KARAIKUDI – a land of one of the finest culture and traditional lineage in the world.
Karaikudi is the largest town in Chettinad region of Sivagangai district in the
Indian state of Tamilnadu. The name Karaikudi originated from the thorny plant's name karai
that abounds in the area, and kudi meaning settlement. It belongs to the
collection of 80 towns and villages in the Chettinad belt that stretched from Ramnad
district to Pudukottai state of then British India. The Chettinad or Chettinadu
literally means Chettiars' state. The Nagarathars, a Chettiar community, are the
predominant people of the region flourishing in trade and commerce from many centuries.
They are institutional in establishing innumerous educational institutions, financial
services, temples, festivals, traditional ceremonies, and social welfares.
History of Karaikudi dates back to around 1700. It was an area scattered with settlements. Having the
present day Karaikudi as reference, there were four prominent settlements - in northeast is "Jayamkondan
puram" [the present day Sekkalai], in northwest is "Muthupattianam", in southwest is "Kallukatti", and
in southeast a hamlet known as "Naganatha Pudur" (N.Pudur). These settlements were in between a woody
area. There were no proper interlinking road facilities. People were hesitant to travel through these
woody areas in the fear of robbers and thieves hiding in these woods.
Around 1900, the woody areas along with the settlements were developing and in due
course merged to form a notable village, which was soon brought under Panchayat
board management. Later on, major infrastructure developments were undertaken, starting
with its administration that was changed to Municipality in 1928, the Railway Junction
was created in 1930, a Government hospital [the present day Gandhi Maligai] was
established in 1940, and other facilities like road, drinking water, electricity,
communication were laid out. All these improvements transformed this village into
a well known town. And when, Vallal Alagappa Chettiar established educational institutions
in 1947, and in 1948 brought C.E.C.R.I. to Karaikudi; consequently changed Karaikudi
into a major township.
The people of Chettinad region took a praiseworthy active part in Indian freedom movement.
Karaikudi has a population of 1.5 lakhs (estimated as of year 2010). The Male and
Female ratio is apparently equivalent, but favouring females over male. Karaikudi
has an average literacy rate higher than the National average. Karaikudi is considered
as the best place to live among other towns in the district, owing to its sound
educational infrastructure, good ground water, better heath care facilities, and
lucrative business possibilities.
Karaikudi Taluk is located in Sivagangai district, in the Indian state of Tamilnadu. It
has an average elevation of 82 metres (269 feet) above sea level. Once this was
a small village in the Ramanathapuram district. In 1930, Karaikudi Railway Junction
was created linking Tiruchirappalli - Rameswaram and Mayiladuthurai - Rameswaram
(mater gauge) railway network by the Southern Indian Railway Company Limited. A
river called as Thean aaru (the river with water like honey,) flows through west-southeast
direction in the south end of Karaikudi. Karaikudi area has a good water table owing
to numerous Reservoirs (tanks and ponds), and the Sambai ootthu (Sambai oottru / Sambai spring /
Artesian aquifer) situated nearby
Theanaaru, in south end of Karaikudi and adjacent to Karaikudi - Devakottai rastha
(road), that provides for the Municipality drinking water.
Karaikudi is located on the Tiruchirappalli - Rameswaram National highway number
210, and is situated between Tiruchirappalli and Madurai at a distance about 100
kms. on either side; and about 440 km. to southwest from the state's capital - Chennai.
The Postal code is 630001 [to 630006]; STD code is 04565 (91 4565), ISD code is
004565 (+91 4565), and Karaikudi is abbreviated as KKD or KKDI. Karaikudi is located
at latitude 10.07° N and longitude 78.78° E.
After, Karaikudi was constituted as a Municipality in 1928, it was upgraded to Grade-2 Municipality
in 1973, and to Selection Grade Municipality in 1988, later to Special Grade Municipality in 2013.
