Tuesday, April 15, 2008

It is Varusha-p-pirappu, not Chitthirai-th-thirunaaL


My 2-part article justifying the start of Tamil New Year in Chithirai, published in www.tamilhindu.com can be read in these links.



My scribd article on this topic can be read here:-

http://www.scribd.com/doc/13628496/Tamil-New-Year-in-Chitthirai-or-Thai )


Though a little late, I am writing this post on Chitthirai Varusha-p-pirappu

due certain observations I made.

First of all, the enthusiasm of the people of Tamil nadu in celebrating this varusha-p-pirappu

was unabated, though it was on a low key.

The usual grand celebrations in the temples were subdued,

obviously due to the interference by the State,

making many comment whether there is any democracy left in this State.

This is not good for Karunanidhi and his family with their high ambitions,

because every temple-goer has now come to realize

what it means to give room for him.

Many in Tamilnadu know the various ways of the politicians

for their propensity to affect our lives,

but the interference of the sort like the ones

in our practices in Temples on Varusha-p-pirappu

is something that has not missed the notice of even those in the lowest rungs of the society.

The awareness has increased

about how the State is playing with their religious beliefs with impunity.

The casual (caustic?) remark by a DMK functionary (read the attached news item below)

that people will get used to the change and

that the present murmurs are due to provocation by political rivals,

is nothing but arrogance that will not go unpaid.

Faith is something that is far beyond the lure of color TVs or gas stoves.

People are watching them, waiting with their electoral ID cards.

The second observation is that people somehow wanted to show

that they are defying the Government orders.

Many housing colonies organized Varusha-p-pirappu festivities -

something which used to be done only on January 1st in the past.

The fear of loss of our practices by these mindless and autocratic forces

is the obvious trigger for the newly formed activities on Varusha-p-pirappu.

It is unfortunate that the media chose to quip the anguished acts by people

as those done by Hindu outfits.

They are wrong.

They have not felt the pulse of the people,

in their fear of the State or due to sycophancy.

The losers in economic sense are the traders

who would have made big money by attracting crowds for Varusha-p-pirappu sales!

The absence of a single advertisement for such sales

which used to be there in the previous years

did not escape the attention of many a thinking citizen.

This shows the extent of terror that the so-called democratic government

is silently wielding on them.

This is something of real concern to all.

This also necessitates that Hindus must unite together.

I can see many Hindus who usually choose to keep away from any outfit realize

that Hindus do need a political voice to stop these forces from disrupting their quiet lives.

It is time that all Hindus unite and become a politically strong constituency.

What Ram mandhir can not do,

what Ram Sethu can not do,

a Karunanidhi is capable of doing in Tamil nadu -

in uniting the Tamil Hindus as a constituency,

which they have not been so all these years!

Yet another observation is that media chose to call the varusha-p-pirappu day

as 'chitthirai-th-thirunaaL'.

Many SMS texts also expressed wishes for "chitthirai-th-thirunaaL."

I wonder - what is this chitthirai-th-thirunaaL?

Only Travancore kings were known for having surnames as some thirunaaL,

followed by their birth stars.

Swathi thirunaaL is a well known one in this way.

There was no Chitthirai star on the 13th of this month.

The name Chitthirai is because the Full moon occurs in Chitthirai star in that month.

For those doubting Thomases about whether these months staring with Chitthirai

are connected with Tamil, here is a piece of information from Choodamani nigandu.

The month is known as 'Madhi' or 'ThingaL' in Tamil,

because of the connection of Moon or Chandran

(Madhi' and 'ThingaL are Tamil words for moon)

with the star in which the moon attains fullness.

From Madhi, the Tamil name "maadham" is drawn.

Madham is that which aids in the evolution of natural forces.

"BhoothangaLukku pariNaamatthai seivathu".

The names of madham (month) are unique for Tamil, in that

they indicate the nature of ritu or 'paruvam' or season and their changes.

There are many Pazha-mozhis (adage) too in Tamil

indicative of the changing times with each month.

Some examples are :-

"aadi-p-pattam thEdi vidai" - aadi is the time for sowing.

"aadi-k-kaatril ammiyum paraklkum" - indicates the windy season.

"Aippasi adai mazhai -
Kaarthigai gana mazhai" - indicative of rainy season.

"Thai piranthaal vazhi pirakkum" - this is indicative of benefits of harvest,
which go into pay for the marriages.
This is about life style of the people.

This adage can be substantiated by verses from Kali-th-thogai,
which tell us that young girls in those days in Tamil nadu used to undertake austerities
in the month of Maargazhi (paavai nOnbu nOttral)
praying for getting a good husband,
which will be culminated in Thai by Thai neeraadal.

The culmination of those austerities is marriage
which was considered as the most important event in a girl's life.
The 'vazhi' in vazhi pirakkum, is about getting a new life by marriage.

But the adage for Thai concerning seasons is
"Thai paniyil tharaiyum kuLirum". (about cool days),

whereas in the month of maasi,
"maasi-p-paniyil machhum kuLirum."

