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  Events and Festivals
Festivals of Tamil Nadu
Pongal (January)
Pongal festival is the harvest festival of Tamilnadu. Pongal is like a thanksgiving occasions on which the farmers' fraternity owe their respect and honour to the nature and the farm cattle for being helpful during the harvest. The Pongal festival also marks the onset of Tamil New Year with the first month called 'Thai' and is considered an important and auspicious occasions for the farmers as they thank the nature for making the harvesting season so wonderful and pray for well-being and prosperity in future as well. Pongal festival has derived its name from a Tamil word that means 'boiling' or 'spill over', in this festival boiling of rice mixed in fresh milk with jaggery in earthen pots are considered auspicious a symbol of good luck.
Natyanjali Dance Festival (February)
Natyanjali Festival in Chidambaram is dedicated to Lord Nataraja, the dancing Shiva. The festival stretches on for five days. It begins with the auspicious festival of Maha Shivratri, the birth anniversary of Lord Shiva. Dancers from across the country take part in this amazing festival. Nataraja Temple serves as the backdrop for splendid performances during the festival. The festival aims at conveying the message of 'Unity in Diversity' through the language of music and dance.
Kavadi Festival (January/February)
The Kavadi Festival in Chennai is celebrated at all places where the sacred God Muruga is worshipped. The devotees of Lord Muruga take the penance to fulfil their vows made to their beloved God after a hard time had been overcome by the devotee with the blessings of the God. The Kavadi Festival is one of the important festivals in Chennai revealing a slice of the Tamil rituals and culture. The main highlight of the Kavadi festival involves carrying of the 'kavadi' by the devotee to the temple of the Lord Muruga situated in the Palani Hills. The carrying of the Kavadi had its origins in the Hindu mythology according to which Idumban carried two sacred hillocks laced on his two shoulders, balanced on two ends of a pole. The journey to the temple is filled with dances and song dedicated to the Lord Muruga. The dances are performed mainly by men devotees.
Karthigai Deepam (November)
Kaarthigai Deepam is a festival of lights, celebrated in the Tamil month of Kaarthigai. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the Kaarthigai month which coincides with Krithikai star. It is also considered as the extension of the Deepavali festival. In some houses, they double the number of lamps every day from the day of Deepavali and this way, they end up with a number of lamps on the day of Kaarthigai Deepam. It is celebrated in a special manner in Thiruvannamalai. Lord Shiva asks Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu to find out the exact location of his head and his feet. Since Lord Shiva takes a gigantic form, they are not able to find out anywhere. Then Lord Shiva takes the form of a jyothi (light of fire) on the hill of Thiruvannamali. Therefore, this festival is also known as Annamalai Deepam. Here, a special torch is lighted on the zenith of the hill and it is believed that Lord Shiva's jothi will be visible on this day.
Deepavali (October/November)
In Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and parts of Andhra Pradesh, Deepavali is celebrated to commemorate the killing of the demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. In Kerala, Deepavali is a low-key affair and is believed to be the day Lord Ram returned from exile. In Karnataka, the day after Deepavali is observed as Bali Paadyami to mark the day of King Bali's return to his subject once a year. There may be difference in date and reason for Deepavali but the central theme – good wins over evil, remains the same.
Saraswathi Pooja (January/February)
Saraswati Puja is celebrated all over India by Hindus. Saraswati is the goddess for Education, Arts and Crafts. This festival is held in the month of Magh (January/February). It is a festival celebrated by the youth, particularly students who invoke the blessings of the goddess for success in learning, arts and crafts. More than any other state, Saraswati Puja is celebrated in West Bengal in a splendid manner. Next to West Bengal it is celebrated in southern states of India such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh etc. in schools, colleges and homes. Saraswati Pooja is celebrated as Basant Punjami or Vasanat Punjami in many states of India.
Chitri Rai Festival (February/March)
The festival is held in the famous Madurai temples and lasts for 10 days during the Tamil month of chithirai Major attractions is the procession of Lord Kallazhagar otherwise known as lord Vishnu from Azhagarkoil to give away his sister goddess Meenakshi, in marriage to Lord Sundareswarar.
Navrathri Music Festival (September)
The Navrathri Music Festival is a nine day musical fiesta held in the state of Kerela. During these nine days the evenings of Thiruvananthapuram are filled with exquisite music and honeyed voices echoing in the atmosphere. This cultural, musical, festive fiesta is a remarkable experience for all visitors. People from all across the country gather here during these nine days to witness some of the best works in the field of Music, dance and entertainment.
