Madurai Chithirai festival and exciting chariot run (therottam) held on 3 May, 2023

Wooden chariot platform Meenakshi temple, Madurai.

Among the Hindu temple festivals of Tamil Nadu,  Madurai city has a unique place  because between April and May every year  Meenakshi Thirukalyanam and Azhagar  getting into Vaigai river (Azhagar attrill eranguthal) are two important events that will be witnessed by lakhs of people from Madurai and the surrounding villages.  The festivities will last for one month. First half of the festival is dedicated to Meenakshi temple -  Coronation of Meenakshi and the Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Thirukalyanam.  The other half - 15 days  is dedicated to Kalazhagar's (Sri Vishnu) his visit to Madurai from Azhgar Kovil to relieve Maduka rishi of his curse cast by Dhurvasa.

Ornate pillared hall, Meenakshi temple,

North tower (Gopuram)Meenakshi temple, Madurai 

The chithirai festival began on 23 April with traditional flag hoisting in the morning on the temple preemies, coronation ceremony of  Meenakshi took place on the 30th April and  Thirukalyanam on the 2nd of May.  Rathotsavam  or therottam (ther Tiruvizha) is on the 3rd of May (Wednesday).

Meenakshi temple, Madurai.

Above image: Yet another pretty old image of Temple tank (Porthamarai kulam), Meenakshi temple, TM- part of the pavillion around the tank/kulam is blocked with  a wall for unknown reason............

Meenakshi temple, Madurai.

Above image: Madurai Meenakshi temple tower. Pretty old image. may be more than 100 years? Look at the rows of houses on either side of the narrow street. They look like Agrahara houses........ 

Meenakshi temple stone sculptures.

Corbeled columns. Pillared hall, meenakshi temple, Madurai

Flagpole, Dwajasthambam, Madurai meenakshi temple.

Meenakshi temple, ornate entrance 

Above images:  Madurai Meenakshi temple, Tamil Nadu. All images credit: Intricate sculptures and pillard are made of hard rock- granite group. Roof is made of a series of rock rectangular well flattened slabs..................... 

On the 8th day 30 April 2023) of the festivities thousands of devotees  witnessed the ritual performed in the morning 7 am before the deity wearing special dress -the typical armour with ornaments. The goddess Meenakshi received a sceptre encrusted with diamonds and a crown (Rayar Gridam). The temple thakkar  carried the royal sceptre around the second praharam after the coronation and was presented back to the goddess Meenakshi.  Since the time of Nayak rule the belief has been that goddess Meenakshi is supposedly the ruler of Madurai from the 8th day  during the Tamil months of Chithirai through Aadi/ Avani, on the other hand  God Sundareswarar (Shiva) is said to reign the temple town for the remainder of the year.  Goddess Meenakshi will  be the holding the scepter  (in Tamil Senkol) and run the administration. 

Car festival:

Wooden chariot platform Meenakshi temple, Madurai. 

Wooden chariot platform Meenakshi temple, Madurai.

Above images;  Wooden base platform of Madurai Meenakshi temple chariot (Ther) or ratha. Note the minute and richly decorated wood carvings of gods and goddesses. A temple car is supposedly a moving temple on the wheels and has almost all the basic features of a Hindu temple including the inner sanctuary. The idol (Uschava) will be mounted on the decorated platform over which the canopy of various designs and decorative feature will be fixed every year. The temple cars presently being used are 400 years old  and were made by the ruler of  Madurai Nayak king  Thirumalai Nayakar.........

The car festival took place today and the therottam began in the morning after regular pujas. The two cars one carrying the idol of Meenakshi and the other the idol of Sundareswarar were pulled by thousands of devotees along the Masi streets. A sea of humanity turned up  and near the  junction of  East and South Masi Streets near vilakkuthoon, it was over-crowded.