Chithirai Thiruvizha: Missing Meenakshi’s wedding

Chithirai Thiruvizha, Madurai, Meenakshi Amman Temple, Meenakshi Sundareswara temple
One of the grandest of festivals in Tamil Nadu, the Chithirai Thiruvizha associated with Meenakshi Sundareswara temple, this time has been cancelled | PTI Photo

It is said that 'marriages are made in heaven', but in Tamil Nadu, alliances are sought out during festivals and if fixed, these are considered 'Deiva Sankalpam' (the God’s wish). Just as in Durga Puja in Bengal or Garba in Gujarat, festivals are a time when an active hunt is done for a life partner.

But talk of weddings in these COVID-19 lockdown times, brides and grooms who had planned elaborate ceremonies, would be sulking at the turn of fate that has left them — as they were, single, or even worse, isolated. That the infectious disease has also hit spring festivals will come as a double whammy for hopeful single young men and women.

But, for the people of Madurai, this is a huge blow as the wedding of Meenakshi and Sundaraperumal — incarnation of the Hindu gods Shakti and Shiva — which itself is celebrated as a major festival, the Chithirai Thiruvizha, by thousands has been called off for the first time in perhaps over 400 years.

Situated on the banks of Vaigai river, the iconic Meenakshi Sundareswara temple which dates back to 12th century, would be decked with lamps and floral decorations and plantain trees every April, considered the wedding month of the gods. Chariots would pull the gods through the streets of Madura, with a mass procession tailing behind. Performances by folk artistes would add to the artistic aspect while sages and gurus giving sermons would make up for the spiritual side. Thousands would throng the temple in colourful dresses to celebrate the wedding-festival even as hawkers and pushcarts sell sweets and eatables and toys. Firecrackers and rockets would make the nights colourful and bright. Spread over 10 days, it would be the grandest of festivals in Tamil Nadu. Except that everything is shut now and has given way to empty streets and an indefinite quietness.

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