With the unprecedented pandemic cancelling all gatherings across the globe, there are many festivals of immense sentimental value to the public that will see no attendance this year. Of them is the Chithirai festival at the Madurai temple.
Meenakshi Amman & The Marvel Of Madurai, a documentary premieres on the channel on 4 May at 8pm. The one-hour programme premieres on the day of the Thirukalyanam.
Filmed in 2019, the documentary celebrates the legend of Meenakshi Amman, Mother Goddess, queen, and patron deity of the ancient city of Madurai. The film showcases the first two weeks of the grand celebrations in Tamil Nadu’s second-largest city, taking viewers behind the scenes of key events, along with their back-stories and socio-cultural significance.
It presents never-seen-before visuals of the Chithirai festivities, tracing its history, uncovering facts, and delving into folklore. The documentary also takes a closer look at the logistics, security, and scale of organising the massive festival.
The documentary also looks at the historical and architectural significance of Madurai’s landmark, its origins, expansion and present form. High-definition and 4K cameras reveal the art and architecture of the many structures spread over the 14-acre complex, along with insights of experts and temple authorities to provide context and perspective.
With a staggering 33,000 intricate sculptures, painted ceilings, mandapams, shrines, and fourteen towering gopurams, embellished with thousands of mythological characters and fantastical creatures, the temple is a feat of artistic genius and geometric precision. The storytelling, with stunning visuals and slickly-edited sequences, shines a light on South India’s indigenous craftsmanship, engineering, and cultural richness.
The original production, that has been a year in the making, captures the pomp and ceremony of some of the most important days of the Chithirai festival – from the ‘pattabhishekham’ the coronation of the goddess, to the ‘thirukalyanam’ the divine wedding, and ‘rathotsavam’ the chariot or car festival.
Also featuring prominently is the Kallalaghar festivities that honour Lord Vishnu, with lakhs of people arriving at the Vaigai River in Madurai. The event has socio-political significance and is historically significant, in addition to being a breathtaking spectacle.
Watch the trailer here: