Aadi month has great significance as it is related to the onset of the monsoon season and is associated with some religious observances. Aadi Perukku festival is a festival of prosperity and good fortune. It falls on the 18th of the Tamil month, Aadi. Aadi Perukku festival is celebrated mostly in Tamilnadu in south India. During Aadi month, due to the monsoon rain, the flow of water in most water bodies will be good. Many rivers also overflow their banks. For Indian farmers, the monsoon is very important as it makes possible a bountiful harvest. But too much rain too can have a devastating effect in the form of floods and damage to crops. So, people regard Aadi as a month to worship the rivers and other water bodies in order to have a good monsoon season. The rivers are represented as Amman goddesses. People worship such goddesses by performing Poojas and other rituals on the river banks to express their gratitude to the rivers for sustaining all forms of life. It is also said that Lord Rama took a ritual bath in Kaveri water to be cleansed of the sin of killing Ravana, who was a Brahmin. This indicates the purifying qualities of water and the significance of this festival. The Kaveri river plays a key role in this festival.
It is believed that Aadi Perukku is a very auspicious day which can bring amazing returns with regards to a new beginning, Pooja, or any purchases. Performing an act of charity on this day may bring manifold benefits. Many people throng jewelry showrooms in Tamilnadu to purchase gold on this auspicious occasion. Not only gold jewelry, they also purchase other valuable products like household gadgets, mobile phones, TV, etc.
People who cannot visit temples offer prayers to turmeric water at home and pour it on plants. They may also sprinkle it over the idols of deities in the pooja room. Sakkarai Pongal is prepared as naivedyam for the occasion. Women draw beautiful rangolis or kolams in front of the house. It is usually bordered with red ‘Kavi’. The entrance is adorned with mango leaves. A special Pooja is performed.
The month of Aadi is ideal for sowing seeds and planting saplings as the monsoon brings abundant rainfall, making the parched earth come alive and making possible a bountiful harvest. The monsoon is very vital to the prosperity and well-being of the people. It has even captured the imagination of poets and artists who have tried to capture its beauty and meaning in their works. The paradox is that the monsoon can be both benign and malign. It makes crops and people thrive, but sometimes it also leaves behind a trail of destruction due to floods and cyclones. This lends more significance to Aadi Perukku festival because it invokes blessings of the river goddesses not only for abundant rainfall but also protection from the monsoon’s fury. It is also the time when people are more susceptible to illnesses. So people consider it very essential to appease the deities for good health as well.
The great Tamil scholar, Thiruvalluvar, has even said that righteousness will cease to exist in the world if the rains fail, and the world, too, will not be able to sustain itself. Thus, water is very important among the Panchabhootams (five elements). In recognition of this fact, many temples of historical importance always made it a point to have sacred wells and tanks.
Traditionally, it is believed that if young and unmarried girls who take part in the Pooja along the river banks offer Karugamani (black beads), Kaadholai (palm leaves that are twisted to form earrings) and Kaapparisi, they will find good husbands soon. On the day of Aadi Perukku, women worship Goddess Parvati. Different kinds of rice dishes like sweet Pongal, lemon rice, coconut rice, curd rice, and tamarind rice are cooked and offered to the Goddess with great love and devotion. The devotees also take a dip in the holy water and wear new clothes. This is followed by a holy bath for Kaveri Amman, and more rituals and ceremonies follow. Aadi Perukku is mentioned in the Tamil epic, Silapathikaram too. It is also a custom among many married women to visit the Meenakshi temple tank on this day to change the thread on their mangalsutras or ‘thalis’.
Human life is deeply connected to nature. Festivals like Aadi Perukku remind us of this connection and how important it is to respect Mother Nature and be grateful for her bounty. If we fail to respect nature and be grateful, she is likely to turn vengeful, much like a scorned goddess, and unleash her wrath on us. Hence, Aadi Perukku pays homage to the water goddesses who hold the power to bestow fertility and prosperity. Aadi Perukku 2021 is on August 2.