'Thiruvathira', the Day for Celebrating the Exclusivity of Women!
by Elizabeth Menon

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'Thiruvathira', the Day for Celebrating the Exclusivity of Women!


Lord Shiva's Birthday, 'Thiruvathira' in the month of Dhanu according to the Malayalam Calendar (December-Jan, by the Gregorian Calendar), which is celebrated exclusively by women, a reminder to the prestigious position that the women of Kerala held even in the ancient times! A vigil is held through the night for Lord Shiva on his birthday, which is believed to bring a good husband for an unmarried woman and for the married ones, betterment of their husbands and the whole family!

It is mostly celebrated as Lord Shiva's birthday, but some believe that this is the day Lord Shiva opened his third eye and burned 'Kamadevan' to ashes as he disturbed Shiva's deep meditation, the 'Thapas', and the other belief is that this is the day Lord Siva returned after his long 'Thapas' following goddess Sati's death this day is celebrated as 'Aardra Darshan' in Tamil Nadu dedicated to the 'Nataraja Dance' of Lord Shiva, which clearly shows that he is the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer (Srishty, Asthithwam and Samhaara)!


Women celebrate 'Thiruvathira', that includes the colourful dance, 'Thiruvathirakkali' or Kaikottikkali, 'Aardra Vratham' by fasting, wearing flowers in their hair at midnight (Pathirappoo-choodal), Playful swinging on the Oonjaal (Swings), eating special food such as Koova payasam, 'Puzhukku' using eight varieties of root vegetables and plantain -- it's called 'Ettangadi' also when the tubers are fire-roasted and made sweet by adding cane sugar and melted jaggery -- 'Ettangadi' is mostly made on the eve of 'Thiruvathira', and the celebrations start on the following morning, on the 'Thiruvathira Day'!The 'Pathirappoo choodal' is reminiscent of Devi Parvathi adorning her hair with 'Daspushpam' (Ten varieties of flowers), collected for her by the ladies attending to her, and 'Payasam' is believed to be Lord Shiva's favourite food!


The exclusivity of this festival for women reminds one of the higher social standing and respectability that the women hold and have been since the ancient times, and one hopes that the rest of the society take note of this and start respecting women and children!

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© E Menon

 

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