Meenakshi Amman Temple or Meenakshi-Sundareshwara Temple is a historic Hindu temple located on the southern bank of the Vaigai River in the temple city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Meenakshi, a form of Parvati, and her consort, Sundareshwarar, a form of Shiva. The temple is at the centre of the ancient temple city of Madurai mentioned in the Tamil Sangam literature, with the goddess temple mentioned in 6th century CE texts. Meenakshi (also known as Meenatchi and Tadadakai), is a Hindu goddess and tutelary deity of Madurai who is considered an avatar of the Goddess Parvati. She is the divine consort of Sundareswarar, a form of Shiva. She finds mention in literatures as the princess or queen of the ancient Pandya Kingdom who elevates to godhood. The goddess is also extolled by Adi Shankara as Shri Vidya. Madurai Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple was built by King Kulasekara Pandya (1190-1216 CE). Most of the present campus structure was rebuilt after the 14th century CE, further repaired, renovated and expanded in the 17th century by Tirumala Nayaka.The complex has numerous sculpted pillared halls such as Ayirankkal (1,000 pillar hall), Kilikoondu-mandapam, Golu-mandapam and Pudu-mandapam. Its shrines are dedicated to Hindu deities and Shaivism scholars, with the vimanas above the garbhagrihas (sanctums) of Meenakshi and Sundareswara gilded with gold.
The temple attracts over a million pilgrims and visitors during the annual 10-day Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival, celebrated with much festivities and a ratha (chariot) procession during the Tamil month of Chittirai. The marriage of Meenakshi and Shiva was the biggest event, with all gods, goddesses and living beings gathered. Vishnu is believed to be the brother of Meenakshi. Vishnu gives her away to Shiva at the wedding. The wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareswara the “supremely important rite of passage” for women, the cultural concept of “sumangali” or “auspicious married woman” who lives with her husband but is also independent, organizer of the social connections and who is central to Tamilian life. The marriage of the goddess and god is a symbolic paradigm for human marriage. The Hindus generally circumambulate the shrines clockwise first before entering the shrine for a darshana. Meenakshi is typically visited before Sundareswarar by the pilgrims, she considered the primary deity of the complex. Like most Shakti temples in Tamil Nadu, the Fridays during the Tamil months of Aadi (July–August) and Thai (January–February) are celebrated in the temple by thousands of devotees. “Avani Moola Utsavam” is a 10-day festival mainly devoted to Sundareswarar describes his various Thiruvilayadal meaning Shiva’s sacred games.
Pottramarai Kulam (the Golden Lotus Pond): It was in this pond that the Golden Lotus for Indra to perform his pooja bloomed. This pond is also known as Adhi Theertham, Sivaganga and Uthama Theertham. This pond is situated within the temple complex. This theertham was created by Lord Sivaperuman by thrusting his Soolam (three pronged spear) into the earth in deference to the plea of Nandhi Devar and other deities. It was here, that the plank of Sangam appeared and established greatness of the moral text called Thirukkural. It was here that Chockalingam was found by the grace of the Lord, by the first Guru of Dharmapura Adheenam and Saint Srilasri Guru Gnanasambandar. In keeping with the boons granted by the Lord to a stork, upto this date no fish nor other life is found in this miraculous sacred pond. Since this theertam was created before all other theerthams it is called Adhi Theertham and because it is much greater importance than all other theerthams, it is also called Parama Theertham as Gnana Theertham because it confers prosperity on all who bathe in it. As it grants heavenly abode it is also called Mukthi Theertham and as Sivaganga because the water from Ganga from the head of Lord Siva confluences with it and as Uthama Theertham because of its purity than any other theertham.If the devotees bathe in the waters of this pond of Golden Lotus on Amavasya (new moon) day, the first day of the month, days of eclipse and other auspicious days and worship the Lord, they will be blessed with all their aspirations for success.