Aadi festival or Aadi Perukku is celebrated in Tamil Nadu every year. It is celebrated to thank the mother nature. One of the most unusual rituals was that of breaking coconuts on the devotee’s head by the chief priest of Mahalakshmi Temple.
The Mahalakshmi Temple
Southern India is the hub of most of the historic temples in India. The Mahalakshmi Temple is one of them. It is an 800 years old temple. It is located in Mahadanapuram, which is 23km away from the Karur district in Tamil Nadu. It is in a remote village where limited vehicles operate. This temple plays a significant role in the Aadi festival. It is because coconut smashing ritual takes place at this temple. It also has a museum where coconut shaped stones are found. They are claimed to be found even before the compound walls of the temple were built.
Story behind Aadi Perukku
There is a reason behind every ritual and tradition that is practiced. Similarly, a story is also related to the Aadi festival.
It is believed that when villagers tried to call Lord Shiva through their prayers. He did not appear in front of them. To call their deity, the villagers smashed coconuts on their heads. It is because they believed that as lord Shiva, coconut to has three eyes. Finally, lord Shiva appeared and fulfilled their wishes.
Another story suggests that this tradition began during the British rule. When the railway tracks were laid down by Britishers. Villagers asked them to change the course of the track. The Britishers said that they will do so if they break the stone-like coconuts with their heads. The villagers prayed to their deity and broke those stone-like coconuts with their heads.
Celebration of Aadi Perukku
Aadi is known as month in Tamil which falls between mid July to mid August. ‘Aadi festival’ or ‘Aadi Monsoon Festival’ or ‘Aadi Perukku’ is an annual festival celebrated in Karur, Tamil Nadu. This festival is celebrated to thank the almighty God for blessing mankind with happiness and prosperity. Not just in India but this festival is celebrated by all the Tamilians around the world.
On the eighteenth day of Aadi month every year, Aadi Perukku is celebrated on the banks of rivers and lakes. Wells, tanks, and other water resources are worshipped. People throw fruits and saffron cloth in them. All the temples have wells and tanks. They are considered sacred and water in them is considered pure. The rituals of this festival is mostly performed by women to pay tribute to the mother nature.
The Coconut Smashing ritual
Out of all the rituals of the Aadi monsoon Festival, the most important and talked about ritual is that of Coconut Smashing. In this ritual people wait in long queues outside Mahalakshmi Temple. The priest of the temple first performs prayers in front of the deity. He stands on a platform of nails for some time. After that he performs some small prayers and finally the ritual starts. Devotees willing to get a coconut smashed on their heads because their wish is fulfilled are made to sit in a straight line. A priest from the temple holds the head of each devotee and the chief priest smashes the coconut on their head in one go. The devotees include people from teenage to old age, men and women both.
After breaking the coconut directly on the skull, devotees get injured. Some of them directly rush to the hospital while others don’t. They think that their deity will get angry if they do so. They just apply the turmeric paste and ashes available in the temple. Arrangements for the same are already made by the temple authorities.
Criticism against the ritual
Although the ritual is followed by people who are willing to do so. There is criticism against this ritual as well by Human Rights Activists. They are of the view that these kinds of rituals are harmful. Doctors also say that, breaking coconut directly on the head can cause serious head injuries. But the Government of the State does not interfere in the matter much. They believe that it is a matter of faith and people are doing it on their own.
Author: Anjali Datt
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