How do spirituality and Science co-exist during the month of Margazhi?
Festivals and celebrations can be considered important aspects that highlight a country’s identity as they have a significant role in reflecting the culture, tradition and legendary history of a nation. There are many famous festivals and celebrations of the world that are commemorated once every year like Christmas, New Year, Diwali, etc.; But for India, especially in South India every day, every month is a celebration. One such month that is celebrated and greatly revered among the people of South India is the month of “Margazhi” (mid-December to mid-January) read through the blog and discover the inspiring spiritual facets of Margazhi month that are built-in with incredible scientific reasons.
What is Margazhi Month?
Margazhi, Agrahayana or Margashirsha is the ninth month of the traditional Hindu calendar (mid-December to mid-January) in the Gregorian calendar. This month is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and it is considered auspicious as the divine energies are elevated to the peak, making it an ideal period to worship, perform rituals and attain a gradual spiritual development. Apart from Spiritual growth, Margazhi month teaches people discipline, self-restraint and perfectness through the practice called “Margazhi Viratham” (Fasting) so that they can achieve balance and stability in their bodies and minds.
Why Margazhi month is considered very special?
The month of Margazhi is considered special and auspicious because of its historical significance. In Bhagavad Gita Chapter 10, Lord Krishna describes his various Vibuthis (manifestations of the Lord) to Prince Arjuna. He admits that Margashirsha (Margazhi) is his favorite month out of 12 months. He also strongly affirms saying “I am Margazhi among months,” whoever thinks of him and prays to him, will be assured of his grace, especially during Margazhi. This month also bridges the gap between Vaishnavites and Saivites as Lord Shiva’s star “Aarudra” also called “Tiruvaadhirai” falls on the full moon day after Vaikunta Ekadashi in the month of Margazhi which is also considered auspicious for Lords Shiva devotees. Thus people swarm temples that house Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva as the main deities to part take in rituals, fasting and cultural events.
What are the activities of the people during the month of Margazhi?
It is a well-known fact that people never miss out on visiting temples during every auspicious occasion. Since there’s a strong connection between Lord Vishnu and the month of Margazhi, people, especially Vaishnavities make sure that they visit Vishnu temples. Intensified spiritually oriented people prefer to mandatorily visit the temples during a specific period called “Brahma Muhurtham” (early morning from 4.00 AM – 6.00 AM) as this time is considered the best to perform rituals and attain spiritual solace.
During Margazhi unmarried women practice a peculiar fasting called “Paavai Nombu” to attain prosperity and to get a good spouse. History of this “Paavai Nombu” dates back centuries when Aandal also known as Kothai, Nachiyar – The only female Aalvar (poet- saints) among 12 Hindu poet-saints of Tamil, performed this Nombu to get herself merged with Lord Krishna (Incarnation of Lord Vishnu) This fasting suggests women to wake up during Brahma Muhurtham and have a bath only in the icy cold water. Then they clean their front yard with cow dung and decorate the ground with “Arisi Maavu Kolam” (Rice Flour Rangoli) followed by that, they visit Vishnu temples, to chant all the 30 Tirupaavai – a set of Tamil hymes related to Hinduism written by Andal in praise of Lord Vishnu. Along with that, some will also chant 20 Thiruvembavai which is related to lord Shiva (exclusively chanted by Saivites during the month of Margazhi).
During those 30 days of Margazhi people refrain from consuming non-vegetarian foods, ghee, and milk. This is a period where people ought to be polite and calm and abstain from using ill words to people. All these activities are performed by the people with a notion of paying reverence to God.
Famous temples in South India to visit during Margazhi –
Also Read:- Popular Temples To Visit In Trichy
Tirupati – Tirumala – Andhra Pradesh, Brihadeeswara temple – Thanjavur, Thillai Natarajar Temple – Chidambaram, Parthasarathy temple – Chennai, Annamalaiyar Temple – Tiruvannamalai, Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple – Trivandrum, Kerala. Badami caves – Bagalkot, Karnataka, Kailasanathar Temple – Kanchipuram, Kapaleeswarar Temple – Chennai, Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple – Trichy.
Important festivals during the month of Margazhi that you must never miss
1. Aarudra Darshan – Commemorates the cosmic dance
The Aarudra Festival commemorates Lord Shiva’s cosmic dance called “Ananda Tandava”, which depicts creation, preservation and destruction. The name of this festival is derived from the Nakshatra called “Aarudra” which is associated with Lord Shiva. One of the important rituals during Aarudra Darshan is the performance of Abhishekam on Shiva Linga accompanied by reciting sacred songs and mantras.
Best Places to witness Aarudra Darshan in South India
2. Vaikunta Ekadashi – Free pass to heaven
Who would ever dare to deny a free chance of entering heaven without toiling? I guess no one for sure! The word “Vaikuntam” signifies eternal heaven and an adobe of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that during the day of Vaikunta Ekadashi, the gates of heaven are open and to get eternal salvation, called “Moksha” people observe fasting and visit Vishnu Temples where they pass through a passage called “Sorgavaasal” a symbolic representation of the gates of Vaikuntam.
