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Thiru maal irum sOlai - part 7 - chithra thiru vizhaa

From: Sampath Rengarajan (srengara_at_ford.com)
Date: Mon Feb 10 1997 - 07:00:19 PST

Thiru maal irum sOlai - part 8 - chithra thiru vizhaa
for kaLLazhagar

The  most important festival for Sri KaLLazhagar is  the
one that is celebrated during the chithra month powrNami
(full  moon).  This is chithra festival celebrated  with
vakravar.  The  chithra  thiru  vizhaa  that  starts  in
madurai  meeNaakshi temple and this chithra festival  of
Lord  kaLLazhagar start on the same day and time.  Prior
to  King Thirumalai naayaakar's rule  (He was ruling  in
Madurai  as  his  capital for sometime) these  festivals
were   celebrated  on  2  different  time  of  the  year
separated  by  months. It is noted that  Lord  Azhagar's
chithra festival took place always in chiththirai as per
the  current schedule and meeNakshi kOil's festival used
to  take  place during the month of "maasi". The  street
where  meeNakshi's  car  plies  around  during  the  car
festival  is  thus named after the month  maasi  and  is
known   as   maasi  veethi.  Prior  to  King  Thirumalai
nAyakkar's  rule  Lord Azhagar will  travel  (even now ?!)
passing  through  "azhaga"nalloor,  thEnoor,  and  reach
madurai  and  step  down in river  vaigai  and  stay  in
"vaNdiyoor" and reach azhagar malai in chithra month. It
is  reported  in  history that King  thirumala  nAyakkar
combined both the festivals to bring those mass momentum
and  speciality and add to the religious  sentiments  of
his public.
      There is also another story that's reported in the
later  day  shaivite's tradition. It is said  that  Lord
Azhagar  came  here to see the marriage of HIS  *younger
sister* meeNAkshi's marriage. While travelling from  HIS
azhagar   malai,   HE   stopped   at   several    places
(ILaippaaRuthal ie in modern words taking a break during
the  long journey of 12 miles all by foot). It  is  seen
even  today that large amount of water is pumped in  and
sprayed  through  huge  hoses  on  the  public  who  are
gathered  all  along the way of this 12 miles  from  all
over  in hundreds of  thousands, to quench the heat  and
also  the holy water of silambAru is sprayed on the Lord
as  his procession walks down and the battars constantly
do  sAmaram that is visiri or fan to blow some cool  air
on  the  Lord. It is also said that the entire  town  of
madurai  come  to  receive this Lord azhagar  whom  they
worship  as  Lord  Vishnu  and param  and  "aathimoolam"
personally   with  complete  mariyaathai  (protocol   of
respects  offered to Lord all through out the  way)  and
poorNa  kumbam. (Many madurai district vaasis  even  now
name  their sons as "aathimoolam" and this is next  best
name  in  madurai as compared to many pAndiyans).   Such
ethir  mariyaathai is known as "ethir sEvai" in  popular
terms during this festival. However the story of azhagar
coming here for the sake of HIS sister's marriage is not
reported  in  purAnams  and  hence  don't  have  purAnic
backing. It is widely considered by Historians that king
thirumalai  nAyakkar  attempted to bring  harmony  among
shaivaite  and srivaishnavite followers and hence  moved
the meeNAkshi temple festival from mAsi and combined  it
with the ever prominent azhagar festival in chiththirai.
Even  today it is believed that the state government  of
Tamil  nadu  provides some support for this  festival  as  it
inherited from the raj, and celebrates it as one of  the
official  festivals  as similar to  srimushnam  festival
that  is  also being celebrated as a state festival  for
srimushnam Lord to promote Hindus and Muslim unity.  The
lord  of  srimushnam stops on his way  to  killai  while
"kanu"  festival  when the prayers are offered  to  this
lord  from the mosque and the lord is accepting  it  for
centuries now.

Sri ANDAL samEtha Sri parimEl KaLLazhagar thiruvadikaLE charaNam
Sampath Rengarajan