Arudra Darisanam, Arudra Darshan festival, is celebrated on Thiruvathirai Nakshatram day in Margazhi month in Tamil calendar. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva. During this festival, Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of Nataraja.
As per the beliefs, Natarajar Swamy performs cosmic dance on this day. In many temples of Tamil Nadu, Arudra Darisanam is a festival of Shiva Tandavam.
Shiva Tandavam (cosmic dance of Lord Shiva) symbolizes the continuous cycle of the creation and the demolition. It also signifies the five important aspects – Creation (Srushti), Protection (Stithi), Demolition (Laya), Incarnation (Avataram) and Release.
Special pujas are performed in Shiva Temples on Arudra Darisanam day. Chidambaram Natarajar Swamy Temple, Thiruvannamali Arunachaleshwarar Temple, Rameswaram Shiva Temple are three among the best temples to visit during Arudra Darisanam festival.
Devotees observe fast and keep vigil throughout the night. As the Arudra Nakshatra is visible in the midnight (or the early morning next day), devotees keep vigil the whole night to watch the Nakshatram.
Arudra Darisanam is celebrated as Thirvathira festival in Kerala for nearly ten days. It is a celebration of a Malayalam dance form which known as ‘Thiruvathira’.
Aarudra Dharshanam, the day of festivity dedicated to Lord Shiva celebrates the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva – the Supreme Almighty – as Shri Nataraja. The word `Shiva’ means Sham mangalam karoti iti Shiva. Sham means mangalam, karoti means that which creates mangalam or in other words His auspicious presence sanctifies the whole space.
The image of Shri Nataraja is expressive of the highly evolved arts of our ancient culture. It depicts the fivefold activity of Shri Shiva and the Shiva-Shakthi concept involving the fusion of His static and dynamic states.
The Ananda Thandavam of Shiva is said to symbolize the five Divine acts (”Pancha Krityas”) Creation, Protection, Dissolution, Embodiment and Bestowment of grace. In essence, it symbolizes the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. This cosmic dance takes place in every particle and is the source of its energy. Hence, Arudra Dharshanam is celebrated in appreciation of the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva.
The Divine blessings are received by those who are fortunate to have the glorious “Darshanam” of Shri Nataraja with His consort Shri Sivakama Sundari profusely decorated with ornaments and colourful flowers, coming in procession after the Maha Abhishekam on the holy festival day of “Aarudra Darshanam” celebrated in Shiva temples in the sacred month of Maarghasira (December-January) on the “Aarudra Nakshatram” day every year. It takes place on the full moon night of Maarghazhi.
Aarudhra signifies golden red flame. The rituals are held in the pre-dawn hours, when the moon is still shining brightly and several ceremonies are performed amid the reverberating holy chants. Prayers and rituals are performed to Lord Shiva on this great fiesta to wipe away our karmic slate.
Of all the several manifestations of Lord Shiva in different Divine forms like Dakshinamurthy, Mrutyunjaya moorthy, Kalyana Sundarar, Bhikshadanar, Linga moorthy, and so on, described in various puranas, Shri Nataraja Murthy, the Lord of Cosmic dance assumes the supreme position. Chidambaram, the sacred town in Tamil Nadu is the famous place of worship wherein the glorious temple enshrines the Lord Nataraja, in cosmic dance pose with alluring charm. He is also described as ‘Aananda Thandaveswaraya Moorthy’. All the discipline and rituals prescribed in ‘Agama Shastra’ for the daily archana of Lord Nataraja have their origin in Chidambaram temple, based on Maharishi Pathanjali’s Pooja vidhanam. They are adopted for the worship of this Supreme Deity in almost all the Shaivite temples where a separate sannidhanam is exclusively provided with “Pancha Loha idols” of this Divine Cosmic dancer, who is also called “Sabha Nayakar” along with Mother Goddess Sivakama Sundari.
The Maha Abhishekam of Lord Nataraja at Chidampbaram is performed only on six days in a year viz. ` Aarudra Nakshatram day in the month of Maargazhi (Dec.-Jan.), Shukla paksha – Chaturdasi in the month of Maasi (Feb.- Mar.), Thiruvonam Nakshatram in the month of Chithirai ( April-May), Uthira Nakshatram – Aani Thirumanjanam – in the month of Aani (June – July), Shukla paksha Chaturdasi in the months of Aavani (Aug.- Sep.) and Purattasi (Sep.-Oct.). Of these ‘Arudra Darshanam’ and ‘Aani Thirumanjanam’ have special significance.
The dharshan of Lord Nataraja with his consort bestows all the benevolent favours to the devotees to lead a happy, peaceful, healthy and prosperous life. His Graceful Posture fills our mind with limitless joy. The sound instrument called ‘Udukkai’ in the right hand is the basis for all sound theory giving the benefit for ‘Nadopasana’ for the devout people. His ‘Abhaya Mudra’ in another right hand gives courage and confidence essential in life.
The depiction of fire flame in the left hand helps to remove Kama and Maya. The other left hand points out to the slightly lifted left leg (Thookiya Thiruvedi) to show that his ’Thiru Paadam’ is the place of eternal bliss. The leg on the body of demon shows the destruction of ego. When one has the dharshan of Lord Nataraja all that is essential for happy life is showered on him.