Lord Kallazhagar and his entry into the river Vaigai in style - part of Chithirai festival

Entry of Kallazgagar (vishnu) in the Vaigai river, Madurai,, The Hindu

The very name Madurai conjurers up the images of the beautiful, massive  Meenaskshi  Amman temple, her celestial wedding with Lord Shiva (Sundareswarar) and  most importantly the entry of Lord Kallazhagar into the Vaigai river; the last being the highlight of the famous Chithirai festival in Madurai. This annual festival has never failed to attract the people of the city and the surrounding places and its grandeur and and style will always make it more colorful and attractive. This year's Chithirai Thiruvizha began on 28 April 2017 with the flag- hoisting - (Kodi yetram) in the famous Meenakshi Amman temple. This festival began on behalf of Azhagarkovil at the Tallakulam Perumal Kovil. The celestial wedding of Meenakshi and Sudareswarar took place on 7 May followed by Therootam - chariot procession along the Main Masi streets on the 8th.

The abode of Kallazhagar, also called Sundaraja Perumal is in Azhagarkovil, a quiet hilly place. According to the temple legend his purpose of visit to Madurai was to relieve (Sabha Vimochanam) Manduga Maharishi (sage) from the curse cast upon him by Rishi Durvasar, to accept Andal  of Srivilliputhur as his consort and to attend the wedding of his sister Meenashshi with Lord Shiva.  Lord Kallazhagar began his  arduous journey towards Madurai on the 8th of this month disguising as Kallar (robber). He was brought on a golden palanquin  and passed through places like Kallathiri, Appanthirupathy, Kadachanenthal and other places. He reached Moondruvaadi on the 10th early morning. He was well received by his devotees in thousands and they sprayed water at him from the water bags, they were carrying. He gave darshan to thousands of people at more than 450 locations (Mandakapadi). 

Then,  he came to Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal temple in Tallakulam  on the 9th and at midnight Thrumanjanam (abhisekam) was performed on him and later he was mounted on a  golden stallion vahana (mount). That time,  the lord accepted the flower garland specially made  by Sri Villiputhur Andal (daughter of Periazhvar, a great Vaishnavite poet) brought from the Andal temple.  

On the 10th early morning 2.30 am, he reached Karupannaswami temple  and gave Darshan to the devotees. Till early morning, there were pujas and aradhanas performed for him. Around 3 am in the early morning,  on the golden stallion, wearing resplendent green silk dress, Kallazhagar began his journey to the river. On that night people of Madurai in thousands spent sleepless night on the street to have a glimpse of him in the early morning. 

The famous part of Chithirai festival - the journey of Lord Kallazhagar from the hilly part of Azhagarkovil, 14 km from Madurai and the final event - the entry of the lord into the river took place on 10 May 2017 at 6.28 am (Chitra Pournami day) at the make-shift Mandabam with lakhs of devotees watching the great event from every vantage space  available. The government provided 16 LED screens at various places  around the area  for the devotees to see this great event. One could see a sea of humanity every where. The entire city was sleepless, anxiously awaiting the arrival of Azhagar on the banks of river Vaigai. Azhagar entered the river wearing the shining green silk.  This huge crowd was possible owing to dry condition prevailing in this region and consequently there was no water in the river. It gave the people to walk on the river bed and  had a close darshan of the lord  as  this great event happens once a year. This temple city wore a festive look with ardent pilgrims chanting Govinda, Govinda and dancing to the tune of "Vaararu Vaararu Azhagar Vaararu" being sung frequently as Lord Vishnu (Azhagar) entered the Vaigai River. The huge gathering of devotees in the Tallakulam and Goripalayam area may amaze any new comer to this city because it is the peak summer time (in the midst  of Agninakshatram) - the temperature is way high. At the make-shift Mandapam in the river,  he was received by Veeraraghava Perumal from  South Masi Street.  Lord Azhagar was in the pandal for about an hour and the priests did pujas and aradhanas to the Perumal. 

Entry of Kallazgagar (vishnu) in the Vaigai river, Madurai,, The Hindu

Later he left the river and went to Ramarayar Mandabam where the devotees wearing the dress of a robber sprayed water on him (Therthavari).  Around 11pm Kallaghagar was taken to Vandiyur Veraraghava Perumal temple and on the 11th May around 6 am Thrumanjanam was done to him. The main event is he was taken to Theenur Mandabam where he gave Sabha Vimochanam to Monduga Maharishi (sage Sudhabas who got back his human form from frog (mandukam in Sanskrit it means frog)). Sage Duruvasa, upset with his behavior cursed Sudhabas  Maharishi to become a frog. He also told him to pray to Vishnu and his curse would be removed by the lord.

lord in matsya kurma and vamana alankara. ISKCON Times

On the night of 11th May Lord Azhagar appeared  in Dasavataram (ten avatars) after Thirumanjanam. On 12th (Friday) morning 6 am  he took Mohini avatar and around 11 am he reached via Goripalayam Ramanathapuram Mannar Sethupathy Mandabam where he changed his attire back to Kallar (robber) and blessed the devotees from the flower-decked  palanquin. At the Tallakulam Perumal temple, farmers and others offered paddy and other food grains as part of their prayer. On the 13th 8.30 am,  he went to Ambalathukarar Mandabam  from where Kallazhagar around 11 am resumed his return journey to Azhagarkovil and through out his journey at various places like Appantirupathy, Moodrumavadi, etc  thousands of people had a good darshan of the lord. Festivities continued all the way. After more than a week,  lord Kallazhagar  reached his abode Azhagarkovil around 10.30 am on the 14th May. 

Madurai location Navrang India - blogger
Lord Vishnu (Azhagar) on the golden stallion, Madurai tamil.oneindia.com


01. The entry of Kallazhagar into the Vaigai river is a significant event of this Chithirai festival. 

Kallazhagarkovil, near Madurai  Panoramio

02. Every year, during the later part of the festival there will be a  drizzle. This year, the sky was overcast and it rained briefly. 

03. The Palanquin with golden stallion on which Kallazhagar (Vishnu) is mounted  is taken around from place to place by hereditary bearers and they have been doing it for generations.

04. Quite interesting  ‘ parai ’ music by folk artistes engaged by almost every group of devotees could be heard everywhere.