Wednesday, September 9, 2009


Thiruvathira is observed, mostly in Kerala, India, on the full-moon day of Dhanu Masam, on the day of the Thiruvathira star (Alpha Orionis). According to legends, this is the day Goddess Parvathi met Lord Siva after her long penance. It is believed that observing Thiruvathira vratham or Thiruvathira nonbu (fasting during thiruvathira) would ensure that a woman's husband would have a long life. Women, including little girls, would get up early in the morning during the whole of Dhanu masam and go to a Kulam (pond) or a river to take bath. They usually go in a procession singing various songs. Also they sing and play while taking bath. After bathing, they go to the temple dressed in their finest clothes.

The practice of gifting bunches of bananas to the elders is observed in some parts of Kerala. During this season, huge swings (oonjal) are erected in the vicinity of most of the houses. These swings are hung from the branches of tall trees. The swings are made of ropes hung from the branches of trees with wooden planks for the seat. After lunch, the Thiruvathirakkali dance is performed. The accompanying songs (Thiruvathirapaattu) are written in Malayalam and are set in a specific meter. The dance form is also called Kaikotti Kali (dancing while clapping hands, also spelled Thiruvathira Kali) and is also performed during the festival of Onam.

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