Legend has it that the emperor Kulasekhara Pandyan was the founder of the ancient city of Madurai. He was
succeeded by Malayadwaja Pandyan. Malayadwaja Pandyan and his consort Kanchanamala
who did not have any children of their own, worshipped with the desire of obtaining
progeny. During the course of their ceremonial prayer, a baby girl appeared in the
sacrificial altar miraculously.
The Royal couple brought up
this child as their own and named her Tataatakai. An odd feature about
the baby was that it had three breasts instead of two, and that a divine prophecy decreed
that the third one would miraculously disappear, at the princesss sight of her
consort to be.
Tataatakai grew up to be a valorous queen;
she was also known as Meenakshi, the one endowed with fish
like eyes. Tataatakai embarked upon a DigVijaya or a tour of victory,
across the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent. In the course of her travels she
came to Mount Kailash where she encountered
Shiva; upon standing in front of Shiva her third breast disappeared and a valorous warrior
princess transformed into a blushing bride.
directed Meenakshi to return to Madurai,
and promised her that he would join her in eight days as her groom. Accordingly Meenakshi
returned to Madurai, and at the appointed time, the divine wedding was
celebrated with pomp and splendour. Maha Vishnu, believed to be the
brother of Meenakshi is said to have given the bride away.
Legend has it that Meenakshi
and Sundareswarar ruled over the city of Madurai for a
long period of time. Sundareswarar also goes by the name Sundara
Pandyan. Ugra Pandyan the son of the divine couple is believed
to be none other than Subramanya.
The legend of Meenakshi Kalyanam
brings together four of the six main streams in popular Hinduism
i.e. the Saiva, Shakta, Vaishnava and Skanda
faiths and this grand culmination of faiths is still celebrated in great splendour
today, in an enactment of Meenakshi Kalyanam each year, when images of Skanda
and Vishnu are brought to the Madurai
Meenakshi temple from Tirupparamkunram
nearby. Also of significance is the grand procession of Kallazhagar
towards Madurai from the Alagar Koyil
temple in the outskirts of the city.