Chithirai Thiruvizha (Festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Chitirai) is an annual celebration celebrated in Madurai during the month of April. It is one of the longest celebrations of the world and lasts for one month. The first 15 days of the festival is celebrated for Meenakshi and the next 15 days are celebrated for Alagar (a form of lord Mahavishnu).

Historically it was two separate events. The first is Meenakshi festival that was celebrated on a different month and Alagar festival celebrated on a different month as two separate celebrations.

Meenakshi is the daughter of Pandya king Malayathuvaja Pandian and his queen Kanchanamalai, The royal couples didn’t have a child for a long time. So, he did special pujas and offered his prayers to the God. During the puja a small girl came out of the fire and sat on the lap of the king. At that time a divine voice from the sky told them that this child is avatar of Sakthi (Wife of Lord Shiva) and Lord Shiva will come to marry her at the right age. Meenakshi became a young woman and was trained in all warfare and she was crowned as Queen of Pandya kingdom after her father. She conquered the whole world with her extraordinary war skill and at last she went to Kailayam (The Place of Lord Shiva) to conquer it. When Meenakshi meet Lord Shiva at the battlefield she fell in love with him and realised that She is an avatar of Sakthi, (Lord Shiva’s wife).

Lord Shiva assured Meenakshi that he will come to Madurai to marry her. As promised Lord Shiva along with all the Devas and rishi’s came to Madurai to attend the holy wedding. Lord Shiva married Meenakshi and ruled the Pandya kingdom under the name Sundara Pandyan.

This is a Separate celebration that was celebrated by Saivaites (Followers of Lord Shiva). The below is the story of Alagar festival that is celebrated by Vaishnavite (Followers of Lord Vishnu).

Mandooka rishi (a saint) was taking bath in the holy waters of Aagaayaganga in Alagar hills. At that time the most powerful and tempered Durvasar Maharishi came by the way. Mandooka rish haden’t noticed his arrival, But durvasa thought that Mandooka rishi is insulting him by not welcoming him. So he cursed Mandooka to become a frog and live in river vaigai. Mandooka was worried by the curse and pleaded for mercy. Durvasa told him to go to Vaigai and pray Lord Alagar to get out of his curse and get back his human body. As advised by Doorvasa he went to river vaigai and lived in the river as a frog and pray lord Alagar.

Alagar was pleased by the prayers of Mandooka rishi and he himself went to river vaigai to cure the curse of Mandooka rishi. And, as per mandooka’s wish he showed him All the ten avatars of Lord vishnu and blessed him.

During the rule of King Thirumalai Nayakar both the festivals were merged as one single event to unite the peoples of two groups (Saivism and Vaishnavite). Since then this is celebrated as one grand event during the Tamil month of Chitirai and this gives the celebration its famous name Chitirai Tiruvizha.