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Made in Madurai                

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Madurai Chithirai Festival - Madurai Tourism

The annual 12 day Chithirai Festival is one of the most important events in Madurai. During the months of April/ May people come from all over India, and even the world to witness the celebrations and worship.

Chithirai Festival is basically the elaborate celebration of the wedding of Goddess Meenakshi Amman to Lord Sundareshwar. There are processions all around town especially around the streets that surround the temple. There are elephants, camels- all dressed up, blaring trumpets and drums… and huge crowds. Music drifts from the Nadaswarams as street hawkers mill around offering various wares from kitsch to gaudy to tasteful and unusual. After sunset torch-bearers with their flaming torches guide the pallakens (palanquins) bearing the deities.

On the Palanquin itself there is a mounted Vahanam (Vehicle) – an elephant, a lion, a demon, a swan and the deities one seated a top these vahanams. The palanquin bearers are 20-30 able bodied men who halt now and then for rest and give devotees a chance to fully take in the view.

The highlight of the festival is the procession on the morning after the wedding. Two “thers” or temple on wheels (Chariots) pass through the streets surrounding the temple. They carry the bride and the bridegroom. The thers are pulled by a large groups of men. Often people rush out of their houses and drench these men with water filled in brass / mud pots to cool them.

The festival truly is like a great big wedding with not only processions but the annual Chithirai exhibition / fun fair, various sales all over town, special ceremonies at temples etc. An event not to be missed if one is in town. Also, it is a great opportunity for photographers.

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