Post No. 11,250

Date uploaded in London – 9 SEPTEMBER 2022         

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6.PURATTAASI- Garba and Golu; Dasarah  and Durga Puja

When I was a school student in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, I used to hear VENKATA RAMANAAA GOVINDAA every Saturday morning at my door step. Immediately my mother would rush to the door and deposit some rice  in their bowl of who recited that holy slogan. Even my school mates came with a big ‘Naamam’ as tilak on their foreheads with ‘begging bowls’. Actually they are not ‘beggars’ roaming for food. They make a vow to offer it to Lord Venkata Achala Pathi (Venkataachalapathi) at Tirupati (Baalaaji Temple). Decent people make a vow to go to door to door and ‘beg’ and offer it to God, because the God cured their disease or solved their problems. So no Tamil could forget the Tamil month Purattaasi.

Naamam is a three vertical line symbol that Vishnu worshippers wear.  The middle line in  three lines will be in red colour, other two being white lines.

Shiva worshippers wear three horizontal lines of white ash called Vibhuuti. It is a familiar scene in Tamil Nadu.

When sun enters Kanyaa Raasi (kanni in Tamil standing for Zodiac sign Virgin), the month Purattaasi begins.

Brahmins consider this month sacred because of the Mahaalaya  (Maalaya) Paksham. It is a period of 15 days (paksha=fortnight) dedicated to the ancestors ,departed souls. Orthodox Brahmins follow strict dietary rules. They don’t eat outside; they don’t eat garlic and onion.

About garlic and Onion…………….

About 100 years ago, Brahmins did not use garlic and onion at all. Their food was so tasty without these items. All non- brahmins used to enjoy it. Now it is all gone with the wind. Only during ceremonies for departed souls they use the traditional vegetables (not even chillies are used because they are from South America. They use only black pepper for the spicy taste).

Nowadays in London, only Gujarati Swaminarayan followers and Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON) followers follow non- garlic and non-onion diets. One must visit Hare Krishna restaurants in London and Lisbon. When I went to Lisbon (Capital of Portugal) to take part in the AGM of Hindu Forum of Europe, I  had only that kind of tasty food for three days.

About Maalaya/Mahaalaya Fortnight……..

Those who could not do the oblations for 14 days, they do it on Mahaalaya Amaavaasai (new moon day); in addition to the new moon day, fatherless people do one more on the Thithi/day of their father. That is the day a person’s father departed.


Navaratri (Nine Nights of Goddess worship) is the most famous festival of this month. No Hindu can miss it because of the Gujarati Garba dance, Bengali Durga Puja and Tamils Sundal and Golu.

All the Tamil temples have special Alankaara (decorations) for goddesses in the temples; women used to flock to the temples in thousands; temples arrange special musical concerts during the nine days.

Brahmin and Chettiyar families organise Kolu or Golu and distribute different types of Sundal every night. Kolu or Golu is a doll show on step like wooden structures. Women invite other women to their houses and give them gifts like blouse pieces or saris with Kunkum and Turmeric. It happens even in London today. Some temples also do K/Golus.

The last day of the Navaratri is Vijaya Dasami. Little boys and girls go to school for the first time. They do Akshara Abhyaasa (learning letters) on that day. Dasami means Tenth Day (dasaraah). Merchants do Puja to their account books (nowadays computers); workers do Puja to their instruments; so it is called Aayudha Poojaa. Aaayudha means weapons or instruments.

Boys and girls go from house to house and demand Sundal. It is spicy snack made out of boiled pulses. If they are not taken care of, they curse the householders.

They shout “ Bommai Kolu Bakshanam, Veettaip Paaru (ava) Lakshnam. It is like Trick or Treat in Western countries. If the boys and girls, who disguise themselves as ghosts with masks, are not given something, they shout against the householders. In London I Used to buy chocolates and biscuits for that Halloween Night.

Bommai Kolu is the doll show. Lakshanam is beauty; but the disappointed boys and girls say Ava Lakshanam. It means Ugly. If you are not able to give us Bakshanam/Sundal, your house looks ugly is the meaning of ‘Bommai Kolu Bakshanam, Veettaip Paaru (ava) Lakshnam’.

In Mysuru (Karnataka) famous Dasarah festival happens. Scores of elephants march with golden Howdah.

When I was in Madurai, I worked for the newspaper Dinamani. In those days Ayudha Puja (poojaa) was a declared holiday for workers. So, newspaper would come out the next day. The gigantic Rotary Machines, Mono and Lino teleprinters will be cleaned and decorated meticulously. It happened in big factories as well (Madura Coats and TVS in Madurai). Workers get big packets of food and Sundal (spicy snacks). Machines and instruments are worshipped, and Arti shown to them.

Music and dance students visit their Gurus (teachers) and give them Coconut, Banana and Money, falling at their feet (Prostration).

London Police Advertisements

Metropolitan police place big advt.s at this time of the year warning Hindus to be extra careful. Thieves use this period to break into houses, because the whole family goes to temple for hours leaving the houses dark. Gold chain snatchings also happen. So the police advise Hindus to leave the lights on and take extra care not to expose golden jewellery. For women it is a period of Showing off!

Tamil Hindus don’t do auspicious things like Marriages, Grha Pravesam etc during this month.

For a Hindu Purattaasi is holy because of this Navaratri which begins the next day of Amaavaasyai (new moon day). This is a rainy period. South West monsoon is disappearing and North East monsoon is seen in the horizon.

English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley said

O, wind, if winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Hindus say

O ye Rains, if Navaratri comes, can Deepaavali (Diwali) be far behind?

Shop owners clear their old stock and get newer things and start advertising for Diwali which falls in the next month Aippasi.

To be continued…………………………

 tags- Tamil Months-3, Purattasi, Navaratri, Mahalaya, Amavasai

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