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A 'margazhi' diary: some reflections - 1

From: sampath kumar (
Date: Sun Dec 19 1999 - 21:40:35 PST

Dear friends,

Yesterday in a mood of sudden and wanton
thoughtlessness adiyen had wondered to himself:  
"mArghazhi is a month only nubile girls look forward
to; it is the time they observe 'pAvai-nOnbu' and
'vratam'; a time when they bathe in icy waters, fast
("ney unnOm, pAl unnOm nAt kAle neerAdi") and pray for
good grooms for themselves;  "tiruppAvai" is alright
for such maidens. 

But of what use or significance is it to virile young
men? Would young men be enthused by the idea of waking
up in the wee 'brahma-muhurtam' hours of the day,
congregate in numbers and trek to the riverside for
"mArgazhi-neerAttam"?". Doubtful.

As if in answer to adiyEn's unusual, if not quixotic,
"samshayam", our beloved AndAl this morning (19th
December) gave me a fitting retort... almost like a
slap on the face. 

This morning adiyen woke up to "vaikunata-ekadasi" and
prepared for the obligatory "upavAsam" -- the day-long
fasting enjoined on all abiding SriVaishnavas,
irrespective of gender or marital status. 

It suddenly dawned on me that for having dared
yesterday, even if momentarily, to question the
efficacy of observing mArgazhi-vratam  and for being
faintly dismissive of it as a 'female affair',
Sri.AndAl was perhaps reminding me: "If "mArgazhi"
doesn't get you, O great masculine hero, "ekAdasi"
surely will! And observe some kind of "vrata" you
certainly will! This day, you too, shall perforce
arise at "brahma-muhurtam"! You too will bathe in icy
cold waters; you too like "aayarpAdi" damsels will
gather in flocks and you too, like them, shall go
around the streets in procession singing His glories
("uttaman pEr pAdi") and earnestly seek Govindan's
great "mani-kadhavu", His doorsteps (i.e. "parama-pada


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