The last 2 days were busy- it was Annual day functions at the puttars' school- elder one was a volunteer helping with the seating arrangements, vehicle parking and welcoming guests- it's his last year in this school- he'll be appearing for his Xth board exams this March...
The younger one was acting in a drama- in which he had to wear "panchgajam"- a dhoti worn like pyjamas- sport a "kudumi"- tuft of hair at the back- the play was good and all the children did well-
Today is "Thiruvathira"- "Ardra Darshanam"- sighting the star Ardra - a festival for ladies.
In Kerala, the ladies on this day undertake a special fast/diet - avoiding all rice items- only wheat/semolina is taken -I think it is actually something similar to "karva chauth"of the north.
In traditional households, the women ( all hear say only- no direct experience) go together at midnite to the temple tanks to have their bath-singing folk songs- they literally splash the water ( thudikkuka) as a part of the ritual- partake of abt 108 betel leaves- wear the "dashapushpam" or "paathirappovu"- a set of ten herbs and flowers on their hair- then dance the "Thiruvathirakkali"- in the "sunken courtyard"- the nadumittom -a folk dance form- similar to the Gujrati garba and Kolaattom/kummi of Tamilnadu - very lilting and rhythmic- the footwork is graceful and simple- there are clockwise and anti clockwise movements, clapping of hands . The songs are rustic and simple based on folk tales and mythology.
They stay awake the whole night -look out for the star "ardra"-The idea is praying for the health and long life of the husbands!
One legend goes something like this: Godess Parvathi's dear friend becomes a widow on her wedding night and she goes to Parvathy to bemoan her fate- Parvathy coerces Lord Shiva to resurrect her friend's husband- and Shiva has no choice but to give in – so it kind of celebrates victory over Death-
Another Legend says that Parvati performed severe penance to win Shiva as her husband. Very much pleased with her penance, Shiva appeared before her and promises to take her as his wife. This promise was made on the day of Thiruvathira star of the month of Dhanu- which is also said to be the birth star of Lord Shiva. . Therefore on this day, married and unmarried woman perform dance as a ritual. The married, for the well being of their husband and the unmarried, for acquiring a good husband.
While I've never been one for rituals as such- I did not take rice today -made semiya upma in the morning- wheat semolina for lunch- with roots, pulses and tubers prepared with coconut for the side dish -and delicious arrow root halwa- DH who had taken leave for studying for an exam he has to appear on sunday- helped me with the cooking-it turned out great- we gave generous shares to our friends in the colony- and I have no compunctions in praying for my husband's health and long life- I do that daily anyway :-)