Karadaiyan Nombu or Savitri Vratham is the festival celebrated by Tamil Brahmin women, both married and unmarried. This day is observed when the Tamil month of Masi ends and the month of Panguni begins.
In 2017, this day is celebrated on March 14th in most places around the world, including the US and India.
These are the times to break the fast:
India: 4:45pm to 5:15pm
Eastern Standard Time: 7:15am to 7:45am
Central Standard Time: 6:15am to 6:45am
Mountain Standard Time: 5:15am to 5:45am
Pacific Standard Time: 4:15am to 4:45am
Do consult the temple that you usually follow.
On this day, the womenfolk fast and break their fast when the time for the nombu comes, with the neivedhyams that they prepare on this day. A special adai is made with cowpeas, also called karamani, and so the adai is called karadai and hence the name Karadaiyaan Nombu. Women observe this fast for the long life and wellbeing of their husbands and unmarried women observe the fast to get married soon and for the wellbeing of their future husbands.
Significance of Karadaiyan Nombu
This festival is based on the story of Savitri and Satyavan, hence its also called Savitri Vratham.
Savitri was the beautiful daughter of King Ashtapathi. The time came for her marriage and she was asked to choose her husband. So, one day, she met a young man in the forest, named Satyavan, and decided to marry him. When she told her father about Satyavan, he enquired about him and Sage Narada told him that Satyavan was the son of a deposed king and was destined to die in a year. So, worried about his daughter’s life, the King refused to marry off Savitri to Satyavan, but at the end, he gave in and the couple was married.
They lead a very happy life and soon it was time for him to die. So, in order to protect him, she fasted and always followed him wherever he went. She made a special adai (the karadais) and offered it to the Gods as neivedhyam and served it to her family as well. Then, while in the forest, Satyavan fainted and fell down while cutting wood. Savitri realized he was dying and she saw Yama, the god of death, carrying the soul of Satyavan, and she started to follow Yama. Yama, at first ignored Savitri and thought she would return to her husband’s body. But she kept continuing and this annoyed Yama, so he tried several tricks to get her off his trail. He told Savitri that is impossible for him to return the dead as it is against the law of nature. Instead, he would give her three boons.
One thing to remember was that Savitri was very intelligent and was determined to get her husband back. So, for her first boon, she asked for a son for her father. For her second boon, she asked that her in laws be given back their kingdom with full glory. When it came to the third boon, she asked to have children. Yama, without thinking, granted the boons and then he realized how he had been tricked by Savitri in the third boon. He then told her that he appreciated her persistence in getting back her husband but what impressed him more was the fact that she was ready to marry Satyavan knowing very well that he would die in a year, and that he was impressed with her love toward Satyavan. He asked her to go back to her husband and that he will soon wake up.
Thus, Satyavan came back to life and reunited with his wife, Savitri. And this day is celebrated as the day of Karadaiyan Nombu.
- Take hair bath.
- Wear the koora podavai or madisar if married.
- Decorate the God’s place with kolams or rangoli designs.
- Prepare the neivedhyams.
- Keep plantain leaves in front of the God’s place; one for each female in the household, plus one for the God.
- On each leaf, place two betel leaves, betel nuts, one banana and jasmine flower garland (mallipoo).
- Place one adai of Sweet Adai and besides that, another adai of Savory Adai on each leaf beside the betel leaves.
- Place a piece of butter over the sweet adai.
- If you get the jasmine flowers, then, tie a knot around a flower in the middle of each thread, such that when tied around the neck, the flower will be like a pendant.
- Place the yellow threads in front of the God’s place.
- Keep water in the panchapatram.
- Do neivedhyam with the water in the panchapatram for each plantain leaf.
- Wear the yellow thread around your neck. (Each female in the household ties it around their neck.) While tying the thread around your neck, chant the following prayer:
“Urugaada vennaiyum oru adaiyum veithen, oru kaalum yen kanavan yennai piriyaamal irrukavendum.”
Which means, “I keep unmelted butter and one adai, for my husband to never part from me anytime.” It is basically an agreement with the God for the wellbeing of the husband.
- Put one small thread around the Goddess Idol or photo.
- Do namaskarams to the God and if you are married to your husband as well.
- Eat the adais as prasadams.
Most families follow the above procedure, but previously, prior to the times when married women wore their thirumangalyams on gold chains, they used to wear them on a thick yellow thread, manja charadu. On this day, every year, they tie the thicker yellow thread, basically replacing the old thread which would have worn out. So their husbands transfer the thirumangalyams onto the new yellow thread and tie it around their wives’ necks, like they tied the thread during their wedding ceremony.