Meenakshi Thiru Kalyanam is celebrated
in the grandest manner at the magnificent Meenakshi Temple. During
the 12-day festival that is widely celebrated across the state of
Tamil Nadu, Meenakshi Kalyanam is truly one of the most popular
festivals of Madurai that attracts visitors in large numbers, not
only across India but from other counties as well.
festival is celebrated every year at the world-famous Meenakshi
Temple in Madurai in observance of the divine wedding of Goddess
Meenakshi with Lord Sundareshwar (Shiva). Meenakshi Kalyanam
Festival in Madurai is an annual festival that falls in the months
of April –May (Hindu month of Chithirai) .
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 princess’s sight of her consort to
be.T ataatakai 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.
Shiva 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.
Rituals during Meenakshi Thirukalyanam:
On the day of Meenakshi Thirukalyanam, devotees get up at sunrise
and reach the Meenakshi Madurai temple. After taking a holy dip in
the Golden Lotus pond, they wear clean clothes. Goddess Meenakshi is
first worshipped by the traditional methods, following which prayers
are offered to ‘Viboothi Vinayakar’. On this day devotees sing
devotional songs and bhajans. It is also considered auspicious to
wear the holy ash, known as ‘Uthiraksham’ while entering the temple
premises. Devotees also carry fruits, coconuts and incense sticks to
offer to their lords. Inside the temple the idols of the Gods and
Goddesses are decorated with beautiful silk clothes and floral
garlands. Not only is this, on the day of Meenakshi Thirukalyanam
the entire temple decorated as a bride. There are nearly 50 priests
in the Meenakshi Madurai temple who perform the puja rituals and
special prayers. The main priests in the temple perform the
ritualistic wedding ceremonies. At the completion of the event,
magnificent idols of Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Meenakshi Amman
are taken out in huge processions on the streets in the ‘Pushpa
Pallakku’ and ‘Yaanai Vahanam’.
While Meenakshi thirukalyanam is
happening on the Mandapam, at the same time Local Madurai People
will find this is the auspicious time to change thali rope or
mangalsutra of Married women. Temple's odhuvars (priests)
chanted Thevaram while famous artists plays Carnatic music
concert. Rich Marriage Meals is served in the Temple, with different
types of Vegetables, fruits papats. Payasam, Rice and juices will
been served for the devotees and peoples all around Madurai in
different places. Local people will be highly involved in preparing
and donating the needs required for meals.
A large number of umbrellas and fans are beautifully decorated in
authentic royal style during the celebrations of Meenakshi Kalyanam
in Madurai. Traditional instrumental music provides a perfect
backdrop to the enactment of mythological scenes by local artists.
Car processions of large deities of Lord Shiva, Goddess Shakti and
Goddess Meenakshi are a prominent feature of Meenakshi Kalyanam
festival in Madurai.
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