Mahamagam Festival (February/March)
A holy festival that will bring you to Kumbakonam once in 12 years - the temple city that gets its name from "Kumbha" - the divine pot. Legend has it that Brahma, the Creator, held a pot containing nectar and the seed of creation. Shiva. in the form of a hunter shot an arrow at the pot - spilling the nectar into the famous Mahamagam tank at the Adi Kumbeswarar Temple. Natyanjali festival opens on the auspicious occasion of the Maha Shivaratri day and of course in the right kind of venue - the 'Prakara' of the Chidambaram temple. The magnificent temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, built a thousand years ago, provides a beautiful backdrop for the event. The setting is truly divine - Chidambaram's gold-roofed temple, with pillars depicting Lord Nataraja in 108 poses from Bharatanatyam - Tamil Nadu's classical dance.
Dance Festival, Mamallapuram (January/February)
This event witnesses performances on the Indian classical dances such as the Bharat Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Mohiniattam, Odissi and Kathakali. The prominent people from their respected fields gather for this cultural event that is also promoted by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Department as one of the major cultural attraction to these parts of India.
Arubathimoovar Festival (March/April)
This 8th century Pallava temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is situated in the traditional part of Chennai at Mylapore. The main deity, Lord Shiva, is worshipped as "Kapaleeshwarar" and Goddess Parvati as "Karpagambal". The temple is very famous and attracts thousands of devotees especially during festival days. The bronze idols of the 63 Nayanmars, the saints who were devotees of Lord Shiva are placed within the Kapaleeshwarar Sannadhi. The Nayanmars glorified Lord Shiva with enchanting hymns. In March/April during the Arubathimoovar festival all the Nayanmars are taken in a colourful procession through the streets of Mylapore.
Summer Festival (May)
The summer festival is celebrated in hill stations like Ooty, Kodaikanal, and Yercaud etc. It is called 'Kodai Vizha'. Boat races, flower and fruit shows, are arranged. Cultural programmes are conducted. Trekking in hill stations are also done - a unique thrilling experience. There are competitions of flower arrangements, Rangoli and vegetable and fruit carving - an enticing feast to the eyes.
Velankanni Festivals (September)
Mysterious legends surround the church. A story goes behind the festival. Our Merciful Mother rescued a few Portuguese merchant sailors from a violent storm, which wrecked their ship. When the merchants reached the shore of Velankanni they were taken by local fisherman to the thatched chapel. To give thanks and pay tribute to Our Lady, they built a small permanent chapel on their return trip. On subsequent visits they improved on it. The merchants dedicated the chapel to Our Lady on September 8th to celebrate the feast of her nativity and to mark the date of their safe landing to Velankanni.Today, the celebration of this feast is an annual festival which lasts for 9 days and draws more than a million and a half pilgrims. Velankanni attracts more pilgrims than any other sacred shrine in India. Not only do multitudes of Catholic travel there throughout the year but many non-Christians visit as well. Hundreds of miraculous cures are reported every year
Kanthuri Festivals (September)
This too could be said to be of a secular nature since people of all faiths flock to the shrine of saint Quadirwali believed to be doing good to all. One of the descendants of the saint is chosen as the spiritual leader or 'peer' and honored with offerings. The tenth day is most important. On that day, the tomb of the saint is anointed with sandal paste and later it is distributed to one and all. This holy paste is believed to possess healing powers as it is considered a remedy for all ills. The festival is celebrated at Nagore durgah near Nagapattinam.
Cape Festival (October)
Celebrated with great pomp and show, Cape festival is one of the most important festivals of Tamil Nadu. This festival is celebrated in Kanyakumari, which is an amazing tourist destination. The three sides of this heavenly place are surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. During the Cape Festival, Hindus bathe at the confluence of the three oceans, as it is considered sacred. The festival is celebrated over a period of three days, marked by wonderful cultural programmes. The Cape Festival is celebrated during the month of October.
Thai Poosam (January)
This festival usually takes place in the temples dedicated to the Kartikeya or Mariamman. Trenches of burning coal are laid out for the devotees to walk over. People who volunteer to undertake this experience with faith, come away unharmed and unscathed. Thai Pusam celebrated in Tamil Nadu usually takes place in the temples dedicated to Kartikeya or Mariamman where trenches of burning coal are laid out for the devotees to walk over.
Mamallapuram Festival (January/February)
Mahabalipuram Dance Festival is an occasion for the dance lovers to enjoy the performances of the artists from all parts of the country. The festival is celebrated in the month of January/February every year. The Shore Temple forms the backdrop of this festival and the music from the musical instruments mixes with the natural music of wind and the sea. The Mahabalipuram dance festival is an occasion when artists from all over the country come together to perform.
Natyanjali Festival (November/December)
It is a dance festival at the Nataraja temple at Chidambaram. It is a homage paid by all the dancers to the cosmic dancer, Lord Nataraja. It is celebrated near the thousand-pillared hall of the temple where 108 dancing poses of Lord Siva are depicted. The poses are from Tamil Nadu's classical dance Bharatha Natyam. Dancers all over India come to pay their tribute by performing dances like Bharatha Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali, Odissi and Kathak are performed.
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