The major beauty of Madurai is its traditional and breath taking celebration “Chithirai Thiruvizha”. It’s celebrated once in every year during the month of April which is the Tamil month of Chithirai. It lasts for the complete month. The first 15 days of the celebration mark the celebrations of the coronation of Goddess Meenakshi and the Marriage of Lord Sundareswara with Goddess Meenakshi, and the next 15 days mark the celebrations of the Journey of Lord Alagar from Kallazhagar temple in Alagar Koyil to Madurai. This is one of the famous festivals in Tamilnadu.
History of Chithirai thiruvizha:
Here is the astonishing story behind Madurai Chithirai festival.
According to the folklore, in the ancient times there were two separate festivals one Saivite (lord shiva )and one Vaishnavite (lord Vishnu) festivals during the Chithirai month. During the reign of the Nayak kings they united both with an interesting story, which actually unites both saivam and vainavam.
As per the legend, Meenakshi was the daughter of Pandya king Malayadhwaja Pandian and queen Kanchana Malai. The royal couple didn’t have a child for a long time. So, Malayadhwaja Pandian performed special poojas and offered his prayers to God. During the pooja, a small girl came out of the fire and sat on the lap of the king. At that time a divine voice from the sky told them that this child was an incarnation of Shakti (Wife of Lord Shiva) and Lord Shiva himself would come to marry her at the right age. Meenakshi was trained in warfare and she was crowned as the Queen of Pandya kingdom after her father. She conquered the whole world with her extraordinary war skill and at last she went to Kailasham (the abode of Lord Shiva) to conquer it. When Meenakshi confronted Lord Shiva in the battlefield, she fell in love with him and realized that she is an avatar of Shakti. Lord Shiva assured Meenakshi that he will come to Madurai to marry her. As promised Lord Shiva along with all the Devas and rishi’s came to Madurai.
All set for the royal wedding and the invitations were sent. The elder brother of goddess Meenakshi, Lord Kalalazhar (lord Vishnu) was to giveaway the bride in the marriage. He started from his abode in the Alagar hills a 20 km journey towards Madurai. But the dense forest of the hills delayed his journey.
Here comes a twist in the plot of the story, meanwhile in madurai, due to delay of Kalalagar, the local brother of goddess Meenakshi. Koodalalagar Perumal gives away Goddess Meenakshi to Lord Sundareswar. Lord Kalalgar is almost 2 days late and when he crosses the Vaigai river he hears the news of his sister’s marriage and is furious that the marriage happened without him. He immediately returns back to Alagar Kovil and while he returns devotees spray water on him to cool him. This is the famous Alagar festival in Vaigai river.
Virtual Chithirai thiruvizha 2020
The Celebrations of Chithirai Thiruvizha and its josh is felt in every part of Madurai. Every year, more than 10000 people gather around to celebrate this cultural festival. Even though people were not able to attend the celebration due to the pandemic this year, the live online steaming of the entire celebration which was held inside the temple created goosebumps in the devotees. We have got the complete collection of events and videos here for you.
List of Events
During this event the chief priest of Meenakshi temple will hoist the holy flag on the Dwajasthambam (Flag post) of the temple. This event declares the start of the festival. The flag will stay on the flag post until the end of the festival. After Kodi yetram God Meenakshi starts to travel around the maasi street for next 7days
Day: 1 Lion Chariot (Simma Vaganam)
Goddess Meenakshi travels in Lion chariot and lord Sokhar in kalphavirushika vehicle around maasi steet, Madurai to give darshan to her people.
Day: 2 (Bootha vaganam)
Goddess Meenakshi travels in bhooda vaganum around maasi steet, Madurai.
Day: 3 (Kamadhenu vaganam)
Goddess Meenakshi travels in kamadhenu vaganum around maasi steet,Madurai.
Princess Meenakshi gives dharshan to villapuram people in paavarkai mandapam.
Day: 5(Kuthirai Vaganam)
Princess Meenakshi returns to Madurai in palaku kudhirai vaganam (chariot horse)
Day: 6 (Rishaba vaganam)
Goddess Meenakshi in silver rishabha vaganam (bull) and lord Sokhar in gold rishabha vaganum give dharshan in maasi street. The streets are decorated and lots of Street plays and dances take place.
Day: 7 (Yazhi vaganam & Rishaba Vaganam)
Goddess Meenakshi and lord Sundereshwara travel in Yazhi vaganam ( transmuted animal with the masculinity of lion,grace of a snake and intelligence of elephant)
and Nandhi vaganam around 4th Maasi street.