The Nagarathar (also known as Nagarattar, meaning people who live by towns)
are a Chettiar community that originated in Kaveri poom pattinam (also known
as Poompuhar or Puhar, in present day Nagapattinam district) under the Chola Empire
of India. They are a prominent mercantile "Vaishya" caste in Tamilnadu, India. Initially
the Vaishyas lived in Sandhyapuri of the Sambu Islands in Naganadu. This borders
with the present state of Andhra Pradesh and Tamilnadu.
The strategic location of the Kaveripoompattinam along the banks of the river Kaveri,
at the southeast coastline of India made it as one of the major seafaring township
under the Chola Empire. It was thriving in trade and commerce reaching far flung
nations across seas. The Chettiars became involved in trade and commerce throughout
the Chola Empire, and with their unity, discipline and acumen, they prospered. But
the majority of Chettiars migrated to higher grounds away from seashore, after the
devastating "Aazhi peralai" (the great sea flood - the Tsunami) that practically
destroyed the seafaring pattinam (town). They then settled in the demarcated land
provided by the Pandiya king Soundarapandian, the present day Chettinad, under
his rule. Thereafter, Chettiars gradually spread over 80 towns and villages.
They originally were involved in salt trading, sometime in the 18th century they
became more widely known as financiers and facilitators for the trade in a range
of commodities. By the early 19th century finance had become the primary specialisation
of the Chettiars, and they became famed lenders to great land owning families and
in underwriting their trade in grain through the provision of hundis (undiyal) (like
They are a very rich community known for their philanthropy, building temples and
schools, and maintaining them throughout Asia.
True to the teachings of the saint poetess 'Avvaiyar' that, it is unwise to dwell
in the place where there is no temple; Karaikudi and its neighboring places have
innumerous temples and shrines among which some of them are world renowned. A Temple
is an epitome of heritage and culture. Temples not only served as a place for worship,
but also a place for meditation, preaching, education, public meeting, ceremonies,
and they patronised literature, poetry, music, dance, plays, fine arts. Even today
one can realise these in a temple in varying degrees. Many Temples have [sacred]
water reservoir and lands known as 'devasthanam' (god's land) for its financial
Important and famous Temples in Karaikudi (Taluk)
Important and famous Temples around Karaikudi / Temples in Sivaganga District
- Karpaka Vinayakar rock-cut temple, Pillaiyarpatti
- Sundareswarar temple, Amaravathiputhur
- "Thenthirupati" Tiruvengadam Udayan temple, Ariyakudi
- "Vettudaiyar" Kaliamman temple, Ariyankurichi (Kollankudi)
- Rudra Koteeswarar temple, Chaturvedimangalam
- Chokkanathapuram temple, Chokkanathapuram
- Arulmozhinathar temple, Cholapuram
- Meenakshi Sundareswarar (Sekkizhar) temple, Devakottai
- Ranganatha Perumal temple, Devakottai
- Kottaiamman temple, Devakottai
- Andarnatchi Amman temple, Devapattu
- Ayyanar temple, Elankudi
- Malai Marundheeswarar temple, Eriyur
- Aazhi Kandeeswarar temple, Idaikattur
- Idaikattur Siddhar shrine, Idaikattur
- Sacred Heart church, Idaikattur
- Rajendra Chozheeswarar temple, Ilayankudi
- Kailasanathar Nithyakalyani temple, Ilayathankudi
- Adhistanam temple, Ilayathankudi
- Thanthondreeswarar temple, Iluppaikudi
- Mummudinathar temple, Iraiyanceri
