बृहत्साम तथा साम्नां गायत्री छन्दसामहम् ।
मासानां मार्गशीर्षोऽहमृतूनां कुसुमाकरः॥
- Bhagavad Gita - Chapter 10 Slokam 35
“Among hymns I am the Brihat Saman, among the metres Gayatri am I; among months I am the Marghazi month, among seasons I am the flowery spring”
Margazhi is one of the Tamil months which help the Hindus earn punya through prayers, bhajans and visits to temples. Andal, one of the Alvars is remembered in this month through her Thiruppavai and Manickavasakar through his Thiruvempaavai. The month is called Dhanur masam also and the name Margazhi is derived from the star Mrigasirsha. It is the start of Sukla Ekadashi and ends with Makara Sankaranthi, the sun transiting from Dhanur sign to Makara. It is the start of Dakshinayamyana.
Devas consider Margazhi month as their day (one year is one day for devas and margazhi is the early morning (brahma muhurtham) for them. It is the time of worship for Devas and they offer their prayers to God during this month. The month has the mythological reference that the celestials on the eve of Dhakshinamyana with Ratri devi, the Celestial in charge of Dakshinamyana pleaded with Lord Upendra, a form of Lord Vishnu to make Dakshinamyana a punya kalam so as to make people aware of its significance. The Lord granted the wish and said that those who pray during this particular time will reap lots of good effects like prosperity and health in their life.
The earth is near ozone layer and so people can inhale pure oxygen in the fresh air every morning in the month of Margazhi. That is the reason for their getting up, taking a bath in the early morning and performing street Bhajans, decorating houses with kolams in the open air along with visiting temples.
Lord Vishnu considers Margazhi as His manifestation and He accepts the prayers of His devotees offered in the early morning called Brahma Muhurtha. Bhajans and the chanting of Thiruppavai ring around the places and temples echoing the magnificence of Lord Vishnu. People throng the temples in the morning with fresh faces and purified souls after decorating the front of their houses with beautiful kolams that not only beautify their environment but also make their hearts happy. Despite the biting cold, they take a breath of the pure oxygen in the open air and feel pious and religious to offer their prayers to God in temples with flowers, songs and slokas.
Vaikuntha Ekadashi is the holy day falling in the month of Margazhi. It is a day spent in worship of Vishnu, Sriman Narayanan whose posture in the Parkadal with Lakshmi and Adhisesha is a divine bliss to behold. The Hindus consider this thithi as very sacred and devote the whole night in worship of Lord Vishnu chanting prayers, singing songs, offering neivedhyam and keep awake the whole night. They visit temples in the early morning when the Sorga Vasal of Vishnu will be opened for the darshan of innumerable devotees who get a token for entry into heaven through a glimpse of that Sesha Sayanar with Lakshmi on the day. Raa pathu and pagal patthu celebrated in Srirangam in the worship of Renganathar is worth remembering in this context.
Andal, a devoted Alvar, recited Thiruppavai in the glory of Vishnu and observed Paavai nonbu to seek the hand of Rengamannar (Mahavishnu). Her penance culminated in her union with Vishnu and thus we have a custom to recite Thiruppavai in Margazhi in the glory of Andal and also as a prayer to Vishnu through chanting Thiruppavai. It is believed that unmarried women get suitable husbands through chanting Thiruppavai during this month. Koodaravalli is the religious occasion that falls on January 11, 2017 (27TH day of Margazhi) and it denotes the end of Pavai nonbu.
Thiruvempaavai is written by Manickavasakar who is an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva. It is recited in all temples with Shiva as the main deity. Reciting Thiruvempaavai during Margazhi bears significance since we have Arudhra Dharisanam in the month of Margazhi, an auspicious day for Natarajar. We offer Thiruvadhirai kazhi as neivedhayam to Shiva on that day.
Margazhi is famous for the musical concerts given by the veteran carnatic musicians in all famous sabhas - a delightful feast to the music lovers who wait for the occasion every year.
Endless are the tributes to the month of Margazhi. One may not wonder at the words of Vishnu himself….” I am Margazhi among the months” as mentioned in Bhagavad Gita.