Chithirai Festival is also known as Chithirai Thiruvizha. The annual festival is celebrated in the city of Madurai during the month of April. Chithirai Festival 2020 marks during the Tamil month of Chithirai. The festival lasts for a month from which the initial 15 days record the celebrations of the coronation of Goddess Meenakshi and the marriage of Lord Sundareswara and Goddess Meenakshi. The furthermost 15 days are devoted to the journey of Lord Alagar from Kallazhagar temple in Alagar Koyil to Madurai. Read ahead to get more details about the Chithirai Festival's history and significance.
The Chithirai festival has two different stories, according to the Hindu guidelines. One history is about Goddess Meenakshi and the marriage of Lord Sundareswara while the story other marks the journey of Lord Alagar from Kallazhagar temple in Alagar Koyil to Madurai. Check out both the histories.
As per the writings, King Malayadhwaja Pandian and Queen Kanchana Malai did not have a child for a long time. So the king performed a special pooja and offered his prayers to God. During his pooja, a small girl came out of the fire and sat on the lap of the king and at that time Lord arrived from the sky and told them that this child was an incarnation of Shakti (Wife of Lord Shiva) and Lord Shiva himself would come to marry her at the right age.
King Malayadhwaja Pandian's daughter was named Meenakshi and she was trained in warfare. After the death of her father, she was crowned as the Queen of the Pandya kingdom. The queen captured the world with her war skills. When Meenakshi went to Kailasham to conquer it, she faced Lord Shiva in the battlefield and she fell in love with him. Later she realised that she is an avatar of Shakti. Later, Lord Shiva and Meenakshi got married and ruled the Pandya kingdom under the name Sundara Pandyan.
According to the other history, when a saint Mandooka Rishi was taking bath in the holy waters of Aagaayagangai in Alagar hills, the most powerful and short-tempered Durvasar Maharishi came by the way. The saint did not notice his arrival and Durvasa took this as an insult. So he cursed Mandooka to become a frog and live in the river Vaigai. After living in the river as a frog he proposed his prayers to Lord Alagar. Alagar was pleased by the prayers of Mandooka rishi and he himself went to river Vaigai to lift the curse off Mandooka rishi.
During the rule of King Thirumalai Nayakar, both these festivals were merged as one single celebration to unite the people of the two groups, Saivism and Vaishnavite. Since then the Chithirai Festival has been celebrated as one grand event during the Tamil month of Chithirai. Thousands of devotees gathered in the temple for the celebrations.