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iXiGOers Apr 09 2013

What can you tell me about the festival of Chithirai Thiruvizha in Madurai?

Shikha Gautam Apr 09 2013
1 person found this answer useful Useful ?Yes

Head to the lotus-shaped temple town of Madurai in the month of April, to witness a city come alive. Chithirai Thiruvizha is an auspicious festival celebrated in Madurai in honour of the marriage of its central deity, Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Shiva. Held in the “chithrai” month of the Tamil Calendar, these festivities are a much awaited occasion in the city, a time when devotees from all over flock to the Meenakshi Amman Temple and pay their obeisance.

Slated to be celebrated between 13th and 25th of April, 2013, this festival has a fascinating history associated with it.

The Story

The town of Madurai was believed to be ruled by the Pandyan king, Malayathuvaja. He and his wife Kanchanamalai were childless and performed long rituals so that the Gods may give them a boon. As a reward for their devotion, a little girl came out from the fire of the holy yajna, who was believed to be an avatar of Goddess Shakti and was named Meenakshi.

She grew up to be a great warrior, conquering lands across the earth for her kingdom. When she reached Kailayam, the palace of Lord Shiva, she faltered and was overtaken with coyness, a realisation that she had met her consort. Lord Shiva, in his avatar as Lord Sundareshwar, then promised to come to Madurai and marry her. The marriage ceremony was concurred with great pomp and fervour, including the great procession that Meenakshi’s brother, Lord Alaghar (an avatar of Lord Vishnu) undertook from his temple on Alaghar hill to where Meenakshi Temple is now.

The Festival:

The 2-week long festivities are held every year in the months of April or May (depending on the Hindu calendar), where the entire town comes together to honour their most important deity. The festival is basically a re-enactment of the marriage of Sundareshwar and Meenakshi, where a grand procession is held of their idols from the temple in intricately carved, gold chariots. Chithirai Thiruvizha begins with a flag hoisting ceremony on the first day, though the major events of this festival occur more towards the end. Beginning with the coronation of Goddess Meenakshi on the 9th day, her procession on the 10th day and the wedding of the gods on the 11th day, the festival culminates with the grand chariot procession and the final procession of Lord Alaghar from and back to his abode at Alaghar Hill.

The 10th and 11th days have central significance of course. On the 10th day (23rd April this year), the gods are taken out into the streets in their regal wedding attires, before being taken back inside to the temple into the beautifully decorated wedding hall. The procession on the 11th day (24th April) is also a much awaited event of the festival, where devotees come out and follow the chariots to get a glimpse of the newlyweds Sundareshwar and Meenakshi, dancing to the rhythms of drumbeats and nadaswarams.

A joyous celebration in the holy town of Madurai, make sure you’re in the heart of these festivities while you’re in town. 

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