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The story of Iravan in the vedic texts of Mahabharatha goes as follows.

After their thirteen years stay out of their kingdom, the Pandavas return back. And as per their deal,
they were supposed to get back their kingdom. They sent Krishna to talk to Dhuryodhana (eldest of
the Kauravas), who was ruling the kingdom in the absence of Pandavas. However, Dhuryodhana,
despite being reminded of their deal, refused to give them back their kingdom. He also said that the
only way that the Pandavas could get hold of their kingdom was to fight a war. Krishna, realizing
that they is no other way, but to accept the war, told the Pandavas to go ahead with their preparation
for war.
As per rituals, before a war, they are supposed to do a narabali (human sacrifice). The person to be
sacrificed should be someone who has 32 lakshanam (morals/characters). There were only three
people who fit into that category – Krishna, Arjuna and Arjuna’s son Aravan.
It was impossible to sacrifice Krishna. Arjuna, on the other hand, is an archery specialist.
Sacrificing him would mean losing the war. The only other possibility left was Aravan. Aravan
agreed to himself being sacrificed, however, requested that he wanted to die only in battle front.
Krishna grants him this request. To ensure that he doesn’t die a virgin, he is also married before he
sacrifices himself.
The earliest source of mention regarding Aravan is found in Peruntevanar's Parata Venpa, a 9th-
century Tamil version of the Mahabharata. There it talks about a special sacrificial ritual known as
the 'Kalappali', which means sacrifice to the battlefield. It was believed that whoever performs this
sacrifice ensures victory on the battlefield. In this ritual, the most valiant warrior must sacrifice his
life in front of Goddess Kali in order to ensure the victory of his side. Aravan volunteers to sacrifice
himself in the ritual.

And so, Aravan sacrifices himself – cutting him into 32 body parts and offering to Goddess Kali.
Goddess Kali appears in front of them and blesses them to a victorious battle. And as per granted,
Aravan’s body comes back together and he eventually dies a victorious death on the battleground.
This sacrifice was supposed to be done on amavasya (new moon day). Sahadev, one of the
Pandavas, who is well-known for his astrology, chooses this date. And whoever does this sacrifice,
whether Pandavas or Kouravas, will get more benefits, which could ensure that they win the battle.
So, to ensure that the Pandavas win the battle, Lord Krishna comes up with a plan.
He does special prayers for his late father (known as tharpanam) a day before amavasya. By right,
this is supposed to be done on the day of amavasya. Seeing this, the Moon god and the Sun god got
very much confused. They decided to confront Krishna and appear before him. They question his
actions, asking him why he is doing tharpanam a day before, instead of on a amavsya. He questions
that back, asking them “what does it mean by amavasya”, to which they reply “the coming together
of the moon and the sun”. He then tells them, “aren’t you both together now? So doesn’t that mean
that today is amavasya?”. Knowing that Krishna is up to something, they left without a response.
Also, the start of the battle is signified by the Trishul and the yellow cloth tied around it, being
planted near the Aravan sanctum. It is planted by Draupadi.