Mamma is fine here and hope you are great too. Sara baby, I hope you don’t fight with Vishnu Anna. I know that the summers are way too hot to survive but I know my dear, you are beating heat. I’m pretty sure you stay indoors most of the time and are idle and thinking what to do during the vacations. Let me tell you a story.
Summers are best known for few things like school vacations, dehydration, mangoes, beaches, and of course, the Chithirai Thiruvizha of Madurai. I know you guys have heard about Madurai in the textbooks which hosts the magnificently brilliant architectural beauty of Meenakshi Amman Temple. This is not only a festival but also a massive reunion of people across 20 villages in and around Madurai. They say at least 5 lakhs people attend the function. ‘Thiruvizha’ means ‘Festival’ and Chittirai is the first month of the Tamil calendar. The splendid festival occurs during the month of April or May every year. You may wonder what is so special about this festival. But wait up, kid, I am about to tell you a tale.
Long long ago, so long ago, we do not know how long ago, there were two cute siblings Meenakshi and Azhagar, just like you guys. For now, we shall consider the names of the characters in our story as Sara a.k.a Meenakshi and Vishnu a.k.a Azhagar. Sara was elegant, yet bold and brave women while Vishnu was the prince-charming and a man of wisdom. Sara used to live in the heart of Madurai and she was the ruler of the city. Vishnu used to live with his wife in a town called Azhghar Kovil and he ruled the kingdom over there.
That Day: Meenakshi Kalyanam, Marriage Hall.
That day was the most significant day in the Sara’s life. Sara’s marriage. She was getting married to her beloved, Shiv. They were going to tie knot that day and nearby 20 villagers have come to attend the wedding except Vishnu. As the time for the wedding was nearing by, Sara was even more worried that her brother was running late. There were no mobiles to contact during that those and no vehicles to quickly check Vishnu’s situation. Sara was worried but she started with the wedding processions. The wedding arrangements were so grand like you have never imagined. Sara was still waiting for Vishnu but there were no traces of him. Though she was hesitant to start the wedding without her brother, she agreed to Shiv when he requested her to come to the marriage Mandap. And they started the rituals of marriage. With the ostentatious crowds, traditional music, happiness all around. People were dancing and rejoicing for the occasion of Sara marriage. Then came the time, the time when Shiv tied the knot around Sara’s neck and the moment was magical.
That Day: Vaigai River.
The whole village from Azhagar Perumal with many gifts and sweets were walking towards the city of Madurai led by Vishnu. Everyone was in good mood as it the marriage of Vishnu’s only sister. They were walking as fast as they could as they were little late for the wedding. Vishnu was thinking about the happy times he used to spend with Sara and he was wondering how quickly the little girl grew up until.. until he was about to enter Madurai. When he was about to cross River Vaigai to enter Madurai, the localities told him that the marriage was already over. Vishnu was shocked but later was furious about Sara and he decided that he will never enter Madurai as his little sister didn’t wait for his arrival. He was outraged and he dived inside the water claiming that he was angry and would never return and packed his bag and went back to Azhaghar Kovil.
How did you guys like the story? This story prevails for so many centuries and people gather and celebrate this incident for 30 days. Yes, it is a 15 days festival during the summer holidays where there would be too much fun. The following events will happen during this festival.
1. There will be a flag hoisted on the Flag post of the temple. This event declares that the Thiruvizha has begun and will be brought down only after the function is over.
2. Meenakshi Thirukalyanam is the great grand wedding celebration of Meenakshi Amman and Lord Sunderaswarar in Madurai. Lord Shiva comes to Madurai to marry Meenakshi is a grand wedding celebration where lakhs of people come to rejoice this incident.
3. The Thiruvizha (Car Festival): The day after the marriage Meenakshi and Lord Sunderaswarar will wander the city of Madurai to see their citizens. A lot of people gather during this ceremony to pull the Car.
4. 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 riverbank, he hears that marriage is over, so he gets angry and returns to Alagarkoil after giving the gifts to Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar and this event happens in a mandapam in the middle of river Vaigai.
There would be lakhs and lakhs of people coming to watch this brilliant and huge festival of Madurai. Leave it to your imagination if this story is true or just made up. But what I can tell you is that, this is festival which celebrates the togetherness and where the Shiv Devotees and Vishnu devotes come together and put in their traditions and get to know other traditions and walk merrily. Another story behind this grand festival is King Thirumalai Nayakar who wanted the Shiva devotes and Vishnu devotes to come together and celebrate a festival and that is how he came up with this story to convince the people to merry around and mingle in the name of God. After all, a King wants to see his Kingdom prosperous. He was the who shifted the festival to Madurai, but the biggest achievement was to unite the followers of Shiva and Vishnu under the umbrella of a festival, which would celebrate both the Gods and Goddesses believed by each.
This year festival has starts today and it was the precious little moments I have saved from my childhood, and I shall promise you to take there for the next year when this is all over 😊