In day to day life,
"maasi charadu paasi-p-padarum",
is indicative of the time to change the yellow thread worn as mangalya sutram (thali).

The popular adage on Chitthirai
"chitthiraikku appan theruvilE" is not about the month.
It is about the star and its effects for the one born in Chithra star.(as per astrology)
This star is spread between two constellations, Virgo and Libra.
If a person is born in Chithra in Virgo,
the vyaya bhava or 12th house will be Leo which is sun's own rasi.
Since sun stands for father,
the virgo-born's father will suffer lows with sun as lord of the 12th from Virgo.

If one is born in Chithra in Libra, Leo becomes the 11th bhava for the movable sign, Libra.
The 11th lord for movable signs (chara) will be 'Badakaadhipathi"
or one who gives troubles to the native.
Thus the father of Chithra born will not be in good terms with the native.
Thus this adage on Chitthra is about the star and not the month.

On the other hand the Vedic names for these months are different.

They start as Madhu, Madhavan etc.

Taittriya samhita (4-4-11) tells the line up of months

from Madhu, Madhava etc starting from Vasantha ritu (spring season).

The mention of these names are found in Ithihasas too.

Coming back to our topic,

it is not Chitthirai-th-thirunaaL or the Chitthirai-day,

it is Chitthirai maasam - the month of Chitthrai.

I don't know who invented this term for this maasam / varusha-p-pirappu.

It is regrettable that many used this term while conveying their New Year wishes.

I request all readers to make a note of this

and desist from using this term in future for varusha-p-pirappu.

Don't call it Chitthirai-th-thirunaaL.

Call it varusha-p-pirappu - putthaaNdu -New Year.

In this context I want to express some issues

connected with the technicality of arriving at the Varusha-p-pirappu.

Contrary to what many people think,

Varusha-p-pirappu is not celebrated at the exact time of entry of sun into Aries.

The entry of the sun into a constellation heralds the beginning of Souramaana or Solar year.

But, for the purpose of rituals, festivities and celebrations,

we rely on Savana-maana, the civil year.

The saavanamaana year begins at sunrise just after the sun enters Ashwini.

The new rays of the sun must glow in Ashwini star in the beginning of this year.

The morning rays of the sun must come into contact with

the day or star or thithi to make it auspicious for celebrations.

The sangramanam of the sun into Aries happened on 13th evening of April this year,

at some places after sun set.

The festivities connected with entry can happen at a time

only when the first rays of the sun touches the first day of sangramanam.

This is as per Surya Siddhantha.

But due to differences in schools of thought, varusha-p-pirappu was celebrated

on the day of sangramanam -when the entry had not yet happened.

By saavanamaana, the varusha-p-pirappu was on 14th only.

The exact time of sangramanam is noted only

for Makar- sangramanam or Makar shankaranthi,

which is about the entry of the sun into Capricorn.

It is because the KaraNam ruling at the exact time of Makar Shankaranthi

is said to decide the nature of 'kaarya-siddhi' ( success in endeavors)

in the year that already started on Chitthirai.

This time of sangramanam may be auspicious or inauspicious.

That is why Surya Sindhantha specifically says that

Makar Shankaranthi is not the right time to start the year.

Lastly, it is heartening to note that Tamils all over the world celebrated this Varusha-p-pirappu.

(read the news item below)

The disheartening part is that our Gods in Tamilnadu were denied

the Panchanga patanam

and other related festivities.

The arrogance of the rulers have not spared even the Gods.

Karunanidhi may be thinking that he is on par with the kings of olden days

and is creating history by changing the New year.

History may record this act of his.

But historians analyze and judge.

Their judgment only will stay as History.

What Ashoka did is passed on to future generations than who Ashoka was,

like how we know what Aurangazeb did than what person he really was.

It is better that this remembered.



From Deccan Chronicle.


Tamils celebrate around the world

Chennai, April 13:

Almost the entire Tamil community spread across the five continents celebrated the New Year on the Chitthirai Pirappu on Sunday, notwithstanding the diktat from the DMK government here that henceforth the Tamil New Year should be observed on the Thai Pirappu coinciding with the Pongal festival mid-January.

There are very few places on the globe that do not have at least a sprinkling of the Tamil Diaspora and they all celebrated the Tamizh Putthandu, exchanging greetings and crowding temples for special poojas.

Even the Canadian Prime Minister has greeted the Tamils in his country-there are over 300,000 of them there-saying this New Year celebration provided an
"opportunity to reflect upon the notable contributions members of the Canadian Tamil community are making to our great nation."

SMS messages, which have now become the fad even among the rural folk, started beeping even from Saturday evening for sharing the New Year joy, many of them in graphic Tamil depictions. "I got a record number of SMS messages today. It just shows that the people did not bother about the government's order shifting the New Year to January," said M. B. Nirmal, founder of the well-known environment NGO, Exnora International.

"The government should not interfere with these things and must leave it to the people to follow their traditional practices," he added. The tradition-drenched Sri Lankan Tamil community is one of them ignoring the DMK diktat. Amid the sorrowful reports from the warfront back home, the Diaspora did its best putting up smiles in the long temple queues in their adopted countries.

