Thiruvathira - Womenfolk celebration
Thiruvathira is an important festival in Kerala celebrated by the womenfolk. This is in commemoration of the death of Kamadeva - Lord for Love. "Kaikottukali" and "Oonjal Kali" (Swing) are the special amusements.
THIRUVATHIRA : The History : The age old tradition of Keralites is celebrated on "Thiruvathira" day of "Dhanu" malayalam month. It falls on 22nd December this year. This is a womens' festival. It is believed that the Lord of Love "Kamadeva" was burnt alive by the third eye of Lord Siva on the Thiruvathira day of Dhanu and it is in commemoration of His death, the women folk celebrate the festival. Though it is mostly celebrated by all the Hindu women, it happens to be of Nair community's predominance.
CELEBRATIONS : The women wake up early in the morning at 4.00 AM inspite of the biting cold and go to the nearly pond to take bath in groups. While bathing they sing songs particularly penned for Thiruvathira named "Thiruvathirakali songs". While doing so, women form circle in water and with their palms, splashing on water make rhythmic sounds as an accompaniment to the songs. The songs are mostly on God of love. They wear the traditional dress of "set mundu". The day is almost on fast for the women as they avoid any items of rice. Their food consists of items of Chama (pinicum milicceum) and/or wheat and of course tender coconuts and Plantain fruits. They chew betel leaves and it was a custom that the women used to chew 108 betel leaves on that day. The first thiruvathira for a girl after marriage is celebrated with great fanfare and it is called as "Poothiruvathira" or "Puthen Thiruvathira". Oonjalattam (Swinging) is an amusement at each centres of such celebrations. "Kaikottikali" is the most popular dance form, special for the festival. Women stand in a circle around a lighted brass lamp and each steps moved as per the rhythm of the songs the singers sing. The verses penned by Irayimman Thampi is also sung for the occasion. At the midnight of the Thiruvathira, Lord Siva's idol / image is placed at the central courtyard, with offerings of flowers, jaggery and Plantain Fruits. They perform Kaikottukali in circles and this continue till sunrise. The flowers are taken from the offerings and they keep it in their hairs and In between it is also a practice particularly amongst the Namboodiris and Nairs to wear "Pathiraapoo". In certain regions, it is practiced to eat eight different tubers roasted roughly in fire and this is known as "Ettangadi Chuduka"
It is auspicious to worship Lord Siva on this day.