Not going to brag because it’s my city, but MADURAI, without a doubt, IS the most magical place on this planet.
I mean, you can fall in love with this city.
Honestly, in my opinion,If Madurai were a guy *Insert Personification*, I would’ve already been in an eternal, never ending love -affair with Him. Because Madurai is versatile, diverse, adventurous, surprising, daring, captivating and romantic. ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
(Spoiler: My novel is based on Madurai, so you can say I’m almost half way there with the eternal love affair part.)
The lotus shaped alleys, the large corridors of the famous Meenakshi Amman Temple, the beautiful temple tank, the vast cultural diversity,the stories legends and mythologies that are around the city, the scrumptious food that’s absolutely unique, thanks to the vast cultural diversity mentioned earlier, it’s warm and hospitable people, all weave together the magical experience that’s called Madurai.
For example, how many years do you think it would take for a city to preserve a cultural festival and keep the style and tradition of it INTACT?
A Hundred Years?
Five hundred, maybe?
Well, our folks have been doing it for almost THREE THOUSAND year. (Or maybe even more,I don’t know).
The Chithirai Thiruvizha is probably one of the most biggest festivals in all of South Asia. It is also the longest festival to be celebrated. It lasts 30 days. (15 days for Goddess Meenakshi and 15 days for her Brother Azhagar.)
On normal days of the year, people of Madurai are generally sincere hard workers. We simply love to work. If you don’t believe me, do take a stroll at the the market place, where they starts their busy day at 1.00 a.m and go on and on like a bunch of bumble bees.
Or you could walk out at midnight, and if you’re hungry, chances are that you’ll find a restaurant open AND buzzing with activity. The city never sleep. Like never ever. No, you won’t find deserted streets and quiet roads in Madurai.
Like I said, we just LOVE to work. It has been that way ever since the times of Malayadwaja Pandya. Maybe that’s why we’ve been around for so long. We work fearlessly and without contemplation.
We are also quite hospitable. We do not see immigrants as threats. No, we embrace them with a warm hug and give them a place to rebuild their lives. Over the centuries Madurai has seen people of so many different races and ethnicity, amalgamate into it’s culture.
It’s not something we witness in history quite often for a city to let different cultures settle into its system and yet, keep it’s own legacy and originality intact. That’s Madurai for you. And that right there, is what inspired my novel to be set in this ancient city. It blows my mind, on how this city managed to strike that delicate balance.
However, do not get us wrong and assume that we are a lineage of kind and friendly workaholics, who do not know how to party. We showed world how a party is done. In fact, who knew that a Wedding, could be celebrated as such an elaborate and grand event?
And it’s not just some low-key party involving Trust me, you can walk into the city on a random day in the Tamil month of Chithirai (mid-April to mid-May) and find someone dressed up and ready to party,like this:
Or, you can turn around and then find this tusker casually walking by your side:
Madurai is, without a doubt, the world’s only living civilisation.
This city has literally stood the test of time.
I know people all over the world would claim that their home town is the best, and it is quite understandable for one to feel attached to their place of birth, but Madurai, is a completely different league.
Even a person who does not hail from Madurai, would admit that there’s that special element of magic in this city.
Whilst ancient cities like Dwaraka, Lord Krishna’s capital, are submerged under the ocean, Madurai lives.
That’s the coolest part of this city’s history.
Goddess Meenkashi (who was probably Krishna’s peer on a chronological basis, because Malayadwayja Pandya, Meenakshi’s father, is mentioned in the Mahabharata.) still gets an extravagant wedding ceremony that lasts almost an entire month, in the premises of the very city that she ruled thousands of years ago, under the witness of the people she loved ever so dearly, to this very date.
In all honesty, I cannot think of another Queen whose wedding has been celebrated in such grandeur for an entire month, every year, for several thousands of years.
Madurai is the stronghold of Tamil Culture at its purest. If I may be bold enough, I might even say that this city is the ONLY living identity we have of the Sangam History,left.
Fans of Sangam Literature, Travel Junkies, Photography Freaks and Devotees of Goddess Meenakshi, or People like me, who love a good story and who are looking for inspiration for a novel or piece of art, I strongly suggest each and every one of you to witness the ENTIRE proceedings of Chithirai Thiruvizha atleast once in your life time.
It will be the most inspiring and over whelming thing to happen to you. I promise.
There’s nothing like it.
There’s a reason the Tamil Poetess/Saint Avvaiyar suggests living in Madurai as a sure way to attain Mukhti (Liberation).
So inspiring artists, plot-less writers, parents of NRI kids who want to show them some of your cultural legacy, travellers, teenagers, history nerds, all human beings on earth!! Just pack your stuff, get on the Vaigai Express and be a part of this Wedding Party that’s like no other.
And folks of Madurai, who are reading this with a proud smile on your face, Hi-Fi to us, because we’ve already been blessed with a licence to enter paradise just because we were born in the coolest city ever =D
Three Cheers to us!!
Love, hugs and Hi-Fi’s,
Photography: Dev Ramnathan Sivarajah
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