Today, 17th July 2016 marks the birth of Tamil month of ‘Aadi’ ~ it is not simply any other masapirappu, but special as today is Dakshinayana Punyakalam.
A few days ago, on 20th June as the Sun sank beneath the horizon, it was the longest day of the year and media reported that for the first time since 1967 the summer solstice coincided with a rare ‘strawberry’ moon. Don’t get carried away by the fancy name - moon will not appear pink or red, although it may glow a warm amber. Away in North America June’s full moon signals the beginning of the strawberry picking season.
A solstice is an astronomical event that occurs twice each year (in June and December) as the Sun reaches its highest or lowest excursion relative to the celestial equator on the celestial sphere. Astronomy has been important to people for thousands of years ~ our greatest epic Mahabaratha has references to seasons, eclipses and astronomical events, perfectly recorded. Finding out time and predicting things by referring to astronomy is strongly inculcated in Hindu culture. In all our rituals, we do ‘sankalpam’ ~ a formal statement of intent chanted loud designating the occurrence, its timing and its purpose. Now it is Kali Yuga and in all sankalps contain the place ‘ Bharatha varshe Bharata kande, Kali yug and ‘ ayana ’ – may not require any greater detail, as we all know that each year is divided into two halves, known as ayana. The six month period—either Uttarayana or Dakshinayana.
Today marks the beginning of Dakshinayana punya kalak. The angular distance of a heavenly body from the celestial equator will be either negative if the planet is above the northern hemisphere, or positive, in case the planet is above the southern hemisphere. This is also commonly known as a declination or Ayana. Dakshinayana is the six-month period between Summer solstice and Winter solstice, when the sun travels towards the South on the celestial sphere.
All these may sound too confusing for intelligent persons .. .. Sriman Naryana in His vamana avatar accepted gift of land, then grew in such gigantic proportions that His crown ripped through the space and extended beyond the Universe – we, the followers of Sriman Narayana knew His exploits too well and always look at His Lotus feet and there is nothing for us to think of or worry about other than our Saviour ~ the most benevolent Sriman Narayana. Sri Peyalwar says :
படிவட்டத்தாமரை பண்டுலகம் நீரேற்று,
அடிவட்டத்தால் அளப்ப நீண்ட - முடிவட்டம்,
ஆகாய மூடறுத்து அண்டம்போய் நீண்டதே,
Here are some photos of Sri Parthasarathi Perumal on the occasion of Dakshinayana punyakala purappadu at Thiruvallikkeni.