Monday, April 6, 2009



Sinhala Hindu New Year:

Observing a wealth of tradition
Chelvatamby Maniccavasagar

The Sinhala and Tamil New Year emphasises the underlying oneness of our society. It reflects the homogeneity of thought and tradition that binds those born is our soil. A common mood of festivity of goodwill and generosity, the nearness of their astrological timings, the parallels in ritualistic observances, all confirm deeply rooted historical association.

A common mood of festivity

These bonds show themselves large enough to establish a common allegiance, a common identity with the land of their birth.

Traditional New Year
In fact, goodwill, happiness and a sense of expectancy fills the air and the hearts of the Hindus and Buddhists as they await the dawn of the traditional New Year. It is observed with great reverence, devotion, a sense of duty and loving kindness towards all stimulating society, enlivening the nation and fostering national consciousness.

The New Year which is universally observed generally includes rites and ceremonies that are the expression of mortification, purgation, invigoration and jubilation over life’s renewal. Furthermore, renewals mark the course of life in nature and the human existence.

The survival of the Sinhala and Tamil New Year through long periods of colonialism and westernization testifies to the strength of natural characters in this country. It establishes the depth and durability of an indigenous culture. It bears witness to the long traditions that grew out of Lanka’s own civilization.

From time immemorial the Hindus have considered the transition as an auspicious event, for the sun is the presiding Deity of the planetary system and the entry from Pisces to Aries is significant, marking the beginning of the year. The Hindu Almanac known as Panchaangam substantiated by astronomical calculations gives us the exact time of the dawn of the New Year.

In fact, the month of April also marks the birth of spring. Even in Sangam classics there are references to the joyous activities of the spring. The great epics “Silappadikiarom” gives a vivid description of Indira Vizha.

The Lord Indira referred to in “Silappadikarm” is associated with festival of this nature. Lord Indira is considered to be a God of protection and in view of these favourable factors, the Hindus have counted upon “Siththirai” (April) as the first month of the year. The New Year festival is associated with a wealth of tradition, rituals and customs which are enchanting and mystical in character.

These are woven into the fabric of astrology, for it is believed that the New Year dawns with the sun, “Surya Bhagavan” coming down to earth riding His Golden chariot drawn by seven horses each representing a day in the week. The sun is also referred to as “Kaalathevan”, the one who determines the various seasons. The observances on this day are made in conformity with this movement of the sun and thanksgiving is offered to the Sun God.

On the New Year day, each member of the family is anointed with “Maruththuneer” before the bath. This Maruthtu water is a decoction of a variety of medicinal herbs, flowers and saffron prepared by the temple priests and is available only in the temples.

Sharing and caring
The herbs and flowers that are used in this decoction are the Lotus pomegranate, Tulasi, Vilvam, Aruham grass, Saffron, Thitpili, Sukku and Pepper. This ritual bath signifies the outer purity making way to spiritual purity.

Indeed, New Year is a season for sharing and caring. Social unity and co-operation have been emphasised since the vedic age. In the homes, milk rice is cooked with jaggery and offered to the sun. The poor are treated with lavish meals. The workers, relatives and neighbours join in merry making.

The first handling of money is done at the auspicious time. This is called “Kaivishesham” and is always received from good hearted people. It is also considered to be a lucky transaction and one looks forward to an year of prosperity.

To the young, particulary the children, it is a day of games and fun. They enjoy themselves wearing new clothes and lighting of crackers. The youth enjoy participating in a game called “Porthenkai” (Crushing of coconuts). The young girls engage themselves in games like swinging and scraping coconut. In the evening dance and music recitals are organised in the principal villages and towns.

New year is a festival of freedom, pece, unity and compassion crystallised in the last hymn on unity in the Indian spiritual text the “Rig Veda”:- “Let your aim be one and single, let your heart be joined in one, the mind at rest in unison at peace with all, so you may be”


Yogaswami venerated spiritual perceptor
On April 5, this year devotees Yogaswami paid their humble homage to Yogaswami the venerated spiritual master by celebrating his 45th Guru Puja. Although he shuffled off his mortal coil 45 years ago his life and teaching continue to inspire. It is a great inspiration, to read what those who met him have expressed.


Here is an extract from C.P.M. Abeyasekara’s article about his meeting this great sage:

It was on February 24, 1962 that I first paid my visit to this mystic, who lived in Jaffna. I had no favour to ask, no test to make. I merely wished to bask in the sunshine of his holiness! Just prior to my going to see him, I had read an account of the visit made by Ananda Pereira, Crown Counsel, where the least of the Swami utterances had griped me. It was just, Time is short, subject is large.

With this revolving in my mind I reached the humble dwelling which harboured this radiant personality, who immersed in the Bliss of the Divine came down to the ordinary levels of life to uplift men and women of all religions.

On my name being mentioned he greeted me with the words Abayam, this means I will guard you and protect you from danger and peril. Immediately I felt that I have left the world of the superficial and come to the world of real and basic things.

Then he added; Time is short, subject is large, that was what I told Ananda Pereira. I gasped but it was for a moment. I felt close to him as I felt that my mind was just a part of the universal mind, where thoughts are transmitted from one to another.

The Swami continued I am you and you are me. You may be a Sinhalese and I a Tamil but as far as spiritual attainment is concerned all living things are equal. Before God all are equal. That is why Lord Buddha has taught the doctrine of Ahimsa. If you hurt another, you hurt your ownself.

He concluded by saying, You have definitely a bright future. Have faith in your self. No great work can be done without sacrifice.

Courtesy - Sivathondan Souvenir, 1965


Pankuni Uttara festival
S. DURAISAMY Maskeliya group correspondent

Sri Shanmuganathar Swamy Hindu Temple at Maskeliya after renovation

Annual Pankuni Uttara Ther Festival of Maskeliya Shri Shanmuganathar Swamy Hindu Temple will be held on April 8 at 9 a.m.

