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From: KESHAVA PRASAD (103020.541_at_compuserve.com)
Date: Sun Mar 23 1997 - 20:54:18 PST
Hello Bhagavathothamas: A couple of weeks ago, I had inquired about the significance of the recently observed "KARGALADAI" also known as "Charadu Pandige". I didn't get any help from this group but I did get an answer from a simple minded mom and I would like to share with you the significance of KARGALADAI. Kargaladai or Charadu Pandige is celebrated every year on March 14 of the English calendar which by some strange coincidence or by calculation perhaps, is always Meena sankramanam on that date. The festival is also known for hallowing of Mangala sootra. The festival is of tremendous importance to women folk married or unmarried. The focus is on the husband of a married woman or the future husband of an unmarried woman. The married women will be invoking the grace of the Lord for the longevity of their husbands whereas the unmarried women will seek to have their wishes for begetting well deserving husbands granted. The protocol of the day goes like this: Following a shower and the daily worship, the family members will gather around the family deity to offer special prayers and offer a "CHARADU", a yellow thread to Lakshmi Thayar. The husband or if he is not nearby, the mother-in-law will then tie a Charadu around the necks of all the married women in the family. Unmarried young daughters will be helped with their Charadu by their mothers or other married women. The charadu is symbolic of "Sowbhagyavati" status of women and is supposed to be renewed every year just like the sacred thread worn by men. Following the Charadu tying ceremony, the recipients of the Charadu will seek the blessings of the elders and the Lord. The festival dish is called "Adai". Adai is a sandwich of sweet porridge called "poorna" and two pancakes. The pancakes signify the husband and wife and the sandwiched sweet porridge represents the affection and sweet like relationship between the two. Simple as it may seem, the event stands for the need for love and faithfulness between husbands and wives to be asserted and reasserted which is a good thing in this changing world. The theme is universally applicable no matter what man-made distinctions that one assigns oneself to, though I know of this festival to be prevalent among Srivaishnavas in Karnataka. The concept though simplistic in nature, stands tall among some petty quabbles that have persisted over the years such as the "Vadagalai" - "Thengalai" arguments. Life on this earth is short; We have to make best use of that time to prepare our souls for future births. We can not just afford to waste the precious time in affairs of no consequence. If our ancestors seemingly made some mistakes, there is no reason why we can not acknowledge those mistakes, try and correct them for the betterment of our present lives and move on. If we can find peace and happiness to ourselves and those who coexist with us by simplifying some of the codes by which humans can identify themselves, it should be more power to us. Let us save our energy for more important things like how best we can preserve some of the real treasures of our heritage for our progeny. Adiyen. Keshava Prasad.