Friday

Madurai, India - Meenakshi Temple






Madurai is a temple town, with scores of temples. But the only one for me was the Meenakshi temple. A significant temple, not merely for its sheer architectural magnificence, but also for the fact that my parents were so inspired by this gorgeous colorful abode of the Goddess Meenakshi (Parvati), they decided to name their first born after her

Meenakshi also means the eye of a fish which is beautiful indeed. But a vegetarian like me would never understand the true potential of this meaning:)

This spectacular temple Meenakshi is adorned with gopurams (dome like structures), huge gateways of space, pillared hallways and a Sanctum Sanctorum. The etching on stone within, the mastery of art and craft on its exterior leaves one breathless, wondering how on earth this marvel was created.

The surface is a pulsating mass of masonry, covered all over with figures of deities, their incarnations and semi-divine characters freely drawn and painted from the inexhaustible treasure-house of Hindu mythology. I could stand and stare for hours together absorbing the various tales. Or happily shoot pictures day after day for the innumerable discoveries the artistry of the temple affords.

The divine marriage of Goddess Meenakshi is the most important festival celebrated in the month of April/May every year for 12days. This wedding festival of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwar, for the onlooker is a feast of reverence and inspiration.

Since dawn the garland-makers get supremely busy, busloads of pilgrims roll in with their faces dusted with tamarind powder to keep cool, the hot morning certainly requires one to dig in ones heels and not lose one’s own cool.

At about 9.55am, the conch's are blown announcing the wedding inside the vast temple, to a guest list running into 1000’s of people. The temple courtyard is a vibrant sea of silk and cotton saris and garlanded hair with jasmine. Bare-chested men wave huge peacock fans, picking their way through the seated throng. The proceedings are shown on cctv’s in the courtyard while an ear-splitting commentary in Tamil details, at maximum volume, the history, myths and miracles of the day's events.

The stage is set, the deities arrive and at the most crucial moment the cctv konks out. A noisy response from the crowd quickly restores vision just as the priest ties the mangalsutra around the idol of the goddess and the celestial marriage is "consummated" behind a silken sheet. The women, orange strings at the ready, knot them around their necks, fervently wishing for marital happiness and peaceful homes during the coming year.

I feel hugely blessed to have witnessed this celestial wedding, and feel equally blessed knowing the Goddess is showering her blessings every second on her namesake:)

24 comments:

Kay said...

Meenakshi on Meenakshi for 101. Good going. :)

gita said...

Legend has it that the ruler of Madurai and his wife who did not have any children of their own, worshiped with the desire of obtaining progeny. During the course of their ceremonial prayer, a baby girl appeared in the sacrificial altar miraculously.

The Royal couple brought up this child as their own.

This girl grew up to be a valorous queen; she was also known as Meenakshi, the one endowed with fish like eyes.

One day she embarked upon a tour of victory, across the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent. In the course of her travels she came to Mount Kailash where she encountered Shiva; upon standing in front of Shiva valorous warrior princess was transformed into a blushing bride.

Shiva directed Meenakshi to return to Madurai, and promised her that he would join her in eight days as her groom. Accordingly Meenakshi returned to Madurai, and at the appointed time, the divine wedding was celebrated with pomp and splendor. Maha Vishnu, believed to be the brother of Meenakshi is said to have given the bride away.

RavneetSingh said...

This world famous Meenakshi temple is one of the most ancient and splendorous temple of our times. Happy for you, your parents named you after this brave Goddess:)

rajindermakkar said...

Auspicious 101st blog on a temple the presiding deity of which led to your name!!!

little ram said...

I just visited the temple myself just 10 days ago. While I have visited it many times in the past, on this occasion we had someone who knew the place and could show us around. Also, we had some time in hand. The one thing that occurred to me seeing the detailed sculpture work that is too intricate to be real, that there must have been a huge confluence of architects, poets, sculptors, painters, and what have you working together, each group trying to outdo the other. Quite apart from the fact that this requires a sustained period of peace and stable government, it must have been an extraordinary era where a huge number of highly skilled persons worked together in a remarkable burst of creativity. Living in such a period must have been invigorating. I wish we see renaissance of this sort that brings the best out of scientists, engineers, musicians, playwrights again in our country.

Anon said...

Great post Meenkashi! Wish you had written a little more though..Your posts are interesting and well written!

Ajoy Vakil

Anon said...

Congrats on crossing the 100 post mark :)

regards,

Brian

Shweta said...

What a beautiful post. Feel compelled to share my visit to this temple. After exploring the key attractions of this temple I sat on the staircase of Potramarai Kulam – The Golden Lotus Pond. I was sitting quietly and the only sounds piercing my sub conscious were the continuous chants, prayers and devotional carnatic music accompanied by Mridanga and Nadaswara creating a mystic atmosphere in which I was completely lost. I felt that I was away from the world and my mind was blank, thoughtless. The peace that I felt cannot be expressed in words. Based on my experience I assured many family and friends who want to feel the power of religion and spirituality must visit the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple. May you always be blessed.

john said...

I have seen the beauty, I have seen the serenity I have seen the calmness… Yes, in this land called Incredible India, I have experienced the finest adventures of my life. Since my childhood, it was my dad who encouraged me for thrilling experiences but none prepare you to feel the Divinity at Meenakshi Temple. Oneness. Awesome post.

melinda said...

Congratulations on the 101st post Mee!:) and a supremely beautiful narration too:)

Anon said...

Very nicely expressed ( as well as the layout) …The Deepstambha looks so magnificent in the night when they light on special occasions ! Its an amazing sight ( u feel the energy)

Love

Vandy

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Neeraj said...

What a beautiful temple!

Anon said...

Enjoyed it

Nandini Nair

sajeevkmenon said...

wonderful pictures. great blog

Dr. Sohrab Arora said...

Been here! Amazing place... the architecture, the atmosphere, loved it :)

well written!

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Travel Touch said...

Nice pics and Meenakshi Temple is one of my favourites.
I am also giving a link to my travel blog (traveltouch.blogspot.com)

SiD... said...

And all I remember about the temple is some pundits haggling us around.. not leaving our side for a minute.. and of course asking us to pay something after every few steps

Mee said...

@Kay @RavneetSingh @rajindermakkar @Brian @Shweta @John @Melinda @Nandini Nair @sajeevkmenon Dr. Sohrab Arora - TY:)

@Gita - TY! Helps to know more:)

@little ram - the heart yearns for such an era NOW.

@Vandy- yes you do:)

@Neeraj -indeed it is.

@SiD - unfortunately that's true for all our temples in India:( the 80:20 principle forces this behavior ...



@

Sneo said...

hey. thanks for dropping by and all those comments.
I haven't been to Madurai but my friend visited recently and is in love with the place.
Some how the live temples dont interest me as much as dead ones. you know what i mean? Like Hampi.

indhu M said...
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snigdha G said...
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indhu M said...
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