Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Madurai: Meenakshi Temple and Tamilnadu Theological Seminary

This weekend, we traveled on our first regional trip to the temple city of Madurai. We left around 5am and drove for around 5 hours to Tamilnadu Theological Seminary (TTS)'s beautiful, green campus where we had the pleasure of staying for the weekend. As with our previous trip, which you can read about here, our purpose was twofold: visit and learn about TTS and their ministry to and concern for the poor, and visit the Meenakshi Temple.

Brahmin priests inside the temple courtyard
We spent our Sunday morning first putting on a small worship service in TTS's beautiful, open-air chapel. Then, we traveled to the temple and spent several hours walking around and learning about the temple's history and significance to the Hindu faith.

There are approximately 50 priests employed in the temple.
Birds darting in and out of the temple's carvings
One of the myths central to the city's founding holds that Indra, king of the gods, bathed in a holy tank and worshipped Shiva, god of destruction, in this place. Shiva then shook his wet dreadlocks over the city, covering it with amrita, the nectar of the gods and of immortality. The Pandiyan king Kulashekhara then built a temple in the same place to commemorate that auspicious event. 
A view of the towers from the courtyard.
Any day of the week, no less than 15,000 people pass through the main gates of the temple (25,000 on Fridays, the sacred day of the goddess Meenakshi). 

To see more photos from our weekend trip to Madurai this semester, check our Facebook album here
For last semester's photos (or if you just want to see more of our photos), check our other album here.

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