Yazhi is a mythical creature seen in many south Indian temples, often sculpted onto the pillars.
It may be portrayed as part lion, part elephant and part horse, and in similar shapes.
Also, it has been sometimes described as a leogryph (part lion and part with some bird-like features).
yalzhies are very old, but they became prominent in south Indian sculpture in the 16th century.
Yazhies were believed to be more powerful than the lion, the tiger or the elephant.
Day 8: Pattabisekam
Pattabisekam is coronation ceremony. Meenakshi is crowned as the queen of Madurai on this day and she will rule the Pandya Kingdom for the next four months and after that her husband Lord Sunderaswarar will be crowned as the king of Madurai for the next eight months.
The ‘Pattabhishekam’ or coronation ceremony of Goddess Meenakshi is performed at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple on the eighth day of the annual Chithirai thiruvizha.
The ceremony begins with the customary pujas followed by an ‘abishekam’ to the Diamond crown.
It is also Called as ‘Rayar’ crown, it is believed to have been donated by Appaji Rayar, a minister in the court of King Krishna Devarayar. Deeparadhana is also performed.
The thakkar (fit person) of the temple receives the ‘Parivattam’ (this respect is accorded to King Thirumalai Nayak from the bhattars of the temple during the coronation ceremony).
After receiving the golden scepter from the temple, priest takes it around the ‘praharam’ of the Swami Sannidhi and places it next to the deity to mark the transfer of power from Lord Sundareswarar to Goddess
Meenakshi who will rule the city till the Tamil month of Aavani.
The ‘Pattabhishekam’ at the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple is performed twice a year during the months of ‘Chithirai’ and ‘Aavani’. During the month of Aavani, the power would be transferred to Lord Sundareswarar in a coronation ceremony.
Day 9: Dikvijayam
After Goddess Meenakshi is crowned as the queen of Pandya kingdom she goes for Tikku Vijayam (visit on all directions) into war with all the countries in the world and conquers the whole world. At last she reaches Kailaayam (The Place of Lord Shiva in Himalayas) to conquer. The Goddess battles kingdoms in eight spheres before meeting her consort. She then fell in love with Lord Shiva and decides to marry him.
Day 10: Meenakshi Tirukalyanam
The traditional wedding of Meenakshi amman and Lord Shiva is celebrated in magnificent style and majesty.
Inside the temple the idols of the Gods and Goddesses are decorated with beautiful silk clothes and floral garlands. 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 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.
Day 11: Ther Thiruvizha (Car Festival)
Chariot festival or Ther Tiruvizha is performed, the day after Meenakshi Thirukkalyanam.
The King and Queen of Pandya Kingdom Lord Sunderaswara and Meenakshi come to see their people in a well decorated chariot. People flood maasi veedhi to see the newly wed deities paraded through the streets in a decorated chariot.
Day 12: Etir Sevai
This event is the mass entry of God Alagar. When Alagar enters Madurai city and the people of the city welcomes him. On this day, Alagar changes his appearance as Kallar (Kallar vedam) when he travels via Kallar Nadu and enters Madurai city and the people of the city rejoice and welcomes him.
After providing darshan along the Madurai Highway to thousands of devotees, Azhagar enters the Prasanna Venkatachalapathy temple at Thallakulam for the next significant event. At this temple, Azhagar is decked up in his new attire, accepts the garland worn by Andal of Srivilliputhur, During the Aadi Pooram festival, marking the birthday of Andal, Lord Azhagar sends his attire to Srivilliputhur as a ‘return gesture.’ Lord Alaghar makes his way in a golden chariot to attend his sister’s wedding.
Day 13: Alagar Vaigai Elenthuarulal
After the holy marriage of Meenakshi, her brother Lord Alagar tries to come to the marriage, as he is not aware that the marriage has already been done. Lord Alagar comes from Alagarkoil to Madurai slowly and by making couple of stops on the way.
It is considered that when reaching the Vaigai river bank, he hears that marriage is over,
So he gets angry and returns to Alagarkoil after giving the gifts to Meenakshi and Sundereswarar and this event happens in a mandapam in the middle of river Vaigai.
Day 14: Poo pallakku
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).
Day 15: Lord Alagar’s Return
Lord Kallazhagar returns to his temple in alaghar kovil on a palanquin beautifully decorated with flowers.
Hope you enjoyed the Virtual Chithirai thiruvizha 2020, Share your feedback in comments, so that we can add more colors to the next celebration.
Looking forward to Chithirai Thiruvizha 2021.
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