Panguni Uthiram is a significant Tamil festival that sees thousands of devotees flocking to all Murugan temples. This festival is also auspicious to Lord Vishnu as well as Lord Shiva and is hence considered sacred by both Saivites and Vaishnavites. This day is also celebrated as Gowri Kalyanam Day as it is believed that Goddess Parvati, in the form of Gowri, had married Lord Shiva in Kanchipuram on this holy day. Devotees offer their prayers in different ways, and it is believed that their offerings have yielded astonishing results, which drives them to continue to keep coming to the temples each year on this occasion.
Panguni Uthiram is also known as Meena Uttara-Phalguni in Sanskrit. It is celebrated on the day that the moon transits in the nakshatra of Uttara Phalguni or Uthiram which coincides with the twelfth month of Panguni, the Tamil calendar. It is believed that this day witnessed the weddings of Parvati and Lord Shiva, Lord Murugan and Deivanai, Aandal and Rangamannar. Valmiki’s Ramayana also claims that it was on this day and star that Sita’s marriage to Lord Ram is celebrated.
The annual festival of Panguni Uthiram, dedicated to Hindu God Murugan, is a religious occasion for one to surrender themselves to the presiding deity. The beautifully adorned deity is taken on a procession among the thousands of devotees that flock to get a glimpse of the Lord. The enthusiasm of the festivities is infectious, and it indeed is a religiously overwhelming experience.
The day of Panguni Uthiram is the day, when the Lord in both Vishnu and Shiva temples, are worshipped in their married state by their devotees. The pilgrims consider it their duty to celebrate the occasion and carry Kavadis filled with puja requisites to fulfil their vows. This is a special hallmark feature of Subrahmanya Temples, irrespective of where they happen to be. Kavadi is a container carried over a bamboo pole. Each Kavadi is clad in yellow or ochre clothes and carries milk or flowers to be offered to the presiding deity.
Thousands of Hindu devotees also pierce their bodies with numerous needles and spikes to achieve atonement and for their prayers to be fulfilled on the unique eve of Panguni Uthiram. The deity is also beautifully decorated and taken out in procession.
Numerous devotees take part in Panguni Uthiram festivities in all prominent temples across Madurai, Dindigul, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin. All places that have a temple for Lord Subrahmanya see crowds of devotees carrying all the requisites for puja in a Kavadi for him. Such enthusiasm can also be seen in Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva temples.
The Vadapalani Andavar Murugan Temple of Chennai, in particular, sees a beeline of devotees and pilgrims from various places, coming to offer their prayers to Lord Murugan. The Subramaniaswamy Temple at Tiruparankundram is considered to be one of the six abodes of Lord Muruga. Special pujas are held in this temple on occasion on Panguni Uthiram.
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