Toll Free No: 1800-425-31111

Chithirai Festival

A visit to Tamil Nadu is incomplete without witnessing the magnificent and flamboyant carnival of the Madurai city - Chithirai festival. Despite the summer heat, people throng the streets of Madurai to see the union of their Lord Sundershwar and the Goddess, Meenakshi. A confluence of religion, art, entertainment and food, cutting across all religious differences is what Chithirai is all about.

Chithirai Festival in Madurai celebrates the celestial union of Lord Sunderswarar (Lord Shiva) and Goddess Meenakshi, considered to be Lord Vishnu’s sister. The festival also known as Chithirai Thiruvizha, Meenakshi Thirukalyanam or Meenakshi Kalyanam falls at the beginning of April or the Tamil month Chithirai. It is a 15-day celebration that brings harmony to everyone, irrespective of caste and religion. The festival also sees a union of the two Hindu sects, Shaivites and Vaishnavites, the devotees of Shiva and Vishnu respectively.

Around one-million people including tourists come to witness the event that takes place in Madurai, south Tamil Nadu’s biggest temple. The festival in one of India’s oldest temples commences by hoisting a flag (Kodi Yetram). The last days of the festivals are celebrated in Kallazhagar temple, in the Alagar Hills in Madurai. Lord Kallazhagar is considered to be Goddess Meenakshi’s brother, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Legend says that Goddess Meenakshi who was born out of the fire was the charming and brave Queen of the Pandya kingdom. She grew into a successful warrior. On her visit to Mount Kailas, the abode of Lord Shiva, she realised that she was the incarnation of Goddess Shakthi, and Shiva promised that he would come down to Madurai to tie the knot. When the ceremony was conducted, Lord Kallazhangar could not witness it. He gave his offerings to his sister near the river Vaigai. A three-course meal is provided to the devotees after the Sundershwar-Meenakshi wedding is recreated. Lord Kalalzhagar reaches the Vaigai river on a golden horse. 

The chariot that runs through the streets of Madurai is a delightful sight to the eyes of natives as well as tourists. It is believed that the ruler of Pandya kingdom, along with his wife (Sundareshwar and Meenakshi), come in the chariot to visit their subjects. Putting aside the religious aspects, the festival also draws visitors for its wide display of exhibitions, cultural shows and entertainment programmes. There will be huge play areas with giant wheels. Dress materials and accessories like glass bangles will be displayed in the 16th century monument Puthu Mandapam near the temple. Visitors can also excite their taste buds with different varieties of snacks and drinks at the pandal or marquee erected on the roadside.




Check out the world know your way of experiencing Tamil Nadu

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter Sign up for Tamilnadu Tourism's monthly newsletter to learn about our events, offers and more...