- Aatkondanathar temple, Iraniyur
- Kalaiyarkovil temple, Kalaiyarkovil
- Somasundareswarar Soundara Nayaki temple, Kallal
- Karaimel Azhagar Ayyanar temple, Kanadukathan
- Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple, Kanadukathan
- Swarna Murtheeswarar temple, Kandadevi
- Koppudai Nayaki Amman temple, Karaikudi
- "Cinna" Muthumari Amman temple, Karaikudi
- Brahmapureeswarar (Meenakshi Sundareswarar) temple, Keezha Poonkudi
- Kottainachi Amman temple, Kottaiyur
- Subramaniar temple, Kovanur
- Kotravaleeswarar temple, Koviloor
- Shanmughanathar temple, Kundrakudi
- Bathrakali Amman temple, Madapuram
- Santhiveeran temple, Mallakottai
- Sri Kadukavalar Swamy temple, Mampatti
- Karanthamalai Aiyanar temple, Mampatti
- Chola Vinayagar and Choleswarar temple, Mampatti
- Navagraha temple, Managiri
- Veera Azhagar Perumal temple, Manamadurai
- Someswarar temple, Manamadurai
- The Holy Paanch peer (Anjanamar) Five Shuhadaas Dargah, Manamadurai
- Thiruchuzhial temple, Manamadurai
- Ainootreeswarar Periyanaayagi temple, Mathur
- Kailasanathar temple, Melur
- Nachiar Amman temple, Nachiapuram
- Siva temple, Natarajapuram
- Kannudaya Nayaki Amman (Kannathal) temple, Nattarasankottai
- Jeyam Kondeswarar temple, Nemam
- Pulvanayaki Amman temple, Paganeri
- Pillaivayal Kaliyamman temple, Paiyur (Pillaivayal)
- Sri Maha Panchamukha Prathyangira Devi temple, Panchaputheswaram (Manamadurai)
- "Ashtama Sithi" Dakshinamurthy temple, Pattamangalam
- Sri Suganthavaneswarar temple, Perichikoil
- Kuberar temple, Pillaiyarpatti
- Shree Kailasha Nathar temple, Piramanoor
- Piranmalai Kodunkundreeswar temple, Piranmalai
- Kailasa Vinayagar temple, Puduvayal
- Veerasekarar (Thirumudi Thazhumbar) temple, Sakkottai
- Sevuga Perumal Aiyanar temple, Singampunari
- Azhagiya Ponnal temple, Sirukai
- Ponnazhagiamman temple, O.Siruvayal
- Sasivarneswarar temple, Sivagangai
- Syambulingeswarar temple, Sivapuripatti
- Desikanathar Aavudayanayaki temple, Sooraikudi
- Paranjothi Easwarar temple, Thanjakkur
- Muthumariamman temple, Thayamangalam
- Poomayee Amman temple, Thenmaappattu
- Sowmya Narayanan temple, Thirukoshtiyur
- Malai Kozhundeeswarar temple, Thirumalai
- Sathyagiri Natha (Satyamurti) Perumal temple, Thirumayam
- Satyagiriswarar temple, Thirumayam
- Bairavar temple, Thirumayam
- Tiruthalinathar temple, Thirupathur
- Ninra Narayana Perumal temple, Thirupathur
- Bairavar temple, Thirupathur
- Pushpavaneswarar temple, Thirupuvanam
- Nerinjikudi Ayyanar temple, Thiruvilangai
- Vanmeekanathar Temple, Tiruvetriyur
- Vairavanswami (Valaroli Nathar) temple, Vairavanpatti
- Vayanachi Periyanayaki temple, Velankudi
- Kailasanathar temple, Vempathur
- Sundararaja Perumal temple, Vempathur
- Angalaparameswari Amman temple, Vetriyur
- Annapoorani Amman temple, Vetriyur
"Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man." - Swami Vivekananda.
Karaikudi is eternally indebted to one man - Padmabhushan Dr. RM. Alagappa Chettiar.
He is called 'Vallal' (philanthropist), more suitably as Vallal Alagappa Chettiar,
who gave all his wealth to create an outstanding educational empire in pure nobility
to provide affordable quality education to the rural masses; and without whom Karaikudi
would have been a trivial town.
Vallal Alagappa Chettiar, founded the "Alagappa Chettiar Educational Trust" with
the aim of developing the backward area of Karaikudi into a centre for higher education
and provided necessary funds for the establishment of educational institutions.
