Friday, January 13, 2006

Ardra Darshanam

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 :-)


bilbo said...

Hey ardra
That was a nice post. Really endearing and it reminded me of something. A few months back , when it was still pleasant weather, I was returning home one night after meeting a friend. We have in that locality a kind of small courtyard kind of thing. Fetes and flea mkts are held their during the day. However this was aeounf 10-11 in the night. And these elderly japanese ladies were dancing, dressed in their summer kimonos, called yukata. The rythm was simple but mersmerising and the steps were easy to follow. I had to stand there and watch for a while. I did take pictures but they havent come out well cus the ladies were in motion :)

Sorry abt the blog sized comment

paddy said...

well nice to know about this festival , its always good to know how people believe and celebrate life , specially its great to know how Indians do it, coz we surely know how to do it.

yet another1 said...

hey, i'm glad that i had my "Ardra Darshanam" today :)
very nice post!

aria said...

Kewl. Didn't know about this festival - nice reading about it n the story behind. Yup - sounds quiet similar to karwa chauth - celebrated out here.

bharath said...

Ardra Darshanam indeed. Wishes.

nice post Ardra.

Full2 Faltu said...

oh that what "Ardra" means! I always wondered what it really means? Then I thought it must be some kind of south indian name.

We have Makar Sakranth in Maharahstra on 14th January. Women keep fast and then they distribute Til laddus.

Everyone says "Til gul kha ani goood good bola" (Eat til, jaggery ladus and say sweet things")

The festival are different names but the spirit i guess is the same.


Ardra said...

very interesting bilbo- i'm sure the dance would've been enticing to watch- there is something most serene and invogorating abt watching any kind of dance- it feels like a kind of liberation from the fetters of the physical body - and when the dancers are enjoying themselves without inhibition- it becomes all the more wonderful- am reminded of Zorba's exuberant "dance" in Nikos Kazantsakis "Zorba the Greek"...

and pls, the blog sized comment is always welcome :-)

aria, paddy, punds!
yup! the underlying spirit is always the same -

bharath! ardra is the name of a star-and it also means soft and sensitive in malayalam- actually the literal meaning was very aptly put by mystic bard/sublime thoughts this way- it means wet,wet by absorbing the moist moments of life...

ano! :-D

Swanima said...

Have been reading your blogs , lately, but it is the first time that I am commenting. Suddenly felt homesick after reading your blog and missed dear old Kerala. Was reminded of my school where we used to have "Tiruvathirakkali" competitions. I used to love watching the lovely ladies in "neriyathu" dancing to the soothing, traditional music.

Guess I need to make a trip to Kerala - your blog and the M. T. novel that I am reading - this nostalgia is too much to take now:)

keep writing


Ardra said...

hi swanima, thanks for reading my posts and commenting...i eagerly clicked on u'r name, but cud not find a link to a blogpage- :-(

and which is the M.T novel that u're reading?

do keep coming back...

Swanima said...

:) not contributed any blogs so far. Maybe I am scared my writings will be too immature compared to the ones from writers like you. I am happy reading lovely blogs like this and so many others and commenting on them.

I finished reading "Manju", in fact re-read it. The first time I read it, it was part of my pre-degree curriculum. Reading "Kuttiyedathi" now. Totally enjoy M.T's writings.

Ardra said...

hey swanima!
pls...maturity/immaturity is all just a perception- am all too familiar with such doubts- just erase the thought of the readers- and write your thoughts for yourself- and let the rest folow-
hope to see you posting soon-

Arunima said...

Thanks for the details. I am zero in all this.

Arunima said...

waiting for the next post.