Thursday, September 16, 2010

Puratassi Masam

Puratassi Fasting, or Puratasi Vratam, is observed in the Tamil month of Puratasi (September – October). In 2010, Puratassi month begins on September 17 and ends on October 17.

The name of every month in Solar as well as lunar calendar is after the star on which the full moon is perceived to occur regularly (one or two stars either side due to rotation of planets is common).

Thus Purattasi masam is the masam in which full moon normally occurs either on Poorattadhi/Uttirattadhi stars (malayalam: Pooruttadhi- Kannada: Poorvabhadrapada/ Uttarabhadrapada; Hindi: Purvabhadra/uttarbhadra; sanskrit: Poorva Proshthapada/ Uttara Proshthapada). From this Sanskrit Proshthapada word, Purattasi has evolved. The belief is on going to Lord Venkateshwara / Lord Vishnu temple for this month saturdays is equal to going to temple for the whole year. This month saturdays are also very popular for offering prayers and poojas to Lord Shani to please him.

Puratasi Masam is of great importance to Tamilians as it is believed that Lord Venkateswara (Balaji) appeared on the earth in this month. Puratasi sanikizhamai(saturdays) are dedicated to Lord Shani or Sani bagavan. Some people observe partial fasting on all days in Puratassi others limit it to Puratasi Saturdays.

Some devotees of Lord Venkateswara opt for strict fast on Puratasi Saturdays which involves not even drinking a drop of water - Nirjala Vratam. Some devotees does not include onion, garlic and meat in their meal throughout this month.  Some devotees have the ritual of doing Mavilaku Mavu poojai for Lord Venkateshwara on Saturday(1st or 3rd or 5th saturday).

In Srivaishnava Community, during the month of Purattasi (Mid August/Mid September) on a Saturday, they used to lit a lamp made of rice flour with added jaggery, Cashew, Ghee etc. Normally, this is done on any one of the Saturdays, on the first, third or fifth Saturday of Purattasi Tamil month. Mainly, this is done when there is No Utsavam and Dwajarohanam is going on in the Tirupati Hill Temple; So finding a Saturday when the Festivities are going on in the Balaji Mandir of Tirupathi, it is very difficult, so in case of no odd number Saturday available, then they avail any other suitable Saturday.

Many of the Tamilians [irrespective of the Sect & sub-sects] offer Maavilakku to the GOD of their choice; Amman, Perumal, Murugan ; in temples or at their homes. In Shivites custom, they offer this on the 1st Aadi and 1st Thai Vellikizhamai [Kataka/Karkatam and Makara months' first Friday]
Mavilaku Mavu Receipe:

Method: 1 (easy one)

1. Take 1cup of rice flour and mix it with 1cup of sugar/jaggery.
2. In blender dry grind little sugar/jaggery and 2pods of cardamom.
3. Add it to the rice mixture and mix well. Break a coconut and take the water in a cup.
4. By using this water little by little to the rice flour make it into a thick dough.
5. Then shape it into vilakku with a beak in front.
6. Keep kumkum to it and into the deep hole in the centre put ghee and thread.
7. Light it as a lamp to God Venkateshwara.

Method: 2(what my amma used to do)

1. Raw Rice 2 cups
2. Jaggery (preferred one is jaggery powder) 1 cup.
3. Cardamom 2 nos. [powdered]
4. Ghee 2 table spoons.
5. Cotton Wick 1 [not the conventional one]

1. Wash the rice and keep it soaked for 10 or 15 minutes
2. Drain well and spread on a clean white cloth
3. Grind the rice in a mixer [in small quantity] and sieve
4. When the powdered rice is ready, mix the flour with the jaggery powder [to add more taste, one can add honey, grated coconut and benzoine known as Pacchaikarpooram] and powdered cardamom
5. Spread the dough on a plate or basin and make one cup shape mould on the dough
6. Pour ghee
7. Put the wick
8. Now the authentic Maavilakku is ready

Draw a kolam and place the plate containing the Maavilakku. Decorate with flower. Lit the lamp by chanting slokams of the GOD to whom it is offered. Srivaishnavites used to chant Govinda, Govinda etc. during the time of lighting the lamp and also when it is at going off stage of the lite. Shivites and others used chant VENKATRAMANA GOVINDA, SANKATA HARANA GOVINDA at the time of lighting the lamp followed by Vishnusahasranamam and Devi slokams.

