Aadi Pooram – Celebrating the Birth of Andal

Aadi Pooram, or Adi Puram, in the Tamil month of Aadi (mid July to mid August) celebrates the birth of Andal who is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. Aadi is the fourth month in the Tamil Calendar and Pooram is one of the 27 nakshatrams or stars. In 2014, the date of Aadi Pooram is July 30.

The festival is a major event at the Srirangam Sri Ranganath Temple as it is believed that Andal through her unwavering devotion became the wife of Sri Ranganath (Lord Vishnu). Another major event is the car festival of Sri Andal Temple at Srivilliputtur in Virudhunagar District.

Legend has it that a Vaishnava saint named Periyalwar of Srivilliputtur had no children. He prayed to Sri Ranganatha and Goddess Lakshmi for a child. Pleased with this ardent devotee, Goddess Lakshmi appeared as a child on a field in which Periyalwar was ploughing. Periyalwar gladly accepted this divine gift and this happened on a pooram day in the Aadi month.

Periyalwar continued with his devotion and used to make a garland with Tulsi leaves for Sri Ranganatha. Andal grew up to be a maiden and was in the habit of secretly wearing the Tusli garland meant for Sri Ranganatha. One day Periyalwar found this out and scolded her and took a fresh garland. But the fresh garland fell off from Sri Ranganatha’s neck and it continued so in spite of several attempts by Periyalwar. Finally, Lord Vishnu appeared before Periyalwar and said that he will only wear the garland worn by Andal as she is none other than Goddess Lakshmi.

Andal during her lifetime penned several verses singing the praise of Sri Ranganatha. Thiruppavai and the Nachiyar Thirumozhi are the famous compositions of Andal.

Aadi Pooram is major festival in Vishnu temples. Various incarnations of Goddess Shakti are worshipped on this day. If the festival falls on a Friday it is considered highly auspicious and the festival is celebrated more elaborately with numerous rituals.
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