அலுவலகங்களைக் கூட, மீண்டும் கைப்பற்றக் கூடிய அளவுக்கு இது சென்றிருக்கிறது. வாழ்க அவர்களுடைய பரந்த, சிறந்த உள்ளம். அந்த வரிசையில், தை முதல் நாள் தான் தமிழ்ப்புத்தாண்டு என, தி.மு.க., ஆட்சியில் சட்டம் இயற்றியதை மாற்றி, சித்திரை முதல் நாள் தான் புத்தாண்டு என, சட்டசபையில் மசோதா நிறைவேற்றியதற்காக நன்றி தெரிவித்து, அ.தி.மு.க., பொதுக்குழுவில் தீர்மானம் நிறைவேற்றியுள்ளனர். இதன் மூலம், தி.மு.க.,வுக்கோ, அது நடத்திய ஆட்சிக்கோ, அவமானமில்லை.
மறைமலை அடிகள் தலைமையில், திரு.வி.க., சுப்பிரமணிய பிள்ளை, சச்சிதானந்த பிள்ளை, வெங்கசாமி நாட்டார், சோமசுந்தர பாரதியார், கி.ஆ.பெ.விசுவநாதம் உள்ளிட்ட அறிஞர்கள், 1921ம் ஆண்டு, சென்னை பச்சையப்பன் கல்லூரியில் ஒன்று கூடினர்.அந்தக் கூட்டத்தில் அவர்கள் எடுத்த முடிவுகள் மூன்று. திருவள்ளுவர் பெயரில் தொடர் ஆண்டாகப் பின்பற்றுவது. அதையே, தமிழாண்டாகக் கொண்டாடுவது. வழக்கத்தில், திருவள்ளுவர் காலம் கி.மு., 31ஐக் கூட்டினால், திருவள்ளுவராண்டு வரும் என்பதை மேற்கொள்வது என்பன. கடந்த 1939ல், திருச்சியில் அகில இந்திய தமிழர் மாநாடு, சோமசுந்தர பாரதியார் தலைமையில் கூடியது. அதில், ஈ.வெ.ரா., கரந்தை தமிழ்ச் சங்கத் தலைவர் உமா மகேஸ்வரன், கா.சுப்பிரமணியம், தெ.பொ. மீனாட்சிசுந்தரம், திரு.வி.க., மறைமலை அடிகள், பி.டி.ராஜன், ஆற்காடு ராமசாமி முதலியார், பாரதிதாசன், பட்டுக்கோட்டை அழகிரி உள்ளிட்ட பலரும் பங்கேற்றனர்.
அந்த மாநாடும், தை முதல் நாளே தமிழ்ப்புத்தாண்டு; பொங்கல் திருநாளே தமிழர் திருநாள் என்று தீர்மானித்தது. தற்போது, அ.தி.மு.க., பொதுக்குழுவில் நிறைவேற்றப்பட்ட தீர்மானம், தமிழகத்தில் உலவிய அந்தத் தமிழறிஞருக்கெல்லாம் இழைக்கப்படும் அவமானம்.அவர்கள் எப்படி வேண்டுமானாலும் செய்துவிட்டுப் போகட்டும். நம்மைப் பொறுத்தவரை, தைத் திங்கள் முதல் நாள் தமிழ்ப் புத்தாண்டு தொடங்கும் நாள் தான். அதே நேரத்தில், சித்திரைத் திங்கள் முதல் நாளில் விழா கொண்டாடுவோரை, நாம் வேண்டாமென்று தடுக்கவும் இல்லை. இதை அப்போதே அறிவித்துள்ளோம்.இவ்வாறு, கருணாநிதி தெரிவித்துள்ளார்.
Unfazed by the ruling AIADMK's reversal of his government's announcement on Tamil new year, DMK chief M Karunanidhi today reiterated that he would continue to celebrate the birth of Tamil month 'Thai' (January) as the Tamil New Year.
The decision by the Jayalalithaa government to reverse the New Year to Tamil month of Chithirai (April) was taken after it assumed power,defeating DMK in the April 13 assembly polls.
Holding that AIADMK reversed the decision 'just because it is a DMK initiative,' Karunanidhi reiterated that he had done it based on the findings of various Tamil scholars.
"Let them do whatever they want. As far as we are concerned, Tamil New year starts only in the month of Thai. We will celebrate it as the new year," he said in a letter to party workers.
He however said "we would not stop anyone from celebrating the Tamil New Year in the month of Chithirai."
Soon after assuming power, the Jayalalithaa government had reversed a series of schemes and programmes introduced by her predecessor DMK government. This includes scuttling the New Assembly Secretariat complex, besides changing the New Year.
In 2008, Karunanidhi had announced that the Tamil New Year would be celebrated on the first day of the auspicious month of 'Thai', coinciding with the harvest festival of Pongal.
Jayalalithaa had opposed the move and even as an opposition leader had greeted people for Tamil New Year only in Chithirai.