Purattasi and its Importance
There are three months in the Tamil calendar which are regarded particularly holy for worships. These are Aadi, Purattasi, and Margazhi. As these months are virtually dedicated for prayers and religious activities, auspicious functions like marriages are not generally celebrated then. Of these, the sixth Tamil month of Purattasi is meant principally for worshipping Lord Venkateshwara, an aspect and incarnation of Lord Vishnu, the supreme God of preservation and sustenance. Purattasi falls during September-October in the English calendar.
Purattasi’s connection with the Lord is special as this month remains the time when he incarnated on earth. As per legends, Vishnu had to face separation from his spouse Lakshmi as she felt severely offended by a thoughtless action of a sage, and left her abode and landed on earth. Unable to bear the separation, the Lord followed her to this world, taking the Avatar of Srinivasa and coming to the Tirupati hills. This happened during a Purattasi month. Soon, the Lord united with the Goddess in marriage and took his abode permanently on top of the Tirupati mountains. Millions of devotees from all over the globe visit him in his famous temple at Tirumala hill-top and worship him in many names such as Venkateshwara and Balaji. While people flock to his temple right through the year, the rush of devotees is perhaps the maximum during Purattasi.
People also undertake various forms of worships at home during the month, and this is particularly so on Purattasi Saturdays, considered very auspicious for Venkateshwara worship. People observe austerities like Virathams or fasts, make food and other oblations, offer the auspicious Tulasi leaves to him, chant hymns, read scriptures and offer prayers to him. Many mark their foreheads with ‘Naamams’ which are nothing but the representations of the holy feet of the Lord himself. People also light unique lamps in rice flour called as Maa Vilakku on the occasion and worship him. Even others who are not this serious in Purattasi worship, stay away from smoking, drinking and eating non-vegetarian food. It is said that devotees do Purattasi worship to Vishnu, the universal protector as a form of expressing their gratitude to the Lord for preserving the universe and providing them with many precious things in life.
Saturday is the weekday ruled by the much-feared planet Sani, the Saturn. It is said that during Purattasi, his power gets limited and hence his malefic effects will remain the least during this month. So people also offer prayers to the powerful Sani on Purattasi Saturdays and seek his blessings and protection.
Mahalaya and Navaratri
Purattasi is also significant for two other events, Mahalaya Paksha and Navaratri festival, which fall during this month. Mahalaya Paksha is 15 days, considered most suitable for doing ancestral worship and rituals in their memory. People perform ceremonies in their honor during this time and seek their blessings.
Navaratri is the famous festival of nine-nights when Durga, the mother Goddess is worshipped, and grand celebrations take place in her honor. The festival concludes on Vijayadasami, the tenth day of victory when the Goddess is believed to have defeated the evil energies and relived the world of their negative influence.