|28/04/2017||Friday||Chithirai Thiruvizha Kodiyetram (Flag Hoisting)|
|Karpaga Vriksha, Simha Vahanam|
|29/04/2017||Saturday||Bootha, Anna Vahanam|
|30/04/2017||Sunday||Kailasa Parvadham, Kamadhenu Vahanam|
|02/05/2017||Tuesday||Vedar Pari Leelai - Thanga Guthirai Vahanam|
|03/05/2017||Wednesday||Saiva Samaya Sthabitha Varalatru Leelai|
|04/05/2017||Thursday||Nantheekeshwarar, Yaali Vahanam|
|05/05/2017||Friday||Sree Meenakshi Pattabhishekam|
|Velli Simhasana Ula|
|06/05/2017||Saturday||Sree Meenakshi Digvijayam|
|Indra Vimana Ula|
|07/05/2017||Sunday||Sree Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Thirukalyanam (Celestial Wedding) Yaanai Vahanam|
|08/05/2017||Monday||Thiru Ther – Therottam (Ratha Utsavam, Chariot, Car Festival)|
|Velli Virutchaba Sevai|
|Thallakulathil Edhir Sevai|
|10/05/2017||Wednesday||Sri Kallazhagar Vaigai Aatril Ezhuntharural|
|Night Saithyobacharam at Vandiyur|
|11/05/2017||Thursday||Thirumalirunsolai Sri Kal Azhagar|
|Vandiyur Thenur Mandapam|
|Sesha Vahanam in Morning|
|Garuda Vahanam in the afternoon|
|Moksham for Manduga Maharishi|
|Dasavathara Katchi at Ramarayar Mandapam in Night|
|Night Kallazhagar Thirukollam in Pushpa Pallakku at Mysore Mandapam|
|13/05/2017||Saturday||Sri Kal Azhagar Thirumalai Eluntharural|
Madurai is a renowned city of Tamil Nadu located in South side. Madurai has its different specialties and is famous all over the world. As soon as the word Madurai is said, the one thing which comes instantaneously in mind is the Meenakshi. Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple is one of the best temples in the whole of India with mind blowing Dravidian Architecture. In that ancient temple of Madurai Meenakshi temple, Chithirai Thiruvizha is celebrated in a grand manner. Chithirai Thiruvizha and its proceedings are finely described in the forthcoming paragraphs by Dravidian. Also, you can find out the real story behind the celebration of Chithirai Thiruvizha. Read below to find interesting features of Chithirai festival.
Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha – Magnificent Traditional Festival of South India
Chithirai Thiruvizha is one of the best auspicious celebrations in the whole world with unique characteristics. Chithirai Thiruvizha holds its specialty in the way of proceeding of the festival. Chithirai festival is celebrated in Madurai of Tamil Nadu, India. The festival mainly concentrates on Goddess Meenakshi of Madurai and her marriage celebration with Lord Sundareshwarar (Form of Lord Shiva). The day of Chithirai festival celebration falls on the first day of the first month (Chithirai) of Tamil Calendar.
It mostly falls on April 14th and rarely during April 13th. Since it is a traditional festival of Tamil Nadu, Chithirai Thiruvizha is celebrated by doing special Poojas and Darshans in Madurai temple. Madurai Meenakshi Sundareshwarar temple is present in Madurai with its majestic and magnificent sculptures & architectures. Every year, Chithirai Thiruvizha is celebrated with lots of fun and enjoyment.
The festival starts from the 5th day of the Tamil month Chithirai (April 20). The big festival of Chithirai Thiruvizha takes place for about a month and accounts to be the longest festival in the world. Chithirai festival is one of the festivals which is Government approved.
Chithirai Thiruvizha’s main highlight is the re-enacting of the wedding of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar. It is also an attempt to unite the Shaivites (Followers of Lord Vishnu) and the Vaishnavites (Followers of Lord Shiva).
Historical Legend of Chithirai Thiruvizha
Basically, people will narrate the following story for the celebration of Chithirai festival but the actual history differs. The legend is as follows:
Lord Alagar is the elder brother for Goddess Meenakshi and he stays at Vaigai hills. Meenakshi was in love with Lord Shiva that is Lord Sundareshwarar as he was actually called. Their marriage was arranged to be held at Madurai. On hearing sister’s marriage news, Lord Alagar moved fast down to Madurai for attending the marriage. Since he needs to travel through the forests, he made up himself resembling a thief look so as to ensure safety and security. Before him reaching the place, the marriage took place. When Alagar came to know about his sister marriage completion, he got angry and turned his way back. Lord Sundareshwarar and Goddess Meenakshi, both tried convincing him but he refused and moved in his own way.
