Chithirai Thiruvizha

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Car festival  as part of chitirai festival
Devotees gathered at East Masi street to watch the car setting off, marking the beginning of the car festival.

Chithirai Festival[1][2] (சித்திரை திருவிழா - Tamil) is an annual celebration celebrated in the city of Madurai during the month of April. As the name suggests, it is celebrated during the tamil month of Chitirai. It is one of the longest celebrated festivals in the world and lasts for one month. The first 15 days of the festival mark the celebrations of the coronation of Goddess Meenakshi[3] and the Marriage of Lord Sundareswara and Goddess Meenakshi, and the next 15 days mark the celebrations of the Journey of Lord Azhagar (a form of lord Mahavishnu) from Azhagar Temple in Azhagar Malai to Madurai. This festival attracts around 1 million people from different places of Tamilnadu and also foreign tourists.

History[edit]

Historically, they were separate events. They were Meenakshi festival and Alagar festival celebrated on different months as two separate celebrations.

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 Sakthi (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 Sakthi.

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. Lord Shiva married Meenakshi and ruled the Pandya kingdom under the name Sundara Pandyan.

This is a Separate celebration that was celebrated by Saivaites (Followers of Lord Shiva). The below is the story of Alagar festival that is celebrated by Vaishnavites (Followers of Lord Vishnu).

Once, Mandooka rishi (a saint) was taking bath in the holy waters of Aagaayagangai in Alagar hills. At that time, the most powerful and short tempered Durvasar Maharishi came by the way. Mandooka rishi hadn't noticed his arrival, But Durvasa took this as an insult. So he cursed Mandooka to become a frog and live in the river Vaigai. Mandooka was worried by the curse and pleaded for mercy. Durvasa told him to go to Vaigai and pray to Lord Alagar to get out of his curse and get back his human body. As advised by Durvasa he went to river Vaigai and lived in the river as a frog and pray lord Alagar.

Alagar was pleased by the prayers of Mandooka rishi and he himself went to river Vaigai to lift the curse off Mandooka rishi. And, as per Mandooka's wish he showed him all his ten avatars and blessed him.

During the rule of King Thirumalai Nayakar, both the festivals were merged as one single event to unite the people of the two groups (Saivism and Vaishnavite). Since then they are celebrated as one grand event during the Tamil month of Chithirai and this gives the celebration its famous name Chithirai Festival.

Legend[edit]

People in and around Madurai tell this story as the history of Chithirai Thiruvizha.

The wedding of Meenakshi (Goddess Parvathi) with Lord Shiva was to happen in Madurai. Alagar (Lord Vishnu), the elder brother of Meenakshi, was invited. He started on a 20 km journey from his abode at Alagar Hills towards Madurai. Alagar decided to travel disguised as a robber, to protect himself and his belongings. At times, he had to hide, to avoid getting arrested by soldiers. This and the dense forest of Alagar Hills delayed his journey further. When he was crossing Vaigai river, he learned that his sister's wedding was over. This made him furious. To pacify, Meenakshi and Lord Shiva came to Vaigai river. He chose to give all the gifts that he carried, to Meenakshi and Shiva in a Mandapam in the middle of Vaigai river, and returned to Alagar Hill without entering Madurai.

List of events[edit]

The following are the list of events in Chithirai Thiruvizha.

Kodi Yetram[edit]

During this event the chief priest of Meenakshi amman temple will hoist the holy flag on the KodiMaram (Flag post) of the temple. This event declares the long event open. The flag will stay on the flag post until the end of the festival.

Pattabisekam[edit]

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.

Dikvijayam[edit]

After Goddess Meenakshi is crowned as the queen of Pandya kingdom she went into war with all the countries in the world and conquered the whole world and she went to Kailaayam (The Place of Lord Shiva in Himalayas) to conquer it. But, on seeing lord shiva on the battlefield she fell in love with him and married him..

Meenakshi Thirukalyanam[edit]

Meenakshi Thirukalyanam is the great grand wedding celebration of Meenakshi amman and Lord shiva as Lord Sundereswara in Madurai. Lord shiva coming to Madurai to marry Meenakshi is a grand wedding celebration. This tradition is still followed today.[4]

Ther Thiruvizha[edit]

The day after Meenakshi Thirukalyanam is Ther Thiruvizha (Car Festival). The King and Queen of Pandya Kingdom Lord Sunderaswarar and Meenakshi will come to see their subjects in a well decorated chariot which is a huge and Magnificent wooden structure. Thousands of people gather in the Masi streets of Madurai to pull the chariot and to witness the celebration.[5]

Ethir Sevai[edit]

Part of the Chithirai brahmotsavam of Lord Kallazhagar Temple at Alagarkoil, the ‘Ethir Sevai' began on the fourth day of the festival. Alagar enters Madurai city and the people of the city welcome him.[6]

Alagar Vaigai Elenthuarulal[edit]

After the holy marriage of Madurai Meenakshi Amman her brother tries to come to the marriage. 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.[7]

  • Poopalaku (Alagar come in a Palanquin decorated with flowers)
  • Dasavatharam (10 Avatars of Lord Vishnu)

Alagar Vaigai attril Elunthuarulal This is very biggest festival in Madurai.

References[edit]

Madurai Chithirai Thiruvizha 2017 Schedule

External links[edit]

  • Arualmigu Kallalagar Thirukkoil [1]
  • Meenanski amman temple [2]
  • Eagle temple chithirai thiruvizha[3]