Sri Meenakshi Temple’s 11 Days of Mahotsavam: Cultural Festival

The Priests at Sri MTS conducting the celestial wedding ceremony of Meenakshi Sundareswarar Thirukalyanam

The Priests at Sri MTS conducting the celestial wedding ceremony of Meenakshi Sundareswarar Thirukalyanam

By Akilan Gopal & Parthasarathy Krishnamurthy

PEARLAND: On May 2, the bells chimed auspiciously, as children dressed in traditional Indian clothes assembled in Houston’s Sri Meenakshi Temple for the inaugural day of the 11 day Chitrai Mahotsavam for Goddess Meenakshi. The event was grand and traditional just like in Madurai with festivities such as flag hoisting, adornments of flowers and silk clothes, various chanting, singing and dancing in Her praise.


This year, the children of the Vedic Heritage School (VHS), run by Meenakshi Temple Director Smt. Meena Vairavan, were given the unique opportunity to inaugurate the event with shlokas and bhajans they had learnt. Earlier, the Chairman of Meenakshi Temple Society, Dr. Vaduganathan addressed the gathering of the VHS children. The temple priest, Manicka Bhattar did an aarthi to the deities. Cultural Coordinator Mala Gopal, the person who unassumingly worked behind the scenes on this original idea of involving the youth in this Mahotsavam event, recognized the efforts of the VHS teachers, Kiran Parthasarathy and Bhavani Iyer. After this, the event shifted to a stage a few feet away from the Main Temple, specially laid out for singers and dancers, to perform in praise of the Goddess.

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Mahesh, Maya and Kishore Iyer and Adith Ram played the violin; Partha and Vaidya Krishnamurthy sang, while Abhijit Venkat displayed his footwork (abhinaya) in classical dancing. Later the crowd in the courtyard stood silent as they listened to the powerful chanting of rudram by brothers Girishvar and Abhijit Venkat. All in all, the members of Meenakshi Temple Society felt fortunate to be given a chance to be rasikas of such good talent on this opening day.

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In the next 9 days following, several hours of various performances were held each day in the front of the goddess Meenakshi. These included individual solo singing and dancing, as well as group routine, all from a range of ages from as young as 4 years old. All of these performances led to the Grand Finale event on May 11, which was held after Meenakshi’s thirukalyanam.

The Grand Finale event consisted of a Carnatic music concert by sisters Anahita and Apoorva Ravindran, Disciples of Chitravina Shri N Ravikiran. This was accompanied by Houston’s own Mahesh Iyer (violin), a disciple of Vidwan Sri. S. Easwara Varma and founder of Houston’s own Pranavam School of Arts, and Murali Gopalan (mridangam), a well-known devout artist in Houston area. Throughout the performance, the hall was fully packed as the sisters took over the audience with their awe-inspiring voice.

Their hour-long powerful duet was then followed by a magical Pradosham dance drama, based on the origin of Natyashashtra. This beautifully directed and artistically executed classical dance story featured students from Houston-based Dance Schools, such as Anjali School for Performing Arts, Abhinaya School of Performing Arts, and Nrithya School of Dance. Lead dancer Vidvadha Sridhar wonderfully coordinated all the 17 artists, dressed in stunning costumes provided by Sreepadam School of Art. The legendary choreographer Padmabhusan Dr. Saroja Vaidhyanathan was the unifying force who conceived and directed this fabulous piece.

Following the two Grand Finale performances, the Mahotsavam celebration was brought to a full circle ending with an address by Chairman Dr. Vaduganathan, who individually recognized of all the artists who performed throughout the last 11 days with a certificate of appreciation. In blessings of Goddess Meenakshi, the members of the temple community gathered on this auspicious day and made the Mahotsavam Opening and Grand Finale a brilliant success.