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January 7, 2012

Thiruvaadirai Festival

Thiruvaadirai (Tamizh) or Thiruvaadira (malayalam) festival is celebrated in the Tamizh Month of Maargazhi (Dhanur month of Malayalam calendar) on a full moon day when the 'Thiruvadirai' nakshatram falls. This festival is celebrated with prayers, Pooja and offerings to God Shiva in the form of Nataraja (The divine cosmic dance posture of God Shiva).

This is the day God Shiva blessed Rishi Patanjali and Vyakrapadhar with the sight of his cosmic dance.

A historical info says that on this day once when God Narayana lying on Adisesha, was meditating on Sri Shiva, suddenly his weight increased. Adisesha felt the sudden rise of weight and politely asked Sri. Narayana, the reason for this. Sri. Narayana said that he was experiencing the cosmic dance of shiva and was feeling blissful which was the reason for increase in the weight. Adisesha got curious when Sri. Vishnu described the cosmic dance of Sri. Shiva. Adisesha was mesmerised and requested Sri Vishnu to bless him to see the cosmic dance. on his guidance, adisesha, took avatar in earth as a son to a divine couple and was known as Patanjali. He went to Chidambaram and did penance. Rishi Vyakrapadha also joined him and both of them were blessed with the sight of that divine cosmic dance on this day.

In all shiva shrines in Tamizh Nadu special poojas are conducted very early in the morning and the murti of Lord Nataraja decorated beautifully, taken in procession (Aarudra Darisanam) inside the temple.

Thumba (white colour) flower is very auspicious on this day to Lord Shiva. This flower is also used in Indian Medicines. Very good if taken along with honey. I remember collecting the thumba flower early foggy morning  of Marghazi Month during my teen days to offer to Lord Shiva on thiruvadira day. It will be a nice sight to see these white flowers in a foggy morning.

In Kerala it is celebrated on the full moon day (thiruvadira star) in dhanur masam (month). Kanji (porridge) using Koovai (arrowroot) powder is made & offered to Lord Shiva. Ladies dress in the traditional kasavu or mundu, a lamp is lit (nilavilakku), ladies forms a circle around it and play the 'kai kottu kali'-a beautiful dance moving clockwise and anticlockwise directions uniformly in the circle moving their hands with grace. The  dance, music, chenda etc on the background is a feast to eyes and ears.

A kai koti kali song

and a video showing the graceful  kai kotti kali. thiruvadira dance

It is a ladies festival in Kerala, they get up early in the morning have bath. On thiruvaadira day, they avoid eating rice, hence koova kanji & fruits are taken. It is a fasting (nonbu / vratham).

In Tamizh Nadu, the traditional offerings to god are Kali (sweet) & Kootu (spicy & salty mixed vegetable curry). The making of kali & kootu differs in every household and so are the tastes, the best in their own way.

History of Thiruvadirai Kali Offering :-

once there lived a wood cutter called "Sendhanar" near Chidambaram in Tamizh Nadu.  He was an ardent devotee of God Shiva. Everyday he sold the cut firewood, bought rice, offered food to a shiva devotee only then, he and his wife consumed food for that day.

one day it rained heavily. He couldn't sell his firewood. hence no money to buy rice. but they had broken grains at home. He told his wife to prepare an offering with the available things.

His wife prepared a dish called Kali which is a mix of that broken grain, jaggery and coconut. Also a salty side dish gravy was prepared by her with a mix of native vegetables.  She had also boiled few sweet potatoes and they waited for a shiva devotee to arrive.

God Shiva was moved by their devotion and simplicity. He took the form of a shiva devotee and visited Sendhanar's  residence. the couples happily received him and offered the feast to him. Shiva enjoyed that humble hospitality and the simple yet delicious feast. He asked them to pack the kali for him. They happily did so. Shiva in disguise took that parcel and took leave.

Next morning, when the priests opened the sanctum sanctorum of Chidambaram temple they were surprised to see Kali spilt on the floor near the deity and also saw traces of kali on the lips of the deity. They approached the king and narrated this.

As God Shiva had already narrated to the king in his dream about the feast he had at Sendhanar's place, the king immediately sent people to find and bring Sendhanar.

All of them assembled in the temple and tried to pull the temple chariot as part of a temple celebration.  Due to rains, the path was muddy and the chariot wheels got stuck in the mud, hence didn't move. Everyone tried to pull hard the chariot. The king with his people also joined in chariot pulling but the wheels didn't move even an inch.

