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Madurai


Chithirai Festival

Chithirai FestivalDuring Chitirai Festival, the entire area in and around Madurai is transformed into one of a great Celebratory Space. ‘Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha’ a world famous festival, is a well-known festival which brings together the Shaivites (worshippers of Lord Shiva) and the Vaishnavites (worshippers of Lord Vishnu). These festivals attract crowds from far and wide and by far represent some of the grandest celebrations of the Indian subcontinent. Chithirai falls mid between the English months of April and May. As it is summer holiday time in India, you can freely visit Madurai and watch out the extravaganza . Since it is a festive time, many buses will be operated to madurai from various part of Tamilnadu

Several festivals are held throughout the year in Madurai. The 64 Leelas of the Lord are commemorated round the year during different festivals. The annual Bhramhotsavam celebrated in the month of Chitirai (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 Chitirai festival also coincides with the annual festival at Tirumaaliruncholai. The Divine marriage involves a procession of deities from Tirupparamkunram as well. The Chitirai festival begins on the 5th day of the bright half of the month of Chitirai . The key events fall on the 8th, 9th and the 10th days of the festival. The eighth day of the Chitirai 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.
 

On the occasion, a decorated chariot carrying the two idols of the couple is taken around the town to the tumultuous notes of Nadaswaram and beats of drums. A spiritual ambience descends on Madurai. As the procession passes through the streets and in the vicinity of the 'devasthanam', offerings of coconuts, flowers, camphor and agarbathis are made by devotees. A spirit of devotion marked by pomp and gaiety pervades right through the day. The festival draws a mammoth crowd. A trade exhibition and fairs organized here lend festivity to the occasion.

During this time, Kallazhagar from Azhagar Koil (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. The celebration is filled with pomp and festivity. The Kallalagar entering the river Vaigai is indeed a spectacular spiritual sight.

Historically, the Chitirai festival used to be celebrated in Maasi, hence the festival processions use the Maasi streets. The festival apparently was moved to the month of Chitirai in the period of the Naik kings so that the timing would synchronize with that of Azhagar Koyil. Since then this festival is celebrated as one grand event during the Tamil month of ‘chithirai’ and also named as ‘Chithirai Thiruvizha’ (Chithirai Festival).

EVENTS OF FESTIVALS
Goddess Meenakshi Festival


The Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi Amman is celebrated in a grand manner containing many events for twelve days. During these days ‘Goddess Meenakshi Amman’ and ‘Lord Sundareswarar’ are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple twice a day in several kinds of vahanams (Cars).

1st Day
       Chithirai FestivalChithirai Festival

The chief priest of the Meenakshi Amman Temple hoist the holy flag on the kodimaram (Flag Post). This Event is also called Chithirai Thiruvizha Kodiyetram. This event declares that the festival starts. Normally Locals will not get out of the City after this kodiyetram in respect of this festival.  On this day Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Karpaga Virutcham Vahanam and in the Simha Vahanam.
Chithirai Festival
     Chithirai Festival
2nd day

Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in Madurai Chithirai ThiruvizhaGoddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. On the second day of this chithirai festival Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession throu the streets around the temple in the Bootha Vahanam and in the Anna Vahanam.
Chithirai FestivalChithirai Festival

3rd Day

Goddess Meenakshi Amman taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha.Goddess Meenakshi Amman taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. On the third day of this chithirai festival Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Kailaasha Parvatham Vahanam and in the Kamadhenu Vahanam
.
         Chithirai FestivalChithirai Festival
4th Day

Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi Amman.Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi Amman. On the fourth day of this chithirai festival Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Thanga Pallakku Vahanam (Golden palanquin).
        Chithirai FestivalChithirai Festival
5th Day

Goddess Meenakshi seated in a Thanga Kuthirai(Golden Horse) Vahanam in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha.Goddess Meenakshi seated in a Thanga Kuthirai(Golden Horse) Vahanam in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. On the fifth day of this chithirai festival there is an event called by Vedar Pari Leelai has been celebrated and also Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Thanga Kuthirai Vahanam (Golden Horse).
                Chithirai Festival
6th Day

Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in various Vahanams. Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in various Vahanams. On the sixth day of this chithirai festival there is an event called by Shaiva Samaiya Sthabitha Varalaatru Leelai has been celebrated and also Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Rishabha Vahanam.
                  Chithirai Festival
7th Day

Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in Madurai Chithirai ThiruvizhaGoddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. On the seventh day of this chithirai festival, Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Lord Nantheeswarar Vahanam and in the Yaali Vahanam.
     Chithirai FestivalChithirai Festival
8Th Day

Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi Amman. Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi Amman. On the eighth day of this chithirai festival there is an event called by Meenakshi Amman Pattabishegam, a coronation ceremony has been celebrated. Goddess Meenakshi is crowned as the queen of Madurai on this day and She will rule for the next four months and after that Her consort Lord Sundareswarar will be crowned as the King of Madurai for the next eight months. On this day Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Velli Simmaasanam Vahanam (Silver Throne).
       Chithirai FestivalChithirai Festival
9Th Day

Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi Amman. Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi Amman. On the ninth day of this chithirai festival there is an event called by Meenakshi Amman Thikkuvijayam has been celebrated. This means that When Goddess Meenakshi Amman is crowned as the queen of Madurai, She went into war with all the countries in the world and conquered the whole world and finally She went to Kailaayam (The Place of Lord Shiva in Himalayas) to conquer that. But, on seeing Lord Shiva on the battlefield She fell in love with Him and married Him. On this day Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Indhira Vimanam Vahanam.
        Chithirai FestivalChithirai Festival
10th Day

Goddess Meenakshi Thirukkalyanaman important event in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. Goddess Meenakshi Thirukkalyanam, an important event in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. On the tenth day of this chithirai festival there is an important event called by Meenakshi Sundareswarar Thirukalyanam which is the Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar celebrated by the devotees in a great grand manner. On this day Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Yaanai Vahanam and in the Pushpa Pallakku (A Palanquin decorated with flowers).
       Chithirai FestivalChithirai Festival
11th Day

The famous Therottam in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha The famous Therottam in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. On the eleventh day of this chithirai festival there is an another important event called by Thiru Therottam (or) Ther Thiruvizha (Chariot Procession or Car Festival) celebrated in a grand manner.On this day Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar will come to see their citizens in a well decorated Chariot which is a huge wooden structure. Thousands of devotees will gather at the streets around the Meenakshi Amman Temple to pull the Chariot and to participate in the celebration.On this day evening Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are also taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Sapthavarna Chapram Vahanam.
                 Chithirai FestivalChithirai Festival

12th Day

Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi Amman.Celestial Wedding Ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi Amman.On the twelfth day of this chithirai festival there is an event called by Theertham has been celebrated and also Goddess Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sundareswarar are taken out in procession thru the streets around the temple in the Velli Virutchabam Vahanam.

THEN HERE COMES

Lord Kallazhagar Festival

A legend is that ‘Lord Kallazhagar’ (Lord Vishnu) came ride on a golden horse to Madurai from Azhagar Kovil to participate in the Celestial Wedding Ceremony of His Sister ‘Goddess Meenakshi’ (Goddess Shakthi) and ‘Lord Sundareswarar’ (Lord Shiva).

Chithirai FestivalBut He arrives Madurai late and while gets into the river ‘Vaigai’, He was instructed about the wedding ceremony that has been over. He gets angry and decides to proceed back to home. However, He gives the gifts to the representatives of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar, that has been already brought from Azhagar Kovil by Him.This event happens in a mandapam (A Hall with Pillars) in the middle of the river ‘Vaigai’.

‘Lord Kallazhagar Event’ is an important part of ‘Chithirai Festival’ celebrated by His devotees in a great grand manner in a time span of four days in the Madurai City.

