As everybody is aware India is land of spirituality, festivals, and rituals with diverse cultures and religions. Everybody is having their own type of festivals, rituals and being celebrated in their own way. Now after a break for some time, the festival season has started for Hindus one after the other from the day of Simha Sankramana (Sona Sankranti) first being the”Sree Krishna Janmastami”coupled with “ Mosaru Kudike” (Vitla Pindi) and followed by Ganesh Chaturthi and so on.
One among many festivals in Hindu is “Arashina (haldi) Kumkum festival or ceremony
What Arashina (Haldi) Kumkum and Concept of the Festival:
Arashina Kumkum, or the Haldi Kumkum ceremony, is a social gathering in India in which married women exchange haldi (turmeric) and kumkum on their forehead (vermilion powder), as a symbol of their married status and wishing for their husbands’ long lives, health and prosperity.
The festival is entertained by married women. The festival is more famous in Maharashtra and other western parts of India like Gujarat, Goa and Rajasthan. In Tamil Nadu, it is celebrated as Aadiperukku aka Aadi monsoon festival is a Hindu Tamil festival celebrated on the 18th day of the Tamil month of Adi (mid-July to mid-August).
Married women invite friends, relatives and new acquaintances to meet in an atmosphere of merriment and fun. On such occasions, the hostess distributes bangles, sweets, small novelties, flowers, betel leaves and nuts as well as coconuts. The snacks include Kairiche Panhe (raw mango juice) and Vatli Dal and pray the God for long life and prosperity of their respective husbands.
Although Arashina Kumkuma or Haldi Kumkuma ceremony is being celebrated in different parts of the region in different seasons especially during spring season means during Chaitra month according to the Hindu calendar, in reality Haldi Kumkuma gatherings begins after Makar Sankranti in January and continue up to around February month. The occasion is especially dedicated to women so they can enjoy a life differently and it is the essence of womanhood.
Historical scoops of Haldi Kumkum:
Haldi Kumkum festival observation started during rule of Marathas and Peshwas in Maharashtra State. Queens of the royal families used to invite their married women friends and relatives to perform Haldi Kumkum custom and they used to give them beautiful gifts. Queens first offered jewelries and precious dresses to Goddess Bhavani or Goddess Parvati before they begin to celebrate the festival.
Food of the Festival:
Hostess of the house decorate her house with floral hangings and decorations. On the event of Haldi Kumkum hostess of the house welcomes the guest and serves different types of welcome drink and snacks to the guests. One of the famous welcome drinks is raw mango juice which is called Karichi Panhe and delicious snacks like Vatli Dal and sprouted pulses cooked with spices. Hostess of the house offers different gifts to invitees like flowers, betel leaves, betel nut, dry coconuts, bangles, vermillion and other novelty things as good symbol of their happy marital life. They share seasonal fruits and vegetables with friends and also prepare feast of different fruits like mangoes, melons and jackfruit. They prepare sesame seed’s laddoos on the occasion and also cook sweets like carrot halwa and semolina halwa for guests.
In modern days educated families celebrate the festival like kitty party for married women. They play different fun related indoor games. They arrange menu according to new taste like chaats, juices and cold drinks. If the members of Haldi Kumkum are in very large numbers then the host of the family arranges caterer service for food and hires a special team for musical and singing evening and to play different types of enjoyable games.
Celebration of the Occasion:
They make red dot on each other’s forehead by using Haldi and kumkum as a part of rituals and pray to the God for health and prosperity in life of their husbands and families. Haldi Kumkum has traditional values but nowadays the event becomes more like social gathering.
The festival is gaining more and more popularity because it gives some change in everyday’s monotonous life. It is the time while married women take out some time from their day to day responsibilities and get relaxation, rest and leisure from the event. Women get chance to dress in their beautiful attire and jewelry. New bride of the family wears traditional attire and ornaments on the event and seeks blessings from the elders of the family by touching their feet. Brides who got married in January have the first Haldi Kumkum so they put Henna designs on their palms and wear green colored bangles as good sign of their newly married life.
Each aspect of the haldi kumkum ceremony has a deeper meaning.
⦁ The hostess applies haldi first and then Kumkum on the forehead of a married woman. Haldi dispels the negative energy between them and kumkum infuses positive energy in their bond. The hostess invokes the divinity that lies dormant in the form of Durga Devi within the guest when she applies haldi and Kumkuma on her forehead.
⦁ She then applies some perfume on the wrists and clothes of the married woman. This way she hopes to please the divine Goddess that resides in her guest’s soul.
⦁ She then sprinkles some rose water on the married woman. The fragrance of rose water purifies the atmosphere and awakens the dormant power of the Goddess that resides in her guest’s soul.
⦁ She then offers her a gift of a blouse piece, with coconut or fruit placed over two betel leaves, two areca nuts, some bangles and some flowers. The hostess holds all this within the pallu of her saree. The guest respectfully bows to the gift first. The guest then accepts the gift with both her hands and places it within the pallu of her saree.
⦁ The entire ceremony is simple. But it has a profound impact on both the donor and the recipient of haldi kumkum.
⦁ In some homes, women sing bhajans/prayers or recite some chants to cleanse and purify the atmosphere.
⦁ During the haldi kumkum ceremony, each woman prays for the long life of her husband and the welfare and prosperity of her family members.
⦁ All the women then seek the blessings of the seniors in the family.
Snacks, sweets and beverages are now served to all women. Small til gud laddoos (balls made of sesame and jaggery) are served during Makar Sankranti. If the haldi kumkum ceremony is organized during the month of Chaitra, seasonal delicacies made out of fruits and vegetables are served to all the guests along with kairicha panna ( a refreshing drink made with raw mango and jaggery).
The significance of applying haldi first:
Haldi (turmeric) is applied first on the forehead of the married woman. Turmeric has antiseptic properties. It has the potent warm colour of the radiant Sun. And symbolically, like the Sun, haldi too has the ability to destroy negative energy around a woman.
The significance of applying kumkum:
Kumkum is commonly known as vermillion powder. It can be made either from turmeric or from saffron. The rich yellow colour of Haldi turns into the deep red colour of Kumkum when some slaked lime is added to dried and powdered turmeric.
Kumkum is red in colour. It is the colour of love. But it can be symbolically connected to the fertility of Mother Earth. It infuses the woman with positive energy.
That is why it is imperative that women apply Haldi first and then Kumkum on the foreheads of other women.
Women are considered to be a form of Mother Earth. They are givers. They have the tendency of losing themselves in their roles. They have an abundance of love in their hearts for others but often forget to love themselves.
The haldi kumkum ceremony is a small yet highly significant way of celebrating the womanhood and divinity of a woman. It’s small wonder then, that women love to drape themselves in their finest sarees, adorn themselves with their favourite pieces of jewellery to attend such small social gatherings. The positive energy of such haldi kumkum functions permeates into their souls and is reflected in their radiant yet subtle smile of peace and happiness.