Vaisakhi Visakam Festival

Vaisakhi Visakam Festival

he festival Vaikasi Visaka is observed on the day when the asterism Visaka (Libra) rules in the month of Vaikasai, also called Vaisakha, corresponding to the English months of May-June. It is a full moon day and Dharmaputra, the god of death, is worshipped. The day is also said to be one on which god Subrahmanya incarnated in this world, making it doubly important and meritorious.

Yama or Dharmaraja, who is the god or angel of death, is said to ride on a buffalo. He judges of the actions of the jivas on this earth and rewards or punishes them after their death, assigning them either heaven or hell according to their deserts. His accountant Chitragupta assists him in this task. Agni is said to ride on a goat. He carries sacrificial offerings made to the other gods in the heavens, causes heat and cold and is said to confer blessings on humanity.

Chaturdasi is the fourteenth tithi counted either from the new moon or full moon. If such a day happens to be a Tuesday in any of the dark fortnights, the occasion is said to be specially favourable for the worship of Dharmaputra and it has the merit of freeing the worshipper from bodily ailments.Dharmaputra or Dharmaraja, who is worshipped on this occasion, is one of the Dikpalakas or guardian angels of the quarters of the earth. He is said to be the guardian of the southern quarter while Indra guards the east. Agni guards the southeast, Niruruthi the southwest, while Varuna and Vayu are the respective guardians of the west and the northeast. Thus we see that the eight directions of the universe are under the control and guardianship of these eight.

Niruruthi, who is said to ride on a demon, is the chief of the rakshasas. His function is to award suitable benefits to people in return for the performance of sacrifices by them to propitiate the gods. Varuna is the lord of the rains and he is said to ride on a sea monster. Vayu, who is said to ride on an antelope, presides over the air and diffuses good and bad scents everywhere. Kubera rides on a horse and confers wealth of various kinds on those worshipping him. Esana rides on bull and exercises general destructive powers.

The observance of this festival at Tirumazhuvadi near Tanjore is considered specially important for the reason that Siva had once performed a mazhu or lance dance at this place on the Vaikasi Visaka day. Further, it is said to be the place where Siva’s sacred bull had its incarnation on this festive occasion.