Thousands of people all over the world witnessed the live telecast of Meenakshi Thirukalyanam, the Celestial wedding of Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareswarar, on their television sets, mobile phones and laptops as the wedding was performed without public participation inside Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple for the second consecutive year owing to COVID-19 pandemic.
The Celestial wedding began around 8 a.m. and concluded by around 9 a.m. at Old Thirukalyana Mandapam.
Lord Sundareswarar and Piriyavidai were brought to the mandapam. They were followed by the entrance of Goddess Meenakshi. All the deities were dressed in bright and festive colours with elaborate floral decorations. The holy knot was tied around 8.50 a.m.
Only a few priests, a handful of temple staff, and a few others were present during the ceremony. Temple Joint Commissioner K. Chelladurai said that the public was not allowed to have a darshan of the deities in the Thirukalyanam form. “But, devotees were allowed inside the temple for a regular darshan from 10 a.m. onwards,” he said.
Police personnel were posted in the four entrances of the temple to ensure that there is no public entry inside the temple. Outside the temple, as per custom many women changed their mangalsutra or the sacred thread outside the temple as a mark of renewal of their bonds.
Mr. Chelladurai said that the entire wedding was live telecast in television channels, YouTube, and the official Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department website.
Although, the wedding was live in several platforms, the restriction imposed in public gathering in the wake of the rising COVID-19 cases was a major disappointment to devotees, said R. Lakshmi, a devotee who has been attending the celestial wedding for the past two decades.
"Meenakshi Thirukalyanam is the highlight of the annual Chithirai festival. But, witnessing the wedding through digital platforms for the second consecutive year because of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic felt incomplete," she said.
Concurring with this viewpoint, B. Subha Nandhini, a resident of Kamarajar Salai, said that usually many women from their locality wear new saris on the day of Meenakshi Thirukalyanam and change their sacred thread during the wedding. "For us, the wedding is an event to renew our relationships and commitments," she said.
The members of Pazhamudhir Solai Thiruvarul Murugan Baktha Sabai trust distributed 15,000 food packets as part of the wedding feast.
P.N. Vivekanandan, one of the organisers of the Trust, said that 3,000 food packets were distributed to the inmates of old age homes and the remaining packets were distributed to devotees at Sethupathi Higher Secondary School.
"It was ensured that devotees were not crowding inside the school premises and had their food only outside the premises. All COVID-19 safety precautions were strictly followed," he added.
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