Sthree Dharmam for Cooking

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Who has not seen the picture of Andal? She is the leader of our tradition and has taught us all we need to know through her Thiruppavai. If we follow her path we are sure to reach our goal. And what is our goal you may ask? However great our life may be it is always a mixture of joys and sorrows. Sometimes the difficulties we face are so much that it leads to depression and related mental agony. What then is the solution? Yoga – suggests somebody, Meditate – says another, music therapy is the answer says another?  Actually speaking what matters is being at peace with yourself. There is no need to experiment. Our predecessors have documented what is good (hitham) for us. What is hitham may not be very palatable but is sure good for us.

Practices to be followed are indicated by Godha Devi. First thing is to get up early and bathe before sunrise. Next is to wear traditional clothes (madi vastram, 9 yards saree) and apply Thiruman in a half moon shape between the eyebrows and a straight red line of Srichurnam upwards. Urdhva means going up and the first Srichurnam will be symbolically started by one’s acharyan during samashrayam. Samashrayanam is the adorning of Shanku chakram on the shoulders. This is a purificatory rite done as soon as possible after marriage. Men have it done after upanayanam. Children born after samashrayanam are intelligent. If one desires Suprajai –  that is good satvik children, mothers should do the needful before a baby is conceived and during pregnancy. Staying calm, listening to divine music, hearing or reading stories of Perumal’s leelas will keep the mother relaxed and result in balanced children.

Next we need to take care of what we eat. The intake of satvik food stimulates satwik nature. What is Satwik? Food which is balanced that is to say not extremely hot, not extremely cold, not too sour or too spicy is what constitutes satwik food. Food should preferably be consumed within three hours after preparation. It should definitely be offered to Perumal. While preparing food the thoughts should be on Perumal. In the Salagrama form, He resides in our house and accepts what we offer Him. So prepare prasadam with love, prepare as if a young king is visiting, prepare with the care you would take to feed your infant. The Stove should be cleaned thoroughly decorated with kolams. Rice should be washed 3-4 times saying “This  is for Gopala, this for Govinda.” After it is cooked it should be transferred to a fresh vessel. Brass vessels are recommended for cooking and offerings can be made in silver vessels with shanku chakram embedded on them (this may not be possible for everyone but avoid aluminium at all costs). After the offerings are prepared a rectanglular kolam should be made and rice etc. should be placed within. Ghee should be put on rice, paruppu and Thirukannamadhu. Tulasi leaf can be placed on the items to be offered. Offering should be done by mentioning the name of item like Annam, paruppu, kuzhambu (you can even mention the vegetable you have put in) karamadhu, kootu etc. In between water should be offered to Perumal. Items like curds, milk, ghee should be kept away from cooked items and should be offered only after washing one’s hands. This offering can be done while assisting one’s husband during aradhanam. When circumstances are such that the lady of the house has to do the offering Salagrama shila should not be touched but offerings can be done by chanting Koodarai vellumshir Govinda from Thiruppavai. “Sarvam Krishnarpanam Asthu!”

This article is written by Smt Vyjayanthi Sundararajan

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