Celebrating Thiruvathira

via Courtesy: Sivadas Varma - www.expressbuzz.com published on January 9, 2009

KOCHI: Many of the rituals closely observed by women folk withered away with the collapse of the joint family system. As the catwalk culture began to dominate, rituals like thiruvathira were sidelined by many. To retrieve those rituals closely associated with Kerala culture and heritage, Kochi Kshathriya Samajam, Nair Service Society and Yogakshema Sabha are bringing back the nostalgic mood of thiruvathira. “We have been organising a yearly get-together of the women’s wing of Kochi Kshathriya Samajam to observe ettangadi and thiruvathira”, says Sandhya S Varma of Akathe Madham, an active member of Kochi Kshathriya Samajam.

Youngsters are very interested in thiruvathira kali. Elder members, the torch bearers of the unique music branch Athiraa Geethi, are also very keen to hand over this invaluable treasure of music and dance to the younger generation, she says. In a few Namboothiri and Nair tharavadu in Panganarappilly like Paduthol Mana and Maliyekkal Tharavadu the thiruvathira celebrations started last Sunday. “We have been enjoying the sweetness of the mist covered moonlit nights,” says Padminiamma of Maliyekkal tharavadu. “As we gradually get close to the full moon night we can feel a systematic change in the aura all around,” she says.

“Women have been observing this unique ritual to commemorate the rebirth of Kamadeva, the God of Love, who turned into ashes in the fatal flames from the third eye of Lord Siva,” says eighty four-year-old Ammini Brahminiamma , who is an expert in rendering melodious aathirageethis (thiruvathira song). “Though there is a saying that God is love, in Kerala, we women celebrate the rebirth of a God who himself symbolises eternal love,” she adds.

Interestingly our ancestors designed this unique ritual in such a way to enjoy each and every moment of the mist covered full moon night in the Malayalam month of Dhanu.

The women folk will spend the entire night in the courtyard of their houses singing and dancing together to the rhythm of thiruvaathira songs. Actually the rituals related to Mangalaathira starts from the Makayiram night.

Another highlight of this unique ritual is the custom of making ettangadi by roasting eight different tubers in a raw flame. Unlike other occasions, the ettangadi will be offered to Lord Ganesha, Lord Siva and goddess Sree Parvathy by the eldest woman of the group.

In the wee hours of Thiruvathira day the women will go to the nearby pond to have a ‘thudichukuli’. “We will go the nearby temple pond of Sree Krishnapuram Sreekrishna Temple to have a ‘thudichu kuli’,” says Padminiamma of Maliyekkal tharavadu.

Then the women will visit the nearby Siva Temple to get the most auspicious ardra dharshanam.

On thiruvathira night 101 betel leaves along with kaliyadakka (scented areca nut) will be offered to Lord Siva and Sree Parvathy. Then the women will chew the betel leaf and areca nut making their lips blood red. Then starts the preparations for the traditional thiruvathira kali wearing traditional Kerala dress and adorning Dhashapushpam.

Thiruvathira kali goes on till midnight.

At midnight they will render the ‘Mangalathira’ (the story describing the ardent love of Sree Parvathy towards Lord Siva) and adorn the special flower popularly known as ‘pathira poovu’. On makayiram and tphiruvathira days the women avoid rice.A special menu for thiruvathira includes thiruvathira puzhukku and koova payasam (pudding prepared from arrowroot).

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