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Temples of Tamilnadu

Madurai - Annual Festival


Several festivals are held throughout the year in Madurai. These festivals attract crowds from far and wide and by far represent some of the grandest celebrations of the Indian subcontinent.

The annual Bhramhotsavam celebrated in the month of Chittirai (Aries) is the most important one and it ties in the legends related to the Madurai temple such as the coronation of Meenakshi, the Divine marriage etc. The Chittirai festival also coincides with the annual festival at Tirumaaliruncholai. The Divine marriage involves a procession of deities from Tirupparamkunram as well, and hence during this time the entire area in and around Madurai is transformed into one of a great celebratory space.

The Chittirai festival begins on the 5th day of the bright half of the month of Chittirai. The key events fall on the 8th, 9th and the 10th days of the festival. The eighth day of the Chittirai festival witnesses the coronation of Meenakshi and procession on silver thrones, while the 9th day is the digvijaya festival. The 10th day (Chitra Purnima) marks the wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar.

Legend has it that Vishnu gave his sister away in marriage to Shiva. In commemoration of this legend, an image of Vishnu is brought in procession from Tirupparamkunram to Madurai. Since Subramanya is the presiding deity of the Tirupparamkunram temple, an image of Subramanya leads the procession. Following the wedding, images of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are taken out in a grand procession on a palanquin and a silver elephant respectively. (It is to be noted that the Tirukkalyaanam festival is celebrated on Chitra Pournami in all Shiva temples celebrating the annual Bhramhotsavam in the month of Chittirai).

During this time, Kallazhagar from Azhagar Koyil (Tirumaaliruncholai) makes a visit to Vandiyur, near the Vaigai river, on the eastern outskirts of Madurai. It is believed that Kallazhagar realizes that he is too late for his sisters wedding, so refuses to cross the river and returns disappointed to Azhagar koyil.

Historically, the chittirai festival used to be celebrated in Maasi, hence the festival processions use the Maasi streets. The festival apparently was moved to the month of Chittirai in the period of the Naik kings so that the timing would synchronize with that of Azhagar Koyil.

The Ther (chariot) festival is celebrated on the 11th day of the annual festival.