Thanga Murugan Vizha (TMV) was held at The Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago, Lemont, Illinois, USA on Saturday April 23rd, 2022. Ardent devotees of Muruga Bhagavan celebrated the day long festival with passion and purpose.
TMV is an annual event to celebrate the glory of Bhagavan Murugan, who is a symbol of war and victory. The local Tamil community has been celebrating in his glory since 2001. Lemont temple has been a great supporter of this event since its inception.
The event returned back to the Lemont temple complex after a gap of two years. It was well attended by the local community members who were seen relishing the in-person festivities. The organizers had been preparing diligently for the past few months to make this a grand success. They lined up an exhaustive schedule from 7:30 am to 9:00 pm.
INDICA was one of the sponsors of this event this year, a first in its history.
The significance of this event was evident when one of the key organizers, Sri Umapathy Bhattar sent an email response to INDICA’s offer of sponsorship and is quoted verbatim:
“Thanga Murugan Vizha also attempts to preserve our culture by continuing to attract children in our cultural activities for the past 22 years. Some of the kids who participated in TMV 2001 are married now and their kids are now part of TMV 2022.”
Tradition plays a cardinal role in our society. It binds families, helps them stay connected with the larger community around them. Tradition helps form a cultural network that serves as a “binding core” for communities around the world for generations. The Indian American community is well known for following its Hindu traditions. This festival is one such effort to preserve our tradition and promote it amongst the children and youth of the next generation.
There were many events scheduled throughout the day in alignment with the fundamental objectives of the TMV. I want to sample three of them to underscore the centrality of rituals and tradition in preserving and promoting our heritage.
The Program began at 7:00am on an auspicious note with the recitation of Sri Murugan Tiruppalli Ezuchi, followed by Sri Ganesa Pooja.
Paal Kudam (Milk Pot) procession began a little thereafter with around 75 participants.
Paal Kudam is offered to Muruga Bhagavan as a thanksgiving gesture for fulfilling our wishes. The Paal Kudam was carried on the head by participants, amidst the chanting of prayers, taken for a short procession within the Temple complex. Of much significance was participation by a few young devotees in the procession.
Procession was followed by Abhishegam, Alangaramand Archana for Sri Valli Devasena Sametha Subramanya Swamy. Devotees rendered the popular Skandha Sasthi Kavacham, followed by Thiruppugazh and a few other devotional songs.
A very young girl lit the traditional Kuthuvilakku to kick off the Thanga Murugan Vizha in 2001. As a mother in 2022, she also lit the traditional Kuthuvilakku, sang the Pillayar Thuthi and a few Murugan songs to start the rest of the proceedings. This was certainly a nostalgic moment for the organizers. The audiences were mesmerized by her majestic rendition.
Indian culture is replete with story-telling traditions since time immemorial. These traditions use a combination of narration, song, dance, music and props such as puppets to tell stories from our ancient classics in a form palatable to the common man.
Villu Pattu is one such tradition. It is a musical story-telling tradition popular in Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This tradition has been followed in Thanga Murugan Vizha for some time.
This year, the theme/topic was “Samaraapurivaazh Shanmuganum Thirupporur Sri Chidambara Swamiyum” performed by a group of ladies. They narrated the origin and the history behind the Thiruporur Kandaswamy Temple, situated outside Chennai, in the Old Mahabalipuram Road. This is a Pallava-era temple from the 10th century CE.
There were numerous other performances by students of several local music and dance schools, dancing and singing to the glory of Muruga Bhagavan.
Our festivals are living traditions and to be able to celebrate and enjoy them far away from India is a pleasant and heartening experience. Prevailing thought in today’s world is that newer generation seems to be indifferent, if not averse to following our traditions. The amount of effort put by ordinary Hindus to keep our festivals alive, in light of the prevailing thought in the society, needs to be commended and celebrated by our larger community.
The cultural programs presented as part of the Thanga Murugan Vizha 2022 are much needed for the revival and sustenance of Hindu Dharma. Credit must go to the organizers, numerous volunteers, elderly and young performers, devotees and the Temple for having conducted this successfully.
Festivals such as these enable the Indian American community to stay rooted to the Indian culture. It helps the community connect with the past even as it attempts to shape its future.
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