Suddenly, a divine voice from the heaven asked Sendhanar to sing verses on God Shiva, only then the chariot will move. Sendhar said he neither  was educated nor  talented to sing even a verse on the God. So the god blessed him with a starting line and told him to continue. with that divine blessings Sendhanar sang 13 verses on God Shiva. The chariot started moving. Everyone present there,  the king, ministers, priests, commons, all bowed to Sendhanar for his devotion.

Hence, this sweet dish called kali is made and offered to God Shiva on Thiruvadirai day remembering this divine history of Sendhanar. 

May Lord Shiva - the destroyer of evil, bless you all with good health & peaceful life and a blissful inner awakening.

Om Namashivaya


Kali & kootu - Thiruvaadirai Special

Thiruvadirai festival is celebrated in the Tamizh Month of Maargazhi (Dhanur month of Malayalam calendar) on a full moon day when the 'Thiruvadirai' nakshatram falls. This festival is celebrated with prayers to Lord Shiva in the form of Nataraja (The divine cosmic dance posture of Lord Shiva).

click here to know more about this festival.
Traditional offerings to god are Kali (sweet) & Kootu (spicy & salty mixed vegetable curry). The making of kali & kootu differs in every household and so are the tastes, the best in their own way.

Sharing with you the recipe for Thiruvadirai kali & kootu as we prepare in our house. It is a simple dish without much of masal or tamarind.

For the Kali :

Thiruvaadirai kali

Ingridients :

The ratio for Rice rava to jaggery is 1:1.. If you find any more powder is left even after making kootu it canbe used in pulungari making or be used in any gravy curry you may make as a thickening agent.
  1. Raw Rice - 2 cups
  2. Jaggery - 2 cups*
  3. Cardamom Powder - 1 tsp
  4. Salt - a pinch
  5. Water -  4 and 1/2 cups
  6. Grated Coconut - 3 tbsp
  7. Ghee - 3 tbsp
  8. Butter - 2 tsp
Procedure :

  • Wash and soak the raw rice for 10 minutes.
  • Drain completely and roast in a pan till it turns golden in colour
  • cool & powder it like rava (semolina / sooji). Keep aside 1tbsp powder separately to thicken the kootu gravy.
  • Dissolve Jaggery in water (as per the measure), heat, strain and clean the impurities
  • In a pan / kadai heat the jaggery syrup, add a pinch of salt and bring to boil
  • Keep the rava ready. 
  • Add the ghee and cardamom powder, slowly add the powdered roasted rice little by little stirring simultaneously without forming lumps
  • when the water dries up, swtich off the flame and keep it covered for 10 to 15 minutes
  • Open the lid, add grated coconut, mix well.
  • Top with 2 tsp butter & offer the neivedhyam to God

Kootu (curry) :- For the kootu, two vegetables are traditionally used. Avarakkai (broad beans) and Kaavathu kizhangu (the seasonal root vegetable rpurple in colour) are used. however, now many vegetables like elephant yam (Chenai kizhangu), Koorkai kizhangu (chinese potato), Pumpkin (manajl poosani), Raw banana (Vaazhai kaai), carrot and green peas are used which makes the kootu colourful too. So you can use all of them or any combination of your choice. Some families have some counts of ingridients like 7 or 5 vegetables etc. But I am sharing here the recipe as I prepare but it is minus kaavathu kizhangu as I don't get it in this part of India.

Ingridients :-

  1. Broad Beans (Avarakkai) diced - 2 cups
  2. Kavathu kizhangu cubes - 1/2 cup
  3. Koorkai kizhangu - 4 nos.
  4. Elephant yam (Chenai kizhangu) - 1/4 cup
  5. Pumpkin diced - 1/4 cup
  6. Green Chillies - 2 nos. (or as per preference)
  7. Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
  8. Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Water to cook the vegetables
  11. Coconut Oil, Mustard seeds, Urad dal for tempering.
  12. Curry leaves - 1 sprig
  13. Roasted rice rava (used for kali)
Boil the vegetables in water adding salt and turmeric powder till they become tender. There should be some water remaining after cooking.
Crush the green chillies and mix it with the grated coconut. Mix this into the boiled vegetables.
Add the required amount of the roasted rice powder to thicken the curry to the required consistency
Put the curry leaves and temper mustard seeds & urad dal in coconut oil and add it to the curry.

This kootu and kali is offered early in the  morning to Lord Shiva along with prayers.

Enjoy the sweet and salty & spicy combination prashad listening to 'bho shambo...' sung by Sudha Raghunathan

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