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Chittirai Festival
 

Chittirai is the first month of the Tamil Calendar and on this month several festivals are held in almost all temples to celebrate the advent of spring. During the festival, the image of gods and goddess from the temples in and around Madurai are taken to the bank of the river Vaigai, in colourful processions accompanied by hundreds and thousands of devotees and musicians.

In Madurai, the main venue of Chittirai festival is Meenakshi temple. It marks the celestial wedding of Madurai's powerful presiding deity, Meenakshi with Lord Shiva. The festival which lasts for about 12 days in the month of April/May, commence with the flag hosting ceremony. On the 8th day the coronation of Meenakshi Amman takes place on the 8th day and the 9th day is the Thikku-Vijayam. The main celebration is held on the 10th day, i.e the Thirukalyanam or celestial wedding of the deities. On this day, the deities of Meenakshi and Shiva are taken out in their regal attire around the temple streets, before being brought into the grandly decorated hall inside the temple. During the procession, devotees make offerings of coconuts, flowers, camphor and Agarbattis (incense sticks) etc. The main highlight of the festival is the the procession of Lord Kallazhaga (Vishnu) from the Azhagar Kovil to Madurai to participate in the celestial wedding of his sister Meenakshi. During the procession, the idol of Alagar is halted at various places. The festival concludes with Kallazhagar returning to his abode.


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