Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple Information and Pooja Timings
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple or Tiru-alavai (IAST mīnākṣi Amman Kovil, Tamil: மீனாட்சி அம்மன் கோவில்/திருஆலவாய்) is a historic Hindu temple located in the south side of river Vaigai in the temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Parvati who is known as Meenakshi and her consort, Shiva named here as Sundareswarar(beautiful deity). The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500 year old city of Madurai. The complex houses 14 gopurams(gateway towers) ranging from 45-50m in height, the tallest being the southern tower, 51.9 metres (170 ft) high, and two golden sculptured vimana(shrine) over sanctum of the main deities. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure is built during 1623 to 1655 CEThe temple attracts 15,000 visitors a day, around 25,000 during Fridays and gets an annual revenue of sixty million INR. There is an estimated 33,000 sculptures in the temple and it was in the list of top 30 nominees of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”. The annual 10 day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival celebrated during April–May attracts 1 million visitors.
Meenkashi (IAST mīnākṣi, Tamil மீனாட்சி) is an Avatar of the Hindu goddess Parvati – the consort of Shiva. She is also one of the few Hindu female deities to have a major temple devoted to her. The name Mīnachchi (meaning fish eyed) is derived from the words mīna (meaning fish) and akṣi (meaning eyes). Meenakshi(the lady goddess) is the principal deity of the temple, but not Sundareswarar – this is unlike most Shiva temples in South India where Shiva is the principal deity. According to Hindu legend, in order to answer the prayers of the second Pandya king Malayadwaja Pandya and his wife Kanchanamalai, Goddess Parvati appeared out of the Holy Fire of the Putra Kameshti Yagna(sacrifice for childhood) performed by the king. According to another legend, the goddess herself gave a boon to Kanchanamalai in one of her previous births that she would have the privilege of mothering the goddess.
This girl, who came out of the holy fire had three breasts. A voice from the heavens told the king not to worry and added that the third breast would vanish soon the girl meets her future husband. The happy king named the girl as Tadaatagai and being the heir to the throne, Tadaatagai was trained carefully in all the 64 sastras(fields of science). As the time came when Tadaatagai was to be coronated, she had to wage war on the three worlds across eight directions. After conquering Sathyaloka(Brahma’s Abode), Vaikunta(Sanskrit वैकुण्ठ, vaikuntha meaning Vishnu’s Abode) and Amaravati(the abode of the Devas), she advanced to Kailasha(Shiva’s Abode). She very easily defeated the bhoota ganas(IAST: Bhūtagana, meaning Shiva’s army) and Nandi(the celestial bull of Shiva) and headed to attack and conquer Shiva. The moment she looked at Shiva, she was unable to fight and bowed her head down due to shyness; the third breast vanished immediately. Tadaatagai realized that Shiva was her destined husband. She also realized that she was the incarnation of Goddess Parvati. Both Shiva and Tadaathagai returned to Madurai and the king arranged the coronation ceremony of his daughter, followed by her marriage with Shiva.
Vishnu hands over his sister Meenakshi to Shiva
The marriage was supposed to be the biggest event on earth, with the whole earth gathering near Madurai. Vishnu, the brother of Meenakshi, prepared to travel from his holy abode at Vaikuntam to preside over the marriage . Due to a divine play, he was tricked by the Deva, Indra and delayed on the way. The marriage was presided over by a local god from Thirupparankundram Pavalaakanivaai Perumal, an incarnation of Vishnu. After the marriage, the pair ruled over Madurai for a long time and then assumed divine forms as Sundareswarar and Meenakshi who are presiding deities of the temple. Following the tradition, every evening, before closing the temple, a ritual procession led by drummers and a brass ensemble carries the image of Sundareswarar to Meenakshi’s bedroom to consummate the union, to be taken back to his day setting the next morning in dawn. The marriage is celebrated annually as Chithirai Thiruvizha(Tamil:சித்திரை திருவிழா meaning Chittirai festival) in Madurai. During the period of Nayakar rule in Madurai, the ruler Thirumalai Nayakar linked the Azhakar Thiruvizha(Tamil: அழகர் திருவிழா, meaning Azhagar festival) and the Meenakshi wedding ceremony.
People of this region believe that the Goddess Sellandiyamman miraculously built the adjoining Madukkarai wall which marks the boundary of the Chera, Chola and Pandya kingdoms and ends at the Meenakshi Amman temple.
The Meenakshi temple is believed to be founded by Indra(king of Devas, celestial deities) while he was on a pilgrimage to cure his misdeeds. He felt his burden taken off nearing the swayambu lingam(self formed lingam, a representation of Shiva used for worship in temples) of Madurai. He ascribed this miracle to the lingam and constructed the temple and enshrined the lingam there. Indra worshipped Shiva, who caused golden lotuses to appear in the near-by pool. Tamil literature speaks about the temple for the last couple of millennia. Thirugnanasambandar, the famous Hindu saint of Saiva philosophy, mentioned this temple as early as the 7th century, and described the deity as Aalavai Iraivan. The temple was believed to be sacked by the infamous Muslim invader Malik Kafur in 1310 and all the ancient elements were destroyed. The initiative to rebuild the structure was taken by first Nayak king of Madurai, Viswanatha Nayak (1559–1600) under the supervision of Ariyanatha Mudaliar, the prime minister of the Nayak Dynasty and the founder of the Poligar System.The original design by Vishwanatha Nayak in 1560 was substantially expanded to the current structure during the reign of Thirumalai Nayak(1623–55).He took considerable interest in erecting many complexes inside the temple. His major contributions are the Vasantha Mandapam for celebrating vasanthorsavam (spring festival) and Kilikoottu Mandapam (corridor of parrots). The corridors of the temple tank and Meenakshi Nayakar Mandapam were built by Rani Mangammal.
Meenakshi Amman Temple Mukkuruni Vinayagar Madurai 1600 CE This popular Vinayagar shrine is located inside the famous Madurai Meenakshi Temple.