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ManjaL : Srimathi Srinivasan's Question .

From: Sadagopan (sgopan_at_computer.net)
Date: Tue Aug 18 1998 - 18:54:33 PDT

Dear Srimathi Srinivasan :

You had asked about the appropriateness of a tuber
like MajaL growing underground being recommended 
for inclusion in our daily usage .Since no one else has
responded , I will attempt an answer as to why it is 
sacred in our tradition . Besides its sacredness , it also
has medical applications in AayurvEdam and is referred 
to in AtharvaNa Vedam as well . It is also a depilatory
agent from the herbal point of view .

Information points related to ManjAL 
*************************************

1. Turmeric is one of the insignias of SoumAngalyam . 
It is one of the five auspicious entities associated 
with a Sumnagali being a Sumangali . Saint ThyagarAjA 
salutes his Ishta Dhaivam in the PrahlAdha Bhaktha Vijaya 
Krithi set in Raagam Kaapi ( Paahi KalyANa Raama Paavana GuNa
RaamA ) . Here, he identifies himself as the Sumangali married
happily to Sri RamachandrA and refers to himself being a 
Sumangali with five insignias as his revealing wealth
associated with that status : naa vamsa dhanamu naathaithOdhanamu .
                                                      ^^^^^^^^^^^ 
(Meaning ) : Oh My Kula dhanam RaamA ! You are the basis
for my SoumAngalyam ; You are my pentad of the insignias
of being married to You . He states : IthO dhanamu . 
These five dhanams are : ThAli ( MangaLa sUthram ) ,
ManjaL , Kumkumam , Bangles and KaathOlai ( ear rings) .
The bard points out that the Lord is as indispensable
to him , just as the husband is for a Sumangali .

2 .The sight of Old Sumangalis with a yellow glow 
on their face from years of using ground Turmeric root 
is such an auspicious sight . 

3. Around pongal paanais during SankarAnthi , the neck
of the pot is decorated with a string strewn with turmeric 
tuber and ginger tuber , sugar cane cutitngs for 
conferring an auspicious year as the first meal is cooked . 

4. During BhagavAn's Thirumnajanam , Manjal PoDi 
Thirumanjanam is one visEsha aspect ( NeerAttam ) .
The auspiciousness of Turmeric is indicated as 
sObhana dravyam here ( SoorNAbhshEkam ).

5. PeriyAzhwAr's Paasurams enjoying the beauty 
of her dear Bala KrishNan refer number of times 
to the usage of the auspicious Turmeric powder .

6.Periya Thirumozhi :3.4.3 -- KaNNan ManjaLum mEniyum
Vadivum KaNDAL ( She saw the beautiful body of 
the Lord with Turmeric toilet shining with yellow
hue ).This is a Gopi's anubhavam .

7.Periya Thirumozhi : Celebration of the Lord's birth 
in AayarpADi ( YeNNai SuNNam yethirethir thUviDa ),
The joyuous cowherdesses and the Cowherds threw fragrant 
oil and turmeric powder at the guests arriving 
to see the new born baby .oil and manjal podi 
are auspcious welcoming items .AzhwAr goes on to say 
that the yard of NadagOpalan was a muddy field from 
the spraying of the copious mixture of Oil and 
Turmeric powder .

8.In another paasuram, AzhwAr describes the wonderful
experience of YasOdhA , when she witnessed all the seven
worlds as she attempted to open the mouth of the Lord ,
her child,to paint the tongue with young turmeric
tuber paste ( pasu ManjaL sAnthu )for extracting any 
phlegm in the throat . She had already performed thirumanjanam 
in tender warm water , strightened the tender limbs of 
her dear baby by gentle pressing and then went on 
to paint the tongue with pasu manjaL saanthu . To her
utter dismay , she saw the view of the seven worlds 
inside that open mouth of the innocent looking baby of hers 
( --pasunchiru manajaLal , iyya naa vazhitthALukku 
angAnthiDa vaiyaam yEzhum kanDAL Pillai VaayuLE ).

9.In yet another pasuram , AzhwAr invites as YasOdhA one
and all to come and see the extraordinary beauty of
her child as it shines after its bath and treatment 
of the tongue with the ManjaL paste :
( nOkki asOthai nuNikkiya manjaLAl naaku vazhitthu 
  neerAttum innampikki---).

10.In his Thirumozhi (2.4.4) on NeerAttam inviting 
the Lord , her baby , to come and take his bath ,
YasOdhA endearingly informs her child :

manjalum senkazhu neerin vaasikaiyum 
nARu saanthum anjanamum kondu vaitthEn
azhaganE ! nee neerAda vaarAi 

(Meaning ) : Oh My Beautiful Child ! I have 
assembled Turmeric , Red Lotus garland ,
fragrant sandal paste and colyrium for the eye .
Please come here for your enjoyable bath and
alankAram thereafter . 

Thus Manjal's importance as sobhana dravyam 
is celebrated very much in our sampradhAyam .

V.Sadagopan