Fairs and Festivals of Tamil Nadu


Pongal is celebrated on the first day of the Tamil month 'Thai'. The pot in which Pongal is cooked is called "Pongal Panai". The word Pongal means rice cooked in milk and jaggery.  It is the celebration of the harvest season. It is celebrated for four days in Tamil Nadu. The first day is called 'Bhogi Pongal', the second day 'Surya Pongal' and the third day 'Mattu Pongal'. Bhogi Pongal is celebrated as a family festival. Bhogi pongal is dedicated to Lord Indra. It is the day for spring cleaning. All old and unwanted things are thrown away or burnt. At that time boys beat little drums known as Bhogi Kottu which are specially made for the occasion with buffalo hide. The second day is dedicated to the sun (Surya) when Pongal is boiled by women and offered to the sun. Friends greet one another by asking whether rice is boiled.

The Chakhara Pongal made of rice and jaggery, seasoned with ghee, cashew nut and other spices, is a speciality for the occasion. Mattu Pongal, the third day is a day dedicated to the worship and veneration of the cattle. The Chakhara Pongal that has been offered to the local deity is given to the cattle to eat. The cattle are bathed, decorated and their horns are painted in bright colours.

Chitrai Festival 

In the first month of Tamils, a festival is held to celebrate the advent of spring. On the full moon day, the images of gods and goddesses from the temples in and around Madurai  are taken to the bed of the river Vaigai, in colourful processions accompanied by the hundreds and thousands of people and musicians. The atmosphere is one of mirth and merriment. The festival marks the marriage of Madurai's powerful presiding deity, Meenakshi with Lord Shiva.It marks the end of  one financial year and the beginning of another for agriculturists in Madurai district. Payments  for servants engaged in agricultural operations are made on yearly basis  i.e. from one Chitrai festival to the next.

Vaikasi Visakam 

Vaikasi is the second month  of Tamil Calendar. Temples dedicated to Subrahmanya or Muruga celebrate the Vaisdakam  festival. The full moon day is a day of great festivity for Subrahmanya or Muruga, the son of Lord Shiva. At Tiruchendur and Thiruparankundran, devotees carry milk pots and this day is considered as a day of enlightenment. It is on this day that the Buddha Purnima is celebrated - the day on which Gautama Buddha is said to have been born, got enlightenment  and attained Nirvana.

Chennai Music and Dance festival

Chennai celebrates her priceless heritage of carnatic music and dance to present a galaxy of star artistes.It is one of the largest festivals of this type in the world. It is the celebration of music of south india with songs of all their main languages such as Tamil, Telugu and Kannada.

Natyanjali Dance festivals

The temple city of Chidambaram pays special tribute to Lord Nataraja the 'Cosmic dancer'. The setting is truly divine-Chidambaram's gold-roofed temple, with pillars depicting Lord Nataraja in 108 poses from Bharatha Natyam - Tamil Nadu's classical dance.

Mahamagam festival

This holy festival is held in Kumbakonam once in 12 years - the temple city that gets its name from "Kumbha" - the divine pot. Legend has it that Brahma, the Creator, held a pot containing nectar and the seed of creation. Shiva. in the form of a hunter shot an arrow at the pot - spilling the nectar into the famous Mahamagam tank at the Adi Kumbeswarar Temple.

Arubathimoovar festival

Literally, 'Arubathimoovar' refers to the 63 saints of Shiva canonised for leading exemplary lives of devotion and penance. Bronze figures of these 63 saints adorn the magnificent Kapaliswar Temple at Mylapore, Chennai. Once, every year, they are carried in a colourful procession through the streets of Mylapore.

Kanthuri festival

A truly secular festival - where devotees flock to the shrine of saint Quadirwali, believed to do equal good to people of all faiths. One of the descendants of the Saint is chosen as a Peer or spiritual leader and is honoured with offerings. On the tenth day of the festival, the Saint's tomb is annointed with sandalwood - and later the holy sandal paste, renowned for its healing powers, is distributed to everyone.

Kavadi festival

Dancing in a hypnotic trance to the rhythm of drums, devotees of Muruga carry the 'Kavadi' a flower decked decoration, all the way up the Palani Hills to fulfil their vow. According to Hindu mythology, Idumban is said to have carried two sacred hillocks on two ends of a pole placed on his shoulders.

Velankanni festival

Wondrous legends surround the church-the most famous being that of the ship-wrecked Portuguese sailors, who in the 16th century, vowed to build a great shrine for the Virgin Mary, for saving their lives in a terrible storm. The Velankanni festival attracts thousands, clad in orange robes to the sacred spot where the ship landed. Equally famous are the Virgin Mary's miraculous healing powers - earning for the church the name 'Lourdes of the East'.


Literally, this means the festival of 'nine nights' taking unique and different forms in different states of India - all to propitiate the goddess Sakthi, for power, wealth and knowledge.

Karthigai Deepam

Rows of glittering earthen lamps outside every home, and the joyous burst of fire crackers mark Tamil Nadu's Festival of Lights.


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