Today is Sri jayanthi and all hindu households sport a festive look in the evenings. Houses are decorated with festoons of mango leaves, maa kolam(rangoli) and foot prints of Lord Krishna drawn with wet ground rice flour.
Traditionally , savories like murukku ,cheedai and sweets like vella avul(jaggery and parched rice) and vella cheedai, vella appam along with payasam are made with lot of devotion and care. This is then offered to God as Neivedhyam with butter.
A story goes that when lord Krishna was born , his maternal uncle Kamsa had a nightmare and clenched his teeth which produced the sound ‘naranara’ and hence cheedai , which produces the same sound while eating is offered to god.
Temples too celebrate this festival with special pujas, alankarams and a customary sport called uriadi. Uriadi is famous at Varagur Venkatesa perumal temple. This temple is at a picturesque place on the banks of River kudamurutti, a tributary of River Cauvery in Thanjavur district, Tamil nadu.
I visited this temple five years back but still the calmness and simplicity of the temple is vivid in my memory.
We drove to Varagur from Lalgudi (B’s maternal grand parents home. From the main road ,we drove through a serpentine mud road flanked with emerald green sesame fields and a brook which led to the temple in the midst of a Agraharam. Agraharams are colonies where practicing Brahmins have their houses. The main deity here is Venkatesa perumal. Richly decorated Silver idols of the god and his consorts on a silver swing are a treat for one’s mind and eyes.
The uriyadi performed here during Sri jayanthi draws many devotees from neighbouring villages. Savouries like cheedai, murukku and some money is tied in a bundle and this bundle is then tied at the top of a slippery pole called ‘vazhukkumaram’. My MIL who has witnessed this recalls how castor oil is smeared on the pole to make it slippery so that it makes the task of reaching the top difficult. Many devotees climb the slippery pole to reach the top. The one who manages to reach the top gets the booty.
The festival here lasts for 11days with bhajans, discourses, veda parayanam and ends with Rukmini Kalyanam .