A month long festival celebrated during April or the Tamil month of Thai at Madurai is the Chithirai festival. The festival symbolizes the unity among the Saivism and Vaishnavism. The astounding story behind celebrating the Chithirai Festival is the significant part of this festival enacted through different art forms.
Goddess Meenakshi, who was born to the Pandya King Malayathvaja Pandyan, became the queen of Madurai after his father. She was keen in conquering the regions across the country and won all the battles. At last, she went to Mount Kailash to conquer that also. after coming across Lord Shiva in the battlefield, she fell in love with him and proposed to marry him. Lord Shiva also promised her that the marriage will take place at Madurai and He will be with her forever. As promised, the celestial wedding of Lord Shiva and Queen Meenakshi took place at Madurai. Her brother, Lord Vishnu was invited for this marriage. But before he arrived, the marriage was over and He got angry. The couple met Him on the way at River Vaigai and received the gifts from Him, seeing Him off.
The entire series of events right from the birth of Meenakshi till Lord Vishnu in the name Kallazhagar returns back to his place after presenting his gifts to the couple, has been celebrated in the Tamil month of Chithirai, during April - May. The city gets transformed into a festive mood and nearly one million people attend this festival every year.
The Meenakshi Amman temple, the grandest of all temples is acclaimed to have 33,000 sculptures in the premises. Madurai is world’s one of the oldest cities with the temple exactly at the geographical center and entire city is constructed around the temple. The aerial view of the temple will be a complete square at different levels. As Madurai is the biggest city in the down south of Tamil Nadu, the month long Chithirai festival attracts lakhs of devotees and tourists from around the nearby towns and villages. Exhibitions, play areas, cultural shows, entertainment programmes are part of this festival.
Above all, the Madurai Chithirai Festival symbolizes the unity of Saivaites and Vaishnavites as this festival glorifies both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. King Thirumalai Nayak during the Nayak dynasty started celebrating this festival in a grand manner and it continues even today.Come and be a part of this Chithirai Festival at Madurai this summer!