Yanai Pandigai is observed on the full moon day (or Purnima) in Karthigai Masam in Tamil Nadu. Yanai Pandigai 2014 date is December 5. The ritual lasts for three days. In the ritual, small elephants are made of clay and are decorated as per Vaishnava traditions and are arranged for puja on Kartik Pournami. Apart from the clay elephants, small elephants made of gold, silver, bronze, wood etc are also displayed.
In the first year after wedding, Yanai Pandigai festival is observed elaborately with Arathi to the new bride in husband’s home.
The legend associated with Yanai Pandigai is associated with Gandhari and Kunti of Mahabharata. Gandhari, mother of Kauravas, performed Yanai Pandigai to the royal elephants and gold elephants to show her might and influence. She purposefully did not invite Kunti, mother of Pandavas, for the ceremony.
Kunti was saddened by this behavior of Gandhari. Arjuna who came to know about this brought Airavatha (Indira’s white elephant) to earth, through a ladder made of arrows. Kunti performed Yanai Pandigai Pooja to Airavatha. People started performing the ritual then onwards with clay elephants.
Different varieties of food are offered to the elephant on the day. Lamps are also lit around the houses on the day. Women fast in the evenings on the day.
On the last day, the clay elephants are immersed in a water body with plain curd rice rubbed to its tummy. Four variety of rice is prepared on the day.
Vishnu Deepam and Karthigai Deepam are observed on the day.