Southern India is blessed with the culture-rich state of Tamil Nadu along its eastern coast. It’s known as the land of temples as all sizes of temples abound in all nooks and crannies of this state. And as can be expected with so many temples around, there are an equal number of festivals to keep the Tamil people constantly preparing for or celebrating some festival or the other.
Colorful, glittering silk saris, flowers, rangolis and lots and lots of festival foods are associated with most of these festivals. Celebrations are colorful and gay and a major form of propagation of Tamil Nadu’s rich colorful from one generation to the next.
Here is a list of some popular festivals so you can plan your trip to be a part of these celebrations….
This harvest festival is the most important festival of the state and lasts for 4 days from 13nth-16nth January. It’s also celebrated to thank the Sun God for giving energy towards agriculture. The first rice of the harvest is cooked into the pongal dish and is the signature dish of most festivals. On the first day old things are gotten rid of and new things bought. Second day is the main pongal and Jalli Kattu or spine-chilling bull fights take place traditionally. The third day is mainly for worshipping cows. The last day is when women lay out leftover rice on turmeric leaves and pray for prosperity.
This temple festival lasts for ten days and the presiding deity is daily carried out in a procession on different ‘vahanams’. The procession of the Meenakshi temple is most spectacular with Lord Vishnu arriving on a golden horse for Meenakshi’s wedding. The procession at the Kapaleeswarar temple is also famous with 63 bronze idols being paraded. Lakhs of people throng the streets to watch these processions.
Tamil New Year
Puthandu falls in mid-April, heralding spring and women make beautiful rangolis at their door-fronts. Neem flowers and mangoes are cooked to bring in prosperity. People wear new clothes and visit their family temples.
This falls in the month of Thai on a full moon day to celebrate the birth of Lord Subramaniam; people make vows on this day with utmost faith and stick to them once their wishes have been granted. It’s also a festival of penance where devotees take ‘kavadi’ and pierce their body with sharp objects, claiming no pain and closeness to God; surprisingly, there is no bleeding or scaring either. Watching such faith is inspiring!
This festival of lights is really worth participating in. It’s to keep away evil and usher in goodness. Gifts are exchanges, new clothes worn and rows of earthen lamps lit outside the house at night cast a magical glow. A time of gaiety!
There are many more festivals that make Tamil Nadu so colorful!