24 May 2011

Marriage of Shiva and Meenakshi

Right-click on photographs to view enlargements:

This year the marriage of Lord Shiva and the Goddess Meenakshi was celebrated on 16th April, 2011. Interestingly, the day before I visited Arunachaleswarar Temple and whilst sitting outside the Shiva Sannidhi watched as various palanquins were being prepared for the Marriage Festival to be held the next day.

The Marriage is celebrated throughout South India particularly at such Siva Sthalams as Arunachala. However, according to legend it is Madurai that is believed to be the actual site where the wedding between Shiva and Meenakshi took place and it is at Madurai that the Marriage is celebrated in a grand and huge manner over a period of 8-10 days.

The legend of Meenakshi and her marriage to Lord Shiva goes thus:

Marriage of Lord Shiva and Meenakshi

The legend

Once Indra killed a demon, even though the demon had done no harm. This act brought a curse upon Indra which he was freed from through the power of a Shiva Lingam in a forest, at which site he built a small Temple.

At that time in South India there was a Pandyan King called Malayadhwaja Pandiyan ruling a small city by the name Manavur, which was near the Shiva Lingam. When the King came to know about the Shiva Lingam he decided to build a large Temple for Shiva in that Forest. The King also developed the region into a fine princely state which was to be known as Madurai.

As the King was childless, he prayed and performed numerous yagnas for God to give him a child. The result was a three year old girl was born to him, who had three breasts and beautiful eyes like those of a fish (Meenakshi = eyes like a fish). The disappointed King who had been hoping for a boy, was told that when the child would meet her future husband, her third breast would fall off.

When her father died, the Princess ruled the kingdom and, as a ferocious warrior, led armies on a number of successful expeditions. On one of them she reached the Himalayas and encountered the God Shiva. Immediately her third breast fell off, and she became docile, ready to be a wife.

Shiva told her to return to Madurai where he would come to marry her.

He arrived accompanied by enormous crowds.

Wedding Procession

And it was at the wedding celebrations that Lord Shiva as Nataraja performed his majestic, cosmic dance.

Nataraja and Cosmic Dance


Anonymous said...

May Arunachala bless you. I love the stories you put up.

Meenakshi Ammal said...

Thank you very much for your kind comment. And I'm glad that you are enjoying the stories I am putting up.

Jenny said...

I am learning so much from Arunachala Grace. Thanks for all the stories and information. Hope to come and visit soon.

Janice Dobbs said...

You find the best photographs Meenakshi.