The education development went to its peak around 1947 when, Vallal Alagappar established
the Alagappa Arts College, Alagappa Chettiar College of Engineering and Technology
(A.C.C.E.T.), and Alagappa technical institution and school. He was the key person
in establishing the Central Electro Chemical Research Institute (C.E.C.R.I.) in
1948 at Karaikudi by providing land and funding.
Karaikudi and its adjoining places have a growing array of educational services
and facilities right from pre-kg to doctorate.
Karaikudi and its neighboring places have many famous historical significant
buildings, and distinguished institutions and places.
Chettinad Mansions / houses
The Chettinad mansions / houses are sumptuous, spacious, and flamboyant with intricate carved
Chettinad mansions / houses are built using bricks (known as 'sengkal'), country
made roof tiles (known as 'naattu odu') [preferably from 'Manamadurai', owing to
the soil's rich iron content], decorative floor tiles (preferably, the famed 'Athankudi'
handmade terracotta tiles), limestone mixture (known as 'santhu kalavai' / 'sunnambu kalavai') for
and stone blocks, wooden support structures, decorative doorframes and intricate
carved panels. The teakwood from Burma is the choice wood for woodworks and support
structures. The household items range from artistically made wooden furnitures,
glasswares, ceramic wares, traditional wares, and to other exotic articles made
around the world. These mansions / houses popularly came to be known as Karai veedu
(the house built with limestone mixture).
These Mansions / houses are built-in with arrangements for rainwater harvesting, to provide
for clean drinking water. The rainwater is [fine cloth] filtered and funneled into
large brassware; which then can be stored for weeks. The rainwater being free from
[ground] impurities, and by storing it in brassware gets electrically charged, which
neutralises [many of the] harmful microorganisms. This provides a clean, healthy,
and sweet drinking water that rivals the modern day processed drinking water.
Particularly, the Santhu kalavai, which is made from the mixture of finely
ground Santhu (limestone) powder - the raw material, Kadukkai (gallnut) - as accelerant,
Egg's white yolk - for smooth finish, and Karuppatti (palm jaggery) - as binder,
that are mixed in prerequisite proportions with right amount of water. Sometimes
Padaneer (unfermented palm tree sap) - as bonding agent, is also added. This provides
a strong crack resistant bond and gives a smooth finish. Many [significant] historical
constructions still stand testimony to its strength and longevity spanning many
Nowadays these Chettnadu mansions / houses are sought after place for film shootings; and
are a well known tourist attraction.
Some of Chettinad mansions / houses:
Chettinad has given birth to many great persons who significantly contributed for
the good of humanity.
Notable personalities from Chettinad region:
- Vallal RM. Alagappa
Philanthropist, Academician, Business
tycoon, Founder of Alagappa educational
- Kaviarasar Kannadasan,
Poet, Novelist, Lyricist, Politician, Film
Industrialist, Philanthropist, Founder of
- Karaikudi Mani,
- Kamban Adippodi Saw. Ganesan,
Founder of "Tamil Thai Kudil" (temple for
Goddess Tamil), Kamban Hall and organiser of
- Dheeran Nelliyan, (Nelliyan Ambalam), Karaikudi
- A.V. Meiyappan,
Film Producer/Director and founder of AVM
- S.P. Muthuraman,
- Panchu Arunachalam,
Tamil Lyricist, Screenplay writer, Film
- Rama Narayanan,
- P. Chidambaram,
Politician, Lawyer, Finance Minister,
Honorable Union Minister for Home
Kundrakudi Adigalar, Kundrakudi
Religious leader, Tamil
- M.A. Chidambaram
- M.A.M. Ramaswamy (MAM),
Thiagarajan Chettiar, A.Thekkur
Founder of Thyagarajar College of
