Andal and Aadi Pooram

Andal, the mystic poet, is the only woman amongst the 12 Azhwars in Vaishnavite tradition. She was found near a tulasi vanam in Srivilliputtur in Tamil Nadu. Her foster father, Periyazhwar, groomed her. Her lyrical outbursts, called Tiruppavai, numbering 30, are sung during the Tamil month of Margazhi.

Andal is an incarnation of Bhoomi Devi and unites in wedlock with Lord Ranganathar of Srirangam.

She incarnated during the Tamil month of Aadi and her star is Pooram. Thus, Aadi Pooram is celebrated as the birthday of Kodhai Nachiyar – Andal.

In Srivilliputtur, there is a sacred spot dedicated to Andal and the tulasi vanam has been transformed and preserved and a sanctum sanctorum has been erected. The icon of Andal is consecrated here.

She holds aloft a parrot in her left hand and daily a new parrot is placed in her hand.

Andal is fond of red colour, lotus flower and kalkandu rice. She sports a kondai on the left side of her head and this is called Andal kondai. This special hairdo – kondai - is done for brides on their wedding day as a mark of respect to Kodhai Nachiyar.

It is believed that unmarried girls will enter into wedlock if they pray to Andal on her birthday.

Aadi Pooram festival is celebrated for 10 days and reaches a crescendo on her birthday when she blesses the devotees with her consort Rangamannar seated majestically on the massive temple car.

As Andal made it a practice to try on the tulasi garland before it adorned Rangamannar, she is called Soodikodutha Sudarkodi - one who wore – soodi; gave – kodutha; and damsel - sudarkodi.

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