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Madurai's Chithirai Festival: Know It’s History, Significance and Why it is Celebrated

File photo of he Chithirai Thiruvizha associated with Meenakshi Sundareswara temple. PTI Photo

File photo of he Chithirai Thiruvizha associated with Meenakshi Sundareswara temple. PTI Photo

The flag hoisting ceremony will begin on April 5 at the Meenakshi Amman Temple owing to Covid-19 relaxations

‘Thoonganagaram’ Madurai, called as the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu, has been much talked about for a long time in literature as the city is a remnant of the Meenakshi maternal community. History serves us many facts and evidences for the establishment of the Madurai Chithirai Festival.

The extension of the complete study of these, started by cultural researcher D Paramasivan 40 years ago, continues unabated to this day and it is imperative of the times to turn it around now.

Therefore, Madurai has always had a unique pride in the values of culture as the rituals and festivals that uphold the unique rights of women have remained intact, says cultural researcher D Paramasivan.

The annual Chithirai Festival in Madurai has been sustaining its reputation as the ‘Festival of Festivals’. More than 5 lakh people from all over Tamil Nadu and especially from the southern districts visit the temple city for the festival. The festival cannot be just reduced to a mere Saiva-Vaishnava festival.

Starting with the flag hoisting of the Meenakshi Temple and lasting for a total of 16 days till the return of the ‘Azhagar’ to the mountains, the festival undergoes a great economic cycle and social interaction.

Prior to the festival, special costumes and equipment for ‘Azhagar’ are purchased at the new hall, a bag made of sheepskin is used to spray accordion water near the chariot and people, irrespective of caste, come together to see the beauty of the colourful festival.

However, in the last two years owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, no such events were taking place. This time, the flag hoisting ceremony will begin on April 5 at the Meenakshi Amman Temple after recovery from Covid-19, followed by the Meenakshi Pattabhishekam on April 12, the Meenakshi-Sokkanathar wedding on April 14 and the Chariot festival (Therottam) on April 15.

In this list, there is a legendary background associated with the Meenakshi wedding and the event of Kallazhagar coming to Madurai.

Why Chithirai Festival is celebrated

The Meenakshi Amman Temple Festival ends in Madurai, south of the Vaigai River. The Azhagar Festival is held on the northern bank of Vaigai River.

The festival is attended by a large number of city dwellers and a large number of folk people. The latter is a festival of folklore and the people who take part in it are full of devotion. They appear to live a life of simplicity. These are the kind of people who bring the Chithirai festival to life.

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first published:April 04, 2022, 23:54 IST