This Ther festival is to be conducted after a lapse of four years. The last Ther procession was held in 2004. After which the temple was renovated and the Ashta Pandana Maha Kumbabisegam of the temple was held on November 10, 2008 in a very grand scale. Following which, 48 days Madalabisegam poojas were performed at the temple. On January 14, the Thai Pongal Festival was conducted. Now, the annual Panguni Uttra Ther festival is to be held.

As far as the Maskeliya Sri Shanmuganathar Swamy Kovil is concerned, the Panguni Uttara Ther Festival has become a very significant one. It has become a powerful and colourful one too.

On April 8, this year morning pure water will be collected in pots from the river at Sripada bottom and will be brought to the Shri Shanmuganthar Swamy temple premises. There at the temple an Abishekem will be held with this water to all idols and structures of gods and goddesses.

Kavadi dances will be conducted from Glentilt estate boundary and they will arrive at the temple premises in a very long procession with other Hindu cultural items such as karakattam and pommalattam covering all roads and streets of the entire Maskeliya town. Inside the temple special Panguni Uttara poojas will be conducted, in the presence of many devotees. Then the fire walk will be held. After the poojas Annathanam will be served to all devotees. At 5 p.m. Natheswara Kachcheri will be conducted at the temple premises.

At about 8 p.m. the main special poojas for god Shanmuganathar Swamy, with Goddesses Sri Valli and Sri Theivanain, Sri Vinayagar and Sri Marieamman will be held and after the poojas all idols of the Gods and Goddesses will be kept on the three chariots (Thers) and taken in a long procession round the entire town and on the following day at about 1 am, will reach the temple premises.

The chief incumbent of Maskeliya Shri Shanmuganathar Swamy temple is venerable Sri S. Sivasangara Sarma.


Incarnations of God Vishnu:

Kalki Avatharam
Thilaka V. Wijeyaratnam

Incarnations or Avatharams mean lowering one’s status. Here Lord Vishnu descends on earth in many lowly forms to vanquish evil and save the good. As Lord Krishna said in Geetha, “If there is good, I will save.” So He had always saved and protected the good, though it took time. “The mills of God grind slowly but exceedingly small.” All minute details are taken into account at the final Judgement Day.


The last and the final incarnation that will bring about the nemesis of the evil will be Kalki. Lord Vishnu is supposed to appear on a white horse as Kalki to put an end to all evil in the world. All these incarnations were divined by the great Rishis. Had not Nostradamus himself divined the happenings on earth?

“In the sacred temple, scandals will be committed. They will be thought of as honours and praiseworthy by one whom they engrave on silver and gold medals. The end will be in very strange torments.” Nostradamus prophesied, so be it - so be it.

To come back to Lord Vishnu’s incarnations let us see what happened in the past eras. According to the docket of Hindu chronology the very first era, after the creation of the world was known as the Kruthe Yugam which lasted 172,800 years. So says the Almanac.

During this era there was an upholding of Dharma by every living being. It was towards the end of this era an atrocious deed was done by a Kshatriya (Royal Personage). There was a rishi by the name of Gamathakni. His spouse was Renuka and their son was Parasuramar. Over a dispute a king had cut off the head of the rishi. The outraged son vowed to avenge the father’s death by killing every Kshatriya he confronted.

Renuka his mother let loose her hair and wailed. Only in distress a woman would let loose her hair. The Krutha Yugam was annihilated after this by the curse of Renuka.

This yugam was followed by the Thretha Yugam when Ramayana took place. This era lasted for about 1,296,000 years according to the Hindu Almanac. Sita wife of Sri Rama was coveted by Ravana the Rakshasa King of Lanka. He carried her over to his kingdom and kept her in a secluded spot known as ‘Asoka Vanam’. She was guarded by the Raskshasa women.

But Sita remained true to Rama and Ravana could not persuade her to accept him. On the other hand Sita let loose her hair and vowed that the Ravana clan be completely wiped out by Sri Rama. Thus Thretha Yugam ended after the malediction of another virtuous woman.

The Dwapara Yugam of 864,000 years is next. This was when Mahabaratha took place. When the Gauravas insulted Drawpathy in the court in the presence of the Pandavas, she let loose her hair and vowed that she would put up her hair only after King Duriyodhana’s death. So the Dwapara Yugam ended.

The present Kaliyugam has a life line of 432,000 years. It is in this Yugam that Kannagi - later worshipped as Pathini Amman, on the erroneous judgement of the Pandiya King who had her husband executed, let loose her hair and burnt the city of Madurai. In every era we see the complete annihilation of the world itself by the anger, fury, rage and frenzy of one woman.

Woe betide the Hindu World for now in this era almost all Hindu women are with hair loose, whether married or widowed, whether in a temple or at weddings, whether in distress or not, a most inauspicious action - in Tamil it is referred to as ‘Thalaivirikolam’. So with the advent of Kalki and all these loose haired women, the Kaliyuga is awaiting its end.

Readers may wonder how Parasuramar of one era could meet Sri Rama of another era and challenge him.

There are two theories. One is Parasuramar would have lived a long life, long enough to come across Sri Rama in the Thretha Yugam. Besides Parasuramar was also an avatharam of Lord Vishnu. The other concocted theory is that mythology has scant regard for chronology.

Be that as it may, during Kalki Avatharam Lord Vishnu riding his white horse would completely exterminate evil and evil doers.

But as he said, if there is good in one, one will be saved. So as a devotee of the Gods Siva, Vishnu and Brahama, one should first think good and then say good and do good and be good. Then one can sail through any disaster be it deluge, fire or storm holding on to the divine feet of the Almighty.


1 comment:

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