When the lamp is about to go off, do offerings, neivedhyam of Milk or Fruits. Afterwards, remove the burnt wick, mix the dough properly, distribute the Maavilakku Mavu Prasadm [yummy.......]

You have now had the tasty bud of MaviLakku. Now let us see the meaning behind this practice! The entire DakshinayaNa (Mid July to Mid January) period is said to be of night time for the Devas. During these time, it is entirely devoted to prayer, offering and pooja etc. When the DakshinayaNa begin during Mid July, the Tamil month Aadi begin. From here on all the following six months known as Dakhsinaya is of festivities and celebrations and all to the Lord God. Beginning from the first Friday of Aadi, then Varalakshmi Vratham, Sri Jayanthi - Gokulashtami, Vinayakar Chathurthi, Deepavali (Diwali), Navaratri all the festivals aiming at offerings to the Lord Gods of various Status.

The Legend:
During Every Saturday of the Purattasi month, it is said Lord Sri Balaji expecting his devotees to come closer to his consort hills. And for those who could not afford to travel at length, he beams himself through the light of this specific Mavilakku. Thus, a devotee getting His Lord's Darshan without climbing the seven hills of Thirumala Tirupati. Also, the carbon emanated through the mixture of rice flour and cow's ghee is said to remove all the ill radiations and negative vibrations from one's home and that too when one recites aloud the name of the Lord God when the lighted cotton soak goes off. To make it worthy, devotees used to recite the Lord Gods name several times. Govindaa, Govinda, Govindaa. Sure, the fragrance, a temple like atmosphere and the divine recitals and the devotion, all that makes one refreshed and happy.
On a Saturday during the fasting month of Purtassi a special prayer dedicated to Lord Vishnu culminates in the breaking of the fast with vegetarian delicacies. According to tradition the prayers have to be done late in the afternoon so that the fast may be broken at sundown.

A lot of preparation goes into this prayer. In the absence of a picture of Lord Rama or Vishnu or Krishna, a drawing is made of the Namam. The Namam is in the form of a ‘V’. This is drawn with a special white chalk referred to as the Nama Katti. To complete the drawing a red line is drawn down the middle.

The Namam is also drawn on the foreheads of the men and children present. A red dot is made on the women’s forehead.

A banana leaf is placed on the altar on which the various dishes prepared are offered to Lord Vishnu.

Payasam, sweet rice, vadas, woorandai and kozhu kattai can be prepared for Naivedyam. You can also offer Vegetarian dishes along with these items.

A theertham is made with milk, sugar and tulsi leaves.

The prayer begins outside the house or temple, as this is the propitiation of the sun. A vessel of water is placed, the camphor is lit and a coconut is broken. The worshippers then move into the house/temple chanting the Garuda Patthu. Each verse ends with the devotees chanting Govinda! Govinda! Govinda!

In the house the main prayer continues with the turning of camphor, burning of agarbathi, singing of songs, ringing of bells and blowing of the conch. The Thiru Nama Pathakkam is chanted, the theertham is then handed around to all present. The right hand is cupped over the left, a tulsi leaf is placed in the ‘cup’ with a bit of milk. The milk is sipped and the tulsi leaf is eaten. Finally, the blessed food (prasad) is offered to all present.

Requirements for the prayer:

3 Coconuts, 1 bottle rosewater,Turmeric Powder, 5 betel leaves and nuts,Flowers for garland and petals, Camphor, Incense Sticks, Sambrani, Charcoal, 1 Pkt Namakatti (white stick, Red or orange powder (tirusanaum), Thulsi leaves, Sugar candy, Avaal kadaly
Preparations for the Prayer:

The entire house should be cleansed (day before prayer).

