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Chithirai Thiruvizha: A festival to bring all lore together

This festival is celebrated for a reason and the reason varies according to people — maybe because the story has travelled from word-of-mouth for centuries, and later, books, experts, etc.

Published: 13th April 2022 05:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th April 2022 05:32 AM   |  A+A-

Thenur Mandapam on Vaigai riverbed near Vandiyur;

Express News Service

MADURAI: Malligai poo, Maatuthavani, and Meenakshi temple...The city of temples is not just known for these, but also for its Chithirai Thiruvizha which happens every year in the month of April. Usually, over one lakh people gather in the city to witness the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam. However, due to the pandemic, the festival is being conducted this time after a gap of two years.

Serial light adorning the streets, people dressing traditionally, colourful toys being sold everywhere, long queues in front of sweet shops, and devotional songs playing on the mic are common sightings during this 15-day thiruvizha. People travel from various cities and states to get a glimpse of Kallazhagar entering the Vaigai River and the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam.

This festival is celebrated for a reason and the reason varies according to people -- mainly because the story has travelled from word-of-mouth for centuries, and later, books, experts, etc. For a few, the festivity is for Kallazhagar who is travelling long to witness his sister’s wedding, and for the others, it is about how Kallazhagar visits a maharishi to break the latter’s curse. The stories we hear or read are in many forms, but the thiruvizha is about celebration, tradition, devotion, and a lot more.

 Front cover of Tho. Paramasivan’s book ‘Alagar Kovil

It is believed that the festival is celebrated based on a story in which Lord Sundarraja Perumal leaves his abode to witness the marriage of his sister. But, there is also another story that Kallazhagar came to Madurai to give sabavimosanam for 'Sudabas Maharishi (also known as Manduka rishi)' to break a curse against him.

In his book, the famous folk writer Tho Paramasivan's 'Alagar Kovil' elaborately narrates the significance of Alagar’s entry into Madurai and the Vaigai River.

According to the book, Alagar was coming to Madurai to give sabavimosanam for Sudabas maharishi. He also recalled the story of the maharishi. A year later, Sudabas Maharishi was taking a bath in the Nubura Ganga, located at Alagar hill. During that time, Rishi Durwasa came, but Sudabas Maharishi did not notice his presence. Angered by this, Durwasa cursed the maharishi to become a frog. Further, Sudabas requested Durwasa to give saba vimochanam. On the next day of  Chithirai month’s full moon day, Alagar visited the Vaigai River to give sabavimosanam to the maharishi. And so, in order to mark this, the saba vimochanam event would be held at Thenur mandapam every year. Also, entry of the Vaigai River also took place near Thenur mandapam earlier.

Meanwhile, Assistant Professor of Department of Tamil in Government Arts and Science College in Melur and Author of 'Potramarai' Ambai Manivannan says the festival is celebrated for another reason. During the regime of King Thirumalai Naicker, Alagar's entry into Madurai was changed to the middle of the city, he says. “During that period, there were more conflicts between Saivam and Vainavam. To keep peace among Saivam and Vainavam, the king needed more manpower to pull the Meenakshi Temple Car. Hence, he changed Meenakshi’s marriage date from Tamil month Masi to Chithirai.”

Narrating the details, the author points out that on the next full moon day, Alagar came to Thenur mandapam. Sudabas Maharishi, a frog statue, was kept to recall the story in the mandapam. After sabavimosanam, birds will fly which denotes the maharishi’s soul came out from the frog.

"People of Thenur and authorities of Thenur mandapam would make special arrangements for this historical event. From Alagar Kovil to the Thenur mandapam, Alagar visits around 500 mandapams to give blessings to his devotees. These mandapams were established to welcome Alagar. Parasathams and offerings are provided to the devotees,” the assistant professor explains.



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