Engineering, Meenakshi Mills, Founder of Bank of Madura, Madurai
- S.A.P. Annamalai, Karaikudi
Journalist, Founder/Editor of 'Kumudam'
- Tamilvanan, Karaikudi
Writer/Publisher, Established Manimekalai
Chettiar (AMM), Pallathur
Industrialist, Philanthropist, Founder of
Murugappa Group of
- Periyakaruppan Chettiar, Karaikudi
Founder of Ramasamy Tamil
- Suba. Annamalai, Devakottai
- Balakavi Vynagaram Ramanathan Chettiar, Devakottai
Popular writer and eminent scholar in
Kavignar AR.Somasundaram, Devakottai
a contemporary poet
- Vanathi Thirunavukkarasu Chettiar, Devakottai
Founder of Vanathi
- SP.VR. Subbiah Chettiar, Devakottai
- Narayana Iyengar,
- S. Subramanian,
- Sambasiva Iyer,
- Valliappa Chettiar, Devakottai
- O.M.A.L. Lakshmanan Chettiar, Devakottai
Founder of Kandar Sashti Vizha
- KR. Valliappa Chettiar, Devakottai
Founder of Elango Isai Nattiya Palli in
- A. Vaidhyanathan, Devakottai
Founder of Thyaga Brahma Mahotsava
- Chinna Annamalai Chettiar, Devakottai
Freedom fighter, Pioneer in Publishing
- Dinamani Chettiar, Devakottai
Freedom Fighter and staunch
- Dr. Arunachalam Chettiar, Devakottai
- M.A. Muthiah
Indian banker, Politician,
Industrialist, Founder of Indian Overseas
- Gandhi Narayanan Chettiar, Devakottai
a staunch Gandhian
- Chatram Somasundaram Chettiar, Devakottai
- O.RM.M.SP.SV. Meyyappa Chettiar, Devakottai
Sevugan Annamalai Chettiar, Devakottai
Founder of Sree Sevugan Annamalai
- P.S.S. Somasundaram Chettiar, Devakottai
Founder of Somasundara Mills at Coimbatore
- N.RM. Lakshmanan, Devakottai
- AL. Chidambaram, Devakottai
- OM.SP.L.M. Meyappa Chettiar, Devakottai
- Lotus Venkatachalam Chettiar, Devakottai
Philanthropist and Textile
- E.M.V. Muthappa Chettiar, Puduvayal
- RM.KP. Venkatachalam Chettiar (venga), Amaravathipudur
Humanitarian and eminent Lawyer in
- C. Swaminathan, Vilvampatti
Surveyor, Freedom Fighter and
The Chettiars are well known for their business acumen; it no wonder that Karaikudi
is next to Mumbai in stock brokerage. Chettiars traditionally involve in occupations
like money lending and (wholesale) trading.
Karaikudi area, by its prominent location between two major cities - Tiruchirappalli
and Madurai, has become a lucrative business hub for education, healthcare, finance
services, small scale industries, construction companies, automobile dealers, textile
dealers, jewellery, software, hardware, household items, and many more.
Karaikudi has very much involved in politics from pre-independence. Karaikudi assembly
constituency is part of Sivagangai Lok Sabha constituency.
Arts and Crafts
The arts and crafts in the Chettinad region are a unique blend of tradition and
modern, which are distinctive to this area. The Chettinad's cookware, furniture,
household articles, woodwork, handloom, culinary, and the exceptional Karaikudi
Veenai tradition are a mark of this region.
There are various traditions in playing Veenai (a stringed musical instrument).
One of the styles that still standout in the generations of musicians is the Karaikudi
style of Veenai playing. Some of the well known veenai players are - Malayappa Iyer,
Venkatesa Iyer, Subbaraya Iyer, and Karaikudi Veenai brothers Subbarama Iyer and
The woodwork, especially on doorframes, wooden panels is crafted decoratively with
intricate patterns. The wood panel [placed above doorframe] is usually carved with
Gajalakshmi, the Goddess of wealth, and a Kalasam (small pot) with coconut and sprouting
mango leaves on top. Themes from Hindu mythology like Ramayana, Mahabharath, Thiruvilaiyadal
are also carved elegantly on to these panels.
Athankudi Tiles - the terracotta tiles with flamboyant patterns, which are handmade
and sun dried. These tiles have a distinctive gloss finish. Athankudi is famous
for its handmade (, now modernised) tile works.
