by Poornima Mathilakath
Sree Guruvayoorappan Temple, Houston, celebrated “Ardra Darsanam” (Thiruvathira) on 09 Jan 2020 in an exquisite and extensive way for the first time ever!
Thiruvathira, an age-old traditional festival of Kerala is celebrated mainly by women, who does “orikkal” (avoiding food containing rice) and spend their day and night chanting Shiv sthuthies. Those who takes vrutham is not supposed to sleep the whole night. Belief behind Thiruvathira vrutham is that Sree Parvathy, wife of Lord Shiva took the vrutham for the long life of Lord Shiva on his birthday. Another belief is that Lord Shiva married Parvathy on this day and people celebrate the unity of Shiva and Sakthi by taking vrutham on that day. Married women take vrutham for the health and long life of their husband and young girls takes vrutham to get a good partner to make rest of their life happy.
At Sree Guruvayoorappan temple Houston, Pooja coordinator Krishnaja Kurup along with Vidhu, who has very good knowledge about the rituals, took lead in organizing everything for this auspicious day.
Devotees started pouring in after their long day at work. Main Pooja on Thiruvathira day is a Shiva Abhishekam , which started by 8 PM in an atmosphere filled with chants and prayers! After Abhishekam women moved towards the temple hall where wheat porridge, puzhukku (a dish made out of eight root vegetables) and koova payasam(a dessert made out of arrowroot powder and jaggery) had already been prepared.
Vidhu lead the group of ladies to a famous ritual dance along with vocals which is usually written to praise lord Shiva and Devi Parvathy. After a few rounds of dance and games, it was time for them to go and fetch flowers for the famous ceremony of pathira poo choodal. For this they take a traditional lamp with them and sing beautiful tuned songs. Once they pick up flowers, it’s time for them to put those flowers in their hair and chew bettle leaf (thamboolam). Thamboolam was followed by famous “Ardra Dharsanam “(watching full moon) by women. Vrutham will end once ladies take a bath next morning and come back and visit temple in the early hours. The event organized by Sree Guruvayoorappan temple was nostalgic to many of the participants who relived their days of Thiruvathira in Kerala after many years. For the younger generation, this was both an amusement and opportunity to delve deeper into a culture that they are not accustomed to. Besides being a weekday, this well-organized event witnessed a huge turnout of families!