Meenakshi Thirukalyanam
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Madurai


Meenakshi Thirukalyanam

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. Meenakshi ThirukalyanamThe annual 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) .
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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.

Meenakshi ThirukalyanamAn 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.                                Meenakshi Thirukalyanam  Meenakshi Thirukalyanam

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:

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’.Meenakshi Thirukalyanam

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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