Madurai is revered as one of the five
Cosmic Dance Halls of Shiva. The Natarajar
shrine in the Sundareswarar temple in Madurai is referred to as the Velli Sabhai
or the Rajata Sabha the Hall of Silver.
The other four halls are the Golden Hall or Kanaka
Sabha at Chidambaram, the hall
of Rubies or Ratna Sabha at Tiruvalankaadu, the Copper hall
or Taamra Sabha at Tirunelveli,
the Chitrasabha or the hall of pictures at Kutralam respectiveley.
Legend has it that Shiva
performed the Aananda Natanam or the Dance of Bliss
here. It is said that Patanjali and Vyagrapadar the
supreme devotees of Nataraja, upon being requested to dine on the
occasion of Meenakshis wedding with Shiva
at Madurai expressed their desire to leave for Chidambaram to perform their daily ritual
of witnessing Shivas dance of bliss there. Shiva
is said to have requested the munis to stay on at Madurai,
and to have danced the Aananda Natanam dance of Bliss at Madurai in the silver
hall or the Rajata Sabha.
Legend also has it that a devout Pandya
King by name Rajasekhara, meditated upon Shiva to
request him to dance with his right foot raised in apparent
concern for the pain that might afflict the Cosmic Dancers
permanently grounded right foot (and raised left foot). Shiva is said to
have responded to the Kings pleas and changed his posture. (Nataraja
is always depicted dancing with his left foot raised; however in the Madurai
temple alone, he is depicted with his right foot raised).