India is well known for its spicy culinary delicacies around the world. Particularly
in Tamilnadu, the Chettinad cuisine is world renowned. A unique blend of spices
and ingredients and traditional cooking methods handed down from generations that
standout from other styles of cooking. The Chettinad Samayal (chettinad culinary / cooking),
also known as Aachi Samayal, by tradition uses particular firewood for a particular
food to be cooked; as the fumes from the firewood enhances the food's taste [, if
it is the right firewood].
There are wide varities of food delicacies for both the Vegetarians and Non-Vegetarians.
Starting from Paalpaniyaram, Puttu, Idiyappam, Ilandhosai to Karakuzhlambu (hot
spicy curry), Kurumakulambu (spicy curry mixed with coconut paste), Vendakaimandi
(ladyfinger sour curry), Melagurasam (Indian [pepper] soup) in Vegetarian food,
and for Non-Vegetarian food, Karikulambu (mutton curry), Kozhlikulambu (chicken
curry), Karuvattukulambu (dried fish curry), Muttaikulambu (egg curry), Biryani,
to name a few. Apart from these, there are snack items like Murukku, Adhirasam,
Maaurundai, Seepucheedai, Theankuzhal, Karuppatti Paniyaram, Paalkozhlukattai, Cheeyam,
Manakolam, and much more.
Chettinad supports quite a number of handlooms that follow years old tradition
of weaving. The hand woven Kandangi selai (kandangi cotton / silk saree), Gopura karai
selai (temple tower
motif border saree) are among the popular.
It is said that, after creating this world for six days, God took a day off.
Festivals and holidays are an important aspect of life. It rejuvenates oneself to perform
his duties better. They give us opportunity to get-together and extend our compassion
to fellow beings. Being followers of tradition, the Chettinad people celebrate
many festivals with splendor and vigor.
Some of the important festivals celebrated in Karaikudi:
Koppudai Nayaki Amman kovil Thear Thiruvizha
Koppudai Nayaki Amman (Koppudaiya Nayaki Amman) - the goddess with golden heart, is the
main deity of Karaikudi. This is a midsize temple with moolavar being a beautiful
ayinponn (alloy of five metals) statue of Amman in standing pose, installed in its
sanctum sanctorum. A magnificent statue of Hanuman god is a recent addition to this
temple. A temple tank adjoins left side of the temple. It is located at Kallukatti
area of Karaikudi.
Acharya Sri Adi Sankara had visited this temple for worshipping mother Koppudai Nayaki Amman and had installed the Sri Chakra.
"Sevvai Perum Thiruvizha", the grand Tuesday festival is celebrated at the
Koppudai Nayaki Amman for ten consecutive days starting from the last Tuesday
of the Tamil month Chithirai that falls between the months April and May until the
first week of the Tamil month Vaikasi, which falls between the month of May and June.
This 10 days festival begins with 'kodi yetram' (flag hoisting), symbolising
the start of the ten days long festival. There is 'theppa thiruvizha' (temple float festival),
Poocheridal (flower offering festival), and this festival concludes with the
grand 'thear thiruvizha' (temple car / chariot festival). The temple car is drawn circling the temple
up to the Kattamman (elder sister of Koppudaiyal) Temple situated in Senjai, Karaikudi (southwest), to be returned the next day.
One of the unique characteristics of this temple is that, the moolavar (presiding
deity) itself is brought out of the sanctum sanctorum for special oblations and
celebrations; instead of urchava murthi (procession deity).
Next only to Chidambaram Nataraja temple deity.
Chithirai 1, the Tamil New year that falls on April-14 usually, (falls at
mid of April), is celebrated with grandeur, drawing large numbers of people
from village area. This temple is few centuries old, which was renovated to its glory a decade ago.
The Guardian deity Karuppanna Swami majestically appears on a horse.
Lalitha Muthumari Amman kovil Paalkudam
Muthumari Amman - the goddess who blesses people with pearl drop rain, aka. Lalitha Muthumariamman.
