Our group is to sing today at the Sri Gaudiya Math temple of Sri Radha Krishna where the 'Janamshstami' celebrations of Lord Krihna’s birthday are on.
Two weeks of celebrations at the temple, and daily concerts are part of the agenda. Our concert is scheduled to be at 4 pm and to be honest, none of us has any hope of any audience at this unearthly hour – most of the families will be at school or at work!
Still we are going to give it the best we have got.
The month of aadi in the Thamizh calendar starts mid July , and ushers in a series of festivals, culminating in Diwali, some months later. Aadi is a holy month, dedicated to the Gods, and ceremonies like weddings and other festivities are not conducted in this month (maybe in order to not detract from its religious flavour?). The first of Aadi is considered a festive day, and is celebrated with a feast and a visit to the temple. It has a special significance for newlyweds, but I am not dwelling on it here.
This year the first religious festival in Aadi was Varalakshmi Pooja, a pooja for women. This pooja is special because it is performed only in families which have been observing it. To join this fraternity, women may take the pooja from someone already conducting it. Women perform it with great devotion and fervour, creating the image of the goddess out of a kalasam, decorating it, and placing her in a specially decorated mandapam created for the purpose.
Then there is the 'aadi perukku', or 'Pathinettam perukku', on the 18th of Aadi. This is the day when the river Kaveri is in fullest flow after the rains, and rolls merrily down. My mother-in-law, who belonged to the Thanjavur district, the lifeblood of which is the Kaveri, used to tell me that people in the area would go to the banks of the Kaveri to worship her and enjoy the day – a kind of picnic. A meal would be prepared, as offerings to the river goddess, mainly of mixed varieties of rice, - lemon rice, coconut rice, curd rice, and a sweet rice - quick to prepare and eliminating the need for a curry. We still follow the system of preparing the offerings, though there is no Kaveri here in Chennai, and enjoy the prasadam.
Next on the list is Sri Krishna Jayanthi, which falls this year on August 13, and the series of concerts are part of the two-week celebrations. At Sri Gaudiya Math where we are going to sing today, a series of sequences from Lord Krishna’s life are exhibited using practically life-size dolls with real (or what looks like real) hair. Here are some of the scenes.
Dancing on Kaliya