Introduction to the Chithirai Festival in Madurai:

Diwali is coming with anticipation for everyone. But Diwali in Madurai city is also in Chitrai. It is the Madurai Chithirai Festival. It is a festival that combines Saivism and Vaishnavism. The festival of going down into the Alaghar River is celebrated with great respect. During the ten days of the festival, the town will be crowded. They come and go with their families from Madurai and surrounding towns. This is a festival where more than ten lakh people gather at one place. Before narrating the vaipavam of Kallaghar's descent into the river, we must also narrate the beauty of Alagharmalai, where he resides.

The Majestic Alagharmalai and its Mythical Significance:

Alagharmalai, located about twenty kilometers north of Madurai, offers a breathtaking sight resembling a bull, hence known as 'Vrishabadri.' It holds mythological significance as the place where Emmadharman sought salvation from a curse, leading to Lord Perumal's divine presence. Perumal's vow to reside on this mountain and bless devotees further adds to its sanctity.

The Legend Behind Alaghar's Descent into the River:

The narrative traces back to Sage Sudhapas' penance towards Perumal, interrupted by Sage Durvasa's curse, transforming him into a frog. The curse foretells Alaghar's arrival post-Chitra Poornami to grant Sudhapas salvation, compelling Alaghar's descent from Alagharmalai to the Vaigai River in Madurai.

The Commemoration of Srimeenatshi's Wedding:

Alaghar's journey towards Madurai coincides with his sister Srimeenatshi's wedding to Srisundareshwar. Despite his desire to witness the festivities, Alaghar's departure remains unnoticed, evoking sadness and legend suggests his symbolic awakening in the Vaigai River.

The Rituals and Celebrations Along the Way:

As Alaghar proceeds, devotees pay homage, culminating in his encounter with Veeraragava Perumal in Madurai, where both exchange garlands. Alaghar then proceeds to Vandiyur to absolve Sage Manduka, marking various ceremonies and blessings along the route.

Alaghar's Transformative Journey and Divine Interventions:

Alaghar's metamorphosis into a golden garuda vehicle at Thenur Mandapam symbolizes his divine power. His arrival at Ramarayar Mandapam in Thallagulam and subsequent adornment and rituals signify divine blessings and engagement with devotees.

The Spectacle at Thallakulam:

Alaghar's grand procession from Ramarayar Mandapam to Sethupathiraja Mandapam in Thallagulam involves elaborate decorations and ceremonies, including the enchanting Jodanai.

Return to Alagharmalai:

Alaghar's journey back to Alagharmalai marks the conclusion of the festival, with rituals performed to dispel evil spirits, culminating in the Utsavashanthi abhishekam on the tenth day, bringing the ten-day Chithirai festival to a ceremonious end, restoring Madurai to its usual state.