Chithirai Mahotsavam Celebration at Sri Meenakshi Temple, Pearland. A taste of Madurai in Houston

Poo Pallakku Oorvalam

By Ponni Sivaraman

An annual signature event that is unique only to Sri Meenakshi Temple, Pearland, is the ten-day festival that occurs in the Tamil month of Chithirai, called the Chithirai Mahotsavam or Chithirai Thiruvizha. It is a celebration of the wedding of Sri Meenakshi, the fish-eyed Goddess, and Lord Shiva as the handsome Sundareswarar. It would be true to say that this year, the celebration surpassed any of the previous years, in its grandeur, awe-inspiring decorations, a few “for First time ever at MTS’ additions and a record-breaking attendance of more than 3000 devotees.

The festival commenced on April 11, 2024, with Vasthu Shanthi pujas, followed by Dwajarohanam (Flag Hoisting) at the Dwajasthambam (Kodi Maram), the next day. This announced the start of the festival and special Yaga Sala Pujas were conducted every morning and evening where various religious rites and Homams were performed.  The evenings came alive with Cultural programs consisting of music, instrumental and vocal, dance, bhajans, and Harikatha or story telling discourses while celestial mantras that were being chanted, resonated and reverberated around the Temple. The Utsava Murthis in their fine alankarams were then taken out on a procession around the temple, each night on a different Vahanam.  Four new vahanams, the Annam, the Yaali, Kamadhenu and Bhootham were added on this year, sculpted by the temple Silpis, in addition to the existing Rishaba, Kalpaka Vriksham, and Gaja Vahanams. Two new donations, a Golden Pallakku and a Golden Horse or Thanga kudhirai were donated by generous donors.


The”crowning” moment of this festival was the “Pattabhishekam” or the “Coronation” of Goddess

Sri Meenakshi, by the offering of the jewel studded crown to the Goddess. Following the same samprathayam or rituals as of the Meenakshi temple in Madurai, the Chairman of the Meenakshi temple Board of Trustees here, Mr. Sundar Arun, received the “Parivattam “and the divine Scepter, a respect and honor accorded to him by the temple priests (an honor given to king Thirumalai Nayakar in those days). After receiving the divine Golden Scepter from the temple priests, it was taken around the Swami Sannithi and then offered to the Goddess. This affirms the Sovereign rule of the Goddess and the title ‘Queen” to Meenakshi. It is said in Madurai, that this ceremony marks the transfer of power to rule Madurai from Lord Sundareswarar to Goddess Meenakshi. Thousands of devotees witnessed this amazing ceremony here, a moment so divine, so unifying and bringing the community together.

The sight of Goddess Meenakshi on her Poo Pallakku after her Pattabhishekam or Coronation, was another marvel that could be experienced only by being there.  The design for the Pallakku was a magnificent creation by the Silpis and with the help of many volunteers and was created from thousands of fresh flowers. The captivating tone of live Nadaswaram and Thavil, the upbeat rhythms of Chendai Melam as the Pallakku went on its rounds, mesmerized the devotees into a trance.


The grand celestial wedding “Meenakshi Thirukalyanam” that took place on the tenth day of the festival, brought in an unprecedented 3000 plus devotees to participate in the event.  Dignitaries and special guests and devotees were treated to jaw dropping alankarams perfected by the esteemed temple priests. Rituals were conducted impeccably, and a new feature added, the “Poo Chorial” the showering of rose petals from above on the royal couple by a puppet doll, maneuvered by the silpis, added a delightful touch to the event. The Rathotsava (Chariot) procession that followed led by Karagattam and Kummi dancers, musicians, live Nadaswaram and Chenda Melam, was certainly a feast to the eyes, followed by a feast to the stomach, a sumptuous sit-down banana leaf Kalyana Virundhu, serving vadai, payasam and the whole works.

The festival concluded with the bringing down of the Temple Flag or Dwajaavarohanam, marking the end of the festivities. The Chairman of the Board, Mr. Sundar Arun, honored the Priests, Silpis, Administrators, Executives, and other Board members for their utmost dedicated services, and thanked the many generous donors and the volunteers and devotees for making this grand 10-day celebration possible.

If, the Chairman Mr. Sundar Arun and his wife Mrs. Malathi Sundar had a vision in mind, it took the entire community to make it a reality to enjoy the final grandeur and richness of the celebrations.

It would be justified to say that the event brought together many devotees and the community together and gave one, a glimpse of what it would have been to experience this back home. In essence a bit of Madurai was brought to Sri Meenakshi temple here.