In the month of April and may, each year the great Chitra festival is celebrated on Pournami (full moon day). Amongst the many festivals that are conducted here, the Chitra festival is the most important one. It is known to be the world's longest festival that keeps going for a time of one month (30 days). Of this, the initial 15 days are committed to Goddess Meenakshi (an incarnation of Goddess Parvati) and the rest of the 15 days is praised for Alagar, who is known to be a type of Mahavishnu. During this festival, The celebration of Meenakshi Thirukalyanam commends the celestial wedding of Meenakshi Amman with Lord Shiva.
Alagar Ethir Sevai
Alagar is the senior sibling of Meenakshi and he went by Madurai to go to the wedding function of Lord Shiva and Meenakshi. Lord Kallalagar starts from Alagar kovil in the form of Kallar and reaches Madurai on Pournami (Full Moon day). Here he steps into river Vaigai in his Horse Vaganam. Lakhs of devotees flock to the river Vaigai to see this event. "Ethir Sevai" festival is celebrated on the day before Alagar steps into the river Vaigai. It is a tradition for the people of Madurai to welcome Alagar.
Ceremonies amid 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 is 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 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’.
Chithtirai Festival ends-Kallalagar returns to Alagar malai
As Alagar returns from Vandiyur Dhasavatharam festival is celebrated throughout the night at Ramarayar Mandapam in the Northern part of river Vaigai. After this event Alagar is taken to Mysore Veera Mandapam on decorated Anantharayar Palanquin. The next morning Alagar in the form of Kallar returns to Alagar kovil in 'Poo Pallakku'(Palanquin decorated with flowers)
This festival attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors from South India as well as from other parts of the country. A legend is popular how Alagar, the brother of Meenakshi was unable to attend her marriage in time and how he turned back from the banks of the Vaigai river. It is surprising what a strong visible influence this picturesque belief has been left in the environs of Madurai.
Critical Timings On Meenakshi Thirukalyanam
|Sunrise||May 01, 2023 5:57 AM|
|Sunset||May 01, 2023 6:50 PM|
|Uthiradam Nakshatram Begins||May 01, 2023 5:51 PM|
|Uthiradam Nakshatram Ends||May 02, 2023 7:41 PM|