Chitra Pournami: A day to repent one’s sins:
Chitra Pournami or Chitra Purnima refers to the full moon that occurs on the auspicious month of the Tamil calendar called Chithirai (April-May). This day is dedicated to Chitragupta, the bookkeeper of Yama, the Hindu god of death.
According to Hindu mythology, Chitragupta keeps track of the good and bad deeds of human beings on earth. Once a person dies, his soul goes to Lord Yama first. Chitragupta tallies all their deeds and submits a report to Yama for his final judgement, which will also decide the fate of the person’s soul.
Chitra Pournami is a day that serves as a reminder to everyone that our deeds, whether good or bad, have consequences on our life on earth and also the afterlife. Hence, it is very important to do good deeds and avoid doing bad ones.
Chitra Pournami is, therefore, a time to repent our sins. During this auspicious day, our sins can be cleansed through expiation and sincere prayers. These can free people of their sins and lessen the adverse effect of their bad deeds.
Legends about Chitra Pournami:
One legend about the birth of Chitragupta says that Brahma created him, as Yama professed his inability to keep accounts of people’s good and bad deeds. So he created Chitragupta to assist Yama by doing this task. Another legend says that Indra, the king of the gods, committed a sin by not showing respect to his Guru Brihaspati, and also committed other sins when his Guru was away. When Brihaspati returned, he came to know of Indra’s shenanigans and advised him to go on a pilgrimage to reduce his sins.
Indra followed his Guru's advice and went to earth, where he came across a Shiva Lingam under a kadamba tree. He began to worship Lord Shiva by offering a golden lotus from a pond nearby, and on Chitra Pournami day, he was relieved of his sins.
People worship him by offering chakkarai pongal and other delicacies like white Pongal without salt, as this is believed to please him.
Devotees should not take milk and milk products on this day as it is said that he was born to Kamadhenu. One can use buffalo milk if required. After finishing the Pooja and customary rituals, devotees donate rice, dal, vegetables, and dakshina in a “Muram” (a winnowing sieve or basket).
Some people will draw a maa kolam using rice flour at the entrance, but the south side alone will be left empty. After the Pooja, the kolam will be erased immediately.
How to celebrate this auspicious day?
Chitra Pournami Pooja is especially performed by females, but males can do it, too. After having a bath in the morning, women should clean the entrance of the house and draw a maakolam of Chitragupta with paper and pen. One can also put padi kolam(Ezhakolam), leaving the south side open for Chitragupta to enter the house.
In the pooja room, these items have to be kept before we start the Pooja. Keep a paper, pencil, Nava dhanyam, dal, rice, etc. For neivedyam, we can prepare Sakkarai Pongal or white Pongal without salt. Some offer moong dal payasam using buffalo milk instead of cow’s milk. Devotees pray to Chitragupta to consider their good deeds and ignore the bad ones. One can also chant slokas praising Chitragupta.
One needs to avoid taking milk and milk-products. It is better to take buffalo. After finishing the usual pooja and naivedhya, we can donate rice, dal, vegetables, and dakshina in a “muram” to Brahmins. It is the custom to eat curd rice without salt on this day. Some observe a total fast. Avoiding salt in all food items is recommended on this day. Chitra Pournami 2021 will be celebrated on April 27. It’s a Tuesday.