The Thiruvathira or Thiruvathirai festival is a significant Hindu event celebrated across Tamil Nadu and Kerala. This religious ceremony commemorates the big wave of sacred power that Lord Shiva used to create the universe about 132 trillion years ago; it is also known as Arudra Darisanam. This celebration, which happens on the full moon night during the month of Margazhi, has a storied past, having been celebrated in many temples across Southern India for over 1,500 years. The longest night of the year often sees fervent praise for Lord Shiva in his form of Athiraiyan from Thiruvathirai. Sri Lankan Tamils also have their own iteration of this festival which takes place at Thinnapuram Sundareswarar Temple each year - Eezhathu Chidambaram.

Thiruvathira in Tamil Nadu:

The Thiruvathira festival is one of the most celebrated events in Tamil Nadu. On this day, traditional songs, chants and dances are performed to pay homage to Lord Shiva and Parvati. Manikkavacakar's "Thiruvasagam" hymns are recited as mantras in temples, while devotees participate in a grand procession marking the cosmic dance of the divine couple. A special dish called 'Thiruvathirai Kali' forms an integral part of the offering known as 'Neivehdyam'.