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Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya

Ashram wishes you and yours a very happy Pongal

“O Love in the shape of Arunachala! Now that by Thy Grace Thou has claimed me, what will become of me unless Thou manifest Thyself to me, and I, yearning wistfully for Thee and harassed by the darkness of the world, am lost? (How) can the lotus blossom without the sight of the sun? “Thou art the Sun of suns; Thou causest Grace to well up in abundance and pour forth as a stream!” Sri Ramana Maharshi in Arunachala Pathikam

Today is Pongal known as Makara Sankranti in many parts of India which is a winter harvest festival celebrated throughout India. Pongal in Tamil means ebullience or overflowing like boiling milk or in the language of Ramana Maharshi “Grace to well up in abundance and stream forth”. The day marks the start of sun’s six-month long journey northwards or the Uttarayanam. The new Tamil month of Thai ushers in hope and light after the wintery long nights of Margazhi. The joy in the heart expands overflowing all constraints causing people to utter “Pongal O Pongal” in ecstasy. Sri Ramana Maharshi refers to it in Arunachala Pathikam as “Grace welling up in abundance and streaming forth”.

Ashram prepares for Pongal festival in a unique way. For the past thirty days pre-dawn prayers were offered from 4.30am to 6:30 am. Perhaps the purpose of the prayers is to emphasize the fact that the good Lord Arunachala is with us even during the darkest hours of our life leading us towards light and abundance.

After prayers we ate Ven Pongal(spiced rice and dhal) as prasad every dawn for the past thirty days. As visitors lined up to receive pongal Prasad ladies would spontaneously burst forth singing their heart out with verses from Upadesa saram or Linga ashtkam thus deepening the calm stillness of the Dawn. Store Rajamani and library Ramesh can be seen chanting “Arunachala Shiva” while filling the eco-sensitive leaf-container ( “donnai”) full of hot Ven Pongal.

The whole country is surcharged with a festive atmosphere. Highways are full of huge trucks hauling overloads of sugar cane which are in abundance like trees during Christmas as in the West. Everywhere friends and families gather to exchange good wishes. The devout visit the temples in gratitude for the arrival of season of light. All nature seems to say in one voice “Fear not, our protector Lord Arunachala reigns supreme here.”

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