Friday, March 14, 2008

Today is Car-adai-on-nombu special

Today, lot of Hindu women, especially in the South, celebrate the "Kaaradaiyaan Nonbu" festival. So, just thought it would be wise to share some ideas and background about the same.

காரடையான் நோன்பு

Among the many festivals that have religious or philosophical connotations, Kaaradaiyaan Nonbu is more a renewal of our faith in the tradition, than a festival. Nonbu is to observe certain norms and offer our prayers accordingly. Especially observed by the women of Tamil Nadu, Kaaradaiyaan Nonbu, is celebrated at the conjunction of the Tamil months Masi and Panguni.

It is to remember the great battle won by Savithri - a mythological character - over the God of Death - Yama, not by arms or ammunitions but by her clever arguments to regain her husband’s life. But, it was Savithri’s genuine prayers that had given her the courage to win over her battle. So, women offer their prayers to Goddess Gouri or Kamakshi following the footsteps of Savithri to plead for a long married life (Dheerga Sowmangalyam).

The Puranic Background

Savithri was the daughter of king Aswapathi who ruled Mathra. She was married to Sathyavan, son of another king, according to her wish. Despite Naradha’s warning that Sathyavan would die within a year of marriage, Savithri married him. But as a devout wife, she started worshipping Goddess Gouri to protect her mangalyam, - that is, to change the fate and give her husband a long life.

On the first day of Panguni, the following year, fate snatched away Sathyavan suddenly. When Yama appeared to take away the life of Sathyavan, Savithri did not give up easily. She argued with Yama, and regained the life of her spouse and in addition begot four more boons too! And they lived happily ever after. Thus goes the story....

What is done for the Nonbu?

So, following the tradition, Kaaradaiyaan Nonbu is celebrated or rather observed in this part of the country every year to remember this day and women worship the Goddess with the same belief as Savithri to protect their mangalyam. This year, the day falls on March 13th. Normally the Nonbu is observed just before the onset of Panguni, when the last few hours of Masi are left. The exact time to carry out the Nonbu would be told by the family Purohit or Vadhyar.

Generally the norms are the same to all. Women, including girl children, take oil bath on the day of the Nonbu. Married women observe fast till the auspicious time arrives, whether it is late evening or mid afternoon ( it depends on when the new month starts and that is determined according to the almanac we follow!). One has to avoid curd or buttermilk totally, for the whole day.

Womenfolk get ready for the puja. The place where we normally worship at home (puja room) is lit with the traditional lamp. Some households follow the tradition of placing a Khalasam with coconut and mango leaves on top of it to initiate (aavahanam) the Goddess Gouri in it. On the small kolams (with rice-flour) drawn in front of the puja, plantain leaves will be placed in order according to the number of women and girl children in the household. If the number is an odd one, one more leaf will be placed for the Goddess. On the right corner of the plantain leaves will be placed the thamboolam along with a banana.

The main item is the sacred yellow cotton string - Saradu (tied in the middle with some flower), which the purohits normally give to every household well in advance. So, when the time arrives two of the Karadais will be placed in each of the leaves along with butter. ( Karadais are specially made for the occasion with rice flour, jaggery and Kaaramani - a red coloured dry beans. Steamed like idlis, they taste well along with butter though the preparation is time consuming). Then, every one has to take a sort of vow in front of their offering to offer the same (" Urugada Vennaiyum oradaiyum naan tharuven - orukaalum en kanavar ennai piriyadirukkanum"), year after year - their only wish being that of a long life for their spouse.

After symbolically offering the Nivedhyam to the Goddess, the older woman in the house ties one of the Saradu placed in front of her to the Khalasam (or the Ambal picture in the puja). The others tie the Saradu around their neck and can now break the nonbu by eating the adais. Two of the sweets, which are offered to the Goddess, will be given to a cow the next day. Younger women offer their respects to the elders to get their blessings. This nonbu may have parallels (on a different day, perhaps!) to it in other parts of India, where the sentiments are the same. But, the rituals may vary. It is the same thread of belief that sustains!



Courtesy: Some interesting blogs and websites - too many to be named here...

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1 comment:

Pavithra Raghavan said...

Hi Hari Thanks for the info about karadiya nombu...:))