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Monday, March 14, 2011

Meenakshi Temple ,Madurai

Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai
It is a historic Hindu temple located in the holy city of Madurai in India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva - who is known here as Sundareswarar or Beautiful Lord- and his consort, Parvati who is known as Meenakshi. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500 year old city of Madurai. The complex houses 14 magnificent Gopurams or towers including two golden Gopurams for the main deities, that are elaborately sculptured and painted. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure is believed to have been built in 1600.
This temple is a complex of many deities. The Shiva shrine lies at the centre of the complex, suggesting that the ritual dominance of the goddess developed later. Outside the Shrine, lies huge sculpture of Ganesh carved of single stone and there is a shrine for a giant
Ganesh temple, called the Mukuruny Vinayakar. The Meenkashi shrine is on the left of the Shiva shrine and is of sculpturally less valuable than the Shiva shrine.
Velli Ambalam
This is one of the five royal courts (Sabai or Sabha) where Lord Shiva is found as Nataraja, performing his Cosmic Dance. The Tamil word 'Velli' means Silver and 'Ambalam' means Stage or altar. This Shiva shrine also consists of an unusual sculpture of Nataraja. This massive Nataraja sculpture is enclosed in a huge silver altar and hence called 'Velli Ambalam' (The Silver abode). The famous Hindu marquee and a dancing form of Shiva that normally has his left foot raised, has his right foot raised in this temple. According to the
Tiruvilayaadal Puranam, this is on the request of Rajasekara Pandya, who was a sincere devotee of Lord Shiva. He asked the Lord to change his position, as he felt that always keeping the same foot raised would put enormous stress on it, based on his personal experiments in dancing.
Porthamarai Kulam, the sacred pond inside the temple, is a very holy site for devotees. People go around the 165 ft (50 m) by 120 ft (37 m) lake before entering the main shrine. The name means the Pond with the Golden Lotus, and the lotus that grows in it has a golden color.
Thousand Pillar hall of Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple was built with the oldest
Nellaiappar Temple, Tirunelveli as a model. The Aayiram Kaal Mandapam or Thousand Pillar Hall contains 985 (instead of 1000) carved pillars. It is considered culturally important and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The Thousand Pillared Hall was built by Ariyanatha Mudaliar in 1569.. Each pillar is carved and is a monument of the Dravidian sculpture. There is a Temple Art Museum in the hall where icons, photographs, drawings, and other exhibits of the 1200 years old history are displayed. Just outside this mandapam, towards the west, are the Musical Pillars. Each pillar, when struck, produces a different musical note. The kalyana mandapa, to the south of the pillared hall, is where the marriage of Shiva and Parvati is celebrated every year during the Chithirai Festival in mid-April.
Ashta Shakthi Mandapam
This is the first hall in the entrance of Meenakshi shrine tower near to East Tower. The hall carry the statues of eight goddesses and hence the name.
The most important festival associated with the temple is the Meenakshi Thirukalyanam (The divine marriage of Meenkashi) that is celebrated in April every year. During that one month period, in which most Tamil Nadu temples celebrate their annual festivals, there are a number of events including the
Ther Thiruvizhah (Chariot festival) and Theppa Thiruvizhah (Float festival) are celebrated. Apart from this, major Hindu festivals like Navrathri, Shivrathri are celebrated in a grand manner. Like most Shakti temples in Tamil Nadu, the Fridays during the Tamil months of Aadi (July 15 - Aug 17) and Thai (Jan 15 to Feb 15) are popularly celebrated with thousands of devotees thronging to the temple. In every Tamil month some festive occasions will happen in the temple like Aavani Urchavam, Maarghazi Urchavam, Navaraathri, etc. Like Meenakshi Thirukalyanam Festival, Avani Moola Utsavam is also the major important festival in Meenakshi Amman Temple. This is a 10-day festival mainly devoted to Lord Sundareswarar

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