Tamil Nadu is not only a land of temples; it is also a land festivals! Not a day passes by when there isn’t a festival isn’t celebrated in the state. Sometimes there’s a festival related to a temple, and sometimes there’s a festival related to a religion, and sometimes there’s a festival related to the seasons. Here’s a list of a few that are unique to Tamil Nadu;
This is undoubtedly the most important festival in Tamil Nadu. It is a nod to the state’s agricultural past and is celebrated with pomp and gaiety. The entire festival is celebrated over three days- the first being the actual Pongal day, the second being Mattu Pongal and the third being Kanum Pongal. People observe Pongal on the second day of the month of Thai to celebrate the arrival of fresh harvest. On the first day, prayers are offered to the Sun God thanking him for his benevolence. He is also offered a sweet called Pongal made out of the freshly harvested rice and palm sugar. The second day is a prayer to the cows and bullocks that toil along with the farmer. The third day is for the children- they are taken out to meet friends and relatives.
Chithirai Thiruvila is one of the longest festivals in the world and held for almost a month during April at the Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. The most auspicious of all these days is Chithra Pournami, meaning full moon day in the month of Chithirai. This day is said to be when the Lord Shiva married Goddess Meenakshi. Chhithira Pournami is celebrated in the Thanjavur and Nagapatinnam districts.
Annai Velankani Festival
The Church of the Virgin Mary in Velankani is an important place of worship for Christians around the world. They gather from the farthest corners of the world to the place on the 8th of September- the day when the feast of the Nativity of Mary is observed and the day when the church was dedicated.
Natyanjali is a dance festival held in Chidambaram as a tribute to the Lord Nataraj- a divine form of Lord Shiva. Dancers from around the word come to the Chdambaram Nataraja temple to showcase their talent and pay tribute to the Lord Nataraja- the God of dance.
Every year around the month of January – February, thousands of music lovers come to the town of Thiruvaiyaru to celebrate the Thyagaraja Aradhanai festival. Thyagarajas was a great saint and one of the founding fathers of modern Carnatic music.
This is celebrated once in a mamangam- a period of 12 years. When the planet Jupiter enters the constellation of Leo, millions of devotees throng to the temple tank of the Adi Kumbheshwara temple to rid themselves of all sins.
These are just some of the many popular festivals of Tamil Nadu.