Saturday, November 7, 2015

Madurai Meenakshi Temple Festivals

 Various festivals are celebrated elaborately in a splendid manner at Madurai Meenakshi temple.There is at least one festival celebrated every month in this temple round the year.Some festivals like 'Masi Mandalam festival' extends for 48 days.Avanimoola festival,Chitra festival,Navarathri festival,Float festival,Deepavali festival,Karthika deepam festival etc are some of the big events of this temple in which thousands and thousands of devotees participates.
The Masi Mandala festival which starts in February every year is for a 'mandala' period (48 days).There would be processions of the deities along the streets around the temple which  is also part of this event.
Painguni Festival in the month of March is summer 'Vasantham festival' which is for nine days and held at 'Velliyambala Mandapam'.There would be procession of the deities along Chitra streets also.On Painguni Uthram day the deities would be taken in a procession to Arulmigu Thiruvappudayar temple.
Chithirai Festival held during the month of April-May is the main festival of the temple which starts with a flag hoisting ceremony.This festival extends for 12 days.On the 10th day celestial wedding ceremony of Lord Sundareshwarar and Meenakshi Amman  is conducted and on the next day there will be a temple-car festival.

The Spring festival is celebrated for ten days in the month of May.
Oonjal Festival is celebrated for 10 days in the month of June.
Aadi Festival is celebrated in the month of July for 10 days.Meenakshi Devi is taken out in procession in a temple-car during this festival.
Avani Festival in the month of August is  for 18 days.
During September-October Navarathri festival is celebrated which is a ten day event.
Skantha Shasthti festival during this period is celebrated for six days.
Deepavali festival which falls during Oct-Nov is also well celebrated.
Karthika Deepam Festival is celebrated for 10 days in the month of November.On the day of 'Karthikai' one lakh(100,000) 'Deepam'(Oil lamps) will be lit in the temple.
 Margali Festival -Anointing Festival Ceremony will be conducted in the month of December which is a nine day event.'Thiruvathira-Ardhra Darshanam festival is also very auspicious in this month.
Float festival is conducted in the month of January which extends for 12 days.It is also famous as 'Theppotsavam'. 
Lord Sundarsahwarar and Meenakshi Amman would be taken out in a procession to a temple pond known as 'Vandiyar Mariyamman Theppakulam' which is 3 km from Meenakshi Amman temple  and this festival is performed traditionally.
This vast temple pond was constructed in the year AD 1645 by Maharajah  Thirumala Naicker.It is one of the largest temple pond in South India which is also called as a lake.It is connected to 'Vaigai River'.On a raised land in the middle of the pond there is a 'Vinayaka'(Ganapathi) temple.In the month of 'Thai'(January) on the full moon night deities of Sundareshwarar and Meenakshi Amman are taken round the lake in colorful floats.
The deities are brought to the pond from Meenakshi temple in golden palanquins in a procession in which elephants,horses,musicians etc add charm.The idols on palanquins are placed on colorful rafts like structure which is elaborately decorated.The rafts have two long ropes tied to it  out of which one will be held by the  men standing near the Ganapathi temple at he middle of the pond.The other rope will be held by men standing on the shore and the floats are drawn slowly  round and round around the pond.The devotees standing around the pond enjoys the occasion with cheers and chants the names of the Gods.The drawing  of the rafts will be done in the morning and in the evening and a couple of rounds usually takes more than three hours.In the evening the rafts decorated with color lights and oil lamps will be a spectacular sight.The procession of the deities back to the temple is also witnessed and participated by very large flocks of devotees.

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