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Re: thirumaN kaappu

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Fri Nov 17 2000 - 12:10:13 PST

Sri M.G. Vasudevan wrote:
> [please note here for sumangali it is ONE only and for widow it is 12-

In this matter, there are variations from family to family
and acharya to acharya.  There is a difference even for men
in the various sampradAyas.  In most traditions, while wearing
all twelve is preferred, men are to wear at least two tirumaNs -- 
one on the forehead and the other on the back of the neck (see 
Sri Gopala Desika's Ahnikam, for example). But the Ahobila Matha 
tradition prescribes wearing only one tirumaN if one cannot wear 
all twelve, arguing against wearing one on the back of the neck.

I am aware of several traditions which recommend that women (sumangalis
included) wear four tirumaNs after samASrayaNam. These four are the 
forehead and the three around the neck.  The other eight are omitted for
reasons of modesty. Women generally do not go topless in our society!. 
Even these three are worn only in an abbreviated manner by women in 
these traditions.

To my knowledge, meditation on the 12 tirumaNs is common to all,
whether all twelve are actually worn or not.  

It is interesting to also read the recommendation that sumangalis
wear two garments. I am told by my grandmother and others that
orthodox women in the old days eschewed tailored blouses as a modern 
invention, considering them polluting. They only used a single sari 
to cover their entire body. One gentleman who recalled his grandmother
dressing this way remarked with amazement how he never saw anything 
even remotely revealing, despite her intense activity in all the years
he knew her!

Mani
 


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