Temples to visit during Vaikunta Ekadashi
Tirupati – Tirumala hills, Ranganathaswamy temple – Trichy, Bhadrachalam Sita Ramachandra Swamy Temple – Telangana, Parthasarathy temple – Chennai, Pandava Dhootha Perumal temple – Kanchipuram, Venkateshwara Swamy temples – Hyderabad, Chilkur Balaji temple – Telangana, The Jiaguda Ranganatha Swamy temple. – Hyderabad, Telangana
3. Margazhi Music Festival
If you are a biggest fan of music, dance and celebration you must never miss the world’s largest and astounding classical music festival. This festival spans over six weeks during the period of Margazhi.
Also Read:- Best Pilgrimage Sites In Tamilnadu
The Margazhi Music Festival showcases a variety of classical music and dance performances, including Carnatic music, Bharatanatyam and other kinds of traditional art forms. The festival attracts renowned artists, including singers and musicians from all over India and abroad.
Where to watch the Margazhi Music Festival?
The music festival takes place at Narada Gana Sabha, Alwarpet Chennai. (16 km from Chennai airport). There’s a lot of difference between looking at things spiritually and scientifically. They are two different perspectives from which people see and understand the world around them. These methods differ in their principles, methods of analysis, and the type of information they attempt to obtain. While spirituality often involves experience and interpretation, scientific analysis is based on empirical evidence and objective analysis. Such Incredible evidence and analysis emerged 5000 years ago in Tamil Culture and tradition that left the modern world spellbound.
Hidden incredible science in the month of Margazhi
1. Brahma Muhurtham – 0xygen of 365 days in one month
As mentioned earlier, waking up early during the month of Margazhi is mandatory as it is said to be a perfect time to get closer to god through prayers. But the science behind early morning waking during Margazhi is startling. It is well-known that mid-December to mid-January is a cold season. During this particular period, the ozone layer is much closer to the Earth than usual. This natural phenomenon produces pure oxygen where the air remains zero percent polluted, especially during the time called Brahma Muhurtham (4.30 AM -6.00 AM) To be specific it can be also told as the amount of oxygen that is required for 1 year can be acquired within one month. Hence, being an early bird throughout the month of Margazhi and inhaling the pure oxygen is conducive to maintaining good physical and mental health which results in lowering stress, purifying blood, enhancing the health of the nervous system and preventing the risk of cancer.
2. Kolam – The Feminine fitness
All the Women in South India welcome the month of Margazhi to their homes by drawing beautiful decorative designs in their front yards known as Kolam or Margazhi kolam. It is an integral part of the Margazhi celebration and the entire work of drawing a kolam must be done between the timings of Brahma Muhurtam. Sticking to the time of Brahma Muhurtam to draw kolam is important because it creates a chance for women to come out of their comfort zone, drowsiness and inhale the pure oxygen in the cold environment. Along with that, they also simultaneously kick-start their body’s blood circulation, mobility and flexibility as drawing kolam is regarded as a great physical exercise such as Malasana (squat) Utkatasana (chair pose) and Vajrasana (thunderbolt pose) Compared to other months, Kolams drawn in the month of Margazhi is truly bewitching as women reveal their exemplary creativity by drawing unique designs, patterns and shapes. These kolams are drawn with Arisi Maavu (rice flour) which feeds small creatures like ants, as the ant armies face a shortfall of food during the winter season.
3. Cold water bath and temple visits – Natural therapists
You would have come across the famous term “Ice Bucket Challenge” Many people took up that challenge and some did that for health benefits as Cold water causes a temporary shock in the body which accelerates blood circulation and activates the nerves. This challenge went viral during the year 2014 but you will be shocked to know that it emerged in the 7th century itself. It is a basic rule to take a bath in cold water during Margazhi to boost the immune system. Winter season gives birth to various viruses and bacteria so it is necessary to expose oneself to cold water which has positive effects on the immune system. Being in touch with the cold water gradually increases the production of white blood cells which helps in improving the immune function.
Even in the extreme cold women do physical exercise by drawing kolam and simultaneously inhaling the purest oxygen, but what about men? How will they give work to their physical body? Well, to get the same benefits that women receive in the month of Margazhi, men go to temples early in the morning and participate in rituals. Walking and standing for a long period during temple visits or worship improves cardiovascular health and strengthens muscles. Additionally, temple visit also benefits both men and women psychologically. The ambiance of the temple is always associated with mindfulness and meditation. As the sun’s energy is pulled downwards during the month of Margazhi which might result in mood swings and depression. Both these practices help cultivate inner peace, improve focus and reduce anxiety. It also fosters a sense of belonging and social support among the community.
4. Fasting – Dietary plan
Here’s an interesting task for you. Check your weight every month and pay attention to the weight that you check during the month of Margazhi. Compared to other months, you will gain excessive weight during the month of Margazhi. Unbelievable! Isn’t it? There are no numerous reasons for this sudden weight gain but the foremost reason can be affirmed as “You” You are the reason for your weight gain. As the environment remains cold until Margazhi gets over, people always stick to their comfort zone by staying under the bedsheet for a long period. Some tend to refrain from going outdoors for walking, joking and working out due to laziness and they intend to spend time more hours sleeping. Most importantly, people prefer hot, spicy and junk foods over healthy foods which leads to excessive cholesterol. The environmental factors during Margazhi have the greatest influence on making people procrastinate their daily routine but they must ensure to follow habits that keep them away from falling ill. That is why people take up fasting where they limit food intake and give work to their physique.
