July 25, 2009

Maa Vilakku Poojai /Paachai For Mariyamman

"Aadi azhayakkum, Vishu thodaykkum" saying conveys the start and end of the festivals, during the year. With the arrival of Aadi/Karkidakam month, the festivities begin. Month long Ramayana reading is followed in many homes and all most all temples in Kerala, during the month of Karkidom. Visiting the temples of four brothers - Rama, Bharata,Lakshmana and Shatrugna in the order mentioned is also very common. (Popularly known as Naala Ambala Yatra). Maa-vilakku or Pachha Podal is another pooja which is performed during this month. This pooja is commonly done in Mariamman temples. Some families have the custom of performing it at home. I have grown up seeing this done at my home. Post marriage, it continued since my husband's family allows follows the custom. The procedure varies from family to family. I am writing down the procedure in detail here for my future reference.

Maa Vilakku is ideally performed on a Friday omitting the first and last Friday of the Aadi month. Alternatively, Sundays can be chosen if Fridays are not feasible for various reasons.

Kumbham,Kaarthaveerayan and Amman are kept. Draw maakolam (Rangoli made using rice paste) on the area where the pooja is to be done. Kumbham ( A pot shaped vessel made of brass) is filled with water and Neem leaves are kept in it. The Kumbham is placed on a thambalam with rice spread on it. Next to the kumbham on right, Place the Karthaveeryan (chooral/wooden stick). Tie a Pattu (silk cloth) on the top. in olden days, the stick is placed on a heap of rice grains. I have added few grains to the vessel where it is placed.

To the left, keep the Ammi Kozhavi (grinding stone) on a thambalam.

First, Abhishekam is done for Amman.
1) Nallennai/gingely oil
2) Elaneer/Coconut water
3) Paal/Milk
4) Thayir/Curds
5) Nellimulli paste (Dried gooseberries soaked in water and ground to paste)

Do the abhishekams one after the other. After curds,wash the stone with water and finally place the nellimulli paste on the top of the stone. Make some turmeric paste. Keep two eyes with the petals of red hibiscus (chembarathi poo) using the turmeric paste to stick. Then keep a big bhindi of turmeric paste and apply kumkum on top of it. Put a golden chain and keep the neem flowers and hibiscus on top of the stone.

Show dhoopam (incense sticks ) and ottalathi(hand held lamp with one wick). Put flowers for Amman, Kumbham and Kaarthaveerayan.

Keep the maavilaku ( 2 nos) on a banana leaf. Make wick out of cotton. Keep a depression on the centre of the lamp and keep the wick there. Spoon ghee on to the cotton wick. Break a coconut and keep the two halves on the top and bottom of the leaf. Light the vilakku.

Bring the nivedyam and place it before Amman. The tradition is, whatever is cooked for the day is placed before Amman and then partaken. Also once the lamp is lit, no more tempering with mustard seeds will done in the home, for the day.

Following are the nivedyam list.

  • Pal Pongal (rice and lentil cooked in jaggery and milk)
  • Vella amminikozhakkattai ( Sweet rice balls of miniature size)
  • Pacharisi idli (Raw rice idli)
  • Cooked rice
  • Molagotal
  • Puli pachadi
  • Keep 1/4 cup of rice flour and 2 tblspn of jaggery on a banana leaf.

(The recipes will follow in the next post)

Perform the nivedyam. Take the above said items back to kitchen. Wipe the area where it is kept with little water. Then show anjalathi (hand held lamp which can hold 5 separate wicks), followed by karpooram(Camphor).

In the evening, offer bananas as nivedyam. The following morning, cooked rice and curds are kept as prasadam and karpooram is shown. After that , slightly push all the three - Amman, Kumbham and Kaarthaveerayan from its place. This is to indicate that are moved after they are invoked the previous day. Its like setting them free. If we are to keep them permanently, then poojas are also to be done regularly, which is not possible.


  1. Jayasree, loved your post. My mom makes Maavilaku during Aadi and does Varalakshmi viratham which has all the Neivadyams similar to yours. I feel like going back home after seeing this post.

  2. Nice write up and useful post:) Pictures are divinely ! aadi is special in our family too:)

  3. Being in India, festivals are absolutely lovely, aadi is special in our community too.., as you said customs & traditions vary from family to family your post is so lovely with everything explained in it.., it is not only useful for your future but for so many who just get married & live abroad with not knowing lot of things to do in a festival...., good, very good..

  4. Lovely, authentic and very informative post. I am surprised and awed by the traditional methods you follow. I remember the maavilaku my Mother makes. It tastes so good:). You are going to post the recipe for that, isn't it?

  5. Jayasree, it's so good to see this post. It's definitely reference material for a way of life that's slowly disappearing.

    We didn't use to celebrate this in my house, but my m-i-l used to do "pachchai podarathu" and payasam ia always made for neivedhyam every "Aadi vellikazhamai".

  6. nice detailed write up, Jaya. Maavilakku is done neither in my house nor my inlaws'.....but I love eating it :-))

  7. Nice post Jaya! So divine!!

  8. good to see this post,useful one.

  9. Very nice and informative post.... I love to read about diffrent traditions......

  10. Hi J,

    What a lovely post??? I almost feel as if I came there and saw your Maavilakku....Lovely Lovely!!!

  11. Good to know about your customs..It looks so divine

  12. Nice to know about new customs and festivals.....hope u had gr8 time....

  13. Thanks Jayasree for the informative post...I'm a Madhwa married to an Iyer family and this post helpd me in understanding what is done excatly. M-in-law does this and I'll be in a better position to help and understand what she is doing.

  14. @JB I'm happy that the post serves it purpose. I wanted to record even the minute details so that it will be a ready reckoner for me and my co-sisters. I appreciate your interest to understand the rituals better.


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