One should wash their lamp and dot it with namam and tirusanaum (day before prayer).
A kolam should be made at the front entrance of the house using either rice flour or mealie meal (before commencing prayer).

A garland should be made using fresh flowers and thulsi leaves.

The garland must be hung on the door (before commencing prayer).

The prayer should be observed once all prasadam has been made.

Simple procedure on how to perform the Pooja :

1. First construct a Vinayagar Take some turmeric powder mix water or rose water to form a thick paste. Mould into a mountain like shape thereafter a kumgum dot should be placed in front and sprinkle kadam podi over Vinayaga. A piece of grass having 1 stem and 3 blades of grass (Arum pul) favorite offering to Vinayagar placing it on top of the head.

2. If you have a brass, copper or wooden murti it may also be used for the prayer.

3.Offer sugar candy avaal kadaly to Vinayagar.

4.A photo of Lord Vishnu/ Venkateshwara, a mirror or a piece of wood may be place in the center where by a Namam may be drawn on.

5.Place a flower, thulsi and vadaa garland around the item that is going to be used.

6.Place all prasadam in front of the Namam with betel leave, betel nut, flower and a coin.

7. Namam should be placed on each person’s forehead. The men a white “V” like shape with the vertical red line in the center and the women a white horizontal line with a vertical red line in the center.

8.Once everything has been set up inside take Vinayagar and proceed outside. Vinayagar will be placed outside with prasadam (facing EAST).

9.Vinayagar should be invoked first by lighting incense sticks and offering flower petals and chanting the mantra of Ganesha (Aum gam ganesha ye namaha) or (Aum gam ganesha potri) can be chanted 18 or 27 times.

10. 3 Camphor must be lit in front of Vinayagar; the 1st coconut must be turned around Vinayagar and the Sun thereafter breaking the coconut and turn camphor.

11. Sprinkle water 3 times over the prasadam.

12. Camphor’s would be lit leading to the front entrance by chanting (Govinda! Govinda! Govinda)).

13. At the front entrance 3 camphor must be lit and the second coconut would be smashed on the ground to welcome the Lord into the house by chanting (Govinda! Govinda! Govinda!).

14. Proceed to the prayer where everything has been place.

15. Light incense sticks and burn charcoal and sambrani. Take flower petals and offer at the feet of the Lord by chanting “Om Venkateshwara ye namaha or potri".

16. Turn coconut clockwise 3 times and break. Place 2 halves on either side of Venkateshwara.

17. Turn camphor

18. Sprinkle water over prasadam.

19. Kneel down and pray.

20. A song or a prayer can be sung in praise of Venkateshwara.

21. You should leave the prayer place for at least 5 minutes without any disturbance

The Saturdays of the month are auspicious and are dedicated to pleasing Shani (Saturn). It is believed that Shani loses its powers on Saturday.  

Devotees offer Ghee or Ellu Lamp to Lord Shani in the month. They also prepare Yellu Rice as Neivedya to Shani Bhagavan.  Navagrahas are also worshipped in the month. The popular belief is that Lord Shani loses his powers in the month and therefore he can be easily pleased.

Yellu (Sesame Rice) Ingredients:

Sesame seeds - 2tsp Dry red chilli - 1 or 2 nos Hing - little Mustard - 1tsp Urad dhal - 1tsp Channa dhal - 1tsp Curry leaves - little Rice - 1/4cup Salt - to taste Sesame oil - 2tsp

1. Wash and cook rice. Allow it to cool.
2. Dry roast sesame seeds and red chilli.
3. In a blender dry grind redchilli, sesame seeds and salt. Add it to the rice.
4. In a heated kadai, add oil, then add mustard, hing, urad dhal, channa dhal and fry. Once it is golden brown add it to the rice. Add curry leaves and mix the rice well.

Source: Hindu blog


  1. Very informative! My stop site for Iyengar tranditions. Thnx for sharing!

  2. What time can I do the prayer on a Saturday?

  3. Which week of Purtassi month we need to Pray to Lord Vishnu and Complete our Fasting??