Puratassi is an annual festival in the Tamil Calendar which occurs from mid-September to mid-October and is dedicated to the worship of Maha Vishnu (the Preserver). Picture: Picasa
PURTASSI is the month-long fasting, obeisances, penances, devotion and prayer dedicated to Lord Mahavishnu or Perumalsamy as He is referred to by the Tamil-speaking Hindu; Venketeshvara as He is popularly known to the Telugu-speaking community; or Mahavishnu as He is regarded by the vast majority of Hindus.

The most common epithet by which he is known is Govinda. Mahavishnu, together with His consort Lutchmee, can be regarded as the provider of all things material.

One must remember Mahavishnu and Mahalutchmee co-exist; in other words, the one will always be found with the other. Purtassi can, for this reason, be considered to embrace thanksgiving to Mother Lutchmee for preservation.

Preservation is a divine attribute, which embraces many aspects of our life to which we invoke Lord Vishnu as Emperumal, Govinda, Gopala, Strinivasa, Venketeshwara, Runganatha, Ramachandra, Balaji, Harinarayana, etc.

During the Purtassi festival, devotees observe a strict fast, abstaining from non-vegetarian dishes and other indulgences. On the Saturday set aside for the Govinda prayer, the family prepares the naivethiam (offering) by adopting strict measures of hygiene and cleanliness. The Namo and Thrisnam are drawn on the foreheads of all the males in the home and a Thrisnam dot on the forehead of the females.

It is important to note that the namo (white) represents Lord Vishnu’s feet when He is in the reclining position and the thrisnam (red) is symbolic of His consort Mahalutchmee.

Devotion is not a matter of sentiment or emotion, but a scientific process for reaching God. First of all, a person should realise that he, like everybody else, is a fragment of the Supreme Being entangled in the material world and the goal of his life is to get back to God. Having understood this, he must act in consonance with this eternal relationship.

In reality, what happens is that people swathed in Maya or illusion, instead of becoming servants of God, become servants or rather slaves of their desires which plunges them into the ocean of suffering.

Fasting, an act of discipline, detoxifies the body, purifies the mind and raises the level of spiritual thinking to the point where the ego pales into insignificance and the focus is on God and God alone.

May Lord Strinivasa Govinda Perumalsamy bless you and your family with everlasting harmony, and abundance of peace and happiness.