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Popular Festivals of Madurai
Not a day goes by in Madurai when some festival or the other is not being celebrated. If there isn’t a festival at the Meenakshi Amman Temple, then there’s probably a festival in Alagar Temple. And if there isn’t a festival at either of these, there could be a festival in one of the many churches in Madurai. Here’s a list of the popular festivals in Madurai:

Pongal
Pongal is celebrated with gusto all over Tamil Nadu but the celebrations in Madurai are like no other. The entire district comes to a standstill for three days – on the eve, the actual Pongal day and the day after Pongal also called Mattu Pongal. The third day is when Jallikattu takes place. Jallikattu is similar to the Spanish Encierro (running of the bulls) but more dangerous and with more bulls than the latter. Furthermore, while the Encierro involves running along with the bull, Jallikattu is about taming the bovine canon. The Alanganallur jallikattu is the most famous of all jallikattus where scores of people from neighboring villages and cities gather here.

Chithirai Festival
Although the Chithiria Thiruvila is celebrated throughout the Tamil month of Chithirai, the main events of the festival take place for 12 days. It is celebrated to commemorate the marriage of Lord Sundareshwar with Goddess Meenakshi. There’s also the Ther Thiruvila where thousands of devotees gather on the streets to the chariots of the Lord and his consort. Another noteworthy event during this festival is the Alagar Vaigai Eluntharul. This is done to celebrate Alagar, the brother of Goddess Meenakshi. According to legends, he was upset because the wedding between his sister and the Lord took place even before he could make it to the venue. The procession is commemorated to pacify him.

Oonjal Festival
Oonjal festival or the Festival of the Swing is celebrated for 10 days during which the idol of the Lord Sundareshwar and his consort are placed on a swing that is rocked gently in a mirror chamber. On the final day of the festival, Abhishekam is performed on the idols.

Aavani Festival
Aavani festival is celebrated to mark the coronation of Lord Sundareshwar. It is celebrated for 18 days where several deities are venerated. Some of them include Chandrashekarar, Subramanyan and Manicka Vasagar Peruman.

Alagar Festival
During the month of June, lakhs of devotees visit the banks of the River Vaigai to witness Kallalagar crossing the river to attend his sister’s wedding.

These are just some of the festivals. I’m sure you can visit Madurai any time of the year and witness some festival or the other – it is a part of life here!

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