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Chithirai Car Festival

  • Context (TH): Thousands of devotees reached Masi streets to witness the grand car festival of Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple.
  • The Chithirai Car Festival, also referred to as Chithirai Thiruvizha or Meenakshi Kalyanam, is celebrated during the Chithirai or Panguni months (March-April) or the Tamil month of Thai.
  • It is celebrated at the Rock Fort’s Thayumanavar Swamy Temple.
  • The festival commemorates the divine union between Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar.
  • The Madurai Chithirai Festival symbolizes the unity of Saivaites and Vaishnavites, as it glorifies both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu.
  • The festival begins with the flag hoisting at the temple and different days are dedicated to different incidents related to Lord Shiva, the presiding deity and his consort.
  • The last days of the festivals are celebrated in Alagar Hills in Madurai.
  • According to the inscriptions on the temple walls, the first car festival was reportedly introduced in Madurai 700 years ago, during the reign of King Veerapandian.

Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple

  • Meenakshi Amman temple also known as Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple is located in the city of Madurai on the Southern bank of river Vaigai.
  • The temple is dedicated to Sundareswarar (Lord Shiva) and Meenakshi (Parvathi).
  • Built in the Dravidian style, this temple was once considered one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It is one of the few temples in Tamil Nadu to have four entrances facing four directions.
  • The temple, in its present form, was constructed in the 1600s. Viswanatha Nayak, the first Nayak King of Madurai (1559-1600 A.D.), took the initiative to rebuild the structure.
  • The restoration was carried out under the supervision of Ariyanatha Mudaliar, the Prime Minister of the Nayak Dynasty and the founder of the Poligar System.
  • King Thirumalai Nayak (circa 1623-1659) played an important role in the temple’s construction. He built various complexes inside and outside the temple.

Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai - Photos, History, Timing, Architecture

  • The temple has 14 gopurams, including two magnificent Thanga (golden) Gopurams.
  • One of the temple’s halls is famous as the “Ayiramkaal Mandapam” or “Hall of 1,000 Pillars” though only 985 of them exist today.
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