Lord Kallazhagar began his annual ritual journey towards Madurai city in his golden palanquin amid hundreds of devotees gathered on the temple premises on Monday evening. After the celestial wedding of the Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple deities, Lord Kallazhagar starts his journey from the Alagar Hills to enter the Vaigai river as part of the Chithirai festival.
The construction of colorful marquees in the 410-odd ‘Mandakapadis’ on a 20-km stretch from Alagarkoil to Madurai city is in final stages in several parts of the city.
Lord Kallazhagar adorned in grand attire appeared in a golden palanquin at the Kondapanalli mandapam of the temple and proceeded to Madurai city to enter the Vaigai river.
“Though Kallazhagar had been visiting Thenur village near Sholavandan during the Chithirai festival every year, it was King Thirumalai Naicker who merged the Alagar festival with the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam while bringing the Lord to the city every year,” said an Alagarkoil priest.
Ambai Manivannan, professor of the Tamil department at the Government Arts College in Melur, said: “It was Vishwanatha Naicker, who ruled Madurai in the 16th century, who expanded the city by forming and stationing the temple car on Masi streets. The celestial wedding, too, was conducted during the Tamil month of Masi, including a temple car procession, which in the period of Thirumalai Naicker was changed to the Chithirai month. As people were busy harvesting during Masi, which restricted large crowds to the festival, Thirumalai Naicker changed the festival to the Chithirai month as people will be free and can join the festival,” he added.
Throwing light on the cultural aspect of the fest, Su Venkatesan, Sahitya Akademi Award winner, who portrayed the 600-year-old history of Madurai until the 19th century in his debut novel Kaaval Kottam, said: “History is evident of several conflicts between Saivites and Vaishnavites in the 8th, 9th and 10th centuries. However, Thirumalai Naicker being a Vaishnavite (Vainavam) ruling Madurai Saivite (Saivam) people merged the Alagar and Chithirai festivals to ensure effective governance.”
However, there were several stories which developed during the later period describing Alagar coming to attend the celestial wedding and returning disappointed after it was over prior to his arrival, he added.
According to officials, “Kallazhagar will reach Tallakulam before 9 pm on Tuesday after being welcomed by devotees (ethir sevai) near the outpost around 6 pm. On a horse mount from the Tallakulam Perumal temple, Kallazhagar would proceed to the Vaigai and enter the river at the Mandakapadi constructed on the riverbed near Alwar Puram at 6 am on Wednesday.”