Meenakshi Amman Temple – Festivals
The most important festival associated with the temple is the "Meenakshi Thirukkalyanam" (the divine marriage of Meenakshi) that is celebrated in April every year. The wedding of the divine couple is regarded as a classic instance of south Indian female-dominated marriage, an arrangement referred as "Madurai marriage".
The male dominated marriage is called "Chidambaram marriage", referring to Shiva's uncontested dominance, ritual and mythic, at the famous Shiva temple of Chidambaram. The marriage brings together rural and urban people, deities and mortals, Saivas (those who worship Shiva) and Vaishnavas (those who worship Vishnu) in order to celebrate Meenakshi as the royal monarch.
During the one-month period, there are a number of events including the "Ther Thiruvizha" (chariot festival) and "Theppa Thiruvizha" (float festival). Major Hindu festivals like Navarathri and Shivrathri are celebrated in the temple.
Like most Shakti temples in Tamil Nadu, the Fridays during the Tamil months of Aadi (July–August) and Thai (January–February) are celebrated in the temple by thousands of devotees.
"Avani Moola Utsavam" is a 10-day festival mainly devoted to Sundareswarar describes his various Thiruvilayadal meaning Shiva's sacred games.
Festivals are celebrated in this temple throughout the year. Festivals celebrated per month are listed below
Chithirai Month (mid-April to mid-May):
The Chitra festival is celebrated for 12 days during the Tamil month of Chitrai (April in the English calendar) and begins with the flag hoisting on the first day. On the 8th day the coronation of Meenakshi Amman takes place. On the 9th day the Goddess is taken out in procession.
On the 10th day the celestial wedding of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar is performed, followed by car festival the next day, Theertha festival is celebrated on the 12th day with the Lord and Goddess going round Masi streets.
Vaikasi Month (mid-May to mid-June):
The spring festival is hosted for ten days during this month. On the 10th day milk mango offerings would be offered to the deities. The Lord and Goddess would proceed to the New Mandapam stay there and be taken out in process. On the day of Moola star, the procession of 63 Saints would be conducted in the morning and at night Tirugnanasambandar would be taken out in procession.
Aani Month (mid-June to mid-July):
Oonjal festival would be conducted for ten days during this month. On the 10th day, the triple fruit pooja would be performed. Abhishekam would be performed for Sivakami Amman and Arulmighu Nadaraajar on the day of Uthiram. The Panchasabha Nadaraja Moorthy would be taken out in procession along the fur Masi streets.
Aadi Month (mid-July to mid-August):
The Aadi Mulaikottu festival is celebrated for 10 days during this month. The festival would be confined to only to the Amman, who will be taken out in procession along Aadi streets. Special recitals of Nadaswaram would be the highlight of this festival.
Aavani Month (mid-August to mid-September):
The Aavani festival would be conducted for 18 days. Six days of the festival would be devoted to Arulmighu Chandrashekarar and the balance 12 days would be for the Panchamurthis. On the 7th day of the festival, coronation would be performed for Sundareswarar and on the 8th day the horse reins would be exchanged.
On the 9th day the episode of Lord Sivaperuman carrying soil for earning Pittu would be enacted while the theertham on the occasion of the joining of Avittam and Pooranai would be celebrated.
On the same night, Arulmighu Tiruparankundram Subramaniyar and Thiruvadhavur Arulmighu Manickavasaka Peruman would bid farewell.
During the festival of Chandrashekarar, procession would be taken out along the second corridor of Swami Shrine. The Panchamurthis would be taken around in procession along Aavani Moola streets. During these days the ten miracles performed by the Lord of Madurai would be enacted by the Sivacharyas.
Purattasi (mid-September to mid-October):
The Navarathri festival would be celebrated for Amman in a grand manner during this month. Amman would appear in a separate dress and look every day and bless the devotees at the `kolu mandapam’ in Amman Sannidhi.
Kalpa pooja and Lakshrachana would be performed everyday for the Amman at the sanctum. On the 10th day the washing of hair ceremony would be performed. On that Panchamurthis would be taken out in procession within the temple premises.
On all ten days of the festival cultural festivals would be hosted in a grand manner. The entire temple complex would be bathed in colour lamps and the dolls would be arranged in a manner to find a niche in the hearts of the devotees.
Aippasi (mid-October to mid-November):
Kanda Sashti festival would be celebrated for six days at the Koodal Kumarar Sannidhi. Surasamharam is not performed here. On the seventh day when Arulmighu Muthukumarar goes out in procession, `Pavadai Dharshan’ would be conducted.
On the day of Deepavali festival, a durbar would be held for the employees of the temple.
On the days of Pooram in this month, the ceremony of hoisting and swinging Meenakshi Amman would be performed.
Karthigai Month (mid-November to mid-December):
Deepam (lights) festival would be conducted for ten days during this month. Swamy would be taken out in procession along the Aadi streets. On the day of Karthigai one lakh lamps would be lit in the temple. On that day a bonfire would be lit in East Masi Street.
Margazhi (mid-December to mid-January):
Oil anointing ceremony would be conducted for nine days in this month at the New Mandapam. Arulmighu Meenakshi Amman would be taken out in procession along the Chitra streets. On the day of Tiruvadhirai, Arudhra Dharshan will take place. Pancha Sabha Nataraja Moorthigal would be taken in procession along the Masi streets.
On the day of Ashtami the Lord and Goddess would ride the oxen vehicle and go round Kottai streets. Tiruvembavai festival would be conducted for ten days. Every day, Arulmighu Manickavasagar would be taken out in procession along Aadi streets in the mornings.
On the 10th rotating wheel and golden spring ceremonies would be conducted. In the mornings Tiruvembavai and Thiruppalli Yezhutchi lyrics would be recited and there will be religious discourses by spiritual leaders. Competitions would be conducted for school and college students and prizes presented.
Thai (mid-January to mid-February):
The float festival would be conducted for 12 days during the month. Swamy and Amman would be taken out in procession along the Chitra streets. On the 8th day the casting of net festival would be held while theertham festival and the pushing of the float would be held on the 10th day. On the 11th day harvesting of sheaves and on the 12th day the float festival would be conducted.
Maasi (mid-February to mid-March):
The Maasi Mandala festival would be conducted for a Mandalam (48 days). Six days of the festival is devoted to Arulmighu Vinayaka and six days for Arulmighu Kumar and three days for the triumvirate and six days for Chandrashekarar.
The deities would be taken out in procession along the second corridor of Swamy Sannidhi. Panchamoorthy festival would be celebrated for ten days, when they will be taken out in procession along the Chitra streets. Theertham would be held on the day of Maham.
Silent festival would be conducted for nine days of which three days would be for Chandrashekarar and an equal number of days for Swamy and Chandikeshwarar. On the 10th day, the flag would be lowered and accounts read.
Panguni (mid-March to mid-April):
The summer spring festival would be hosted for nine days at the Velliaymbala mandapam. Swamy and Amman would be taken in procession along Chitra streets. On the day of Panguni Uthiram, Swamy and Amman would proceed to Arulmighu Thiruvappudayar temple and bless those who excel in their religious belief by sprinkling `rasa vadham’.