Thiruvathira or Thiruvathirai or Arudhra Darisanam is a Hindu festival celebrated in the Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Thiruvathirai (Arudhra) in Tamil means "sacred big wave", using which this universe was created by Lord Shiva about 132 trillion years ago. Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu, the Sri Natarajar temple's annual Festival, is celebrated on this date. In the month of Makaram Thiruvathira Star is celebrated in Mathira Peedika Devi Temple, owned by Thiruvithamcore Devaswom Board, near Kadakkal in Kollam District of Kerala state.Thiruvathira has a connection with lord moon
Arudra Darisanam in Chidambaram (Thillai)
Thiruvadirai - Arudra Darisanam is celebrated in a grand manner in 5 Sabhas of Sri Natarajar namely 1) Kanakasabha (Gold) - at Chidambaram (Thillai or Tillai), 2) Velli Sabhai (Silver) at Madurai, 3) Ratnasabha (Ruby) at Tiruvalankadu, 4) Tamrasabha (Copper) at Tirunelveli, 5) Chitrasabha (Pictures) at Kutralam
In Thillai Chidambaram 10 day Festival is held during Thiruvathirai. On the 9th day night (i.e., 10th day very early morning) Maha Abhishekam will be done to Lord Nataraja and Goddess Sivakamasundari at Raja Sabhai at around 3 am. The MahaAbhishekam will be held for about 3–4 hours
Then special Thiruvabaranam (Sacred Jewels) Alankaram, Rahasiya Pujai will be done to Sri Natarajar. Pancha Murthi Thiruveethi Ula, will be held at around 12 pm Noon. Soon after Pancha Murthi Ula in the afternoon Lord Natarajar and Goddess Sivakami will bless devotees with Aarudra Darisanam and enter Kanaka Sabhai (Golden Sabha)
It takes place on the full moon night in the Tamil month of Margazhi (December–January) and this is also the longest night in a year. Literary and historical evidence in the form of stone inscriptions state that the festival has been celebrated on this day for more than 1500 years. Lord Shiva is praised in Tamil by many names, one of them is Athiraiyan, from Thiruvathirai (Thiru + Athirai)
Tamil hymns of Maanikavasagar's Thiruvasagam (particularly the hymns Thiruvempavai and Thiruppalliezhuchi) are chanted in temples. On the very day of Thiruvathirai the idols of Nataraja (Lord Shiva) and his consort Shivagami (Parvati) are taken out of the temple premises for a grand procession. It is one of the major events in almost all the Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu
Sambandar sung in Tevaram during 7th-9th century, how Thiruvathirai celebrated at Kabaleeshwaram (present day Mylapore, Chennai).
Appar wrote a separate pathigam (10 songs) in Tevaram, in the name Thiruvathirai Pathigam which describes the importance and celebrations of Thiruvathirai.
In 4th Tirumurai he sang about the celebration in Tiruvarur
The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva represents five activities – Creation, Protection, Destruction, Embodiment and Release. In essence, it represents the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. This cosmic dance takes place in every particle and is the source of all energy. Arudra Darshan celebrates this ecstatic dance of Lord Shiva
It is essentially a Shaivite festival and celebrates the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, which is represented by the Nataraja form. Arudhra (Thiruvathirai in Tamil) signifies the golden red flame and Shiva performs the dance in the form this red-flamed light. Lord Shiva is supposed to be incarnated in the form of Lord Nataraja during the Arudra Darshan day
Most of the temples around the world with Lord Nataraja and Shiva as deity perform the Arudhra Darshan. Neivedhyam (food for God) made for Lord Nataraja on that day is Thiruvathirai Kali
The festival is celebrated by Sri Lankan Tamils at Thinnapuram Sundareswarar Temple, it is called Eezhathu Chidambaram
Thiruvadirai or Thiruvempavai Nonbu
Significance in Tamil Nadu
In Tamil Nadu, the unmarried women will fast during the day time. They will take food before sunrise and start their fasting. They will break the fast after witnessing the moon rise. Nonbu (fasting) starts nine days before and ends on Thiruvathirai day so totally they fast for ten days
There is special food called Thiruvadhirai kali made of Rice, Jaggery, Moong dhall, Coconut, Cardamom and Ghee with Thiruvathirai ezhlu curry koottu, which is made out of seven vegetables, that is cooked and served on this day. They choose from Pooshanikai (pumpkin), Paranghikai (ash gourd), Vazhakkai (plantain), Pacha mochai (field beans), Sarkaraivalli kizhangu (sweet potato), Cheppan kizhangu (colocasia), Urulai kizhangu (potato), Katharikai (eggplant) etc.