1st Day

Lord Kallazhagar in the 'Ethir Sevai' event at Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. Lord Kallazhagar in the ‘Ethir Sevai’ event at Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha.On the first day, the event is called by ‘Ethir Sevai’. On this event Lord Kallazhagar appears in the ‘Kallazhagar Thirukkolam’ and enters into the Madurai city. On this day He mounted on a regal palanquin amidst the chanting of prayers by the devotees who had assembled there.The devotees of Madurai welcomes Him in a great grand manner.
                             Chithirai Festival
2nd Day

'Lord Kallazhagar Vaigai Aatril Ezhuntharulal' is an important event in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. ‘Lord Kallazhagar Vaigai Aatril Ezhuntharulal’ is an important event in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. On this day ‘Lord Kallazhagar Vaigai Aatril Ezhuntharulal’ (Lord Kallazhagar entering into the Vaigai River) is an important event of Chithirai Festival in Madurai.’Lord Kallazhagar’ mounted on the ‘Thanga Kuthirai Vahanam’ (Golden Horse) was taken out in a procession from the Prasanna Venkatachalapathy Perumal Temple at Tallakulam in the Madurai City. More than one Lakh of devotees participate in this event near Vaigai River. Another important aspect is about the ‘Holy Garland’ which adorns Him while entering the River Vaigai Chithirai Festivalon this day. This holy garland decorated Him is brought exclusively from the Goddess Andal Temple at Srivilliputtur. Traditionally this special garland being adorned at first to Goddess Andal (Consort Goddess of Lord Vishnu) before being taken to Madurai.Then He proceeds to Veeraraghava Perumal Temple at Vandiyur. On His way to Vandiyur, He first reached the Ramarayar Mandapam (A Hall with Pillars) where ‘Spraying of water’ (Theertha Vari) is performed, which is the highlight event of Lord Kallazhagar Festival. Spraying of water is to cool Him down because it is a puranic belief that He was angry because His sister Goddess Meenakshi’s wedding was performed with proper ceremonies before he could reach the Thirukalyanam Venue (Celestial Wedding Ceremony). On His way to Vandiyur there are hundreds of ‘Mandahapadis’(Awning Sheds) which had been erected by the devotees along with the permission of Azhagar Kovil Devastanam. Lord Kallazhagar proceeded to stop at all of these Mandahapadis and also Lakhs of devotees worshipped Him throughout His way on either side of the streets.

3rd Day

Chithirai FestivalLord Kallazhagar leaving the Thenur Mandapam on the Vaigai River in Madurai on Garuda Vahanam after cure the curse of Mandooka Rishi. Lord Kallazhagar leaving the Thenur Mandapam on the Vaigai River in Madurai on Garuda Vahanam after cure the curse of Mandooka Rishi. After an overnight stay at Veeraraghava Perumal Temple at Vandiyur, Lord Kallazhagar returns on the same route.On His way of return,He reached the ship-shaped Thenur Mandapam (A Hall with Pillars) on the Vaigai River by mid-day to cure the curse of Mandooka Rishi. On His way of return from this place,He again reached the ‘Ramarayar Mandapam’ during the night.As per Mandooka Rishi’s wish,here Lord Kallazhagar appears in ‘Dasavataram’ (10 avatars of Lord Vishnu) postures to bless the devotees.

4th Day

Chithirai FestivalAnother event named as Poo Pallakku (or) pushpa pallakku for Lord Kallazhagar in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. Another event named as Poo Pallakku (or) pushpa pallakku for Lord Kallazhagar in Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha. On this day morning Lord kallazhagar appears in the Mohana Avatharam and also in the late night He appears back in the Kallazhagar Thirukkolam and be seated in the Poo Pallakku (or) Pushpa Pallakku (A Palanquin decorated with flowers). Thousands of devotees worship Lord Kallazhagar in this event.

After all the Events Lord kallalagar returns to Alagar Kovil.
 

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