The Main aspects of the Thai Poosam festival are Sakthi Malai (IRUMUDI), Velvi and Jyothi Darshan (worshipping the divine flame).
Sakthi Malai (Irumudi) involves Sakthis (devotees of Amma) putting the Sakthi malai (beaded garland with a blessed dollar coin) around their neck in their Mandrams and observe fasting and penance for 3-5 days. They then travel to the Siddhar peetam and complete their Irumudi by performing Abishegam (milk anointment) to the Swayambu.
Amma in Her oracle has said, “Those who sincerely think of ME and pray to ME, by wearing Sakthi Malai, observe fasting, doing Angapradhakshanam (circumambulation of the temple) at Siddhar Peetam and completely surrender themselves to me, will find their wishes fulfilled and problems solved.”
Hundreds of thousands of devotees and their families have benefited by wearing Sakthi Malai and carrying Irumudi.
The main aspects of Thai Poosam festival as celebrated at Maruvathur by Arul Thiru Amma, consist of:
As per Arul Thiru Amma’s Divine oracle, Iru Mudi means:
“A bundle of darkness tied together. Iru Mudi is the knotted bundle worn to dispel the darkness in your heart. It denotes the knot to tie the inner selves of a husband and wife. Iru Mudi will also denote the fact that man’s inner and outer selves should be in unison.”
The Iru Mudi bundle which is carried by devotees, is a red coloured bag with two pockets, one of which is filled with pooja items including turmeric, kumkum, incence sticks, coconut, lime etc, and the other with rice grains. The people who carry this Iru Mudi wear Sakthi Malai and undertake various spiritual disciplines as a part of this process.
The Iru Mudi period usually starts approximately two months prior to Thai Poosam, which falls around late January/early February (in the Gregorian calendar).
In a Divine Oracle, Arulmigu Adiparasakthi has stated "Saturate your mind thinking of Mother Adiparasakthi, pray for the difficulties and suffering you are undergoing, adorn the Sakthi malai, and follow the proper procedures for the fasting. Come to Melmaruvathur Siddhar Peetam, and surrender to Mother Adiparasakthi, then all you prayed and hoped for will come to fruition".
Devotees of Amma, also known as Sakthis, wear the Sakthi malai, a brass dollar coin which has the picture of Adhiparasakthi/Amma on one side, and Sri Chakram on the other side. This is worn usually for a period of three or five days, during which devotees observe the spiritual disciplines advised by Amma. Thereafter they will complete their Iru Mudi by travelling to Melmaruvathur, dedicating their Iru Mudi to Amma, and performing Abishegam to the Suyambu.
Through dedicating their Iru Mudi to the divine mother, devotees are solemnly surrendering their sins at the lotus feet of their divine mother and begging for eternal salvation, both from a worldly and spiritual point.
The benefits of Iru Mudi
Those with physical ailments will find their health improve
Mother Adiparasakthi will give mental peace, serenity and confidence
Those who are yet to be married will soon be married
Families yearning for children will soon be gifted with a child
Those who are studying will excel
Those who are working will be granted with good jobs and promotions
Those who are operating businesses will have good growth and growing profits
Those who are looking for work, will find suitable work
Farmers will do well with their crops
You will become immersed in devotion to God and have a greater appreciation for spirituality
Mother Adiparasakthi will remove obstacles and guide us to live our lives spiritually and along the righteous path
In addition, any worthy desire that a devotee has and prays to Mother Adiparasakthi with intense devotion will be fulfilled
During the 3 or 5 (or more) days of fasting, those wearing the Sakthi malai must follow the below spiritual disciplines:
Miss one main meal a day
Maintain good mind and sense control and avoid all bad habits
Perform your duties to your best ability
Perform namasmarana – constant devoted repetition of Mother Adiparasakthi’s divine name
Sleep on a red surface or cloth, on the ground
Have a shower and pray to Mother Adiparasakthi both in the morning and evening
Each morning at home, pray and chant the Mantrams in front of Mother’s photos
In the evening without fail, devotees should attend their local Mandram or Amman temple and engage in group prayer
Avoid wearing foot wear
The purpose of these spiritual guidelines is to cleanse and enable each devotee to go within and focus with sincere prayer on Amma, without being hindered by the travails of worldly life, and the distractions that it brings. It allows for greater attention to be given to our spiritual growth.
“Fasting is undertaken only to cleanse our five senses.Through fasting you prevent diseases. Just as we bathe to clean our body or use oil to prevent things from rusting, to cleanse the dirt in our mind it is necessary to fast.”
Once this period is completed and devotees then proceed to offer their Iru Muid, Amma has advised the following in Her oracle:
Praying that your problems must be solved, youshould circumambulate the sanctum sanctorum silently.
When the “Irumudi” is separated silence should be observed by those involved in separating the ‘Irumudi’ and those offering the Iru Mudi.
Silence should be observed when the anointment to the Suyambu is done inside the sanctum sanctorum.
Perform the anointment without blocking the entrance of the sanctum sanctorium.
After completing the necessary services here, go behind the sanctum sanctorum and meditate for at least for ten minutes.
Then sit in front of the sanctum sanctorum of the Mother and depart.
“In a dirty sack, grains are filled and tied up with a small rope. A small rope has the capacity to tie up the maximum quantity of grain in the sack. Your heart is like a sack filled with sins. Since the tied-up Irumudi is brought here and ‘untied’, your sins are expelled. Like the small rope controlling the grains inside the sack, I control your knot of darkness (your bundles of sins).”
Thai poosam is the first festival that is celebrated at the Siddhar Peetam. ‘Thai’ is the first month of the Tamil (ancient Indian language) calendar and ‘Poosam’ is the name of a star in the constellation, which coincides with the full moon.
In Maruvathur, Thai Poosam is celebrated with numerous service activities, including Anathanam (free food provided to all those in and around the temple). A Kalasa velvi pooja is also done, where a large scale yagna is conducted for the benefit of mankind.
The most significant part of the Thai Poosam festival is the lighting of the Jothi by Arul Thiru Amma, which is situated above on the roof of the temple. Many devotees have commented that they have seen the sun, moon and stars when the Holy flame has been lit by Amma.