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Re: Query

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_BEST.COM)
Date: Thu Apr 22 1999 - 12:42:24 PDT

Re: Yellow and Red SrIchUrNam

Sri Vaishnavas either wear a red or yellow SrIchUrNam.
Both of them are made primarily of turmeric (manjaL / haridra /
haldi), which, when unprocessed is yellow. However, the yellow
variety of SrIchUrNam is not mere turmeric powder; it
goes through a process and only then is fit to be applied
on the forehead.  The red variety is turmeric mixed with
lime, and also processed in a particular way.  The combination 
of turmeric mixed with lime yields the reddish-orangish color.

It is important to note that both varieties of SrIchUrNam
are made primarily of turmeric (manjaL).  

Some Sri Vaishnavas of the vadagalai sampradAya wear 
yellow SrIchUrNam.  Other vadagalais and all followers of
the Thengalai sampradAya wear red SrIchUrNam.  There is
no significance in the different color, despite arguments
to the contrary.  Since the SrIchUrNam represents the
presence of Lakshmi, some argue that the shastras say
that Lakshmi is of a golden color so the SrIchUrNam
should be yellow.  Those on the other side argue that
the SrIchUrNam should be red because other shastras
say that Lakshmi is signified by the red color.  Once
again, both sides quote different shastras to promote
their point of view, without aiming at reconciliation.

It should be pointed out that these arguments are, to
my knowledge, of recent origin -- no more than say 
200 years.

It has become common in recent times for some to argue
that yellow SrIchUrNam alone is correct for Vaidika
Sri Vaishnavas, or for prapannas. This is baseless.
I have with my own eyes seen ultraorthodox, extremely
devout and knowledgable Sri Vaishnavas of both sects
(including both my grandfathers) wear the red SrIchUrNam. 
I have seen authentic photographs of Parakala Matha swamis 
wearing red SrIchUrNam.

Once again, one's personal practice should be dictated
by familial tradition. 

adiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani