Pondicherry is an abode of temples dedicated to Lord Sulramaniar and various
forms of ammans viz, Muthumariamman, Angalamman etc. The famous fire walking
and Sedal festival are generally the most important festivals of these temples.
Those who vow to take part in the fire walking ordeal observe
40 days fast and wear saffron coloured clothes and after a purificatory bath,
walk through the fire stretch to the astonishment of the spectators.
The famous sedal is understood to mean self-imposed
physical torture undertaken by devotees who pierce small silver hooks and spears
in their body or tongues in fulfillment of some vow. It is said that as many as
100 needles are pierced over their body. They then go in a procession after a
bath, clad in turmeric stained clothes.
Mascarade or Mask festival is celebrated sometime
during March-April in Pondicherry. It reflects one more facet of the French sense of
humor. With unique masks and fancy costumes, revelers go round the streets in
joyous merriment indulging in a kind of gimmick, dance to the accompaniment of
beating accordion and trumpets. Earlier there were lot of clubs participating
but now the participants are only a few.
Yogis and Yoginis from the world over assemble in Pondicherry from the 4th to
the 7th January every year. Through live show and talks, display and
sample of the varied yogic food and Indian dance and music, they keep
alive the art of Yoga and its science. Read more
Masi Magam Festival
Another important festival is 'Masi Magam Festival'- on the Full moon day of
the 'Magam' asterism in the Tamil month of Masi (Feb-March). Thousands of people
in good faith go the sea shore in the early morning to have a holy dip in the
sea for ablution of their sins.
Deities from as many as fifty temples in Pondicherry and from the outlying
areas of Tamil Nadu are brought in ceremonial procession to the sea-shore with
accompaniment of Nadhaswaram near Kuruchikuppam in Pondicherry municipal area
for the symbolic immersion. Pondicherry will wear a festive galore from early
morning to the late night of the day. The deities which are taken to the shore
early morning make their return journey to their respective places in procession
along the streets of Pondicherry in the evening.
In Thirukannapuram village in Tamil Nadu area there is a saying that deity of
Sowriraja Perumal married a fishermen community woman and hence the moment the
deity enters the village fishermen take charge of the deity, and after the
festival is completed the charges are replaced.
Summer Festival (Chitrai kalai Vizha)
Department of Art & Culture, Government of Puducherry
organizes Indian Classical music and dances in various places of Puducherry
during Summer festival held during March- April.
Villianur Temple car festival
The architecturally splendid Sri Gokilambal Thirukameswara Temple at Villianur,
10kms from Pondicherry, holds a ten-day annual festival (Brahmotsavam) during
May-June. On the 9th day of the festival, the bedecked massive 15m tall temple
chariot, taken out on a procession by a devout crowd, is a remarkable
July 14th celebrated as the Bastille Day, witnesses an
Indo-French pageantry at Puducherry. On this day retired soldiers parade the
streets in war finery, singing the French and Indian National Anthem.
Veerampattinam Car festival
In the month of August, there is another famous car festival celebrated in
Veerampattinam, a fishing village near Ariyankuppam. On this day the temple car
with the image of the god basking in finery is paraded around the village.
Fete De Pondicherry
Government of Puducherry organizes a cultural fete at various locales in
Puducherry, coinciding with Liberation Day and Independence Day.
Sri Aurobindo’s Birth Anniversary
Besides Independence day, people of Pondicherry also celebrate Sri
Aurobindo’s Birth Anniversary on 15th of August.
On this day, devotees queue up at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram for paying homage to
the great soul.
Other festivals or fairs celebrated in Pondicherry include Putha
Lanthira, Mandolilthira, Koyodan Korothithra, Pandokuloththira, Mandalam
vilakku, vishnutheertham, Swamikalyanam, etc.
Festivals in Karaikal :
Festivals/fairs of Karaikal, located 150 kms south of
Pondicherry in Tamil Nadu itself, include one in Karaikal Ammayur temple which
holds the annual 'Mangani' festival (July) which is a well attended
'Mela', as also Kandoori festival celebrated by Karaikal Durga and the
Feast of our lady
of Lourdes celebrated by our lady of Lourdes church.
Festivals in Mahe :
Mahe district which is situated 653 km away on the West Coast
in Kerala, celebrate festivals similar
to Kerala like Onam, Vishu, Sri Krishna Jayanti, Vinayaga Chathurthi etc. The St. Theresa Church in Mahe celebrates St.Theresa festival in October
every year which is attended by even non-Christians.
Bhagavathi temple which conducts 'Thiraiyattam' which is a kind of dance of
ancient art coupled with divinity is another worth mentioning celebration.