5. Karthigai Month – Preparation for Margazhi Fasting.
People during the ancient days became cautious about the laziness, weight gain, disease and lethargy in person that Margazhi month bought. Hence the preparation for Margazhi fasting was started in the month of Karthigai – the preceding month of Margazhi (mid-November-mid December) Laziness is the foremost thing that invites illness in person so to ward off laziness, people, especially men wear maalai dedicated to Lord Ayyapan in Sabarimalai (A kind of fasting dedicated to Lord Ayyapan) Once a man starts fasting for lord Ayyapan he has to wake early and have a bath in cold water twice a day (Morning and night) the second most important thing in this fasting is food restrictions.
Men who go to Sabarimala tend to limit their food intake and abstain from consuming meat. Until the fasting period is over they consume only healthy vegetarian foods and visit temples both morning and evening. Thus their diet and physical health remain balanced. It is wonderful to know the hacks that people followed to rise early in dawn wheremen avoid the usage of pillows and bedsheets and they sleep only on the bare floor. This strange practice will not provide men with good sleep throughout the night so they automatically wake up early in the morning. The continuation of this whole practice is followed strictly until the month of Margazhi is over.
6. Scientific connection between major Tamil Month-
Aadi, Purattasi, Karthigai and Margazhi are important months in the Tamil Traditional calendar that are scientifically somehow related to each other based on health. During the month of Aadi, the velocity of the wind that carries toxic substances is very high. To safeguard themselves from falling ill they visited the Amman temple where they inhaled the aroma of Neem leaves, turmeric and lemon that provided people with pure oxygen which also acted as a barrier against toxic air. Since the month of Purattasi marks monsoon people stay inside home and prefer to take healthy vegetarian foods over meat to maintain good gut health and safeguard themselves from digestion ailments. Karthigai months is concerned with maintaining a balanced diet through certain criteria and Margazhi month connects humans with nature and at the same time makes people pay attention to physical and mental health and well-being
Why Margazhi month is considered inauspicious?
The month of Margazhi is spiritually considered auspicious and practically considered inauspicious because during this month people never conduct special occasions like marriage, housewarming ceremonies and agriculture. The real reason behind not conducting those events during this month will truly impress you as the reasons are linked with “justifiable realities” when someone conducted a marriage during the bygone days usually, they invited the whole village to attend the celebration. So the family had to spend a lot of money for the whole event and also to satisfy a large amount of people. As agriculture was the only major source of income the family had to wait until the reaping period in the month of Thai – post the month of Margazhi (January) so that they don’t face any shortage of money and that is why they don’t conduct any special occasions. The same practice is still being followed now but they use taglines like “religion” and “spirituality” This can also be linked to the practice of not conducting marriage during the month of Aadi which has both practical and health-wise reasons. People also avoid the practice of sowing seed during this month because of the climatic condition which is conducive for the growth of the crops. Until the month of Margazhi is over the environment is always cooler than usual which makes the soil lack the energy to support the growth of the seed. Hence sowing seeds during Margazhi will not produce the desired results. But all the wait is over when the month of Thai arrives embarking triumph, celebration and joy among people.
The Science behind Thirupaavai – Aandal combined spiritualism and science.
Every devotee of Lord Vishnu knows well all the 30 songs in Thirupaavai but they are not aware of the idea that they are chanting scientific facts. In the fourth song of Thirupaavai Aandal mentions about “water cycle” such as evaporation, condensation and precipitation. She says that “Rain” is an important source of life on Earth. She also mentions how rain comes to earth by saying that the ocean is evaporated then the steam reaches the cloud which leads to rain. Hence the process of the water cycle which had been discovered later by scientists was already written in the 9th century itself.
Following that, Aandal also specified about “morning star” Venus which can be seen through the naked eye, post the disappearance of the planet Jupiter during dawn. This is how people of the ancient days identified “dawn” to prepare themselves to wake up early during the Paavai Nombu. Hymn number 14 from Thirupaavai will leave you speechless as Aandal had mentioned about Lightning and thunder. We would have surely learned in school the fact that “light travels faster than sound” This line had been already mentioned in Thirupaavai where Aandal specifies the sign of rain can be identified by dark clouds, Lightning and then followed by thunder.
She also emphasized “Agriculture” which is an important source of economy of the people of Tamil Nadu and also highlighted the cyclic nature of farming. She had written about how farmers rely on favorable weather conditions to sow seeds and reap them at a particular time to experience a bountiful harvest. This can be related to the sowing period of Aadi and the reaping period of January.
In Conclusion, Science is associated with the natural world and religion is concerned with the supernatural world. Hence they are always dissimilar to each other. It is the people who connected religion with science as humans always had the notion to fear only god and that is why “myths” dominate “actualities”. Understand everything from a scientific perspective, analyze it with your life and live clinging only to meaningful realities.
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