Thiruvathira Festival is celebrated in Kerala
on the Thiruvathira day of the
month (December-January) in the Malayalam calendar. There are many stories regarding the origin of this festival. It is said to be the day on which lord Shiva
agreed to become the husband of goddess Parvati
, as a reward for her severe penance. Another version is that Thiruvathira festival is celebrated in commemoration of the death of Kamadeva
, the mythological god of love. Yet another version is that Thiruvathira is the birth day of Lord Shiva. Special pujas
are offered to the deity on this day.
An observance called Thiruvathira Noyambu is kept by the women folk on this auspicious day, with the prayer to get good husbands. They discard rice meals and consume only plantains, fruits and tender coconut. Puthenthiruvathira or Poothiruvathira is the first Thiruvathira of a girl after her marriage. During the festival a dance form called Thiruvathirakali is performed.
In Tamil Nadu, Thiruvathira festival is celebrated as Arudhra Darshan (Thiruvadhirai) on the full moon day of Margazhi, the Tamil month equivalent to Dhanu. This day is sacred to Lord Nataraja. It is the one time when devotees can view the normally fierce Rudra-Shiva in his most peaceful and benign aspect. Tradition says that on this day Lord Shiva gave darshan to saint Manickavacakar on the completion of his recital of Thiruvampavai. In Perur of Melai Chidambaram, Lord Shiva is believed to have given darshan to Kamadhenu on this day. To comemmorate this, in the early morning abhishek is commenced on the image of Shiva and the ceremony continues till day-break when the lord gives darshan to the cow.