There is another temple by this name, the former is known as "Periya" Muthumari Amman situated
at Vairavapuram, in northeast of Karaikudi and the later one, the famous "Cinna" Muthumari
Amman situated at Meenakshipuram, in northwest of Karaikudi, near the old Meenakshi Amman
temple. This small temple draws an ever growing number of devotees for paalkudam
the grand finale of the 10 days long festival that begins with 'kappu kattu' (tying
of sacred thread) in the month of March. This festival is also known as "Masi Panguni Vizha"
held between the Tamil months of Masi and Panguni (March).
Legend/History: Half a Century earlier, a little girl named Lalitha came to this place, (from Samayapuram), suffering with Smallpox. Initially no one noticed her. Later an elderly Muslim noticed her condition and started taking care of her. One day she asked for a Tomato fruit, but he said that it's not possible as it was not the season for it. Still Lalitha inisisted that he will find that tomato fruit near his well. He reluctantly went and to his astonishment found a single tomato fruit which he brought back and gave to her. From that day onwards, whatever she tells became a reality. People started noticing her and her divine foretelling. People came from many places to seek her devine blessings. She asked them to build a Temple in her remembrance, where she will dwell and bless them. And later she attained her salvation. The temple gets its name from the Smallpox that looked like pearl (muthu) on the divine little girl.
The festive season starts in the Tamil month of [last Tuesday of] Masi (last week of February) with Poochorithal Vizha (the Floral festival). Followed by Sumangali Poojai, a week later. Then this festival kicks-off with Ganapathy Poojai and Flag hoisting. And the festival ends with grandness in the Tamil month of Panguni (mid of March).
Right from day one people start taking processions from Muthalamman temple,
like - Paalkudam (pot of milk offered for ritual libations), Theechatti (firepot), Kavadi (decorated balance carried on shoulder), Alagu (body piercing), Pookuzli (fire bed walking), Molaippari
(pot of tender grain shoots), and other feats as 'nethi kadan' (fulfilling vow),
'nandri kadan' (thanksgiving), 'venduthal' (prayer of requisition) are also performed
by devotees symbolising their devotion.
In recent years this, thiruvizha, religious festival has grown to large proportions
and became a stellar event.
Meenakshi Sundareswarar kovil Mahasivarathiri
Mahasivarathiri - the grand night for offering our devotion to the supreme Lord Siva (Lord Shiva),
the Destroyer of evil. Sivarathiri (the auspicious night in honour of Lord Siva) is observed
every month on the day before the moonless day. And the Sivarathiri that falls in the Tamil month of
Masi (February) is celebrated as Maha Sivarathiri, the grand night in honour of Lord Siva.
On the day of Maha Sivarathiri, special ritual oblations, libations and procession
are conducted. In the night, people stay awake observing, praying, reading, and
singing the praise of Lord Siva. Special rituals continue to be observed throughout
the night in Siva temples. Pious people observe the ritual fasting for this whole
day, as one of the ways to prove their devotion to Lord. Maha Sivarathiri concludes
in the next morning with ritual oblation, and subsequently people break their fast.
This religious festival is celebrated in grandeur at the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar
temple situated in southwest of Karaikudi. This midsize temple was built during
1872 and has a beautiful temple tank to its right side. This temple is also known
as 'Nagara Sivan Kovil', and there is another Siva temple located at Sekkalai,
known as 'Sekkalai Sivan Kovil' that was built later.
On the right adjacent side of this temple there is a shrine having 108 statues of the Lord
Ganesh (108 Pillayar temple), which was built by a devotee to show his gratitude towards
the supreme Lord Ganesh.
Kamban Thirunal - a Festival on the world classical language "Tamil" held in honour
of the emperor among poets - Kamban. This festival is held for four days in Kamban
Manimandapam at Karaikudi every March. Many learned scholars and admirers of Tamizhl
(Tamil) language exchange their views on Kavichakravarthy Kamban. The literary works
of Kavichakravarthy (emperor among poets) and other great poets are taken for debate.
