Chitra Purnima is a festival celebrated on the Full Moon day of Chithirai month.
Dedicated to Chitra Gupta
This festival is dedicated to Chitra Gupta, the deva who keeps record of human actions, on behalf of Yama, the God of death.
Chitra means, “picture”, and Gupt, “hidden”.
Chitra Gupta keeps a secret record of all our deeds in the “ethereal system”.
On this day, people worship Chitra Gupta to make amends for any wrong actions. Thus this is a day to remember that, “You reap, what you sow”, because nothing escapes the divine software. We need to perform good actions to reap good results. This is the “Law of karma” that is ingrained in the ethos of this land.
Chithirai being the first month, in the Indian calendar, Chitra Purnima is an occasion to look forward, as well as back at what we have come through – the good and the not so good.
Wedding of Sundareshwara and Meenakshi
Chitra Purnima is also the day when the celestial wedding of Lord Sundareshwara, a form of Shiva took place with Goddess Meenakshi, a form of Devi Parvati.
The celestial Wedding of Devi Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwara
Sundara– Divine Beatitude
Sundara means beauty, Eshwara refers to the Lord.
The words Sathyam Shivam Sundarm is used to describe the divine, which stands for Truth, Auspiciousness and Beauty.
Lord Sundareshwara here stands for divine beatitude, the beauty in Creation and the beauty in its understanding.
More on this beauty in Creation, is in our book and film – Creation – Srishti Vignana.
Meenakshi – Beautiful eyes
Meen, means a fish and akshi, eyes.
The Devi has a beautiful eyes, similar to that of a fish. In expressing the beauty of a lady, one of the expressions is that of beautiful eyes. These description are sometimes linked to an animal, flower and also a fish.
- Mrigha Nayani, the beauty of the eye of a doe, a female deer
- Kamala Nayani, lotus eyed
- Here in this context, it is Meenakshi, eyes of a fish.
At the time of wedding, the bride’s eye is beautified with Shingar as a doe eyed or fish eyed. Madurai, where Meenakshi temple is, being the centre of Tamil culture, it has another equally ancient local Tamil word for Meenakshi, which is. Kayal Vizhi, Vizhi meaning the look and Kayal is a type of slender fish. Here it means Slender Eyed.
Inner Significance of open eyes
A fish always has its eyes open. This signifies that the Devi’s grace are always on Her devotees.
Apart from the continuous flow of divine grace, there is another significance to the eyes of Devi Meenakshi.
A fish hatches its eggs through staring by its eyes. This signifies that Devi Meenakshi’s bestows on us fertility, creativity and prosperity in our material life with graceful looks.
There is a legend associated with Chitra Purnima, which throws more light on the aspect of Divine Grace.
Once Indra, the Lord of the Deva, had an argument with his Guru Brihaspati. The Guru then distanced himself from Indra and refrained from advising him on any matters. Indra then began to commit wrong deeds, for which he had to reap the consequences. At this time, Guru Brihaspati returned and asked him to undertake a pilgrimage on earth, so as to reduce some his sins. Indra started his pilgrimage, and visited many scared spots. At one place, he felt the burden of his sins being lifted. He discovered a Shiva lingam at this place in Madurai, which he worshipped. Indra was thus relieved from all his sins.
Chitra Purnima was the day when Indra performed this worship to the Shiva Lingam and propitiated the Lord.
Thus goes the legend which shows that divine grace can mitigate our sins, if we propitiate the Divine sincerely with faith.
Azhagar Attril Erunghirar, the festival after Chitra Paurnami
Chitra Paurnami is the biggest festival in Madurai city, from time immemorial, which involves Lord Vishnu too.
As the story goes, Meenakshi is the sister of Vishnu, who is to give her beloved sister, in marriage to Lord Shiva. Lord Vishnu in His aspect as Kallazhagar lives some distance away from Madurai, in the forested hills. He takes His time in reaching the ceremonial Kalyana Mantap. The auspicious hour of marriage was nearing, and he had not yet reached the venue. Then the Vishnu aspect from the local temple, Kudal Azhagar, came and gave away the bride in the wedding. By the time Kallazhagar reached, the wedding had already been performed.
Kallazhagar then returned, on His horse, back to His temple, getting into the nearby Vaigai River, which in that season has only knee deep water. He wades in the river itself reaching all the way back to His temple. Along with Him, the lakhs of people, who had to come to witness the Meenakshi Sundareshwar Kalyanam also get into the Vaigai.
This over the centuries and millennia has become a festival, and is celebrated the day after Chitra Paurnami.
This festival was popularized by King Tirumal Nayak, Raja Tirumal Nayak, the popular king of Madurai, who ruled about 350 years ago.
The event of Kallazhagar getting into the river, is thronged by lakhs of millions of people, and is a festive sight to behold, to rejoice, to take part in.
Azhaghar Attril Erunghirar
This journey in the Vaigai river is symbolic of a groom’s party returning after the marriage, leaving the new bride in her new home with her spouse.
This event is called in the ancient Tamil language as, Azhaghar Attril Erunghirar, meaning Azhagar wades into the river.