The dancing form of Lord Shiva is taken out on procession from all Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu. In Chidambaram, The night before the full moon, Abishekam, or holy shower, to the Lord Shiva is performed with the nine most precious gems (navarathnam), including diamonds, coral, pearls, jade and emerald, among others. On the day of full moon, the chariot procession takes place. The most important Arudhra Darshan festival takes place at the Chidambaram Shiva Temple in Tamil Nadu. The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva is enacted on the day
Significance in Kerala
In Kerala, the festival is celebrated as the birthday of Lord Shiva. Thiruvathira is the nakshatra or "star" as per the Malayalam calendar of Lord Shiva. Another belief is that the festival commemorates the death of Kamadeva, the Hindu god of erotic desire. It is believed that on this day, the Goddess Parvathi finally met Lord Shiva after her long penance and Lord Shiva took her as a saha-dharma chaarini (equal partner). Both Parvathi and Shiva present this ideal to devotees in the form of Ardha-Nareeshawara (half male, half female form)
In Kerala, Thiruvathira is an important traditional festival along with the other popular festivals, Onam and Vishu. This has been celebrated by the Nambuthiri, Kshatriya and Nair communities of Kerala from days of yore. It is largely a festival for women; unmarried women observe a partial fast on this day to get good husbands and married women take a fast from the preceding day (Makayiram nakshatra) and on the day of Thiruvathira for the well being of their husband and family. The first Thiruvathira of a newly wedded woman is her poothiruvathira
Thiruvathira puzhukku Thiruvathira Ettangadi The fast essentially involves abstaining from rice-based food. The typical meal includes cooked broken wheat and Thiruvathira puzhukku, a delightful mix of tuber vegetables: colocasia (chembu), yam (chena), Chinese potato (koorka), sweet potato (madhurakizhangu) with long beans (vanpayar) and raw plantain fruit (ethakaya), cooked with a thick paste of freshly ground coconut. The dessert is koova payasam, a sweet dish made of arrow root powder, jaggery and coconut milk
Thiruvathirakali is a dance form performed by women on the day of Thiruvathira to the accompaniment of Thiruvathira paattu, folk songs telling tales of lovesick Parvati, her longing and penance for Lord Shiva's affection and Shiva's might and power. The sinuous movements executed by the group of dancers around a nilavilakku embody lasya or the amorous charm and grace of the feminine. The dance follows a circular, pirouetting pattern accompanied by clapping of the hands and singing. Today, Thiruvathirakali has become a popular dance form for all seasons.Thiruvathira kali is a typical dance form of Kerala. This is a female group dance made up of simple yet very attractive steps. In ancient times, women use to perform this dance in their homes during festivals and functions, giving it the Malayalam name aka Kaikottikali: aka-inside + kaikottikali-play claping hands. Lore has it that Thiruvathira Kali is in memory of Lord Siva taking Parvathi as his wife. A group of women dressed in typical Kerala style with mundu and neriyathu and the hair bun adorned with jasmine garlands perform this dance during festival seasons.. Kaikottikkali spreads the message of joy and also illustrates the emotions of a married woman towards her beloved and of the unmarried woman longing for one. Thiruvathira is also known as the Kerala's own version of Karva Chauth
World records related to Kaikottikali
The record for the world's largest Thiruvathira belongs to Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam. The 16-minute performance, held on 1 May 2017, has been adjudged the largest Thiruvathira ever held with a total of 6,582 girls and women in the age group of 10-75 participating in it. Along with 2,500 woman and children from Kerala, a Russian woman and more than 4,500 woman from 20 other states too took part in the event. Women were trained by renowned teachers and practitioners of the dance form for the 16 minutes performance. The traditional "Kasavu Mundu and Neriyath" worn by the dancers were provided by Kitex Group. The event was organised by Twenty20Kizhakkambalam, the CSR wing of the Kitex Group, along with Chavara Cultural Centre and the Parvanendu School of Thiruvathira
