Madurai, Apr 18 : Thousands of Hindu devotees congregated at Meenakshi temple on Friday to participate in a function to mark a unique celestial wedding.
A sea of devotees witnessed the wedding of Goddess Meenakshi, the presiding deity of the famous Meenakshi Temple with her consort Shiva.
The wedding is part of the elaborate ten-day long Chitirai Peruvizha festival, which began on April 9.
"The celestial marriage celebration of Meenakshi is taking place since 8th century by the Tiruvanaika kingdom. From 16th century onwards the Chitirai festival is being celebrated. Every year during the Tamil month of Chitra, the marriage has been done here," said Chandrasekhar, the temples' priest.
Women get their Mangalsutra tied again by their husbands on this occasion as it is considered auspicious.
The festival enthralled the Indians and foreigners alike who were in raptures to witness the unique ceremony marking the celestial wedding.
"I'm coming here for the fourth time. I got an amazing view because of the police protection here. There are at least about a lakh of people who have come here to view this wedding. The wedding was amazing," said Santhana, a devotee.
The event is seen as a fertility ritual when life gets renewed every year.
Preparations for the ceremony, in which no devotee goes back without eating the lavish, temple feast, begin several weeks in advance. More than 150 people took three days to prepare the purely vegetarian feast.
Temple authorities say the surge of devotees for this year's ceremony surpassed previous attendance, considering which the security has been beefed up in and around the temple premises.