Arudra Darshan is a sacred occasion that celebrates the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva. Arudra, also known as Thiruvadhirai in Tamil, is a Nakshatra or star constellation, while the word itself carries the meaning ‘the big, sacred wave.’ According to sacred beliefs, Shiva created the universe many trillions of years ago with the help of this amazing wave only.
Arudra Darshan is celebrated on the Arudra star day which also combines with Pournami, the Full Moon, during the Tamil month Marghazhi (December-January), and is observed principally in the Southern states of Tamilnadu and Kerala.
Nataraja, the Dancing Shiva
Lord Shiva remains as the very life and energy of every particle of this vast universe and is said to be engaged in 5 types of major activities, like creation, protection, destruction, dissolution and divine blessings, all done playfully. The universe in its entirety with all its beings and things is said to have emerged out of the sound of his Damru, the mini-drum, which he holds and operates in his hand while performing his dance. This form of Shiva is hailed as Nataraja, the king of dance.
Arudra Darshan celebrates Nataraja, the divine dancer, and is observed with great enthusiasm in Lord Nataraja temple in Chidambaram.
Legend of Arudra Darshan
As per a mythological story, Adisesha, the serpent couch of Vishnu once found the Lord in a deeply contemplative mood in his celestial abode Vaikunta. On enquiring, the Lord told him that he was visualizing the cosmic dance of Shiva in his mental plane and has been merely immersed in that bliss. When Adisesha wanted to have the same experience himself, Vishnu directed him to do penance.
Adisesha is said to have performed severe penance towards Lord Shiva on earth in Chidambaram, and at last, the pleased Shiva blessed him with the vision of his divine dance there itself. This was also witnessed by the sages Vyagrapada and Patanjali, and that occasion was the auspicious day of Arudra Darshan.
It is only at the place where the devotees then had the pleasure of enjoying Shiva’s dance, that Lord Nataraja temple came up subsequently in Chidambaram.
Observance of Arudra Darshan
Big celebrations take place on Arudra Darshan day in Shiva temples, and especially in those dedicated to his dancing form of Nataraja. Shiva is believed to be ‘Abhisheka Priya,’ one who is fond of the sacred bath and so, elaborate hydration ceremonies are performed to the Lord, as a primary form of worship on that day. A special delicacy known as Thiruvadhirai Kali is also offered to the Lord on the occasion and is distributed to the devotees as Prasad.
Apart from visiting temples, witnessing Lord’s sacred bath and offering prayers, people also worship Shiva at home and chant hymns in his praise. Many observe Vrats too, when they abstain from food for the whole day, and devote the occasion in prayers and religious activities. They break the fast only after taking Shiva darshan the next morning.
Benefits of Arudra Darshan Observance
Observing Vrat and offering worship on Arudra Darshan is very auspicious, and it is believed that these can bring devotees many benefits. Legends speak about sages and saints like Vyagrapada, Manickavasagar, Vipular, and serpent Karkotaka observing Arudra Dashan and getting Shiva’s grace and resultant benefits.
Devotees can also observe the occasion with faith, perform Vrat and offer worship to Shiva, and receive his divine blessings.