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Chithirai festival, marking wedding of Goddess Meenakshi, streamed online as Madurai temple remains shut during lockdown

Every year, Tamil Nadu prepares for the annual Chithirai Thiruvizha festival in Madurai, during which Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar get married. During the fortnight-long event, Meenakshi goes through the ceremony of coronation and her brother Lord Azhagar visits the city.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Chithirai Thiruvizha 2020 was celebrated differently, with no congregation of thousands of devotees on the streets. Also for the first time, the festival was streamed online for devotees.

The wedding ceremony and other rituals were streamed live from 9.05 to 9.29 am on 4 May on the official site of the Meenakshi temple — www.maduraimeenakshi.org — and on the official website of the Department of Hindu Religious Affairs. The festival proceedings can also be accessed through the Facebook and YouTube pages of the temple, reported news portal Nakkheeran.

The rituals of the festival begin inside the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple in Madurai, after which a march is held on the Masi Street in the city. The celebration also includes a grand feast in view of the celestial wedding.

Chithirai Thiruvizha is celebrated annually on the full moon day of the Tamil month Chithirai that falls between the Gregorian months of April and May. The second phase of the celebrations mark the journey of Lord Azhagar from Alagar Koil temple to the Meenakshi temple. Accordingly to mythology, Lord Azhagar rides on a golden stallion and attends his sister’s marriage.

The Meenakshi temple has been closed since 19 March by the Tamil Nadu government due to COVID-19. Only two priests have been allowed inside at a time. The wedding rituals were performed by four priests on Monday at the Cheti Mandapam, which is situated in the first corridor of the Meenakshi temple.

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