Madurai’s Chitrai Festival

The city of Madurai will play host to Lord Azhagar as he leaves his mountain abode and comes to attend the wedding of his sister Goddess Meenakshi. With more than 3 lakh devotees expected, this is no small festival. This has been an age old tradition and this am sure will continue for time to come too. For this festival is part of the cultural milieu of the city.

The Lord Azhagar is taken on his golden horse to attend his sister Goddess Meenakshi’s wedding which, by the way, is already over. So he turns away and goes some place else. This, truly, is a festival with some scale, size and geography !

I am sure every year as he comes to Madurai from his hill abode , he will find a new face to the city. I wonder what he would be asking himself. Where is the meaning behind the pomp? Where are the village folk who use to be present? Why are the brick buildings replaced with glass buildings ? Where is the water in river Vaigai ? Where are my devotees ? Where in the world do they print such giant posters from some K and some J ?

The lord that he is, i am sure he has answers to all the questions. And answers to a few more unasked questions as well. He brings a ray of hope each year. And he brings it again the next. The next and so on. Hope is what we all require. Don’t we !

My recollections of the festival are of pomp and sheer joy. Of some effective marketing by TT Patnam podi and Gopal Tooth powder. It was a treat to see villagers from all around camping in the town for those few moments of catching a glimpse of the lord ! Which brings me to a few more questions. How did these festivals originate ?

During a discussion on these some months back in a closed group, one view point was that this was economics at play. “The kings of yesteryear wanted people to move around. Interact with people. Spend money. They wanted to keep their economies going. Why do you think they spent years to build temples ? Employment generation and economics !”

The government usually releases some water into the river Vaigai to facilitate the festival. After all, legend has it that he entered the river. Not a dry river bed. ! That to me, is a sign of the times.

Seemingly oblivious to all these discussions, the lord Azhagar will enter river Vaigai tomorrow morning. Bringing with him : hope. I couldn’t be physically present. But the mind is already there.

Todays music is Pray for me brother by AR Rehman. He is part of the Millenium campaign against proverty. This song is part of that effort.

8 thoughts on “Madurai’s Chitrai Festival

  1. Anonymous says:

    good stuff, Kavi. While I was podering about the day to day problems we face in India, events like these give us a boost and more sense to stay in India.

  2. Keshi says:



  3. Pooh says:

    Hmm those on some wonderful memories. Living at Mella Masi Street and waiting for the swami to come by everyday was indeed a great experience. We keep telling we should plan our next trip so that we are there in Madurai for the Chitirai festival. Might be next year.
    Well also you forgot the Chithirai portukatchi.. the big appalams and milagai baji.. thatz life!
    thanks for bringing back the memories!

  4. Kavi says:

    Praveen : Thanks for stopping by ! Yes, these give us a glue. An anchor of sorts ! And more than one reason to plough on and enjoy it too !

    Kehsi: Its nicer seen & lived !

    Pooh : Well, you bet ! Appalams, Bajjis, karumbu juice and what not. Those were the days. Werent they ! Next year, i plan to be there as well. Lets see !

  5. Jeevan says:

    I saw the Azhagar entering in Vaigai in news. I have been to Madurai, i could only visit Meenakshi temple and also got a glance to see Vaigai River, that time it was dry and the banks filled with waste things.

  6. Sriram says:

    Nice post. Brings back nostalgic memories of my hometown.

  7. Shiva says:

    What is the color of the pattu this year?

  8. Ruchi says:

    Awsome. Glad you are living the Life to the fullest and soaking in vivid experiences. Do share pics of this year festival . I came across “The Remote Life” and immediately thought of you
    Living Life, travelling and working like this would be a dream come true. Explore it 🙂

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