Chithirai Thiruvizha – Chithirai Festival History
There are two kinds of historical data is present for the single festival of Chithirai festival and it is basically celebrated by Vaishnavites and Shaivites individually.
King Malayathuvaja Pandyan (King of Pandyas) and Queen Kanchanamalai were married to each other. They lived happily for years together but the only sad thing is that they were not blessed with a baby. So for that case, they prayed to god by doing Yaagams and different kinds of Poojas with the enormous amount of offerings. They also did donations to all the needy people in order to get god’s blessing. During that Pooja itself , a girl emerged from fire, walked and stood before them. It was Goddess Meenakshi who is a form of Goddess Parvathi.
They were so happy for god’s offering. Meenakshi was given all the battle training and education of different kinds. She began to defeat everyone in the battle and was winning all the areas. She conquered almost all the parts of the world with her infinite talents. Last but not the least, she went to Kailaayam hills for conquering that. There she witnessed Lord Shiva and fell in love with him. Lord Shiva promised to marry her and as promised, he came to Madurai. Their marriage was arranged and after marriage Lord Shiva began to rule the dynasty of Pandyas. This event is celebrated in the Chithirai festival with idols of Lord Shiva and Goddess Meenakshi.
Mandoorka rishi was bathing in the Alagar Hills Aagaayaganga holy water. Durvasar Maharishi, a powerful god entered the spot and thought that Mandoorka Rishi is knowingly insulting him. But the truth was isn’t that. Unfortunately, Durvasar cursed him to become a frog. He pleaded to change him back to normal human. Durvasar accepted his apology and said him to go to River Vaigai for getting blessings from Lord Alagar. By doing so, he said that Mandoorka can get his wish fulfilled. Mandoorka travels to the river Vaigai where he showed his full devotion to Lord Alagar. Then Alagar came and Mandoorka was turned upright. At last, he wished Lord Alagar (Form of Lord Vishnu) to bless him in all his 10 avatars and was satisfied by the god.
Only after the rule of King Thirumalai Nayakar began, both the festivals were merged as one single occasion to unite the peoples of two groups (Saivites and Vaishnavites). Since then Chithirai festival is celebrated as one grand and long annual event during the whole Tamil month of Chithirai. Hence, it is also named as Chithirai Thiruvizha.
Proceedings of Chithirai Thiruvizha
The celebrations of Chithirai festival or Thiruvizha begin with a flag hoisting ceremony followed by chariot festival which carries the two idols of the couple. It is then taken around in a procession with sounds of large bands. As the procession passes through the streets, devotees put forward offerings of flowers, coconuts, camphor before the god. This is an overview of the event. The event will have different vehicles (Vahanam) on which the idol of god will be taken for processions.
The following are the list of events of Chithirai Thiruvizha.
As a startup, Priest of Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple will hoist the flag in the Kodimaram (flag post) of the ancient temple after five days of the Chithirai month. This marks to be the beginning of the long celebration of Chithirai festival. The flag will continue to fly high up till the event gets over. After which it is removed symbolizing the end.
Processions of God on Vahanaas (VEHICLES)
The next day of Kodi Yetram is Anna vahanam. On this day, the idol of God will be seated on the Hamsa bird (Goose or swan) and is taken around the temple through the streets for the procession. Special rituals will be conducted for the god during this Chithirai Thiruvizha.
Kamadhenu vahanam or Kailasa Parvadham
The successive day of Anna vahanam is Kamadhenu vahanam function will take place. Kamadhenu means cow which gives its milk for humans. The idol of god will be on Kamadhenu (Vehicle) and will be taken round for procession down the streets of the temple.
Thanga Pallakku (Golden Sedan)
Pallakku is the sedan which will be used to carry royal personalities. When the sedan is made of gold it is called Thanga Pallakku. The goddess will be carried in the Pallakku which will be lifted by the devotees to go around the Meenakshi temple. This is one of the notable sights at Chithirai Thiruvizha.
Vedar Pari Leelai or Thanga Kuthirai Vahanam (Golden horse vehicle)
Kuthirai and Pari both mean the same called Horse. Idol of God will be taken around in a golden horse (Vehicle) around as a regulation which is followed year after year. The picturesque will be very magnificent to look at during the Chithirai festival.
Vrishaba Vahanam (Ox vehicle)
Vrishaba means ox. The lord idol will be taken on the ox vehicle for processions. The whole celebration will look marvelous to watch and enjoy. It is one of the beautiful sites of Chithirai festival.
Yaali means a creature having lion’s head and elephant’s trunk. Yaali will be found in many pillars of South Indian cultural monuments’ sculptures. God idol on the top of Yaali Idol is fascinating and is a real eye treat for the festival devotees.
