The livelihood of the Indian farmer is largely dependent on the monsoon rains, giving rise to a multitude of traditions and practices. Worshiping the monsoon is but natural for a nation that is so very rich in animistic practices that perhaps dates back to even before 8000 BC.
Today is Aadi 18. Also known as Pathinettam Perukku, it is celebrated in the south of India on the 18th day of the auspicious Tamil month of Aadi Perukku means rising, which indicates the overflowing of rivers like Kaveri (in this case) due to the monsoon rains. Never does Kaveri look so beautiful, with waters lapping both the banks, replete and full. The event is celebrated near river basins, water tanks, lakes, and wells of Tamil Nadu. Even if one is not residing on the banks of the river Kaveri, one can go to a nearby water body (pond, temple tank, lake, etc), invoke the divine river within it and perform the rites.The sun’s rays during this period help in good cultivation and yield – highly beneficial for farmers.
(Photo courtesy: Dr. Rengaswamy Ramesh, Professor, Physical Research Laboratory, Navrangpura, Ahmedabad)
According to the South Indian tradition, Kaveri Ashtottaram or Lakshmi Ashtottaram Archana is performed followed by Shodashopacharam, Naivedyam and Deeparadhana. Farmers and other people who depend on the river essentially, celebrate this festival for their livelihood. Special prayers and pujas are done in temples and people pray to Mother Kaveri and Rain God Varuna for a good harvest, constant supply of water and hassle free monsoon.
Customs dictate that all family members have to make a trip to the riverbank to pray. They prepare a special lamp using rice flour and jaggery (maavilakku), which is then placed on mango leaves and lit and set afloat by women. Flowers, along with turmeric and an auspicious yellow thread are also placed on the mango leaves. People prepare several varieties of rice (chitranna) beside the river on this day – making it one of a kind of family outing in celebration of the thunderous monsoon.