Chitirai Festival

The ‘Chitirai Thiruvizha’ ( The festival that happens in the Tamil month of Chitirai) is an annual feature in a Madurai calendar. There is splendour. Pomp. Simplicity. Devotion. Revelry And a letting down of hair by rural and urban folk. Every body lets their hair down.

Save perhaps the policemen on duty !

Here is a video that i chanced on YouTube !

Pretty much covers one part of the festival spread over many days. The festival itself is a ten day long affair. The pomp and show of a ‘celestial wedding’. The majesticity of a ‘God’ in motion. The piety of the simple. The preparedness of the city. The commerce that keeps knocking on traditions doors. Yet a culture that somehow survives, are all things to see.

Its a must watch.

The next year around, give me a shout if you’d want to visit ! 🙂 The festival involves a deity taken in procession from Alagarkoil into the heart of the city ( a distance of more than 20 odd KM). The young and old rejoice. As part of the festival there is this traditional ‘water spray’ by the young and the old. Specially adorned. Chanting the name of Govinda.

Spraying water to cool things down. Spraying everywhere. Often targeting the camera of a stray blogger !

Here are some images that survived such targeting !

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.