Events After Processions
Pattabishekam is coronation ceremony. This is to certify and show off the pride of Meenakshi by crowning her on this day and it is believed that she will rule the Pandya dynasty for the first four months. After that, her husband Lord Sunderaswarar will be crowned as the king of Madurai for the next eight months. In order to declare and symbolize the post-coronation ceremony of Chithirai festival take place and hence called as Pattabishekam.
Meenakshi Amman is crowned as the queen of Pandya kingdom by her father. She had the most prominent war skills which made her double powerful. Then she went into war with all the countries in the world and conquered the whole world. At last, she went to Kailaayam or Kailaaya Malai (The Place of Lord Shiva in the Himalayas) to conquer that. On the immediate sight of Lord Shiva in the battlefield, she fell in love with him. This will be portrayed beautifully in Madurai during the Chithirai Thiruvizha.
Meenakshi Sundarar Thirukalyanam
Meenakshi Thirukalyanam (Marriage of Lord Sundareshwarar and Goddess Meenakshi)
Meenakshi Thirukalyanam is the wedding celebration of Meenakshi Amman and Lord Shiva in Madurai. Lord Shiva comes to Madurai to marry Meenakshi as he promised. A very grand re-enactment of marriage will be taking place with loud bands of music. It will be very delightful to watch that historical occasion at Chithirai festival.
Thiru TherottaThiruvizha (Chariot festival)
The day after Meenakshi Thirukalyanam is Therotta Thiruvizha (Chariot Festival) which is a big event at Chithirai Thiruvizha. Lord Sunderaswarar and Meenakshi will come to see their devotees in a very grandly decorated chariot. The scenic beauty of the King and Queen of Pandya dynasty will be splendid watching. Thousands of peoples will gather at the streets of Madurai to pull the chariot and to witness the celebration.
Ethir Sevai is a festival of Alagar celebrated during this Chithirai Thiruvizha. In Chithirai, Lord Kallalagar starts from Alagarkoil in the form of Kallar and reaches Madurai on Pournami (Full Moon day). This event is organized for welcoming Lord Alagar to Madurai by the residents of the city. Thousands of people will be crowded all down the streets to engage themselves in the ceremony at Chithirai Thiruvizha.
Alagar Vaigai Eluntharulal
This marks the end of the grand annual celebration of Chithirai Thiruvizha. Only after the sacred marriage of Madurai Meenakshi Amman with Lord Shiva, her brother Alagar arrives at Madurai. Lord Alagar comes from Alagarkoil to Madurai slowly crossing the risky scenarios through the forests.
When reaching the Vaigai river bank, he hears that the marriage is over and so he gets infuriated. As a consequence, he returns to Alagarkoil delivering all the gifts which he bought to Meenakshi and Sundereswarar. This historical event is re-enacted in a mandapam in the middle of river Vaigai at Chithirai festival.
OTHER MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS OF Chithirai Festival
Dasavatharam (Ten Incarnations of Lord Vishnu)
‘Das’ means ten in number in Hindi. ‘Avatharam’ means incarnation. Dasavatharam, on the whole, means the ten forms of Lord Vishnu. The idol of god will be shown in all the ten incarnations in an outstanding manner at Chithirai festival. Many different poojas and rituals will be done in devotion to god. This will be celebrated at Ramarayar Mandapam in the Northern part of river Vaigai.
After the Dasavatharam festival, in Meenakshi Amman temple, Lord Alagar will be brought in a palanquin decorated with sweet smelling flowers. It is a tradition and custom followed by the devotees in order to show their reverence in the welcoming lord.
Chithirai festival or Chithirai Thiruvizha happens once in a year. It is unfair to miss this historical occasion during Chithirai month of Tamil calendar. Chithirai Thiruvizha is really a very awesome festival and there will be lots of added enjoyments. Many shops and amusement rides will be available for us to make the most out of the festival. Do visit Madurai to ravish with the sights during Chithirai festival.
Joyous days of Chithirai Thiruvizha festival and its significance
Chithirai thiruvizha, being a Hindu community celebration is celebrated with a large crowd at Madurai. The whole festival happens for about the whole month of Chithirai in order to bring out the real picture of Chithirai Thiruvizha. Chithirai falls mid between the English months of April and May. It is, of course, a summer holiday time and so you can freely visit Madurai and watch out the happenings happily. Since it is a festive time, many buses will also be plying and so no worries of traveling. Chithirai Thiruvizha is really a big festival and it is a real sacredness to view the scenes with naked eyes. Make a trip to Madurai to enjoy the summer vacation at Madurai with the amazing festival. Happy Celebration..!