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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

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.


Keshava Prasad.