Vaikasi Visakam is a Hindu festival that is important to Saivites, Vaishnavites, and also Buddhists. To Saivites, it is the day of the advent of Lord Muruga, to Vaishnavites, the day marks Periyalvar’s Jayanti, and to Buddhists, it is the day associated with the miracles of nativity, enlightenment, and the Maha Samadhi of the Buddha.
The advent of Muruga is called Shanmuga avataram. Muruga was born in answer to a prayer by the Devas or Gods to eliminate the adharma in the world caused by the three Asura (demons) brothers, Soorapadman, Singamuhan, and Tārakan. The brothers had attained immense powers by performing intense penance and had begun to torment the Devas. The Devas begged Shiva for help.
From his forehead, Lord Shiva released six sparks of fire which filled the world with luster. Vayu (god of wind) and Agni (god of fire) carried these sparks to the Ganges, which pushed them into a lake called Saravana Poigai, in which many lotuses and reeds grew. While the lotus represents the pure heart, the reeds represent the network of nerves in the physical body. In symbolic terms, the Divine Effulgence in the lake, along with its lotuses and reeds, is within each person. This Reality dwells in the body, breath, senses, mind, intelligence, and ego as Light and Life. These six aspects of the human being represent Shanmuga’s six faces.
The sparks turned into six babies who were looked after by six Kartikai Pengal or maidens. Goddess Parvati embraced the six children, and they became one child with six faces and twelve hands. And thus, Muruga was born as the incarnation of pure consciousness and divine knowledge. His birth was on the Pournami or full moon in the month of Vaikasi (May-June), when Visakam Nakshatra was in the sky.
Vaikasi Visakam Pooja
Vaikasi Visakam is celebrated as a ten-day festival in Muruga Temples. Special Poojas and Homas are performed at this time. A car festival, in which chariots are pulled, is also a feature of this festival. Devotees also perform special Poojas for Muruga on Vaikasi Visakam at their homes.
Idols and paintings of Muruga are cleaned and decorated for the occasion. The usual Pooja procedures are observed, and Sarkarai Pongal, a special neivedya, or prasad, is made. People also visit Muruga temples nearby and offer prayers.
On this day, prayers like Kanda Sashti Kavacham, Subrahmanya Bhujangam, and Shanmukha Kavacham are chanted. People also perform an elaborate Sahasranama Archana as well as special Poojas with the help of a priest. Every deity in Hinduism has some favorite foods. These are prepared with love by devotees and offered to the deity as prasad. Here are recipes for some of LordMuruga’s favorite food items.
Millet and honey balls (Thinai urundai)
This food item was served by Valli to her beloved, Muruga, when she was guarding her field. ‘Millet & honey balls’ is one of Muruga’s most favorite foods.
It is not only delicious but also wholesome and nutritious. It is made using honey and finely powdered foxtail millet. A little cardamom and roasted cashewnuts are also added to it. Instead of honey, one can use jaggery also.
Maavilakku (edible flour lamps)
This delicious item is made using fresh rice flour and jaggery. It is offered to Muruga on auspicious days. Ghee is poured into the flour lamp, and it is lit and offered as prasad.
Puffed rice balls
These are like laddoos (murmura laddoos or pori urundai) and are made using puffed rice and jaggery. They are offered as prasad, especially during the Kartikai Deepam festival.
Jaggery can be replaced with palm jaggery as it is more nutritious. This is another favorite of the deity.
This delicacy is made with bananas, dates, jaggery, honey, ghee, cardamom, etc. It is used for abishekam and then distributed to devotees.
Sweet Sooji Paniyaram
• 1 cup Rava / Sooji / Semolina
• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour / Maida
• 3/4 to 1 cup jaggery
• 1/4 cup grated coconut
• 1 tsp cardamom powder
• 1 small banana (optional)
• 1/2 tsp cooking soda
• A pinch of salt
• Ghee / Oil as required
Measure and keep all the ingredients ready. Soak the rava in water for half an hour until the sooji has absorbed all the water.
Grate coconut in a mixer. In a bowl, add jaggery and a little water.
Pour the jaggery and water into a pan and melt it. String consistency is not needed.
In a bowl, put the soaked sooji, flour, grated coconut, and cardamom powder. Filter the melted jaggery through a strainer to remove the impurities.
Mix everything well, and then add banana, cooking soda, and a pinch of salt. Mash the banana with the fingers, without any lumps.
Whisk everything well. Heat an appam pan / paniyaram pan and pour oil or ghee in each mold.
Take a little batter in a spoon, and fill each mold with 3/4 of the batter. Cover and cook the batter on a low flame for 2 – 3 minutes.
Once the bottom is cooked, turn it to the other side using a spoon. Add some more ghee and cook again for another 2 – 3 minutes.
This Vaikasi Visakam, please Muruga with these delicious foods and get his blessings! Vaikasi Visakam 2021 is on May 25.