What is Purtassi
PURTASSI is a month in the Tamil Calendar which occurs from mid-September to mid-October. It is dedicated to the worship of Lord Maha Vishnu (the Preserver), in his form as Lord Venkateswara (Balaji).
During this month, devotees undertake a Viratham (fast) and pay homage to Lord Vishnu in appreciation for all life on earth and its preservation.
Story and Significance of Purtassi
There are many legends associated with this festival.
According to one legend, Lord Vishnu came to earth in the month of Purtassi in the form of Lord Balaji / Venkateswara. Since then devotees flock to the Balaji temple in Thirupathi during this time of the year.
According to another legend, a long time ago in South India there was a bad drought, resulting in mass starvation. During the month of Purtassi, people prayed to Lord Vishnu. Thereafter the rains came and fresh harvest was produced. Since then, every year during this period, Tamils observe a fast in gratitude to Lord Vishnu.
During Purtassi, devotees fast for the month and offers special prayers on Saturdays.
This is because Saturday is free from the influence of the planet Saturn, believed to have a negative influence. Positive energies flow at this time making it good for people to pray.
People either pray at home or at temples.
Prayers are usually conducted in the late afternoon, so that devotees can break their fast after offering prayers.
Lord Vishnu is invoked by chanting holy verses from Garuda Parthu and Thirunaam Padhigam.
Practices followed during Purtassi
Devotees eat only vegetarian food during the month of Purtassi. This allows them to discipline their diet and cleanse their body of all heat-producing substances.
They abstain from smoking, drinking and eating non veg during this period. They try to cleanse their minds of impure thoughts and observe a disciplined lifestyle.
Purtassi is a major festival among Tamils in South Africa.