Mother of Njaattuvelas

K.V Murali Mohan | Jul 02, 2016
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Thiruvathira Njaattuvela (21st June through 4th Jul) is here again bringing to the fore many nostalgic memories, myths and legends.

Thiruvathira Njaattuvela (21st June through 4th Jul) is here again bringing to the fore many nostalgic memories, myths and legends.

Decades ago, one morning my grandma brought a hibiscus branch on her way back from her morning strolls. Grandma’s ingenious kid as I was (though Surf excel wasn’t invented then!!) I was always too willing to lend a hand to her and planted the branch. I still remember her words “Now it’s Thiruvathira Njaattuvela and even a dry stick will grow.” Though I nodded as if I got the meaning, the question used to pop up in my mind - what is this Njaattuvela all about?

Njaattuvela is a period in Kerala’s agrarian yearly cycle, which starts from Medam (April) to Meenam (March) The entire year is divided into 27 parts of 13.5 days each. Each part is named after the 27 Nakshatras (stars) Ashwati, Bharani, Karthika etc.

Each Njaattuvela has its own distinct feature. Ashwati and Bharani Njaattuvelas are marked by sunshine whereas sporadic rains are the highlight of Karthika and Rohini. The South west monsoon (Edavapathi) consolidates and intensifies with Makeeryam Njaattuvela. Thiruvathira Njaattuvela is marked by intermittent rain and sun shine. In Punartham Njaattuvela rains become fierce. The South west monsoon retreats (North east monsoon or Thulavarsham sets in) withThriketta Njaattuvela.

Farmers say Thiruvathira Njaattuvela is good for vegetable propagation, Rohini Njaattuvela for fruit trees, Atham for plantain, and Makam for Sesame. The list is in exhaustive.

Thiruvathira Njaattuvela

Among Njaattuvelas, Thiruvathira njaattuvela is unique in more ways than one.   Thiruvathira Njaattuvela exudes lot of energy and action. In olden days this was confined to the fields, these days it has caught up with the society as a whole. Njaattuvela camps, seminar, orientation workshops, sapling planting drives, staging of folk arts are all in the agenda. As a part of catch those young initiatives, schools also organize Njaattuvela awareness seminars.

Traditionalists complain that the authorities are over doing a bit to commercialize the Njaattuvela and the nurseries make quick money by selling sub standard saplings.

The hallmark of Thiruvathira Njaattuvela is the intermittent rain and sun shine (or break monsoon) the down pour is heavy and the interlude of sun shine would also be bright. The amount of rain and sun shine would be more or less equal with about 100 bouts of each in the 13.5 day period. Perhaps that makes the Thiruvathira Njaattuvela unparalleled. For vegetation to grow and flourish water and sun light are indispensable. Thiruvathira Njaattuvela offers both in equal proportion. Hence the sayings that even a dry stick will grow in Njaattuvela.  The respite in rain also enables the farmers to quickly survey the field to assess the status. 

The word Njaattuvela is derived from the word Njaayar( Malayalam word for  Sunday) meaning Sun’s transit. It is also said to have originated from the word Njaaru or paddy sapling meaning that it’s the ideal time for cultivation. Thiruvathira Njaattuvela is considered the best time for planting both seedlings and stems alike. Paddy replanting also is during this time.

Thiruvaathira (or Ardra)Nakshathra is characterized by moisture coupled with thunder power, storm and desire. Thiruvathira is also connected with the story of descent of river Ganga into the earth. Water that falls during Thiruvathira Njaattuvela is considered to be auspicious and said to have medicinal properties. Embankments are built around trees to collect Njaattuvela water so that this water gets absorbed into them. Hence Thiruvathira Njaattuvela is special in many ways and is indeed the mother of all Njaattuvelas.

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