Tag Archives: Meenakshi Amman Temple

Chithirai Festival – The Wedding

Tirukalyanam – the Great Wedding

At the heart of the Chithirai Festival of course is the wedding of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar. This being one of the most important festivals in South India, I don’t think there was ever a chance of landing an advance ticket, so it was time to queue.


Now, while I probably could have sorted one of the reserved tickets for foreign visitors, guess I’m a sucker for queuing for hours in near 40C temps hoping to get a same-day ticket. Well, a couple of buckets of sweat later, I was in.

The ceremony itself was quiet short in the end – barely half an hour. It also turned out to very solemn event – up to the point when the knot was tied that is and then you never saw so much happiness – people were beaming.


Ceremony over, devotees taking pictures of a televised Goddess Meenakshi and her new husband (at least I think its him)

With ceremonies over and like any good wedding, it was time to get fed. In this case – and on behalf of the deities – it was neighbouring shopkeepers and residents who were feeding the masses and providing free dishes of sweet pongal and biyrani for all.

The Juggernauts

Wedding over then, the newly married couple make several processions around the streets of Madurai – and none grander than the Great Car Festival early the next morning.


Take two house-sized, hand-carved, wooden chariots – one for him, one for her – each with three to four meter-wide granite wheels, get thousands of energetic locals to haul them at speed through dense crowds – without casualties hopefully – and you’ve got shock-and-awe.

And its not just the two deities and their cars – throw in some jesters and elephants, temple fan-bearers and musicians, the hawkers and the hucksters and now that’s a parade.


Finally, the two cars return to where they started – not that you could tell from shouts of the crowds that it had been five hours in hot sun (fingers crossed – my first video)

And lastly – spare a thought for the guys from the local electricity company – seems half of Madurai was in the dark while the temple cars went by…


Trip to the shops…

Now that I’m a resident of sorts here in Madurai (albeit a very short-term one), next thing you know I’ll be blogging every trip I take down to the shops. Okay, maybe just this once…

First stop, the 400-odd year old Pudhu Mandapam arcade (just beside Madurai’s main temple – Meenakshi Temple). While it may be no Liffey Valley, its hard to beat when it comes to calendars, pots and pans, booksellers and tailors (and fantastic intricate stone carvings). There’s talk of the authorities throwing the shop-keepers out to restore it to its original ceremonial use – not expected to happen any time soon though.

After that, if it’s spices, fruit & veg, PVC pipework and gold & platinum you want, we might just need another blog post…


Btw, So I have been asked “Where am I?”, so here’s Madurai courtesy Wikipedia maps…



Madurai calling…

So, before I fall too far behind – a quick update… I’ve made it to Madurai, apartment share and language classes all sorted.

More about Madurai again, but as ancient temple cities go, there’s a lot to like here. In the meantime here’s a quick preview.

Meenakshi Temple Gopuram

Meenakshi Temple Gopuram

And while I’m at it, you can never have too many pictures of cows can you?