How To Celebrate Purattasi Shani Pooja
Purattasi month is very special for devotees of Lord Vishnu. The story goes that the Lord came to earth during this month as Lord Venkateshwara. Vishnu is the deity of preservation and protection. Each time the forces of chaos and anarchy threaten the universe, he incarnates on earth to preserve law and order in the cosmos. We are currently living in Kali Yuga, when the moral order has been predicted to collapse so completely that it will lead to the destruction of the world, so that a new and better one can be created afresh. But Vishnu as the Preserver has the power to protect all those who have adhered to Dharma.
So during this month, Hindus worship Lord Vishnu and do special Poojas for him to earn his blessings. Tirupathi witnesses special Poojas and Mahotsav. Though the entire month is dedicated to the worship of Vishnu, Purattasi Saturdays are very special. Worshipping Vishnu on these days can reduce the malefic effects of Saturn or Shani. So Purattasi Shani Pooja is an important ritual during this month. During Purattasi month, many Hindus eat only one meal or they avoid non-vegetarian food. Some, Brahmins for instance, don’t take even onion and garlic. People also observe fast on Purattasi Saturdays as it is said to reduce the vigor or power of Saturn, thereby removing the problems it causes.
Hindus believe that doing Pooja on Purattasi Saturdays can bring many blessings like relief from chronic illness, and problems like financial loss, delays in marriage, etc. By worshipping Vishnu and fasting on Purattasi Saturdays, we can appease Shani who bestows wealth, wisdom, good health, leadership, authority, longevity, and ambition.
Tamils offer 5 varieties of rice on Purattasi Saturdays to Vishnu as part of Purattasi Shani Pooja. They also offer sweet Pongal, vada malai and maavilakku. This offering is known as Thaligai Podrathu’. It is also during this month that Hindus observe Mahalaya Paksha and Durga Navratri.
What You Need for Pooja and Neivedyam
A silver pot/tumbler for drawing Naamam, Shanghu (conch), and Chakram (wheel/discus). You can also draw on the walls. This is the symbol for Vishnu. Invert the pot and draw using a Namakatti or chalk piece.
Vada maalai with 11 or 21 pepper vadais (no onions)
Raw rice for making 5 rice varieties (sweet Pongal, tamarind rice, coconut rice, ellu rice, curd rice
Sundal (white/brown chana/chana dal)
Fruits, nuts, and betel leaves
Tulsi water for neivedyam (in a cup of water, put tulsi leaves, cloves, crushed cardamom, and a pinch of edible camphor)
Tulsi garland or leaves
How to Prepare for the Pooja
Observe a fast until the Pooja gets over on Purattasi Saturday. Make the pulikachil paste for the Puliyogare/Tamarind rice, and the ellu podi (black sesame seed powder) on the previous night. Soak the chana for the sundal and the urad dal for the vadas. Once the urad is well-soaked, grind it into a batter for the vada. Keep it in the refrigerator. Take a pot or sombu and draw the Naamam, shanghu, and chakram using namakatti or a paste of rice flour. Allow it to dry.
Clean the lamps and put some sandalwood and Kumkum dots on them. Draw the Rangoli or Kolam the next morning. In a pressure cooker, cook the raw rice and dal to make the sweet Pongal. Take the soaked chana in a small plate or bowl, and cook along with the dal and rice.
Take another cooker, and cook the raw rice for the tamarind rice, ellu rice, coconut rice, and curd rice. Remove 3/4th of the rice, once it is cooked, and spread it out on a plate, so that it becomes cool. Drizzle a little bit of sesame oil. The remaining rice is mashed to make the curd rice. Add curd, boiled milk, and salt to the mashed rice. Mix it well and season it with mustard seeds, red chilies, and curry leaves. To make the sundal, temper it with mustard, urad dal, hing, chilies, curry leaves and lastly add grated coconut. Garnish with coriander leaves. Take the urad dal batter and make 11 or 21 vadas. String them like a mala using a thread. Avoid using onions.
To make maavilakku, grind grated jaggery and rice flour. Add cardamom. Using some ghee, make a ball of the mixture. Put a hole and add ghee. Also add a thread and some Kumkum dots. This flour lamp can be used for the Pooja.
How to do Pooja
Pooja should be done at an auspicious time. Rahukalam and Yamagandam must be avoided. After making the rice dishes, sweet Pongal, vada maalai, and maavilakku, keep everything in a plate or banana leaf and keep it before a silver pot. Keep the betel leaves, fruits, and nuts and coconut on a plate. Light the lamp and keep some tulsi water. Do the neivedyam after lighting the maavilakku. Show dhoop and perform arti. When the pooja is over, drink some tulsi water first. Then you can eat the lunch.
Purattasi 2021 has five Saturdays. Purattasi Shani 2021 dates are Sept 18, Sept 25, Oct 2, Oct 9, and Oct 16.