"The record for the world's largest Thiruvathira belongs to Twenty20 Kizhakkambalam," said Rishi Nath, adjudicator of Guinness World Record while handing over the certificate to Sabu M Jacob MD Kitex Apparel Park and Chief Co ordinator Twenty20
The previous Guinness Record for largest Kaikottikkali dance performance set on 2 February 2015 with 5211 women led by Smt. Jitha Binoy under the banner "Thanima" of Irinjalakuda, Thrissur. The previous Guinness record for largest Kaikottikkali dance was achieved on 9 November 2012 at Dombivli near Mumbai by the Mumbai Pooram foundation, a socio-cultural organisation. In the true Onam Spirit, 2639 women including Keralites, Maharashtrians, Gujarathis, Bengalees, Tamilians, Telugu, Kannadigas and others from all parts of the country representing all religions danced to the tunes of specially written songs. On 14 December 2013, over 3000 women participated in a Thiruvathira Kali event held at Kochi and attempted to set a new world record. The event was organised in connection with the Thiruvathira festival which falls on 18 December 2013
1. Arudra Darshan
Arudra Darshan is celbrated in the Tamil month of Margazhi coinciding with December – January. This day falls on the full moon night of this month when the Tiruvadirai (Arudra) star rules over. Notably, this happens to be the longest night of the year. Arudra is the star that symbolizes golden red flame, which is none else than Lord Shiva at his cosmic dance. The main highlight of this occasion is having the darshan of Shiva as Natraj, the god at his cosmic dance
2. What happens during Arudra Darshan?
Arudra Darshan is a very grand event happening in the Shiva temples especially where the image of Natraj (dancing Shiva) is installed. This is a festival celebrated with great fervour and celebrity in Chidambaram, a temple dedicated solely to Natraj in Tamilnadu. It is considered highly auspicious and beneficial to view the procession of Lord Natraj on this day. All day long, there are holy baths and pujas conducted in the temples and at the end of the day, a special dish known as Kali is distributed to devotees
3. Why Natraj Dances?
Lord Natraj facilitates a cosmic vision. The universe comes into existence through movement. Life goes on with the oscillation of particles. As long as there is vibration, there is life, growth and activity. Annihilation is nothing but stoppage of the movement and putting things to rest. Thus, the cycle of births and deaths goes on with the movement symbolized by the cosmic dance of Shiva. His dance occurs in every cell and every atom of the universe thus ensuring the continuity
4. Importance of viewing Shiva's dance
Lord Shiva is the supreme god in Hinduism. He is the creator, preserver and destroyer of the universe. Lord Shiva dances in ecstasy to accomplish the five acts namely creation, sustenance, destruction, embodying and release. He smears ash all over his body to indicate that everything in the universe is bound to change and destruction with the passage of time. While transporting the devotees to a blissful mood, Shiva's dance also reminds them of the higher purpose of life namely moving from the transient to the eternal
5. Natraj form Symbolism
Lord Natraj stands in dancing posture with one leg lifted and the other one seated on the demon signifying ignorance. Thus he indicates mastery over ego, desires and evil. He holds all the five elements in him symbolized through Damaru (ether), flowing hair (air), Flame in hand (fire), Ganges (water) and rested foot (earth). Thus, the lord is the supreme head of the universal forces and he releases them to make the worlds during creation and takes them all inside during absorption
6. What we must do on Arudra Darshan?
Visiting Natraj temple on the day of Arudra Darshan to view the puja and procession of the Lord is highly auspicious and said to give all the benefits to devotees. On this day, people receive a special kind of dish as prasad namely Kali (in Tamil), which is a sweet dish indicating bliss. It is said eating this shall remove all the afflictions of people and make them blissful