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Our ancestors have woven aesthetically pleasing and spiritually significant rituals by looking to the skies, nature, and our beloved pantheon. These rituals are now intricate,many flavored traditions that offer us a direct glimpse into our heritage. Phanguni Uthiram, the day of divine marriage, is such a tradition; It falls on the day the moon transits in the asterism or nakshatra of Uttara-phalguni (Uthira) in March-April of the solar calendar and the Phanguni month in the lunar calendar. The full moon, or pournami, also falls on this day.
Phanguni Uthiram is about confluence and union; Puranic sources such as the Skanda Purana associate this day with the Kalyana Maha vrata, the marriage of Lord Muruga with Devayani, and Lord Shiva with Shakthi. To this day, these marriages are symbolically carried out in the temples with great pomp, in order to not only propitiate the God and Goddess but also to delight the devotees who are lucky enough to watch the festivities.
Lord Ekambareshwara’s union with Goddess Kamakshi is celebrated on this day. In Srirangam too, Lord Ranganatha and Goddess Ranganayaki are gently swayed together on a flower decked swing. The old Sangam era text, Aganaanooru, alludes to Phanguni Uthiram being celebrated in Thiruvarangam, where an ancient temple for Lord Ranganatha still exists.
The Brahmanda purana declares that several waters join the waters of the sacred tank of Tirumala Tirupati on this day – another type of confluence. The day is famous as Ayyappa Jayanti, and the day when Goddess Mahalakshmi came out of the milky ocean. Kalidasa propitiated Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva thus – ‘वागर्थाविव सम्प्रुक्तौ’ i.e. conjoined like the word and it’s meaning; Tamil sources declare that there are no Gods without Goddesses and vice versa; and always append the name of the God to that of the Goddess. This is a reflection of the importance and strong validation given to the primal union by our culture.
The sacred day when our Gods and Goddesses give us Darshanam as Grihastas is meant to be a celebration of Grihasthaashrama on all levels – from literally being a union of a man and woman to symbolically denoting a union of the male and female principle. Phanguni Uthiram also joyously reminds our souls of the divine even as we go about our pursuit of worldly goals.