Officially the months of December and January are the coldest months in India. However, in Tamil Nadu, India, it is the most auspicious period and people get up early in the morning, not minding the cold weather and get busy with a set of religious activities.


Starting from the mid of December to mid of January falls the Tamil month Margazhi. It is the month of bhakthi, kolams and music for Tamilians.

Margazhi is known as ‘Margaseersho’ in North India. Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita says “Maasanaam Margaseersho Aham,” meaning in months, I am Margazhi. Having said this, the great Mahabharatha war took place for 18 days during the month of Margazhi. It was on the first day of this great war, that Lord Krishna preached Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna.

It was also during this month that Bheeshma gave us the treasure ‘Vishnu Sahasranama,’ reciting it from the battle field, while lying on his death bed.

It is believed in India that one whole year for humans is one day for the Gods. The first six months of the year becomes the day time for gods and the next six months becomes their night time. Hence, the month Margazhi forms the transitional period between the night and the day time for Gods. That is between 4.30 am to 6 am is the month of Margazhi for Gods. This period is also known as ‘Brahmamuhurtham’ and any work done during this time will be very productive.

Science behind Margazhi

It has been proven scientifically that during the early hours of Margazhi, from 4.30 am and 6 am, the ozone gases are more in the atmosphere, which is very good for health. Experts say that, in order to wake up people early in the morning, rituals like putting kolams and singing in temples were introduced by Indian ancestors.

Margazhi in Vaishnavism

Lord Vishnu is the main God of the Vaishnavas, a branch of Hinduism. This month is very auspicious for two reasons. One is that, it was mentioned in Bhagavata Purana, that unmarried women belonging to the ‘Yadava Clan,’ performed special pooja to Goddess Dhakshayani (Parvati)in Margazhi, in order to get married.

Similar pooja was done by Aandaal, also known as Kodhai, from Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu, a 9th century Tamil poet in order to marry Lord Vishnu himself. Her renowned work ‘Thiruppaavai’ which has 30 songs, are sang during each day of the Margazhi month in temples and households.

It is believed that young girls who observe fasting known as ‘Paavai Nombu’ during the month will get married soon.

These 30 songs are written in a way that each song will try to wake up Lord Vishnu from his slumber.


The story of Aandaal is a very interesting one. She was so much in love with Lord Vishnu that she refused to marry anyone other than him. Her poems reflect her wishes and dreams to marry the Lord and her deep love and affection for him.

Aandaal was eventually married to Lord Vishnu in Sri Rangam around 885 CE. People had witnessed Aandaal vanishing inside the Sanctum-Santorum of ‘Sri Rangam’ on the day of her marriage.

நெய்யுண்ணோம் பாலுண்ணோம் நாட்காலே நீராடி

மையிட்டெழுதோம் மலரிட்டு நாம் முடியோம்

செய்யாதன செய்யோம் தீக்குறளை சென்றோதோம்

ஐயமும் பிச்சையும் ஆந்தனையும் கைகாட்டி

உய்யும் ஆறு எண்ணி உகந்தேலோர் எம்பாவாய்

In these lines Aandaal explains the rules of the fasting. She says, we will not eat ghee and milk, we will not apply kajal and make-up, we will not dress our hair with flowers, we will not gossip or complain, we will get up early in the morning, pray the lord and feed the needy.

Margazhi and kolams

(photo courtesy: Manjula Anand)

It is a tradition in Tamil Nadu that women get up early in the morning, wash the entrance of the house with cow-dung and water and draw beautiful designs ‘kolams’ using rice flour, which in turn feeds ants and small insects. During the month of Margazhi, this ritual becomes more grand and women decorate their entrances with huge kolams.

வெள்ளைநுண்மணல் கொண்டுசிற்றில்

விசித்திரப்பட, வீதிவாய்த்
தெள்ளிநாங்களி ழைத்தகோல

மழித்தியாகிலும், உன்றன்மேல்
உள்ளமோடி யுருகலல்லால்

உரோடமொன்று மிலோங்கண்டாய்,

முகத்தனகண்க ளல்லவே.

In this poem Aandaal explains how they (women) put kolam using rice flour straining their back just to please the Lord and even if he (Krishna) destroys the kolams playfully, they will never get angry with him.

Scientifically too, when women wash their entrance with cow-dung, it serves as a natural disinfectant and doesn’t let germs enter the house.

Margazhi and Saivam


‘Saivam’ is another branch of Hinduism where the main God is Lord Shiva. Since there are numerous health benefits getting up early during Margazhi, Indian ancestors used spirituality to achieve this goal.

Hinduism or ‘Sanathana Dharma’ has 6 branches and the predominant two are ‘Saivam’ and ‘Vaishnavam’.

Manikkavaasagar, a contemporary Tamil poet to Aandaal composed ‘Thiruvempaavai,’ Tamil poems to wake up Lord Shiva from his slumber, similar to Thiruppaavai.

Street Bhajans

Women get the benefits of Margazhi by putting kolams and observing fasting. How do men get the benefits? By singing Thiruppaavai and Thiruvempaavai early in the morning around the temple streets. Hence, men and women alike wake up during Brahmamuhurtham, take bath and reach the temple by singing songs to wake up the Lord.

This tradition is still being followed in Tamil Nadu. These Temples not only serve as a spiritual center, but also as a beacon for upholding the traditional and cultural values in India.

Further Reading

1.Lord Krishna and Lord Vishnu are one and the same and people in India do not find any difference between Vishnu and his incarnations.

2. Bhagavata Purana narrates the story of Lord Krishna, who was born in the Yadava Clan 5000 years ago in India.

3. Sanathana Dharma (Hinduism) is the oldest religion of India. The stories of Gods and their incarnations are closely associated with the day-to-day lives of Indians even today. Spirituality and bhakthi is deeply imbibed in their value system.

There are 6 branches is Sanatana Dharma: Saivam, Vaishnavam, Saktham, kaumaaram, sowram, and Gaanapathyam.

Saivam – Lord Shiva

Vaishnavam- Lord Vishnu

Saktham – Goddess Shakthi (Parvathi)

Kaumaaram – Lord Subrahmanya

Sowram – Sun God

Gaanapathyam – Lord Ganesha or Ganapathi.

An article focusing on Kolams will be shared next week.