Marriage is an important event in human life. It’s the act of choosing a partner to share our joys and sorrows with for a lifetime, and hence it has great meaning and importance in all cultures. Panguni Uthiram is a festival that reminds us of the sanctity and significance of marriage and marital life. It is celebrated mostly by Tamil Hindus in Tamil Nadu who follow both Shaivite and Vaishnavite traditions of worship.
Mythology says that on this auspicious day, many celestials got married. The divine couples who celebrate their wedding anniversaries on Panguni Uthiram are Shiva-Parvati, Murugan- Deivanai, Ranganathar (Vishnu)-Andal, Rama-Sita, etc.
Divine marriages in Hinduism are a far cry from those in Judaeo-Christian religions. They are colorful, eventful, and sometimes full of intrigue and nail-biting moments, like some marriages on earth. Like human beings enter into love marriages, the gods too often marry for love. Their love stories even inspire human beings. The love between Radha and Krishna, Shiva and Parvati, etc., has been immortalized in many ancient as well as modern texts.
When is Panguni Uthiram?
Panguni Uthiram is observed in the Tamil month of Panguni (March – April). Panguni Uthiram 2023 date falls on April 5. On this day, Uthiram Nakshatra (star) coincides with Poornima, or the full moon day. The day is celebrated grandly in many Hindu Temples in Tamil Nadu.
Divine Weddings on Panguni Uthiram
The Puranas and the epics – Mahabharat and Ramayan – reveal that the auspicious day when Poornima and Uthiram star coincide in the month of Panguni is the day when most celestial weddings supposedly took place.
The belief is that Shiva married Parvathi on this day, and Muruga married Devasena, the daughter of Indra, on the same day. Rama also wed Sita on this auspicious day.
Yet another divine wedding was solemnized on Panguni Uthiram. Andal and Sri Ranganatha (Vishnu) were the couple in question. This is called Panguni Uthiram Thirukalyanam and is a major event in Srivilliputtur and adjacent areas.
Only once a year do we get to see Ranganayaki with Srirangam Ranganatha on the same stage, and that is Panguni Uthiram. The two meet in the Panguni Uttara mandapam, and this is called Panguni Uthiram Serththi (togetherness).
The day sees grand celebrations in most of the major Vishnu, Shiva, and Muruga temples in Tamil Nadu. They include the Thirupadagam Kanchipuram and the Srirangam Sri Ranganatha Temples. The festival is a 10-day festival at the Palani Murugan Temple, and it is also the most important festival here.
Many devotees who worship at various Murugan Temples on this day carry Kavadis.
The day is also auspicious for other reasons, as both Ayyappa Jayanthi and Lakshmi Jayanthi fall on this day. At the Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple in Kerala, there will be special Poojas and rituals on the occasion. Ayyappa was the son of Shiva and Vishnu, who took the form of Mohini. He was born to kill Mahishi, the sister of the demon, Mahisha.
Mythology says that Goddess Lakshmi, who bestows wealth and good fortune, emerged from the Milky Ocean on Panguni Uthiram day. The Devas and the demons or Asuras were churning the ocean for Amrit, the divine elixir of immortality, when the goddess emerged from the ocean. She was one of the many wondrous entities that emerged from the ocean during the churning of the ocean).
Rituals of Panguni Uthiram
Panguni Uthiram is also known as Kalyana Vrata. It is a Maha Vrata, one of the 8 such Vratas that is mentioned in the Skanda Purana. Those who wish to marry a suitable person observe a strict fast on Panguni Uthiram and worship Shiva and Parvati. They also worship Murugan and seek his blessings for a happy marital life.
The fast is quite strict, and people go without food the entire day. In the evening, they have Payasam or kheer and end the fast. Those who, for health reasons, cannot observe a strict fast can consume fruits.
People celebrate the occasion in their homes as well as in temples. They clean the deities’ idols and adorn them with jewels and flowers. In some places, the nuptials of Murugan and Deivayanai takes place. The number of footfalls at the temples of Murugan will be very high on this day as they come to watch the ceremony and offer prayers. Special Mantras like Kanda Shashti Kavasam, Skanda Puranam, etc., will be recited.
Devotees also carry Kavadis with food offerings to the Murugan temples. On Panguni Uthiram, the earth element (Prithvi lingam) is worshipped at the Ekambareswarar Temple at Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu. Here, the festivities take place for 13 days.
Panguni Uthiram is a very important festival in Tamil Nadu, as Murugan is the patron deity of the state. It is also celebrated in places outside India, where there is a large Tamil diaspora.