Pongal is one of the most important ,traditional festival of
Tamil Nadu.It is the harvest festival, by way of which,
farmers express their gratitude to God for a good harvest.
The first day of “Thai”, Tamil month is celebrated as Pongal
festival. The festival is celebrated for 3 days. The first
day is” Boogi”, celebrated in honor of Lord Indra, the lord
of rains for the abundant harvest.
On that day people demolish the unwanted items to fire. The
next day comes Pongal, the main festival, in favor of Lord
Surya.The third day is Mattu Pongal, celebrated as day for
cows, showing their gratitude towards them, for their hard
work. Then is Kanum pongal, which is celebrated by women in
favor for their brothers.
This is similar to Raksha Bandhan, Bhai Dooj, celebrated in
North States of India. On this day people go out for
shopping, exchange their pleasure and greetings with one
another. It is celebrated as Makar Sankranthi in North
Float festival, popularly called as Theppathiruvizha, is
celebrated on Full moon day, wherein the Deities Meenakshi
and Sundareswarar are taken from the temple to the Mariamman
Theppakulam, placed in a float, which is decorated
beautifully with flowers and lightings, and taken around the
Teppam, presided by traditional music and hymns .There is an
interesting story behind this festival.
This colorful festival is celebrated during the birthday of
the King Thirumalai Nayak. He has been ruling Madurai during
17th century. The Theppam covers an area of about 16 acres;
located 5kms east, of Madurai Meenakshi Temple .
It consists of a mandapam in its center wherein, Deity
Vigneshwara is showering his blessings. This deity has been
explored during the age of the King Thirumalai Nayak, when
the earth has been dug to build Thirumalainayak Mahal.But as
deity has been explored; this place has been converted into
Chithirai Festival, the well known and the prominent
festival of the Ancient City of Madurai is celebrated in the
month of Chithrai on a full moon day. One can see Lord
Vishnu, popularly known as Azhagar in and around Madurai
ride on a golden horse to attend the wedding ceremony of his
sister Goddess Meenakshi, Parvati with Lord Sundareswarar,
the Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu rides all the way from Azhagar
Temple located at about 30 kms in Madurai to attend the
wedding but on the way is held back by his devotees and thus
misses the occasion.
When the lord starts to cross the Vaigai River and comes to
know that the ceremony has got over by the time he arrived,
he does not even meet his sister and thus rides back to the
temple. One can witness all the ceremonies associated in a
traditional Hindu marriage being performed to the couples.
There is a procession of the couples even before ten days
before the wedding ceremony and the couples are taken for
the procession the famous Maasi street’s of the town.
Thousands of people pour into the city to witness the
wedding ceremony and Lord Vishnu being taken into the Vaigai
River. Devotees make offerings to the Lord and it is
fabulous site for them to look the Lord and Goddess as the
bride and the groom.
In the early days, this festival was celebrated in the Tamil
month of Maasi but in the Nayakar’s period it was shifted
and from then it is performed in the month of Chithrai. The
main events of the festival are carried on the last three
days of the ten day celebration. The last day marks the main
event, the wedding of the Lord and the Goddess. Lord
Subramanian also arrives from Thirupurakundram, to witness
the wedding occasion.
This festival comes in the month of September. This festival
is held for Lord Shiva to declare his crowning. One can see
the priests in the temple performing the play of the 64
miracles of Lord Shiva. It is said that this protected the
city from misfortune. The fascinating scene of the festival
is that the deity is dressed as an ordinary worker and taken
to the Vaigai River.