If you were to ask on which day Kanyakumari is at its most beautiful, I would say that undoubtedly it is on Chitra Pournami – the night of the full moon in the Tamil month of Chithirai (Malayalam Medom). This is the day that the moon appears at its biggest and in a phenomenon unique to Kanyakumari, you can enjoy the sun set and the moon rise at almost the same time, on these shores. And on no other day is this view more spectacular than on Chitra Pournami. As the golden orb sinks in a burst of fire into the deep waters, the lustrous ball of silver slowly arises from the depths.
In this moment of celestial magic, it is like the sun and the moon make a tryst on these shores to pay obeisance to that epitome of beauty and infinite love – Devi Kanyakumari, who awaits her lord on these shores, a wait for all eternity. Or maybe the Moon God just drops by to share with her tales about her lord, the Lord of the Universe, whose riotous locks he adorns. An annual rendezvous that turns the midnight blue waters into an ocean of molten silver.
Needless to say, special poojas are on at the temple on Chitra Pournami and the place gets really crowded. And crowds are something I prefer to stay away from.
This day is special for other reasons too. This is the day when a ‘Mystic Window’ opens up in the spiritual dimensions, offering you with a once in a year chance of erasing away bad karma. This is also the day when the Chitra Gupta Noyambu/Vratham is observed to appease Chitra Gupta, who keeps accounts for his big brother, the Lord of Death, Yama himself. Now he is one you would do well to have in your court since he is the one who keeps track of whether you are naughty or nice.
Not that he can be bribed, but what’s the harm in getting on his good side? Might make all the difference between categorizing something as a minor infraction and a major, full-blown case of actual violation.
So what’s the big deal in giving up a little salt to avoid an eternity of rebirths? Because that is how the Vratham is observed. You give up salt for a day and ‘leafy vegetables’ are a staple too – Muringayila, different varieties of keerai/cheera… I remember spending quite some time helping my mom and neighbours pull out the leaves from the stalks of drumstick leaf bunches. I hope ‘someone’ made a note of that in his big account book.
The Super Moon of the year as they call it here, can only be Chitra Pournami to me. And since it always falls in April-May, I somehow associate it with summer vacation. Warm evenings when I was allowed to play till dinnertime. Hanging out with my friends, slurping mangoes, swapping comic books and making up our own games. No TVs to intrude into our self made empires and thrust alien idols on us.
Life was pretty uncomplicated and the full moon shone down benignly on our own sweet bubbles.
Today, Saturday, the 5th of May is Chitra Pournami and I decided to take a trip home…