Has ‘Thiruvathirakali’ to mark the centuries old Thiruvathira festivities, that once enjoyed prominence among section of the Hindu community of Central Kerala along with major festivals like Onam and Vishu eventually reduced to be mere stage shows in school and college level competitions?
This apprehension was raised by Radha R. Nair, a house wife who is leading a quiet life along with her husband Mr. Radhakrishnan at Anandashram here on the auspicious occasion on Sunday observing day long fast reminiscing the rich past in her ancestral home in Kozhikode.
The festivities appeared to have lost its glory with the emergence of nuclear family members who prefer to confine in home and glue before television rather than taking time from their routine or hectic schedule to mix up with relatives and friends to be part of the festivities enjoying prominence till recent years at par with Onam and Vishu celebrations.
The festivities have more or less confined to stages where school and college girls compete among one another reflecting the past glory of the dance form during art festivals, she says.
The Thiruvathira festival, celebrated on the Thiruvathira day of Malayalam month Dhanu, mostly on full Moon day, the birth star of Lord Shiva, was celebrated by a section of married women for the prosperity and healthy life of their husband while youngsters take part in the festivities to marry a man of their choice.
The ‘Thiruvathira’ festival is celebrated to commemorate plea of Goddess Parvathi who used to regularly observe fast on Thiruvathira day in the name of Lord Shiva pleaded Him to heed to the plea of a newly married Brahmin girl, whose husband died days after their marriage, to bless her by giving rebirth to the deceased.
Parvathi’s fervent plea yielded results bringing the dead man alive and women folk in all age groups observe day-long fast on the ‘Thiruvathira’ day of the Dhanu Malayalam month followed by ‘Thiruvathirakali, Kaikottikali’ after taking bathe in group in ponds by splashing waters on one another before Sun rise and have a bunch of 108 beetle leaves each as part of the celebrations.
“Today most of the ponds in olden days have either dried up or vanished with rise in population, replaced by commercial complexes and high rise buildings", Ms. Nair, an expert in Tanjavur paintings, reminisces.