The festival observed by Kannagi.    

Let us go back to Poompuhar city which is now inside the Bay Of Bengal sea. Kannagi was shedding tears in solitude. Kovalan was just enjoying his life with Madhavi and baby Manimekalai.

There came Devanthy - Kannagi's very close Bhramin friend. She was very much concerned about Kannagi's life. She worried a lot and planned for few rituals which were believed  to bring Kovalan  back to her. But Kannagi's intellect answered '' no''.

In this context Kannagi remembers few of the very very honest and noble women who lived in that city. She took them as her role models and said that she wants to live like them.

Later when she stood before Pandiya king, she remembered and honored  these women. One among them was Aadhirai.

History of Aadhirai :

Aadhirai was born in a very rich merchant family in Poompuhar. She got married to a great well disciplined man. Once he went for an voyage and his ship got struck up with storms and many crews  died.

Those who have escaped , reached Poompuhar city and said that Aadhirai's husband also died . She too waited with the belief that her husband will come one day. But the days passed. Slowly she lost her faith and she wanted to kill herself . So she prepared for a sacrificial pier near the spot where Cauvery river merges with the sea in Poompuhar.

Mean while her husband was carried away by the waves and he got landed in Nagaland state in east India. He was caught by the local tribal cannibals. But this man knew their language and spoke to them and became their friend and guest. He preached non -  violence and changed their mind .

The tribes gave him lot of wealth and also a small ship and he started his journey towards Poompuhar city. He just landed in the Poompuhar harbour just before Aadhirai jumped into the fire. This news arrived her and she was also alive from fire. She became a celebrity in Poompuhar city for her love and care for her husband.

The day this incident happened was believed to be the sacred '' Thiruvaadhirai naal''. Thiruvaadhirai is one of the star in Indian constellation to remember Lord Shiva.

Thiruaadhirai festival in Tamil nadu:

Lord Shiva and Parvathy got wedded in mount Kailash in Himalayas. They danced their celestial  dance before all people and saints in a place called Chidhambaram in Tamil nadu on this Thiruvaadhirai star day.

The entire universe was blessed by their dance. Chidhambaram is a temple city like Madurai. The temple is dedicated to Shiva who is in the dancing posture. He is celebrated as '' Natarajar'' , meaning '' lord of dance''. This place is the head quarters of South Indian Shivism . The temple complex is extremely large like Madurai. The place where Natarajar idol is placed is called  '' Chith amabalam'' --''the shire of ultimate wisdom''. It is also named as '' Pon ambalam'' -- '' the golden shrine''. The roof of the shrine is decked with pure golden tiles.

The idol will be given very very special rituals on this day and taken in temple car for procession. The rituals will be done all over the previous night. Devotees fast and see the rituals and have the very important darshan called '' aarudra darshan'' by dawn.

In homes women gather and cook several dishes and a special sweet called '' KALE'. By night they decorate the homes and offer poojas to Shiva and Parvathy. Women pray for the health of their husband and children They remember AAdhirai of Poompuhar city. A sacred yellow thread will be tied to the wrist or neck. This is very important for the newly wedded couples.

Thiruvaadhirai in Kerala:

Though most of the Hindu festivals observed in Kerala and Tamil nadu differ, because of Kannagi's cult Thiruvaadhirai is also getting celebrated in Kerala. In Kerala people prepare the same Kale sweet and vegetable dishes and offer to god. The most interesting part of the festival is dancing. The dance is called '' kai kotte kali''. A lamp will be lighted and placed on an altar. Women dressed in traditional Kerala garments dance around the lamp. They also sing. The Thiruvaadhirai songs and dance steps are very unique. The steps are very very smart and gentle. The songs are very melodious.

So we believe that Kannagi also has observed this famous festival. Women pray to become the beloveds of their husband like Shiva and Parvathy. It is believed that the saint Pathanjali wrote the famous '' Pathanjali yoga'' text [ text on yoga] and '' Bharatha sastharam '' [ grammar for Indian classical dances] on this day in Chidhambaram before Natarajar. 

How to celebrate Thiruvaadhirai festival?

* Try to avoid rice  from the morning .

* By evening refer to the daily calendar for the start's appearance time [ need not search in the sky]. This year it is on December 24th .

* Cook the following dishes. rice, dhal , ghee, papad, tamarind soup [ puli kulambhu] , payasam , curd, salt, pickle.

 * The vegetables are very important: One vegetable from tree, plant, creeper, climber, underground stem  and cereals.

* do not use garlic and onion.

Kale sweet preparation:

* 1 tumbler of pacha arise.

* 1 tumbler paase parupu.

* jaggery 300 gms.

* nuts and dry grapes.

Method of preparation: Fry the rice and paase parupu in a spoon of ghee. Powder them to rava state in mixer. Add 4 tumblers of water and cook them as a paste. Add jaggery and ghee and all nuts and mix well . Finally we can add coconut scrapings.

Special drawings for the Poojas:

lotus, Shiva lingam, moon, sun, comb, mirror, 2 feet, 2 palms, maigodhi [ a long sharp metal stick to make the dry hair proper] , grinding stone, mango tree , sieving pan, lamp. Better try to draw all these drawing in rice paste.

After all preparations draw all these drawing in pooja room and  light the lamps and decorate a measuring cylinder full of paddy or rice  and place a maigodhi on it and decorate as Shiva lingam. Decorate with flowers and yellow threads.

Chant any chants on Shiva and Parvathy and sing in praise of them. Stand along with the  family and both husband and wife must offer the dishes to god and offer flowers also. Then light the camphor and do harathy. Finally get blessings from husband and family elders. Husband must tie the sacred thread to his wife and children . First eat the kale and then husband must serve the food for wife.

This festival is the  extension of  Kedhara Gowri fasting during Deepawali. On that occasion Parvathy devi has completed her penance to attain Shiva and she was blessed with left half of his body. Thiruvaadhirai day is the day he weddied her and danced to create the universe.

Let us observe this famous very old festival and follow all the ethics of family life. Kannagi has observed this fasting and also  got back to her husband. But she lost her husband . But her intellect has made her to erase his black mark. So AAdhirai star is a very  special occasion for us .

Dr.Madeswaran

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