One of stanch admirers of Kamban, who called himself and whom is known as 'kamban adippodi'
Saw. Ganesan founded the "Kamban Aranilayam" (Kamban Trust) and created Kamban
Kazhagam (Kamban Academy) of Karaikudi. He was the key person in establishing the Kamban
Manimandapam (Kamban monumental hall), and built the only temple in the world for
the Goddess of Tamil - the "Tamizhlthai Kovil". This temple also has idols of poetess
Avvaiyar and poet Kamban. Saw. Ganesan was the first person to organise the Kamban
Thirunal (Kamban day celebrations).
A statue in tribute to Saw. Ganesan was installed on 4 May 2009 at Kamban Manimandapam
Palani Pathayathirai Vizha
Thaipoosam - is the main festival for Lord Murugan that is celebrated on the day
of Poosam star in the Tamil month of Thai (January-February). This religious festival
draws large number of devotees from Tamilnadu and from other parts of India to the
famous pilgrimage town of Palani in Dindigul district, Tamilnadu. The main aspect
of this festival is the ritual event where people walk all the way upto "Dandayudhapani
Swami" temple atop Sivagiri (palani hill) at Palani, starting from their homes symbolising
The people of Chettinad are stanch devotees of Lord Palani andavar (Lord Pazhani).
They start their "Palani Pathayathirai" - the pilgrimage walk to Palani (the spiritual journey on foot)
with their Kavadis on their shoulders, couple of weeks before thaipoosam from Devakottai, Karaikudi,
and from other nearby towns and villages.
Karaikudi being an education capital, there is an impressive weeklong Book Exhibition (Puthaga
Kankatchi) is conducted at Kamban Manimandapam in every February. Wide arrays of
books on many topics are showcased. And in the evening Cultural performances are
performed by school students, from one of the schools in Karaikudi everyday.
Other than this annual exhibition, individual booksellers and publishers conduct
Book fairs time and again.
Science and Technology Show
The Central Electro Chemical Research Institute at Karaikudi observes Science and
Technology Day on February 28. This day is celebrated as the 'Open Day', and people
are allowed freely to visit the stalls demonstrating the achievements, technology,
and future of Science, as well as the C.E.C.R.I.'s contribution to Science are showcased.
This open-day is on some occasions celebrated in the month of September.
In 1906, Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathiyar visited Karaikudi and has
sung a poem praising the good work done by Chettiar youths of Karaikudi. A photograph
of Bharathiyar that was taken when he visited the Hindu Madhabhimana Sangam at Karaikudi,
is an invaluable remainder.
- In 1927, Mahatma Gandhi visited Karaikudi and delivered two speeches
in September 24 and 25, at Karaikudi.
- In 1934, Mahatma Gandhi visited Devakottai to condole with the death
of Poochi, a dalit, in the movement against untouchability, and held discussions
with Dalits and Nattars, who were opposed to Dalits wearing shirts.
- In 1940, Sri Chakravarti Rajagopalachari inaugurated the "Gandhi
Maligai" in May 26, at Karaikudi.
- In 1948, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India, laid the
foundation stone of C.E.C.R.I. in July 25, at Karaikudi.
- In 1953, Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Vice-President of India, dedicated
C.E.C.R.I. to the Nation in January 14, at Karaikudi.
- In 1953, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, President of India, laid the foundation
stone of A.C.C.E.T.'s main building in February 19, at Karaikudi.
- Thanthai Periyar, Erode Venkata Ramasamy, (E.V.R.), has given a still
famous speech at Karaikudi. [undated]
- In 1973, Shrimathi Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, presided
over the Silver jubilee celebrations of Alagappa institutions and C.E.C.R.I. in
September 24, at Karaikudi. Later, delivered a speech at Kamban Manimandapam.
Thanks to Chettiars' acumen as well as their adherence to time-honored practices
and with efforts by people of other communities, Karaikudi has become a thriving
hub for education, finance, and other influential services.