The Goddess of Madurai and her temple
This spectacular temple is a sacred place of pilgrimage for Hindus the world over. The hallways and chambers are crowded from dawn to dusk, filled with pilgrims eager for darshan (sight) of the Goddess Meenakshi in the sanctum sanctorum. Pilgrims come to offer prayers, to have wishes fulfilled, to atone for misdeeds or simply to offer their love to the Goddess for Her presence in their lives. The Hindu religion is alive in this temple, and you’ll sense the spiritual power immediately upon walking into this divine citadel. The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500 year old city of Madurai.
Hinduism is monotheistic, meaning it believes in one Supreme God. Within Hinduism there are 4 primary sects one of which is called Shaktism. Members of this sect revere the Supreme as the Divine Mother. As far as I know it’s the only religion that worships God in the feminine form. Shaktas, members of this sect, consider the Meenakshi temple as one of their most sacred temples in the world. Here, the Supreme God manifests as the Goddess Meenakshi in the sanctum sanctorum, an all-loving, compassionate and gentle Divine Mother. Truly one of my most favorite places to visit in southern India to experience an energy so refined and divine.
The temple today stands as one of the gems of the city, attracting over 15,000 visitors a day to its dazzling architecture including its 10 outer gopurams, or towers, that stand guard around the temple and the gold-topped shrines in the center of the temple. Geographically, the temple lies in the very heart of Madurai, and has fostered the cultural heartbeat of the city. The Meenakshi Tirukalyanam Festival, which takes place in the spring and goes on for ten celebratory days, attracts an average of one million people each year. It was also in the running to be given the prestigious title by the New7Wonders Foundation of one of seven “New Wonders of the World.”
An imperial nine-story tower rises into the sky, silhouetted against the Vaigai River. The towers were built in the 16th century and is many centuries younger than the grand temple upon which it rests. The Meenakshi Amman Temple, built to honor the Goddess Meenakshi is a wonder to behold and one of our destinations on the 2014 March meditation retreat to South India.
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