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Thiruvathira is a traditional festival celebrated primarily by the women of Kerala, India, in honor of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. It falls on the Thiruvathira Nakshatra (star) in the Malayalam month of Dhanu (December-January), and is also known as Thiruvathira Nakshatram or Arudra Darisanam.

The festival holds immense cultural and religious significance, symbolizing devotion, love, and marital bliss. According to Hindu mythology, Thiruvathira commemorates the cosmic dance (Ananda Tandava) performed by Lord Shiva, known as Nataraja, on the day of Thiruvathira Nakshatra.

On the day of Thiruvathira, women wake up early, bathe, and perform rituals such as offering prayers to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. They observe a strict fast and abstain from consuming rice and other grains throughout the day.

One of the highlights of the Thiruvathira festival is the performance of the Thiruvathira Kali, a traditional dance form. Women dressed in traditional attire gather in a circle and dance to the rhythmic beats of traditional music, singing songs that extol the virtues of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

Thiruvathira Kali is characterized by graceful movements, intricate footwork, and synchronized hand gestures, reflecting the devotion and reverence of the participants. The dance is accompanied by the melodious tunes of instruments such as the thappu (a type of drum) and the elathalam (cymbals).

Another custom associated with Thiruvathira is the preparation of special dishes, including Thiruvathira puzhukku, a traditional Kerala delicacy made with a variety of vegetables, coconut, and spices. The fasting women break their fast in the evening by consuming these delicious dishes.

Thiruvathira is not only a religious festival but also a celebration of Kerala's rich cultural heritage and traditions. It fosters a sense of unity and camaraderie among women, who come together to observe rituals, perform dances, and share in the joy of the occasion.

The Thiruvathira festival continues to be cherished and celebrated with great enthusiasm by the people of Kerala, serving as a reminder of the enduring values of devotion, love, and harmony.

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