Tamil Nadu is a truly vibrant state, where all festivals are celebrated with the utmost enthusiasm and fervor adding to their joyous nature. The festival season is a time when the state truly reaches its peaks. The state is home to a variety of festivals whether they be religious, artistic, harvest, or seasonal, all with their certain charms. These festivals give us a rich glimpse into the beautiful culture, heritage as well as traditions of the state of Tamil Nadu. These festivals are popular throughout the country and serve as a major allure that attracts tourists. They are an immersive experience that you’ll never forget. Here’s a list of some festivals in Tamil Nadu that you must experience.
Celebrated in the month of Thai, between January and February, this is a prevalent harvest festival in Tamil Nadu. A festival that commemorates the Sun God, Pongal festival is rejoiced for four days which are the Bhogi Pongal, Thai Pongal, Mattu Pongal, and the Kaanum Pongal. The four days are all marked with their unique charismatic activities that everyone zealously partakes in. The theme of this festival is majorly based upon ‘thanksgiving’ and the people express their gratitude to the gods for a good yield. The association of this festival with nature adds to significance, especially with our country’s primary activity being agriculture. A defining element of the festival is the namesake dish which is a delicacy that is a staple for every household in the state.
2. Chithirai Festival
The Chithirai Festival is one of the most prominent festivals that is celebrated in the glorious city of Madurai. This festival brings about people from all over the state to what is the biggest and brightest festival in the city. Lasting for twelve days, this is a beautiful event that re-enacts the wedding of Lord Sundareswarar, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu with the sister of Lord Vishnu, Goddess Meenakshi. Legend states that for the next four months to come, the city shall be ruled by the revered Goddess. It occurs in either the month of April or May. The festival becomes unique as the devotees of Vishnu belong to a higher caste while the opposite is true for Lord Shiva, thereby bringing about the spirit of unity.
3. Tamil New Year’s Day
The Tamil Nadu New Year or as locally referred to as Puthandu occurs on the very first day of the Hindu Solar Calendar or the month of Chithirai. On this day, you can witness people throughout the state greeting each other by saying Puthandu Nalvazhthukkal, which means Happy New Year! This auspicious day is started in a truly fitting fashion, with the preparation of kolams (colored rice flour) and can be observed at the entrances of countless houses. This is a day where people visit temples to pray and prepare Pongal and to extend their offerings to god for a prosperous year ahead. It usually falls in April and marks the day when the creation of the universe began by Lord Brahma.
4. Natyanjali Dance Festival
This vibrant dance festival begins with the commencement of the festival of Maha Shivratri and extends for five days. This festival is held at the city of Chidambaram, the home of the Nataraja temple dedicated to the very god of dance, Lord Natraja, an incarnation of Lord Shiva and it is due to the temple’s presence that the city has been considered to be a pious spot, especially for Shaivites. This is a festival that attracts tourists and dancers from not only the entire country but the entire globe who come here to showcase and dedicate their art to Lord Shiva by performing classical dances forms such as Kathak, Bharatanatyam, Mohiniyattam, Odissi, Manipuri, and many more. These mesmerizing performances take place in the outer surroundings of the temple which is a striking work of architecture.
5. Mahamaham Festival
This is a festival that has its quirks but it is undeniably a festival that you must attend. Hosted at its namesake, the Mahamaham Tank, situated in Kumbakonam. This festival is celebrated once every twelve years. The reason behind that is quite interesting for it is believed that the water of the holy rivers of our country’s two holy rivers: the Yamuna and the mighty Ganga are said to meet in this very tank every twelve years and so on the occasion of this festival, people from all over the country gather here to bathe in this water of utmost divination and cleanse their sins for a fresh start. During this festival, the state is completely crowded with pilgrims with sometimes the number crossing well over thirty lakhs and spell-binding special rituals are conducted in temples.
6. Avani Moolam Festival
The Avani Moolam Festival is one of the most celebrated in Madurai and is dedicated entirely to Lord Shiva. It commemorates Lord Sundareshwar’s coronation and is usually observed between August and September. During this festival, the city is crawling with devotees and simply lights up with fervor around, which includes everyone dressed in new and vibrant clothing and eating the delicacy of pittu. As a part of this auspicious remembrance, the priest of the temple recites the 64 miracles performed by Lord Shiva, in addition to the unique festivities organized at the Meenakshi Temple. Furthermore, the twelve Tiruvilayadals, which are the tales of the devout supporters of Lord Shiva are beautifully executed.
These festivals are only the event that they are because of the people’s passion and excitement for the same. We all look forward to festivals that are a great tribute in their way to our culture and heritage and the same is naturally the case in Tamil Nadu. It is rightly said, “The greatness of a culture can be found in its festivals.”Let us know in the comments section below about the festival of Tamil Nadu that you found particularly intriguing.