Ancient Tamils have always had great respect for Mother Nature and are known to worship nature in all its forms viz., fire, water, sky (sun & moon), land, air, animals, birds etc., Our ancestors saw nature as manifestation of God. Therefore, there was always a gratitude towards nature. Aadi perukku is one such festival where we worship water (River Cauvery) and express gratitude towards monsoon rains - the lifeline of farmers.
River Cauvery originates from the Western ghats and flows through the state of Karnataka & Tamilnadu and drain into Bay of Bengal. Aadi perukku is mainly celebrated in the Cauvery delta region (alongside the River Cauvery) to mark the onset of monsoon. The most interesting part of the story is that during those days, good-old days, the monsoon never failed and the river is said to rise and overflow (to nourish the crops along its plains) exactly on the eighteenth of the Tamil month Aadi. This rising, called as Perukku in Tamil is celebrated as Aadi Perukku.
Aadi perukku is celebrated on the eighteenth day of the Tamil month "Aadi" which usually falls in the first week of August. Also, Tamil month Aadi is the most important month for the farmers as they prepare paddy seedlings. If you check the Tamil calendar, you 'll be surprised to know that all the major festivals & celebrations comes right after this month "Aadi" and extends uptil the month "Thai" (in January) with Harvest Festival (Pongal).
The ritual starts early in the morning, when the families start towards "padithurai" (banks) of River Cauvery, offer prayers & express gratitude to Goddess Cauvery for nourishing their crops, spend and enjoy rest of the day with their families in the banks of the river. The eighteenth day of Aadi is also said to be the wedding day of Goddess Cauvery as she joins the Ocean (Bay of Bengal). So, young girls who pray and offer to the river on this day are said to be blessed with good husbands. Similarly, newlywed couples pray on the river banks for a lasting relationship and fertility. Women sprout nine kinds of grains and mingle it in the soil along the banks of the river which signifies sowing crops.
Aadi perukku brings back wonderful childhood memories of Kumbakonam, my native place! It also makes me feel how blessed I am to have born and brought up in the banks of River Cauvery, a place with such a rich cultural heritage! It still lingers in my memory, bright and fresh, watching hundreds of people flock towards the shores of River Cauvery on the day of Aadi perukku through the streets we lived. Families from near-by villages travel in big groups, where women carry offerings to Goddess Cauvery and chitrannam (variety rice) in thooku chatti (big metal containers with handles), while men carry small children on their shoulders. As a kid, it was a big fascination for me to see such a big lively crowd from our porch.
What is left today is "dry" river bed & river banks. Thanks to Cauvery dispute between the two states Karnataka & Tamilnadu and the failing monsoons. People also seem to slowly forget all the cultural backing & reasoning behind celebrating such festivals. Today's celebration have lost its essence and is mostly confined to prayers in general, offerings & feast! Every festival and occasion that we celebrate is closely interweaved with history & Tamil culture. I only wish that the forthcoming generations understand our roots and be proud of it! Not to forget that we have a major role to play in passing it to the next generation!
Curd Rice - Recipe coming soon