Kallazhagar entering the Vaigai river, Madurai 2023 - the festival attracts more people every year!!

Lord Kallazhagar entering the Vaigai river in Madurai, The Hindu

Across India only  fewer than three or four cities  have the distinction of celebrating two festival in the same  Tamil month of Chithirai lasting roughly one month - the first half related to Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple and the other being that of Azhagar kovil dedicated to God Vishnu. In India there is no  dearth of temple festivals that keep the people engaged in religious activities year round. Such festivals impart Bhakti on one hand and on the other emphasizes unity among different communities during the festivities. Besides, such festivals give a large section of people  some space to take their mind off their stressed life  and focus on spiritual pursuits that will be conducive to peace of mind and contentment in life. In this materialistic society, self contentment is a rare thing.  At Madurai  Saivite and Vaishnavite festivals are merged into one in the Tamil month of Chithirai and and this practice has been around since the time of King Thirumalai Naicker, a devout Hindu and ardent builder of temples.

Alagar Koyil /Temple commons.wikimedia.org

In the month of Chithirai, this famous temple city wears a festive look with lakhs of devotees making a beeline to the city to witness Meenakshi Thirukalyanam and Meenakshi temple therottam immediately followed by the most colorful and exciting festival of Kallazhagar getting into Vaigai river (Azhagar Aatril Iranguthal) at Alwarpuram. The festival at the Kallazhagar temple  started on  May 01 and would end on 10th and  during this festive time the procession of Kallalagar to Madurai and entering into the Vaigai river and visiting Thenur Mandapam are  major events. 

This year the holy ritual of Lord Kallazhagar entering the river took place on the 5th of May.  The festival idol of Lord Kallazhagar of Sri Sundararaja Perumal temple at Azhagar Koil  arrived near the venue of the event at 5.35 a.m. from Sri Prasanna Venkatachalapathy Temple in Tallakulam,in 5he presence of a large number of devotees.

Lord Veera Ragava Perumal (temple on South masi street) received Kallazhagar  at  the special platform made for Kallazhagar to enter into the river. Mounted on  a golden stallion  wearing beautiful green silk, Lord Azhagar entered the river at 5.52 a.m. in the midst of thousands of devotees who chanted Govinda Govinda and sprinkled flowers. Festival fervor was very much there. The reason why the lord wears the green robe is it is a symbol of  prosperity and plenty meaning good harvest is awaiting in  the upcoming year.

A mandagapadi  platform was made temporarily and the  Lord was taken in a procession twice around it and the procession was on the way to  Ramarayar Mandapam for the theerthavari ritual.  In this ritual  thousands of devotees disguised as deities Kallazhagar and Pathinettam Padi Karuppu who would spray scented water at the procession deity using leather bags fitted with hand pumps. Following that the procession went onto Vandiyur  and then to  Thenur Mandapam on May 06 to remove the  curse of Sage Manduka (cast on him by rishi Durvasa). That night at Ramarayar Mandapam there will be Dashavatar darshan for the devotees..  

This year Kallalagar  idol during his procession to the Vaigai river was kept in the Thousand Gold Coin Car (Aayiram Pon Saparam) that belongs  to the Thirumalai Nayakkar era. This was  done for the first time this year.