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Tiruvathirai Kali Naivedyam Food Offering At Chidambaram Nataraja Temple On Margazhi Arudra Darisanam Festival

Arudra Darisanam festival observed on Thiruvathirai nakshatra day in Margazhi Masam (December – January) is of great importance at the Chidambaram Nataraja temple in Tamil Nadu. A unique naivedyam or food offering known as Tiruvathirai Kali is offered on the day. In 2023, Arudra Darshanam At Chidambaram Nataraja temple is on January 6, 2023.

Arudra Darisanam festival is associated with the cosmic dance of Shiva. It is observed on Ardra or Thiruvathira or Thiruvathirai nakshatra or birth star as per Hindu astrology.

Thiruvathirai Kali is a rustic sweet dish prepared using broken rice and jaggery. Fried Raisins and cashew nuts are sometimes added to the dish.

Legend has it that a poor man, Sandanar and his wife, did not have anything to offer to Nataraja on the auspicious occasion of Margazhi Arudra Darisanam festival. The poor man told his wife to make kali using some leftover broken rice and jaggery.

It is said that the couple used to eat the food only after offering first to Nataraja and then to a sivanadiyar – a devotee of Shiva seeking alms.

That day an old devotee came to their door and asked for food. The couple happily offered Thiruvathira kali to the old man. The old man was so impressed by the simple rustic dish that he asked for more. The couple gave the entire kali to the Shiva devotee and went without food on the day.

The next day when the Chidambaram Thillai Nataraja temple was opened the priests were amazed to find food scattered in the sanctum and on the hands and mouth of the deity. They informed the Chola King Gundaraditta about this. The king was clueless about the entire incident. But that night the King had a dream in which Nataraja showed the unwavering devotion of Sandanar and his wife and the sweetness of the simple rustic dish they prepared for him.

Ever since, Thiruvathira kali is prepared and offered at Thillai Nataraja temple in Chidambaram on the Arudra Darisanam festival day in Margazhi month.