Arudra Darshan is a Hindu festival mostly celebrated in the southern states of India in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. It is basically a festival meant for the devotees of Lord Shiva and is a Shaivaite festival.

This observance is also known as Thiruvathira, which in Tamil means the Sacred Big Wave. According to beliefs it was this, using which Lord Shiva had created the universe 132 trillion years ago.

Arudra is the symbolic representation of the golden red flame and it is Lord Shiva who performs his dance of creation in this golden red light.

This is celebrated in the month of Marghazi on the purnima or full moon night, when the Tiruvadirai or the Arudra star rules over the world. This as per Gregorian calendar is observed in the month of December January.

Origin of Arudra Darshan

The night the Arudra Darshan takes place in the month of Margazhi is also the longest night of the year. There are literary and historical evidence suggesting that this observance has been in existence since the last 1500 years. The major highlight of this observance is the Tandava or the cosmic dance performed by Lord Shiva while creation of the universe, which is recreated in the Nataraja, or the dancing Shiva temples on this auspicious day.

Celebration of Arudra Darshan in Kerala

In Kerala, this festival is known as the birthday commemoration of Lord Shiva. Thiruvathira is the star or the nakshatra under which in the month of Marghazi Lord Shiva was born. There is also another belief that Kamdeva died on this day. It is also believed that Lord Shiva took Parvati as his wife on this auspicious day, thus both Parvati and Shiva present the Ardha- Nariswara form to devotees.

In Kerala this festival is celebrated by the Nambuthiri, Nair and the Kshatriya community mostly. Unmarried women fast on this day or a partial fast on this day to get a good husband and the married women fast from the previous night or the (Makayiram nakshatra) for the welfare of their family and husband.

The fast means abstaining from rice. The meals on this day constitutes of cooked broken wheat and Thiruvathira puzhukku, a mix of vegetables such as chembu or colocasia, chena or yam,Koorka or Chinese potato, madhurakizhangu or sweet potato, vanpayar or long beans,ethakaya or raw plantain fruit cooked in a thick paste of freshly grated coconut. Koova Payasam is the dessert of choice made with arrow root powder, jaggery and coconut milk.

The women perform a dance form called the Thiruvathirakali. It is accompanied by Thiruvathira paattu which is folk song describing the lovesick Parvati and her longing and Shiva;s power. The dance form emphasizes lasya or the charm and grace of the feminine dance form. The .Thiruvathira kali is another dance form which is said to be embodiment of Shiva taking Parvati as his wife.

Celebration of Arudra Darshan in Tamil Nadu

In tamil Nadu too, unmarried women keep a fast on this day. Rather fasting starts nine days earlier and this is the last day of the fasting. A special dish called Thiruvadhirai kali is made on this day. It comprises of Moong dhall, Coconut, Cardamom, Ghee, rice and jaggery. Another dish called the Thiruvathirai ezhlu curry koottu is made with seven vegetables such as – Pooshanikai or pumpkin, Cheppan kizhangu or colocasia, Sarkaraivalli kizhangu or sweet potato, Paranghikai or ash gourd, Pacha mochai or field beans, Katharikai or egg plants, Urulai kizhangu or potato etc.

The dancing form of Lord Shiva is worshipped and taken out in procession. In Chidambaram, on the night before the amavasya or the full moon; Lord Shiva’s abhishekam is done or a holy shower is given. This is done along with all precious stones such as coral, diamonds, pearls, jade and emerald.  He is then worshipped during Arunodaya along with the chanting from the Vedas. The most festive Arudra Darshan celebration takes place in Chidambaram Shiva temple on this day. There are special puja and baths throughout the day and considered to be auspicious to watch the procession on this day. After the puja, a special dish known as Kali is distributed among the devotees.

Most of other temples housing Nataraja as deity also celebrate this auspicious occasion.

Significance Of Arudra Darshan

The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva or the Nataraja dance is highly symbolic. It represents the following – Creation, protection then destruction, embodiment and finally release. Thus it actually represents the constant cycle of creation and destruction, birth and death. As long there is vibration, there exists life. Lord Nataraj or the dancing form of Shiva stand with one leg lifted and the other one on a demon. The demon signifies ignorance in any form. Therefore the dance embodies mastery over ego, desires and all sorts of evil. The five elements with him symbolizes the following – Damaru or the ether, flame in hand or fire, flowing hair or air, Ganges is water and the rested foot is earth.