English meaning of the festival
Aruithra Dharisanam is dedicated to the Nataraja form of Lord Shiva. Aruithra or Thiruvathirai refers to the nakshatra or star that prevails. Thiruvathirai means the ‘big sacred wave’ that resulted in the formation of the universe/creation, and devotees celebrate the cosmic dance of Lord Shiva, i.e., the Tandava that symbolises creation, protection, destruction, embodiment, and release.
How the date is decided annually
It is a day dedicated to Lord Shiva’s Nataraja form and is observed during Marghazhi (Margashirsha) month. The day concurs with the Pournami Tithi (Full Moon day).
Significance of the festival to Hinduism
Aruithra Dharisanam is one of the most auspicious days associated with Lord Shiva. It is dedicated to the cosmic dance of Shiva. The cosmic dance of Lord Shiva represents five activities – Creation, Protection, Destruction, Embodiment, and Release. In essence, it represents the continuous cycle of creation and destruction. This cosmic dance takes place in every particle and is the source of all energy. Aruithra Dharisanam celebrates this ecstatic dance of Lord Shiva.
How to observe/practice
Devotees keep a day-long fast and offer their prayers to Lord Shiva. They prepare rice, dal, and sambar. They also decorate the pooja room with flowers and light the lamp. The prepared dishes are offered to Lord Shiva together with coconut, betel leaf and nut, and turmeric pieces.