What is Chithirai Festival?
The Chithirai Festival is a celebration of the wedding of the Hindu deities Meenakshi and Sundareswarar (Shiva).
For 15 days Hindu devotees parade through the city of Madurai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu leading up to a reenactment of the marriage of the two deities. The festival starts every spring (the exact dates change each year on the Hindu lunar calendar) with a ritual flag raising ceremony at the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, and escalates throughout the following weeks with a rising crescendo of parades and music. Just before the end of the holiday, a decorated chariot pulls the soon-to-be wed deities through the streets of Madurai in a winding procession of sound and celebration leading up to the reenactment of the marriage ceremony.
On the last day of the festival the Hindu deity Vishnu arrives on the back of a golden horse to attend his sister Meenakshi’s wedding only to find he’s already missed the ceremony. Furious for being late, the god leaves the celebration returning to his Azhagar Kovil temple outside of town in a huff. This winding procession is the most jubilant of the two weeks of celebration, and the most memorable for travelers on luxury tours of India.
When is Chithirai Festival?
The Chithirai Festival starts on May 1 and runs through May 14, 2015. Throughout the two week period there are numerous parades and celebrations leading up to the finale on May 14 when Vishnu leaves the festival.
Where is Chithirai Festival Celebrated?
The festival centers on the Meenakshi Temple in Madurai in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The city is best reached by flight from Chennai.
Chithirai Festival Highlights:
The Chithirai Festival is a splendid foray into Indian culture for guests on our India tours.
The weather is warm during the festival, so wear cool clothing, but remember to dress conservatively by covering your shoulders, arms and knees when planning to enter Meenakshi Temple or any other religious sight in the area. Most temple areas also require the removal of shoes upon entry.