"I went to the Mylapore temple early morning and prayed for peace in my country," said a senior Lankan Tamil politician living in near-exile here.

Reflecting sensitively on this tragedy, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in his New Year message to the Tamil countrymen said: "As you gather with family and friends to visit the temple, you may contemplate and pray that peace and harmony will prevail in the new year through a negotiated settlement to the ongoing ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka."

The pro-LTTE TamilNet news portal has reminded its readers that the Chitthirai Pirappu is also the New Year Day for the Sinhalese. The New Year normally falls on April 14 but this year, it happened on April 13 because 2008 is a leap year.

The famous Madurai Meenakshi temple saw thousands of devotees queuing up for prayers from very early in the day, although the administration chose to skip some of the special poojas earmarked for the New Year and also dispensed with adorning the deity with grand diamond jewels.

"We are upset, why should the government interfere in our religious matters?" fumed a woman worshipper.

Dismissing all such criticism as "just momentary reaction to any change", a DMK senior quipped, "The people will in time get used to having the New Year on the first of Thai. Until then, there will be some murmuring, inspired by our political rivals."

And one such rival, the BJP, organised a recital of the panchangam at the famous Kapaleeswarar Temple at Mylapore, because the priests could not recite the almanac due to the government instructions not to observe New Year.

Lankan Tamils reject Karunanidhi's diktat on Tamil New Year


Tuesday April 15 2008 00:00 IST
P K Balachandran


Sri Lankan Tamils, who are known for their orthodoxy, have summarily rejected Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's bid to change the Tamil New Year from Chittirai Thirunaal (April 13) to Thai Pongal (January 14), saying it is unwarranted on astronomical, historical and cultural grounds.

Pro-Tamil Tiger commentators as well as Tamil moderates in the island feel that the change brought about through a resolution of the Tamil Nadu state assembly in February, does not have a justifiable basis even from Karunanidhi's Tamil nationalist standpoint.

"I have not come across anywhere that Thai Pongal was considered to be the beginning of a New Year," said Prof. S Pathmanathan, a renowned Sri Lankan Tamil historian and a former head of the history department in Peradeniya University at Kandy.

"In the Sangam era literature, there is no mention of the New Year. Sangam literature was secular and dealt with matters other than the religious. The question of the New Year is essentially a religious one, and politicians should not interfere," he told this website's newspaper.

Padmanathan, who has written seminal works on Hindu temples in Sri Lanka and the history of the Jaffna kingdom, said the Tamil New Year was an integral part of Tamil Hinduism and had been part of the Hindu ritual calendar for over a thousand years.

"From the time of the indigenous Tamil kings, the Tamils of India and Sri Lanka have considered Chittirai Thirunaal as the New Year, based on astronomical and religious considerations," Pathmanathan said.

"The calculation for the commencement of the New Year and the calendar based on it are entirely astronomical," added a commentator on the pro-LTTE website www.tamilnet.com who goes under the name Ampalam.

There is a combination of solar and stellar perspectives in the calculation of the New Year.

"The entry of the Sun into the first degree of the Fixed Zodiac (Niryana in Sanskrit), i.e. the first degree of the constellation Achchuvini (Ashwini) or the first degree of the zodiacal sign of Aries (Mesha in Sanskrit and Thakar in Tamil) is taken as the beginning of the year," Ampalam said.

"For some reasons, the solar New Year found much currency in the southern parts of South Asia. It is associated with the Saalivahana Era, the reckoning of which is found predominantly in the inscriptions of South India and Sri Lanka. The Era begins in 77-78 AD," he added.

"The Solar New Year in April is also associated with the 60-year cycle that has rendered names for the years. This cycle is based on the calculation of the relative positions of Jupiter and Saturn, the two major planets of the solar system, supposed to be exerting special impact on the climate and natural phenomena in a year, in addition to the usual impact of the Earth's revolution around the sun. In this cycle, the relative positions of Jupiter and Saturn will repeat after 60 years."

"Once again, the 60-year cycle is peculiar to Tamil astronomical texts. The names of the years are widely used only the Tamils. The system is essentially a southern innovation despite the names being in Sanskrit," Ampalam pointed out.

On Chief Minister Karunanidhi's argument in favour of adopting Thai Pongal as the Tamil New Year, the Sri Lankan commentator said the arguments for regarding this as a step towards a "Tamil revolution" are not clear.

Thai Pongal is also determined astronomically. And like the Chittirai Thirunaal, Thai Pongal day (Jan. 14) is observed in various parts of India under various names.

"Whatever pros and cons can be said about the April New Year can also be said about Thai Pongal, which is Makara Sankraanti to the rest of India," he asserted.

Giving up the April 13 New Year and opting for Thai Pongal day will only dissociate the Tamils from other Dravidian peoples in South India and Sri Lanka, Ampalam said.

Chittirai Thirunaal plays an integrative role by keeping alive relations between the Tamils and other Hindus in India, and also the Sinhalese Buddhists in Sri Lanka, Pathamanathan said. By giving it up, new cleavages and animosities would be created, he warned.


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